A man asked the Prophet (ﷺ) for advice and he (ﷺ) said, Do not get angry. The man repeated that several times and he replied: لاَ تَغْضَبْ (Do not get angry). [Al-Bukhari]
The man came to the Prophet and was asking for a short but comprehensive advice. This is clear from the following similar hadith:
Abu Hurairah narrated that a man came to the Messenger of Allah and said:
‘Teach me something that is not too much for me so that, perhaps, I may abide by it.’ He (S.A.W) said: ‘Do not get angry.’ He repeated that (the request) a number of times, each time he replied: ‘Do not get angry.” [Tirmidhi]
These two words of advice, laa taghdab, look very simple, but really living up to it takes a lot of practice and patience, and if we accomplish just this, we have won half the battle against Shaytan.
Anger is one of the two sources of all evils. It leads to, among other things,
- Cutting of relationships: between father and son, husband and wife, mother and daughter, etc.
- Physical violence and abuse
So what does “not getting angry” entail? Scholars have interpreted it in various ways, the gist of which is the following. “Do not get angry” means:
- Change our negative thoughts which are giving rise to the anger. Ask yourself, “is this matter really worth getting angry?” Another good question to ask is, “Will this thing matter to me on this same day next year?” Very often, we get angry about petty things, but we don’t realize their pettiness until later when we’ve cooled down, when it may be too late to take back what we said.
- Change our character. This means that if we label ourselves as being “hot-tempered” then we need to change in such a way that we become “cool-brained.” It takes a lot of hard work, but it can be done with the help of Allah.
A Muslim’s personality is such that he or she is easy-going. Allah said,
And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace. [Quran, 25:63]
- Not acting based on anger, or not acting while angry. When we become angry, we should fight ourselves and restrain ourselves from acting or speaking irrationally based on our anger. When we’re angry, shaytan really gets a good hold of our hearts, and can direct us as he pleases. Therefore the best thing to do when angry is to remain silent. Its very easy to say this, but really acting on this piece of advice when one is angry takes a lot of strength and willpower. The Prophet said,
A strong person is not the person who throws his adversaries to the ground. A strong person is the person who contains himself when he is angry. [Muwatta]
He also said,
Whoever restrains his anger when he is able to implement it, Allah will call him before all of creation on the Day of Resurrection, and will give him his choice of any houri that he wants. [ibn Majah]
Those who can restrain their anger all under a special group of people whom Allah mentions especially:
And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous, who spend [in the cause of Allah ] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good; [3:133-134]
Take steps to prevent anger-provoking situations. This includes changing one’s character to become more easy-going, but it also includes staying away from the things which trigger our anger in the first place.
Take steps for dissolving anger. There are ways of cooling oneself down that are mentioned in the sunnah. Some of these are:
- Seeking refuge in Allah. [Bukhari and Muslim]
- Changing one’s physical position to a more relaxing one. It is easier to act aggressively while standing than sitting, and lying down is the least aggressive position. [Ahmad and Abu Dawood]
- Doing wudu. [Ahmad and Abu Dawood]
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