Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Question: Can you please give some advice on how I can control my anger?
Answer: In the name of Allah, the inspirer of truth. All praise is to Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate, and all blessings and peace to our Master Muhammad, his family, companions, and those who follow them.
Anger is something both the Shariah and the sound intellect regard as generally blameworthy. This is why the Beloved of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) told the one who sought his counsel, “Don’t get angry,” repeatedly.
The scholars recommend many measures to deal with anger, including:
1. Turn to Allah, and seeking refuge in Allah, from Satan.
When a man got angry in front of the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace), he told his companions, “I know some words that would make his anger leave, if he said them. They are, A`udhubillahi min al-shaykhtan (‘I seek refuge in Allah from Satan’). [Bukhari] Imam Mawardi said in Adab al-Dunya wa al-Din that one should remember Allah when angry, for this leads to fear of Allah, which directs him to obey Him and restrain one’s anger by returning to proper manners. Allah Most High said, “And remember Allah when you are heedless.” [Qur’an, 18: 24]
Turn to Allah in supplication, in order to control one’s anger. One should turn to Allah with one’s heart and tongue, asking him to rid one of anger, and all other lowly traits. If you can do this using the supplications of the Beloved of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), it is even more beloved to Allah.
`A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reports that, “The Prophet entered while she was angry. So he rubbed the tip of my nose and said, ‘My little `A’isha. Say, ‘O Allah, forgive my sin, remove the anger in my heart, and protect me from Satan.’ (Allahumma’ Ghfirli dhanbi, wa adhhib ghaydha qalbi, wa aajirni min ash-shaytan)” [Ibn al-Sunni, as mentioned in Barkawi’s Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya]
اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي ذَنْبِي وَأَذْهِبْ غَيْظَ قَلْبِي وَآجِرْنِي مِنْ الشَّيْطَانِ
Do not say anything when angry, lest it contravene the Sacred Law, or go against your personal or social interests. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “If you get angry, stay silent.” [Ahmad]
3. Change your physical posture.
The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) is reported to have said, “If you get angry while standing, sit down…. If you get angry while sitting, lie down.” The wisdom in this is that it prevents one from doing that which one’s anger would have made one do in that posture.
4. Perform ritual ablutions
The Prophet informed us that anger is from Satan, and he was created from fire, so we should extinguish anger with ritual ablutions. [Abu Dawud]
5. Follow the counsel of the Best of Creation (Allah bless him & give him peace)
His repeated counsel for the one who sought advice was, “Do not get angry.” [Bukhari]
6. Remember the great reward mentioned by Allah for those who control their anger.
“And vie with one another for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for those fear Allah (al-muttaqin) ; Those who spend (of that which Allah has given them) in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath, and are forgiving toward mankind; and Allah loves the good. And those who, when they do an evil deep or wrong themselves, remember Allah and implore forgiveness for their sins. And who forgives sins but Allah?…” (Qur’an, 3: 133-135)
7. Remember that true strength is not physical, but spiritual and moral.
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “The strong one is not one who can out-wrestle others. Rather, the strong one is one who can restrain themselves when angry. [Bukhari& Muslim] Imam Kumushkhanawi, the great 19th Century hadith expert and Naqshabandi spiritual guide, explained that, this is because, “…the one who can control himself when his anger swells up has overcome the most powerful of his enemies and the worst of his adversaries. From this hadith, the Sufis deduced that it is incumbent on the knower of Allah to bear those who harm him, such as neighbors and others. (Lawami` al-`Uqul, 4: 23-4)
Imam Barkawi mentioned in his Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya that the way to remove the tendency to anger is, “By removing is cause, which is avidness for rank, arrogance, and conceit. One who has these traits is easily angered by that which normally does not anger others.
8. Remember the example of the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace)
Remember the clemency, forbearance, and easy-going nature of the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) with others, and did not get angry unless the anger was for the sake of Allah. The examples of this from his life are numerous. The scholars say that every Muslim should strive to read about the life and example of the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) daily.
9. Remember the harms of anger.
Be aware of the harms of anger, which include falling into that which Allah deems impermissible of words or actions, and acting in a way unbefitting of a believer. Would we act like this if we were aware that Allah sees all our actions? Would we act like this in the presence of the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace)?
Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (Allah have mercy on him) counted getting wrongly angry as one of the first major sins in his Zawajir.
10. Remember that anger is generally animalistic.
Be aware that one resembles animals, more than noble humans, when in a state of anger. [Barkawi, Tariqa]