Muhammad Alshareef: Controlling Your Anger
Imagine traveling in the desert. After walking, you sit down and as you do so, a snake bites you. You go to the doctor, and he does not look at the bite (as the bite is usually something very insignificant) but rather, the doctor is worried about the poison that has entered your body and is running through your veins.
The Anger That Will Boil, Poison, and Hurt You
A man once came to the Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) for some Nasiha. The man said, “Give me some advice, Oh Rasulullah”. The Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said “Don’t get angry”. The man said, “Oh Rasulullah, give me some more advice.” The Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Don’t get angry”. The man said to give him some more advice, and Rasulullah (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said for a third time, “Don’t get angry”.
Don’t get angry. It’s a point blank commandment.
There is a Hadith wherein a man asked, “Who is most worthy of my friendship?” The Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Your mother, your mother, your mother”. This is a Hadith that all of our mothers and fathers know, and it is with the same emphasis that the Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) answered this man’s Nasiha by saying, “Do not get angry”.
The Strongest Person
The Companions were once sitting around the Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and he asked them a question, “Who is the strong person amongst you?” Even in our culture, if we were to answer this question of the Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), we would say, “The one with the biggest biceps”. The Companions were at least able to give a better example; they said, “Oh Messenger of Allah, it is the one whom no one else can defeat in an ultimate fighting battle”. The Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “No. Indeed the strongest person amongst you is the one who can hold back his anger at the time when the situation would call for him to be angry, yet he holds back.”
Sometimes situations happen to me, and someone would say, “Oh Muhammad, why don’t you get angry?” And I would say to them, “WAllahi (By Allah), anger is the easiest thing to do. In fact, it takes no effort to get angry. In fact it is a sign of weakness”. On the opposite, the person that can control themselves and has patience, as the Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “He, or she, is the strongest amongst you”. So if there are two brothers and one of them loses control and gets angry while the other one refrains and keeps quiet, the one who was patient is stronger in the sight of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).
Anger and Cursing
The Companions (radhiAllāhu ‘anhum) were once travelling with the Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and a man’s camel sat down and would not move. The man got angry at the camel and he said to it, “Move forward oh camel. May Allah curse you.” This statement was just something else on his tongue (by the way, another word for cursing is ‘cussing’, or ‘swearing’ – all of them come from the same root and from anger). The Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) heard what this man said and told him, “Get off of your camel and do not continue to proceed with us in a riding animal that you have cursed”.
The Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) then said, “Do not get angry and curse yourselves, and do not curse your properties, and do not curse your children, for it may be that a person makes this statement at a time when Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) answers all of the Dua’. And this person’s statement, even though he does not want it to be answered, will be answered by Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).”
The Escalation of Anger
When I initially talked about anger, you may have initially only thought about certain specific situations. However, ask where does the escalation of anger go to? It goes to the cutting off of family relationships, one of the most major sins in Islam. It goes to divorce, and it goes to husband/wife abuse. The anger escalates, and the person may even say statements of Kufr (disbelief) and Nifaaq (hypocrisy).
A boy may consistently keep on asking his mother, “Give me the keys to the car, give me the keys to the car.” Then this mother, who has not trained her tongue to worship Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), would say something to the effect of, “May you never come home”. These statements, which are curses, are said, and this boy will leave the house and will never come home. This mother will spend the rest of her life, knowing that she disobeyed Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) in her tongue and kept on going forward into the anger that Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and His Messenger forbade her from. She will continue on disobeying Allah in this until Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) makes something very bad happen from this – we ask Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) to give us sanctuary and protection.
The Calming of Anger
There was once one of the Tabi’een (the generation after the Companions of the Prophet), and a great scholar, who had a servant girl. She once broke something very expensive and he immediately became angry (I call this snap anger: faster than cars and can go from 0 to 100 in a split second). This slave girl, when she saw how angry he had become, started reciting some Qur’an to him. The verses she recited spoke about Jannah:
- “وَسَارِعُوا إِلَىٰ مَغْفِرَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالْأَرْضُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْمُتَّقِي”: “Race to the forgiveness of Allah, and a Paradise is the expanse of the heavens and the Earth, prepared for the Muttaqin”.
- Allah explains who are the Muttaqin in the next verse (and she was reciting all of this to him), “الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ فِي السَّرَّاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ”: “Those who give in the good times and in the difficult times, and those who hold back their anger and annoyances”. These are the people of Jannah, and so when the man heard these verses being recited to him, he immediately calmed down.
- The verses continue: “وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ ۗ”: “…and they forgive people”. The man, who is now calmed down, said to her, “I forgive you”.
- The verse continues: “وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ”: “…and Allah loves those who do Ihsaan (righteous deeds and good works)”. He heard this and said, “I free you for the sake of Allah.”
