بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
والحمدلله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على أشرف الأنبياء والمرسلين
“Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous,- Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men;- for Allah loves those who do good;- ” (3.133-134)
One of the most important aspects of being a Muslim is our character. The physical acts that we do, whether they be prayer or charity, can be rejected by God simply because of ill character, as Allah says in the Qur’an “O you who believe! do not make your charity worthless by reproach and injury…” (2.64). The Prophet (pbuh) taught us how to perfect noble characteristics. If we were to look at the life and character of the Prophet (pbuh), his forbearance, mercy, justice and consistency in character is a model that we should try to emulate. After all, he was sent as a teacher in order for us to learn. In one incident, Anas bin Malik (ra) reported that he was walking with the Prophet (pbuh) when he was wearing a cloak with a rough collar. He said “A Bedouin came and seized him roughly by the edge of his cloak, and I saw the marks left on his neck by the collar. Then the Bedouin ordered him to give him some of the wealth of Allah that he had. The Prophet (pbuh) turned to him and smiled, then ordered that he should be given something.” (Agreed upon)
Anger and its Dangers
The topic of this tarbiya is anger. When is anger appropriate? Anger comes as a reaction to something that is displeasing to us, whether it is offensive behavior, injustice, someone hurting us or even something as simple as someone cutting us off the road. Some of us take this emotion for granted, because we feel justified in feeling it and the actions that we act upon as a result of it. But as the verse at the beginning of this tarbiya shows, in God’s Eyes, it is those who restrain themselves when they become angry that are of the righteous and of those who do good.
Imam Al-Mawlud characterized anger as one of the diseases of the heart, and he described it as the ‘swelling ocean’ of all diseases. Why? Because anger, if unfettered, can consume a person. It can cause people to act in ways that they would not have had they been more calm. Anger also clouds judgment and causes a person to be reactionary, acting before thinking of what would be the better way. Anger is also the cause of tension and trouble between people, and if a person has a particularly uncontrollable temper, can cause physical harm to others. All these physical states also affect one’s health. In a famous hadith, a man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said:
He (pbuh) said, “Do not become angry.”
The man repeated his request several times, and each time the Prophet (pbuh) told him,”Do not become angry.”
Moreover, the Prophet (pbuh) is also reported to have said:
“Whoever controls his anger at the time when he has the means to act upon it, Allah will fill his heart with contentment on the Day of Resurrection.”
This is perhaps the most difficult type of anger to control, because we actually have an outlet that would satisfy ourselves, but it is always important to take a few steps back to calm down and assess the situation. This is especially important when we have some authority, as the Prophet (pbuh) said:
“A judge should not judge between two persons while he is in an angry mood.”
This could lead to a further injustice being caused.
The right kind of anger
But does this mean that human beings should seek to completely remove anger from one’s heart? The Prophet (pbuh) is also reported to have said “I am a human being and I become angry like you” (in Imam Al-Mawlud’s “Purification of the Heart”). On the contrary, outrage felt at certain injustices is what causes change. Anger signals to people when certain acts are wrong, and moves people to deal with their problems. Imam Al-Ghazali stated that anger is only acceptable at the right time, in the right place, for the right reasons, and with the right intensity. Thus anger should not be allowed to consume a person, and Shiekh Al-Hassan Al-Basri said that one of the signs of the Believers is that his anger will not prevail over him.
If we look at the example of the Prophet (pbuh), he was always in control of himself. When he was displeased with something, he did not seek to humiliate, rather he would point it out gently. The Companions said they knew when the Prophet (pbuh) was angry by looking at his noble face, and not because he would shout or hit or act in a rash way. He never got angry for his own self, but only if he witnessed action offensive to God. Even then, his reactions were measured, and out of the thousands of ahadith about the Prophet (pbuh), none of them showed him to act in a rash manner.
When something occurs that is displeasing to us, we must always try to remember why we are angry. Unfortunately, in this day and age, a person is irritated at the tiniest of things, from traffic jams to a fall in the stock markets, and this in turn affects one’s whole disposition. But taking a few steps backs to remember that these events pass, and that everything is in the Hands of God, should allow us to see the bigger picture and act accordingly.
Dealing with anger
At the end of the day, we do feel anger for a variety of reasons, and the Prophet (pbuh) taught us how to deal with this so we do not act in ways that are out of control, harming ourselves and others:
1- Seeking Refuge
The Prophet (pbuh) was reported to have seen two people arguing. The face of one became red and his jugular veins swelled. the Prophet (pbuh) said: “I know a statement if he or she says it then the person with anger will cool down.
The person with anger should say : “I SEEK REFUGE IN ALLAH FROM SATAN THE OUTCAST.”
(Bukhari and Muslim)
This is in essence to step back, and remember that irrational anger comes from the devil.
2- Remaining Silent
People often say hurtful things when they are angry, and an escalation in an argument is always caused by words being thrown. Many relationships are altered because of an exchange of unkind and cruel words. This is why the Prophet (pbuh) said:
“If any of you becomes angry, let him keep silent.”
3- Changing One’s Position
The Messenger of Allah said (pbuh): “If any of you becomes angry and he is standing, let him sit down, so that his anger will go away. If it does not go away, let him lie down.”
Scholars have said that changing one’s position ensures that a person does not do what he would have done had he stayed in the same place, and prevents a person from acting on impulse.
4- Performing the Ablution
Often when we become angry, our faces become hot, and this why the Prophet (pbuh) encouraged performing the ritual ablution. (Abu Dawud)
5- Reminding Oneself of the Virtues of Restraining Anger
The opposite of a person with a bad temper is one who shows forbearance. The Prophet (pbuh) was described as being the most forbearing of people, and in the Qur’an, righteous Prophets such as Abraham (as) were given this description, as Allah has said “…for Abraham was most tender-hearted, forbearing” (Surat Al-Tawba, 9:114). Surely, a person who is described as forbearing cannot also be a person who acts upon his rage. Moreover, the Prophet (pbuh) stated that a strong person is not one who is good at fighting, rather a strong person is one who could control his anger (Bukhari). Furthermore, in countless ahadith, we know that the way we deal with people in this life will reflect in the next life- by being merciful towards people, God will show His Divine Mercy to us; if we forgive, God will forgive us. Similarly, should we wish to be free of Allah’s wrath, so should we spare people of our anger.
May God guide us to perfecting our character and restraining our anger. Ameen.