What Does Islam Teach about Anger Management?

Do you find your temper on a short fuse when confronting your teenage child? Do you get mad when somebody cuts you off while driving? Don’t these make you clench your jaws, have a rapid heart rate, sweat or tremble?

 

We all have experienced these physical reactions to anger. In fact, anger is a normal healthy emotion. But when out of control, it can turn destructive and lead to many problems. This article will help us learn how to keep our anger under control and to act more appropriately to lessen the impact it has on our daily life.

 

What Is Anger?

 

anger management in Islam

 

As defined in Cambridge dictionary anger is “a strong feeling that makes you want to hurt someone or be unpleasant because of something unfair or unkind that has happened” [1].   It is typical of a human’s behavior to get angry when he/ she is deceived, irritated, attacked or mistreated. If used correctly, anger can be profitable in helping us distinguish between right and wrong.

 

 

It can also motivate us to make a change and speak up for ourselves. In some cases, however, it becomes really difficult to manage our anger. This will most probably affect our relationships and lead us to say or do things that we later regret.

 

 

That is why the religion of Islam attaches so much importance to controlling this natural human behavior. Imam Sadiq (AS) says in a narration that the one who has no control over his/her anger has no control over his reason [2].

 

 

Why Is It Important to Control Our Anger?

 

anger management in Islam

 

Sometimes you get so angry that you cannot think straight and are unable to make sound decisions. That’s when anger could be a breeding ground for many evils. As Imam Sadiq (AS) puts: “(uncontrolled) anger is the key (that opens the door) to all kinds of vices” [3]

 

 

Based on vast scientific studies, anger can determine various mental or physical diseases and many other deadly risks. This includes the increase in the number of road accidents, violent crimes, etc.:

 

“Chronic anger and anxiety can disrupt cardiac function by changing the heart’s electrical stability, hastening atherosclerosis, and increasing systemic inflammation” [4] “Research also shows that even one five-minute episode of anger is so stressful that it can impair your immune system for more than six hours” [5]. Studies have linked anger to mental health problems like depression, loneliness, anxiety, eating and sleep disorders, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive behavior as well. [6]

 

 

Since this emotional behavior is hard to control and sometimes makes us commit irrational deeds, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) introduces the most courageous person as the one who does not let these negative feelings take over and can overcome his/her anger [7]. Such a person is virtuous in the eyes of Allah:

 

“those who spend in ease and adversity, and suppress their anger, and excuse [the faults of] the people, and Allah loves the virtuous” (3:134)

 

 

Some Tips for Anger Management in Islam

 

anger management in Islam

Fortunately, Islam recommends some ways to control and overcome anger in our life:

 

Calm Your Anger down in the Earliest Phase


When you find something annoying, you can either choose to vent your frustrations or cool down and take a minute to think twice about the negative consequences that inevitably follow the expression of anger. Why don’t you find some way to put yourself in other people’s shoes? Don’t you want to give yourself a chance to turn that anger to love?

 

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says: “the best people are those who do not get angry easily and get satisfied (calm down) quickly.”

 

 

Get Engaged in Spiritual Acts of Worship

 


Saying the prayer or any other act of worship can help you tame your anger. Pray for yourself and the person or the situation that has made you angry. Remember Allah and ask Him to soften your heart and help you in forgiving others.

 

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) has said: “Anger comes from Satan, and Satan was created from fire. Fire is put out by water; so when you become angry, perform ablution (Wudu) with water” [8].

 

Change Your Bodily Posture


Nowadays scientists have proven how changing your posture can affect your mood, your energy level as well as the ability to generate positive and negative thoughts. “According to one study from Texans A&M University, lying down can reduce feelings of anger and hostility” [9].

 

 

It has also been reported from Imam Baqir (AS) that: “Verily, anger is a spark ignited by the Devil in the human heart. Indeed, when anyone of you gets angry, his eyes become red, the veins of his neck become swollen, and Satan enters them. Therefore, whosoever among you is concerned about himself on account of it; he should lie down for a while so that the filth of Satan may be removed from him at the time” [10].

