Anger Management: An Islamic Perspective
WE Muslims are followers of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), right? What better example of patience do we have than that of our own blessed Prophet himself? Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who was sent to mankind to teach them good moral conduct, learned to control his anger toward the unbelievers and teach them appropriate expressions. He used to speak against being angry. We think that we have it tough, when one of his days was probably tougher than the whole of our lifetimes! When we look at his life, our own difficulties seem so pathetic in comparison. Imagine spending 13 years completely devoting his life spreading the word of Islam and suffering hardship. This was a man who had the burden of the whole of mankind’s future on his shoulder. Yet he had the tolerance and self-discipline to be able to forgive those around him who were themselves so ignorant.
The best example of this was when the Prophet (peace be upon him) went to Ta’if at the time when the followers of Islam were at their weakest and the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself had suffered the loss of both his wife Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her) and his uncle Abu Talib. He went to this town in the hope that they would listen to what he had to say. Instead he was insulted and chased out of the town by the children who threw stones at him till (it was described) the blood flowed from his body to his feet making his sandals sticky with his own blood. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was so depressed that he prayed to Allah, who then sent down the angel of the mountains who asked for the Prophet’s permission to fold the mountains together and crush to death all those that lived there. But what was the Prophet’s reply? “Yes, kill them all as they did not listen to me”? No, of course not! His answer was “No, I hope Allah will bring from them people who will worship Allah alone, associating none with Him.”
This was the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him), even though he felt bitterness and was very angry with them, he had the discipline and control to not let his emotions control his actions and he forgave them realizing that they were merely misguided.
One companion asked him : “Give me some advice by virtue of which I hope for good in the life Hereafter, and he said, “Don’t be angry.” Another person asked what would save him from the wrath of God, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Do not express your anger.”
Once the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked his Companions: “Who among you do you consider a strong man?” They said the one who can defeat so-and-so wrestler in a fight, and he said, that is not so. The one who is strong is the one who can control himself at the time of anger. He also said that “anger is like fire, which destroys you from within, and it can also lead you to the fire of Hell by your own expressions of anger unjustly.”
So being angry is similar to being drunk. In both cases, we do not know what we are doing, hurting ourselves or someone else, and afterwards when the intoxication is over, we repent.
Sheikh Hassan Al Basri said that one of the signs of the Believers is that his anger does not get on upper hand over him. One should distinguish between natural response to wrongdoing and disbelief. A person who has no feelings about oppression, wrongdoing and disbelief is, in fact, an impotent person emotionally. It has been said, “Evil flourishes when a few good people do not do anything to oppose it.” Thus response to injustice and operation in a civilized way is the appropriate expression of anger. Being neutral to injustice is equal to contributing to injustice.