Speaking Harshly

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Today after jummah prayer was over I was looking for a women who I had told I would give her money, so I was looking for her and a man came and asked me for money and he claims that he’s the person I “promised”, so he basically lied. I got angered and spoke harshly to him. Am I sinful for speaking to the man harshly?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

The answer to this question would depend on the nature of your harshness and what exactly you stated.

Anger is not only a natural human emotion but a necessary one for essential human functioning. However, because it is so easy for a person’s anger to become a “swelling ocean” and exceed the bounds, our religion has placed great emphasis on controlling and moderating one’s anger. Thus, the Prophet (blessings upon him) counselled his companions not to become angry. [Bukhari], and many great scholars when asked to summarise good character said it was to leave aside anger. [al-Ghazali, Ihya Ulum al-Din]

Imam al-Ghazali mentions that anger is acceptable only:

i. at the right time,
ii. in the right place,
iii. for the right reasons, and
iv. with the right intensity.

Falling short in any of these points will lead to imbalance and a type of anger the Prophet warned against – one that is not entailed by religion nor the intellect. This imbalanced and blameworthy anger is dangerous because of what it leads to: mockery, insults, demeaning and abusing others, envy, hatred, backbiting etc.

If your anger involved any of this, it should be considered sinful and you should repent. However, if it was merely an expression of firmness and frustration at this person’s act of lying that did not exceed the bounds, it would not be sinful.

But it is often superior to hold back and put up with people in the type of situation you describe and to still seek the forgiveness of God. Imam Ahmad stated, “Good character is to not get angry or enraged. Good character is to patiently endure what comes from people.” [Ibn Rajab, Jami al-Ulum wa’l-Hikam] The spiritual masters of Islam advise people to resist the impulses of their self (nafs) as a form of training it. In other words, when it gets angry, a person should strive to conquer it through good moral character and a display of gentleness. [al-Qushayri, al-Risala]

[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas was born and raised in New York, graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. Ustadh Salman’s personal interests include research into the fields of law/legal methodology, hadith, theology, as well as political theory, government, media, and ethics. He is also an avid traveler and book collector. He currently resides in Amman with his wife.

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