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Chapter 13. Averting Anger

I have made it clear that anger is placed in the nature of a human being so as to keep harm away from him and so that he can take revenge from the one who harms him. However, what is detested is excessive anger, as it disturbs one's soundness, makes one imbalanced and immoderate, such a person starts making wrong decisions which may even affect he who is angry more than the person he is angry at.

Anger is heat that spreads when something provokes one's anger, it makes the blood of desire boil to take revenge, and may even cause a fever. The main reason for anger is usually arrogance, for a person is never angry at anyone who is higher than him. That said, the cure for this is that the angry person changes his state; if he is talking he should be silent, if he is standing he should sit, and if he is sitting he should lie down, so that he may calm down. If he leaves the place immediately and leaves the one he is angry at, it would be better. He should also reflect on the excellence of repressing anger, for Allah has praised those who repress anger, He said,

"Those who repress anger and forgive other people"
[Ali lmran 3:134]

And if he reflects on the fact that this might be happening to him because of a sin that he committed or that it is all predestined then the matter will become easier for him, just as I mentioned in the previous chapter.

Section One: Hadith regarding Anger

There are many hadith that were narrated regarding anger. Abu Huryarah (ra) said, "A man came to the Prophet (saw) and said, 'Advise me!' He said, 'Do not get angry!' The man kept repeating his request and the Prophet (saw) continued to reply, 'Do not get angry!" [Bukhari]

The Messenger (saw) said, "The strong is not the one overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger." [Bukhari and Muslim]

Bukhari and Muslim also reported that Sulayman ibn Sard (ra) said, "I was sitting with the Prophet (saw) and two men were cursing each other, the face of  one of them was red and swollen (because of  his  anger). Thereafter  the  Prophet (saw) said, 'I know a word which if he says, what he feels will be gone. If he says 'I seek refuge in Allah from the damned devil' What he feels will be gone." So they said, "The Prophet (saw) said, 'We seek refuge in Allah from the damned devil!' He said, 'Am I crazy?!"'

Abu Dawud reported in his Sunan from the hadith of Abu Dhar (ra) that the Prophet (saw) said, "If any of you gets angry while standing, let him sit down. If his anger does not go away, then he should lie down." [Abu Dawud]

Al-Khattabi said, "The one who is standing is ready to make any movement, to hurt anyone and the one who is sitting is less likely to do anything."

Ibn Abbas (ra) narrated that the Prophet (saw) said, "If any one of you becomes angry, he should be quiet."

Al-Ahnaf said, "Anything that prevents one from controlling one's temper while angry is the devil of hastiness."

Section Two: Excessive Anger

If an angry person does not become calm when his anger peaks, he may harm himself or the person he is angry at and he would certainly regret any actions he may take afterwards. Many people have killed, hurt, and broken bones for their children while they were angry and regretted what they did for the rest of their lives. Some actually harmed themselves; a man was very angry at one time so he screamed, his blood expectorated instantly and he died at once. Another angry man punched someone due to his anger and his fingers broke, absolutely nothing happened to the one he punched.

To cure this disease one should envisage what he looks like when he is angry and what he looks like when he is calm. This is when he will know that anger is a state of insanity and immoderation. If the angry person does not change his mind ab0ut hitting the one he is angry at but he promises himself to do so but first to change his state (sit down if he is standing etc). If he does that then he will see the ugliness of what he was about to do and therefore he will leave it.

Section Three: The Excellence of Repressing Anger

When our righteous predecessors used to become angry, they would forgive, seeking the excellence of repressing anger. Some of them believed that they were angered because of their sins, and some believed that they were being tested, yet others believed that they were angered for other reasons that I have previously mentioned in the chapter on spitefulness.

It was mentioned in some of the previous revealed books of Allah, that Allah said: "O son of Adam! Remember Me when you are angry, I will remember you when you sin so that I will not destroy you with those I destroy. If you were wronged, be content with My support for My support is better for you than your own victory for yourself."

Mawriq said, "I have never said a word, when angry that I have regretted, when I am calm,"

And Ibn Awn was never angry. When a man would make him angry, he would say, 'May Allah bless you!"

Section Four: Being Composed before Reprimanding

A person who is angry at another should not punish him while he is angry, that is if he deserves to be punished at all. He should rather wait until he calms down, so that his punishment is equal to the offense not equal to his anger.

A man was brought to Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, who Umar was angry at. He told him, "If I was not angry at you, I would have beaten you." And then he let him go.