#398: Handling One’s Temper

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. I’m an irascible person. I’m quick to be angry even in the smallest of matters. Hence, I’d like to ask Datuk to share some advice or ways for me to control my anger. Thank you.

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

We start with Allah SWT’s statement:


الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ فِي السَّرَّاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

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,” [1]

Dr Wahbah al-Zuhaili when commenting on the above verse stated that among the characteristics of a person of taqwa is the one who hides (restrains) his anger and controls himself from hurting others when he is capable of doing so. This is based on the statement of the Prophet PBUH who said: “Whoever restrained his anger when he is able to release it, then Allah will fill his soul with peace and faith.” [2]

Definition of anger

According to the 4th Edition of Kamus Dewan, anger means a heated feeling when one is deceived or insulted and others. [3] Furthermore, the feeling of anger is an emotional articulation experienced by each individual. Humans express their feeling and actions through the process of imitation that can be witnessed and modelled from their daily surroundings. There are various factors why the feeling of anger arises. Usually, it is related to an incident or situation that happens that threatens or endangers a person. Every belief in various religions places anger as an act that is harmful to the person that is angry and to the person to whom the anger is directed. The reason is anger could distance or break a silaturahim bond between the people. [4]

Rasullullah PBUH himself was angered in several situations. It is narrated that the Prophet PBUH was never angry regarding worldly or personal matters. However, the Prophet PBUH will get angry when it involves matters that contradict the truth. This is narrated by al-Hasan bin Ali who asked his uncle, Hindun bin Abu Halah about the depiction of how Rasullullah PBUH talks. Hence, he said that among the matters are:


وَلَا تُغْضِبُهُ الدُّنْيَا، وَلَا مَا كَانَ لَهَا، فَإِذَا تُعُدِّيَ الْحَقُّ لَمْ يَقُمْ لِغَضَبِهِ شَيْءٌ حَتَّى يَنْتَصِرَ لَهُ، وَلَا يَغْضَبُ لِنَفْسِهِ، وَلَا يَنْتَصِرُ لَهَا

“He would not be angered by this world. If the truth were overstepped, he would be so furious that he could do nothing but right the wrong. He would not be angry for his own sake or come to his own defence.” [5]

Controlling or restraining anger

Controlling anger is one of the commendable characteristics. Especially since it is one of the characteristics of a believer and person of taqwa. This is stated in the statement of Allah SWT through verse 134 surah Ali ‘Imran, which we have previously stated above.

Furthermore, a person who is capable to control his anger is characterized by the Prophet PBUH as a strong person. This is mentioned in a narration from Abu Hurairah RA, where Rasullullah PBUH said:

لَيْسَ الشَّدِيدُ بِالصُّرَعَةِ، إِنَّمَا الشَّدِيدُ الَّذِي يَمْلِكُ نَفْسَهُ عِنْدَ الغَضَبِ

“The strong man is not the good wrestler, but the strong man is he who controls himself when he is angry.” [6]

Likewise, a person who controls his anger is promised rewards, where he can choose any maidens in paradise that he favours. This is stated in a narration from Mu’az bin Jabal RA, the Prophet PBUH said:


مَنْ كَظَمَ غَيْظًا وَهُوَ قَادِرٌ عَلَى أَنْ يُنْفِذَهُ، دَعَاهُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ عَلَى رُءُوسِ الْخَلَائِقِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ حَتَّى يُخَيِّرَهُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْحُورِ الْعِينِ مَا شَاءَ

“If anyone suppresses anger when he is in a position to give vent to it, Allah, the Exalted, will call him on the Day of Resurrection over the heads of all creatures, and ask him to choose any of the bright and large-eyed maidens he wishes.” [7]

In other words, a person who restrains his anger is introduced to all men and praised for his praiseworthy character – which is his ability to control his anger. Thus, he is rewarded and he can choose any maidens of paradise that he wishes. This is a kinayah that he’ll be placed in paradise filled with blessings and attain a high stature. Moreover, al-Tibi stated that a person who is able to control his anger is praised, for he is successful in restraining his nafs that always tempt him towards evil. Hence, Allah SWT praises them in surah Ali ‘Imran, verse 134 which states it is one of the characteristics of a person of taqwa. [8]

Methodologies to control anger

In truth, there are several tips or methods that we can employ in controlling our anger as shown through the guidance of the Prophet PBUH. Among them are:

