Have you ever had a moment when you feel the bile rising in your throat, face flushed, and nostrils flaring? Your hands are balled into fists, and you could strike – you’re filled with that sudden urge to destroy something. It might be a vase, a plate in your hand or your cell phone, easily chucked a couple hundred feet, hurled out a window or shattered into a million pieces on the pavement.
Maybe this scenario isn’t something you can relate to – for you, it might be getting behind the wheel and hitting the gas, the sound of tyres screeching and the smell of burned rubber filling the air. Or you might be one of the volcano types which erupt with profanity and all sorts of hurtful words until there is nothing left. Or you can be the type that does not say anything, internalizing the feeling of anger until they get an ulcer.
It’s perfectly normal to get angry. After all, we are human – we have emotions and are impacted by our day-to-day dealings and disappointments. Anger is a human emotion that all of us possess, but like any other human vice, anger needs to be controlled so that it doesn’t control you. Anger can range from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. So what is the prescribed manner to display and manage anger? How does one keep anger in check?
It is important to discuss how to approach anger because if anger is not properly dealt with, it can cause other problems internally or externally. For instance, if anger is internalized it can cause hypertension (high blood pressure) or depression. Externally one will witness violence and destruction; the ripples of anger linger and taint a person’s character as well.
The sudden spark of anger that ignites into a flame is attributed to Satan provoking man to lose control. In a narration of a hadith, Atiyah bin Arwah reports the Prophet (pbuh) as saying, “Anger is prompted by Satan who has been created from fire“(Abu Dawud). Furthermore, the Prophet (pbuh) has been quoted about anger in the following ahadith:
“Beware of anger, for it is a live coal on the heart of the descendant of Adam. Do you not notice the swelling of the veins of his neck and the redness of his eyes? So when anyone experiences anything of that nature he should lie down and cleave to the earth” (Tirmidhi).
“If one of you becomes angry while standing he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise he should lie down” (Tirmidhi).
Performing ablution is another method of anger management. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created of fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when any of you is angry, he should perform ablution” (Abu Dawood).
Next time you feel a little hot under the collar here a few suggestions on how to keep that little spark from becoming an all-consuming fire:
First of all seek refuge from Satan. The du`a’ that is recommended is “auoodhu billahee minashaythan irajeem,” which translates to “I seek refuge in Allah from the Satan, the stoned,” as noted in Bukhari and Muslim.
Try changing your physical position. If you are standing, sit down.
Finally, if that fire is starting to turn into an all-out forest fire, make wudu (ablution) and put it out.
I also have a few personal suggestions that I have found helpful, as I tend to be on the fiery side: drinking water helps, stepping away from the situation and cooling down. Also, any means to get out the frustration is good: exercising, martial arts, sports, etc.
I would like to end with two ahadith that I found very inspiring:
The Prophet (pbuh) said, “When Allah created His creations, He wrote on His Throne: ‘My Mercy has preceded My Anger’” (Bukhari).
The Prophet (pbuh) said, “The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the one who controls himself while in anger,’ (Bukhari).