By Wael Abdelgawad
A man said to the Messenger of Allah, (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam – peace be upon him): “Advise me! “The Prophet said, “Do not become angry and furious.” The man asked (the same) again and again, and the Prophet said in each case, “Do not become angry and furious.” [Al-Bukhari; Vol. 8 No. 137]
Resolve to give up anger, even if only for today. Whatever anger you are harboring against others, let it go. Whatever anger you have against yourself for mistakes you have made, or wrongs you have done, let it go my brothers and sisters. It’s not helping you, it is only damaging your own spirit.
Remember that we are human; we are all imperfect. From the very beginning, starting with Adam and Hawaa (Adam and Eve) we human beings made mistakes.
Other people have made mistakes and harmed you in the past because they are human; forgive them. You have made mistakes because you are human; forgive yourself, and turn to Allah in tawbah (repentance).
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has taught us some strategies for dealing with anger. For example, he said:
“I know a word, the saying of which will cause him to relax, if he does say it. If he says: ‘I seek Refuge with Allah from Satan’ then all his anger will go away.” [Al-Bukhari; Vol. 4, No. 502]
And he said,
“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.” [Abu Daud; Book 41, No. 4766]
Abu Dharr narrated: The Apostle of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said to us: “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.” [Abu Daud; Book 41, No. 4764]
In another hadith, the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:
“If one of you becomes angry then he should be silent.”
Narrated ‘Abdur Rahman bin Abi Bakra: Abu Bakr wrote to his son who was in Sijistan: Do not judge between two persons when you are angry, for I heard the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, saying: “A judge should not judge between two persons while he is in an angry mood.” [Al-Bukhari; Vol. 9, No. 272]
So the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, has give us several strategies to deal with anger:
1. Seek refuge with Allah from Shaitan. This reminds us that fury and rage are not good things; they are evil forces that we need to get rid of before they take us over. Seeking refuge with Allah reminds us that Allah is near, watching us; also it reminds us to turn the matter over to Allah, so that we can let go of our anger.
2. Perform wudu’. Subhan'Allah, what a beautiful thing. The wudu’ is a source of blessings and barakah for us. It also has a powerful symbolic value, washing away our anger and making us peaceful and pure.
3. Sit down, or even lie down. Modern science has learned that the body influences the emotions as well as the other way around. So assuming a peaceful posture leads to peaceful emotions. Sitting down or lying down are non-threatening positions. This helps to diffuse any conflict before it escalates.
4. Stay silent. This is very important. All too often spouses or family members say things to each other in anger, and later they deeply regret it. However, the words have been uttered and the damage is done. When you are most angry is the time to remain silent. Seek refuge with Allah, make wudu, pray, go for a walk, go to the masjid… allow yourself time to calm down and reflect.
5. Do not judge between people (in other words make important decisions). Obviously making important decisions out of anger is a formula for disaster.
So these are all wonderful points for dealing with anger in the moment. However, I am also speaking about past anger. We all have old emotional wounds that we carry around like scars. We have old resentments and hurts.
If you hold on to these hurts, they will destroy your marriage, or at least make it an unhappy, chafing relationship. Holding on to resentments and grudges will destroy your friendships, leaving you isolated. These persistent negative emotions will eat into your own soul, leaving you bitter and unhappy.
Let them go. Modern medicine tells us that carrying around these old resentments and anger is bad for the health; it actually damages the heart, increases blood pressure, and reduces lifespan. More importantly, however, it hurts our spirits. It makes us brittle and cynical. We become impatient, closed off and quick to judge.
Hurt, anger and resentment tighten your chest and narrow your vision. They make your world smaller.
Forgiveness, on the other hand, opens your lungs and lets you breathe. It releases your heart to beat freely, it removes the shackles from your mind, and lets all the weight drop off your back.
I know that this is easy to say and hard to do, but we must begin to forgive.
Start with forgiving yourself. Ask Allah for forgiveness for anything you’ve done that you regret, and then forgive yourself. Let it go. Breathe in deeply, breathe out, and let that anger escape with your breath. Do this as often as you need.
Brothers and sisters, be gentle with yourselves and with others. The world is already so full of anger, hatred, racism, divisions, and suffering. The world is torn by war and conflict. Let’s change this by starting with ourselves. Go into the world today and be gentle. Be kind.