Prophetic Guidance in Anger Management

fire1Consider this:

  • The US has the highest homicide rate of any industrialized Western nation
  • Anger is the 2nd leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds
  • Anger is a leading cause of domestic violence
  • Anger is behind the rising “Road-Rage phenomenon”
  • Anger is even behind many physical diseases, such as heart disease (e.g. “type A personalities”)
“America is suffering from a kind of internal terrorism that is killing more of our citizens than any external threat from our enemies. The violence resulting from out collective inability to manage anger is having a devastating toll on our country, in terms of both damage to property and loss of lives.” -Leonard Ingram, president Chicago Anger Institute

[click here for audio]

In this session, we look at Prophetic narrations dealing with anger from the beautfiul Riyadh al Saliheen collection and conclude with 8 principles of  Anger Management from the Qur’an and Sunnah:


1. Istiadha

  • The Prophet said after seeing a man overcome with rage, “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.” [Bukhari, Muslim]

إنّي أعلمُ كلمة ً لو قالها لذهبَ عنه ما يَجِد –

لو قال أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم

2. Water/Wudu

  • “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, Ahmad, authenticated by al-Arnaut but weak as per Albani]

إن الغضبَ من الشيطان ، و إن الشيطان خلِقَ من النار ، فإذا غضبَ أحدكم فليتوضأ

  • Wudu as an activity takes your mind off anger; water has calming effect

3. Change Positions

  • Abu Dharr narrated: The Apostle of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, 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, Ahmad, authenticated by Albani]

إذا غضب أحدكم و هو قائمٌ فليجلس فإن ذهبَ عنه الغضبُ ، و إلا فليَضطَجِع

  • Physical change likely to lead to a mental change
  • Modern Techniques:
    • Find quiet place, lie down and relax.
    • Physical time out: change activities.

4. Remain silent

  • Hadith: “If one of you becomes angry then he should be silent.” [Ahmad, authenticated by Albani]

إذا غضب أحدكم فليسكت

  • Modern techniques: Mental Time Out.

5. Never Act on Anger

  • 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 wasallam, saying: “A judge should not judge between two persons while he is in an angry mood.” [Al-Bukhari; Vol. 9, No. 272]

6. Remembering Allah

  • Al-Toofi: The strongest means of preventing anger is understanding the reality of tawheed; when one realizes that there is no mover or controller of affairs other than Allah, and all persons and actions are His instruments, then one accepts His will with calm
  • Ibn Hajar: This is the secret behind isti‘adha: draws your attention to Allah and His tahweed.
  • Modern techniques: Think pleasant thoughts.

7. Humbling yourself

  • Among the most powerful precipitants of anger is Kibr- arrogance, the one who humbles himself and rids himself of arrogance will be protected from anger

8. Forgiveness

  • Islam proposes forgiveness and giving up your rights as a remedy [See al-A’raf 199, Al-Shura 40-41]
  • Also see al-Nisa 148-149: theseverses revealed in early days of persecution, when natural and justified feelings of rage and anger were developing in the Muslims; Allah encourages them to take the higher moral ground: continue practicing virtue even in the face of evil and at least refrain from reciprocating evil [Maududi]

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