 

 

Try to Be Patient, even under a Pretense


A Chinese proverb says If you are patient in the moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow. So, it is not wise to be swift in seeking revenge. It has also been narrated from Imam Ali (AS) that the best revenge at the time of anger is to show forbearance [11]. When you are fuming over something, before any reaction, ask yourself if you want to live a life filled with vengeful and angry thoughts or a peaceful and decent life in which you try to forgive patiently. Which one would you choose?

 

 

What Are the Benefits of Anger Management in Islam?

 

Keeping Your Flaws Hidden


Imam Ali (AS) says: “Anger is a very bad companion, it reveals your flaws, brings the evil near and distances the good” [12].

 

 

Improving Your Recognition Skills

 


It is narrated from Imam Ali (AS) that the most powerful people in recognition of the right are the ones who do not get angry [13].

 

 

The Development of Wisdom


Imam Ali (AS) introduces anger management as a way of developing wisdom [14]. Since a wise person would never do anything regrettable at the time of anger.

 

 

Showing Your Real Friends and Keeping Them Close


Imam Sadiq (AS) has said: “If someone got angry with you three times but did not insult you, then choose him/her as a friend” [15]. In another narration, Imam Ali (AS) says making your friend angry will lead to separation from her/him [16].

 

 

Preventing You from Saying or Doing Things that You Might Regret Later

 


Imam Ali (AS) has advised us to keep silent at the time of anger: “Protect yourself from anger for its beginning is insanity and its end is remorse” [17].

 

 

Anger management will also make you close to the holy infallible Imams and follow in their footsteps. Then you will become a dignified person who deserves to be saved from Allah’s wrath both in this world and the hereafter.

 

 

Can Anger ever Be Helpful?

 


“Muhammad, the Apostle of Allah, and those who are with him are hard against the faithless and merciful amongst themselves” (48:29)

 

 

As stated above anger can be constructive too. When managed well, anger has no or very few detrimental consequences. Instead, it is a warning sign of corruption or an evil action; that something around you is not right. It then motives you to take action to correct the wrong. In such cases, Muslims are recommended to express anger for the right, to defend the good, and only to gain Allah’s satisfaction.

 

Yet, how you end up handling the anger is of great importance, too. As Muslims, we are not allowed to violate anyone’s right or act indecently at the time of anger. All our actions should be based on rational considerations and the Divine laws. Imam Sadiq (AS) says in this regard: “A believer is a person who when angered, his/her anger does not lead him away from that which is true” [18].

 

References:

[1] http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/anger

[2] al-Kafi, v. 2, p. 305, no. 13

[3] al‑Kafi, vol. 2, p. 303, hadith 3

[4]  https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/happiness-stress-heart-disease/

[5] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-cynthia-thaik/emotional-wellness_b_4612392.html

 [6]http://valueoptions.com/company/Releases/Harmful_Effects_of_Holding_in_Anger.htm

[7] Nahj al-Fasaha, p. 549, hadith 1872

[8] Nahj al-Fasaha, p. 286, hadith 660

[9] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/imperfect-spirituality/201301/movement-can-help-you-feel-better-fast

[10] Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, Vol. III.

[11] Tasnif ghurar al-hikam wa-durar al-kalim, p. 285, hadith 6400

[12] ibid, p. 302, hadith 6893

[13] ibid, p246, hadith 5062

[14] ibid, p. 242, hadith 4919

[15] Ma’dan al-Jawahir, p. 34

[16] Naj al-Balaqa (Sobhi Salih), p. 559, hadith 480

[17] Al-Amidi, Gharar ul-Hikam wa darar ul-Kalim, hadith 2635

[18] Al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 186, hadith 11

[19] https://www.imamreza.net/eng/imamreza.php?id=7741