Allowable Times To Get Angry
You may be wondering if there are times that it is pleasing to Allah to be angry, and the answer is yes. Most of the things that we get angry about are not included in this, but there are certain situations wherein it is allowed:
- The Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was once praying and there were pictures on the wall. While praying, he became distracted by the picture and got angry. As A’ishah (radhiAllāhu ‘anha) said, “You could see the anger in his face”. When he finished the prayer, he told her, “Take this down. Verily the ones who will be punished the most on the Day of Judgment are those that make these types of pictures”.
- This is an anger that leads to the Dawah of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).
- When you see alcohol, do you become angry?
- When you see people worshiping others but Allah, do you feel angry?
It is not a raw anger, but an anger that is channeled into positive energy where the person actually calls to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). They actually care about the people’s guidance.
The Most Common Anger: Between Husband & Wife
The anger that is most common is the anger between a husband and a wife. When it comes to this, there are Hadith for the women and Hadith for the men.
- The Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said again and again, “Whoever amongst you has the ability (amongst the men) to unleash their anger, yet they hold back, then this person will be brought in front of everybody on the Day of Judgment and given all of the Hoor-ul-‘Een for him to choose from as he wishes”.
- The Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said in a Hadith, “Be gentle with the glass vessels (ex. when you are in a glass store and do not want to even come near the sides in case you brush against something and it breaks),” meaning “Be gentle with the women”.
So the next time a brother wishes to unleash his anger on some of his family members, remember:
- The Hadith of the Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) when he said, “Don’t get angry”.
- The Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) commanded him to treat the Qawarir (glass vessels – i.e. women) with gentleness.
- I always ask myself this when dealing with my wife if this is fulfilling the commandment of the Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam).
- For those that hold back (“and those who hold back their anger”), they are the ones that are promised Jannah.
Specific Sunnah Ways To Control Anger
The Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) commanded for us to not get angry, but he also gave us specific ways in his Sunnah in which we can practically hold back from getting angry and losing control: 1. Realize that everything is relative, and even your anger is relative.
- Once a man came to the Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), shook him by the collar, and accused him of dealing unjustly with the wealth of the Muslims. Umar (radhiAllāhu ‘anhu) wanted to kill this man, but the Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) told him to leave him and then said, “May the Mercy of Allah be upon Musa. He was tested with more than this and yet he was patient”. Even the Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) is taking a situation where anger could come and remembering his brother Musa.
- The next time you are getting angry, ask yourself, “What reason are you getting angry for?” There are brothers and sisters across the world that are being treated unjustly (and I am sure you hear of their stories repeatedly) that are willing to take your problems and to switch it with theirs. So instead of getting angry, say Alhamdulillah that you have such small problems. Realize the situation of these brothers and sisters around the world, and say, “May the mercy of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) be upon them, and Alhamdulillah that my tests are something so small”.
2. Say “A’udhobillahi Mina As-Shaytan Ar-Rajeem”: “I seek refuge from the accused Shaytan”. A man was once sitting with the Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and his face changed as he became angry. The Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) told him, “I know a statement that if this person only said it, all of this anger would go away, and that is A’udhobillahi Mina As-Shaytan Ar-Rajeem”.
- Your anger will even scare you. Next time you become angry, stop the anger and put a mirror beside you, and you will scare yourself – you cannot imagine that you look like this. If you just say “A’udhobillahi Mina As-Shaytan Ar-Rajeem”, then all of this anger would go away.
3. The Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “If anyone of you gets angry, let them keep quiet.” 4. Make Wudu.
- Let’s say you are about to get into a fight with your wife. You should tell her, “Okay, let’s have a fight but let’s make Wudu first, say ‘A’udhobillahi Mina As-Shaytan Ar-Rajeem’, say Salawat upon the Prophet Muhammad (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and then let’s begin”.
- If the fight continues: “Let’s do it again. Let’s sit down, let’s recline, etc.”.
There is something very serious that happens these days, and that is the anger via the Internet. Sometimes, just like how some people become like monsters inside their cars while driving, this is happening via the Internet. I am sure all of you have received angry emails and I am sure you have sent one as well. The anger that happens via Internet is when one thinks that nobody can see them (except Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala)) and they then unleash their anger. May Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) protect us.
Here is my quick solution for this: Based on the Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam)’s Hadith, “If any of you becomes angry, let them keep quiet”, if someone sends you an angry email (and hopefully they are the ones who have started the angry emails), your response is to type up everything that you wish to say to them in a Word document or another application that is separate from your email. Twenty-four hours later, you will not wish to send that email, guaranteed. At that time, you will delete it (and then Insha’Allah make Dua’ for me, Muhammad Alshareef).
(Editor’s note: The lecture in the video abruptly came to an end, but we hope you have benefited from the content that we were able to hear and note down. May Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) make us among those who control their anger. Ameen…).