  • Performing the ablution. This is a stated by the Prophet PBUH:


إِنَّ الْغَضَبَ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ وَإِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ خُلِقَ مِنَ النَّارِ وَإِنَّمَا تُطْفَأُ النَّارُ بِالْمَاءِ فَإِذَا غَضِبَ أَحَدُكُمْ فَلْيَتَوَضَّأْ

“Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created of fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform ablution.” [9]

  • Changes his position; if he was standing then he should sit, and he should lie down if he was sitting. From Abu Zar RA, he said: Indeed, Rasullullah PBUH said to us:

إِذَا غَضِبَ أَحَدُكُمْ وَهُوَ قَائِمٌ فَلْيَجْلِسْ فَإِنْ ذَهَبَ عَنْهُ الْغَضَبُ وَإِلاَّ فَلْيَضْطَجِعْ

“When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise, he should lie down.” [10]

  • Firm faith in what is left by the Prophet PBUH. It is narrated from Abu Darda’, he said to the Prophet PBUH:

يا رسول الله، دلَّني على عمل يدخلني الجنَّة. قال: لا تغضب

‘Messenger of Allah, show me an action by which I will enter the Garden!” He said, ‘Don’t get angry.'” [11]

  • Stay silent. This is as stated in a narration from Ibn Abbas, from the Prophet PBUH, he said:

إِذَا غَضِبَ أَحَدُكُمْ فَلْيَسْكُتْ

“When one of you is angry, he should be silent.” [12]

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali said that staying quiet when a person is angry it is an effective cure for anger because anger is an overwhelming feeling and there is a possibility that bad speech may be uttered or other harmful things – such as hurting the feelings of others or that it may possibly endanger himself. Thus, when he is silent when he is angry, all the bad or harm wouldn’t affect him. [13]

  • Uttering isti’azah, seeking protection from the shaytan. From Abu Hurairah RA, Rasullullah PBUH said:

إِذَا غَضِبَ الرَّجُلُ فَقَالَ: أَعُوذُ بِاللهِ، سَكَنَ غَضَبُهُ

“When a person is angry, he should say: أَعُوذُ بِاللهِ (I seek refuge in Thee from the accursed devil). His anger will subside.” [14]

Conclusion

According to the above discussion and arguments, we conclude that the feeling of anger should be controlled the best one can, for if anger overwhelms a person and he lets it, there is concern that it may result in actions that transgress the limitations of syarak. Hence, those who can control their anger are characterized as commendable people according to syarak and promised great rewards.

Although, there are several situations when anger is permissible by syarak, such as feeling angry when Islam is insulted or when it is evil and oppression of the weak. However, the anger should be controlled and channelled correctly and not transgress the limitations set by syarak.

Lastly, strive and puts your best efforts into following the advice and guidance from the Prophet PBUH when facing and controlling one’s anger as we have stated above. Hopefully, it can be a lesson for curing and controlling the feeling of anger that may lead to irrational actions by a person.

May Allah SWT grant us all a clear understanding in practising this religion. Amin.

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] Surah Ali ‘Imran: 134

[2] See Tafsir al-Wasit, 1/238.

[3] See https://prpm.dbp.gov.my/cari1?keyword=marah. Accessed on 4th January 2022.

[4] See http://web.usm.my/mentor/download/pengenalan%20krisis,%20amarah,%20stres,%20krisis.pdf. Accessed on 4th January 2022.

[5] Narrated by al-Tirmizi in al-Syama’il al-Muhammadiyyah (226)

[6] Narrated by al-Bukhari (6114)

[7] Narrated by Abu Daud (4777) and Syu‘aib al-Arna’ut evaluated the sanad of this hadith as hasan.

[8] See ‘Aun al-Ma‘bud, 13/95

[9] Narrated by Abu Daud (4784)

[10] Narrated by Abu Daud (4782)

[11] See Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din, 3/165 and al-‘Iraqi stated the hadith of Abu Darda’ is narrated by Ibn Abi al-Dunya and al-Tabarani in al-Kabir and al-Ausat with a hasan sanad. (Also see Takhrij Ahadith Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din, 3/1801.

[12] Narrated by Ahmad (2136)

[13] See Jami‘ al-‘Ulum wa al-Hikam, 1/406.

[14] See al-Jami‘ al-Sahih li al-Sunan wa al-Masanid by Suhaib ‘Abd al-Jabbar, 8/467.

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