Short Temper (How satan plays a role)
- by Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid
Anger is a tendency that comes from the Shaytaan. Only Allaah knows how much evil and sin results from it. Hence Islam has a great deal to say about this negative characteristic and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) described remedies for ridding oneself of this problem and limiting its effects. These include the following: Seeking refuge with Allaah from the Shaytaan. Sulaymaan ibn Sard said: “I was sitting with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and there were two men swearing at one another. One of them was red in the face and the veins of his neck were standing out. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘I know a word which, if only he would say it, this [anger] would leave him. If he said, “A’oodhu billaahi min al- shaytaan (I seek refuge with Allaah from the Shaytaan),”, this [anger] would leave him.’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, 6/377). He (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) also said: “If a man gets angry and says ‘A’oodhubillaah (I seek refuge with Allaah),’ his anger will cease.” (Saheeh al-Jaami’ al- Sagheer, no. 695). Keeping quiet. The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If any one of you gets angry, let him keep quiet.” (Reported by Imaam Ahmad, al-Musnad, 1/239; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 693, 4027). Anger usually makes a person lose control, often to the extent that he may utter words of kufr (Allaah forbid), or curses, or the word of divorce (talaaq) which will destroy his family, or foul language that will earn him the enmity of others. Keeping quiet is the way to avoid all of these evils. Keeping still. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If any one of you gets angry, let him sit down if he is standing. If his anger goes away, (that is good), otherwise let him lie down.” The narrator of this hadeeth was Abu Dharr (may Allaah be pleased with him), who told the following story: he was watering his animals at a trough, when some other people came along. He said, “Who among you will help Abu Dharr to water his animals and ....?” A man said, “I will,” but he broke the trough. Abu Dharr was standing, so he sat down, then he lay down. Someone asked him, “O Abu Dharr, why did you sit down then lie down?” He said, “Because the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said ... [and quoted the hadeeth].” (The hadeeth with the whole story is reported in Musnad Ahmad, 5/152. See also Saheeh al-Jaami’, no. 694). According to another report, Abu Dharr was watering his animals at a trough when another man made him angry, so he sat down... (Fayd al-Qadeer al- Mannaawi, 1/408). One of the benefits of this Prophetic teaching is that it prevents the angry person from doing something crazy and out of control. An angry person could inflict harm or even kill – as we shall see shortly – or he could destroy property and so on. Sitting down makes it less likely that he will explode in this fashion, and lying down makes it even less likely that he will do something reckless or harmful. Al-‘Allaamah al-Khattaabi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his commentary on Abu Dawood: “The one who is standing is ready to move and destroy things. The one who is sitting is less likely to do so, and the one who is lying is not able to do anything of the sort. It seems that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) commanded the angry person to sit down or lie down in order to prevent him from doing anything that he would later regret. And Allaah knows best.” (Sunan Abi Dawood wa ma’ahu ma’aalim al- sunan, 5/141) Remembering the advice of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that a man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said: “Advise me.” He said: “Do not become angry.” The man repeated his request several times, and each time the response was, “Do not become angry.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, Fath al-Baari, 10/465). According to another report, the man said, “I thought about what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) had said, and I realized that anger is the source of all evil.” (Musnad Ahmad, 5/373). “Do not get angry, and Paradise will be yours.” (A saheeh hadeeth. Saheeh al- Jaami’, 7374. Ibn Hajar attributed it to al-Tabaraani. See al-Fath, 4/465). Remembering what Allaah has promised to those who avoid the causes of anger and strive to control themselves is the best way to extinguish the flames of anger. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) has told us about this great reward: “Whoever suppresses his anger at the time when he could express it openly, Allaah will fill his heart with contentment on the Day of Resurrection.” (Reported by al-Tabaraani, 12/453; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 176). Another immense reward is described in the hadeeth: “Whoever suppresses his anger when he is able to vent it, Allaah will call him before all the people on the Day of Resurrection and let him choose whoever of the hoor al-‘iyn he wishes.” (Reported by Abu Dawood, 4777, and others. Classed as hasan in Saheeh al- Jaami’, 6518). Knowing the high rank and distinction that is bestowed upon the one who controls himself. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “The strong man is not the one who can wrestle another to the ground; the strong man is the one who can control himself when he is angry.” (Reported by Ahmad, 2/236. The hadeeth is agreed upon). The more angry a person gets, the more highly valued is his self-control. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The real strong man is the one who gets intensely angry, so that his face reddens and his hair stands on end, but he suppresses his anger.” (Reported by Imaam Ahmad, 5/367; classed as hasan in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3859). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used an incident that took place in front of his Sahaabah as an opportunity to reinforce this lesson. Anas reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) passed by some people who were wrestling, and asked, “What is this?” They told him, “So-and-so is a strong man. No one challenges him but he beats them at wrestling.” The (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Shall I not tell you who is stronger than him? A man who is mistreated by another, but suppresses his anger, has defeated his own shaytaan and the shaytaan of the one who mistreated him.” (Reported by al- Bazzaar. Ibn Hajar said that its isnaad is hasan. Al-Fath, 10/519). Following the guidance of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) with regard to anger. He is our example, and his attitude towards anger is clearly demonstrated in many ahaadeeth, of which one of the most famous was reported by Anas (may Allaah be pleased with him), who said: “I was walking with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and he was wearing a Najraani cloak with a stiff collar. He was accosted by a Bedouin who pulled his cloak roughly. I looked at the Prophet’s neck and saw the marks left by the collar. The Bedouin said: ‘O Muhammad, give me some of the wealth of Allaah that you have!’ The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) turned to him and smiled, and ordered that he should be given something.” (Reported by al-Bazzaar. Ibn Hajar said that its isnaad is hasan). Another way in which we may follow the example of the (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is by making our anger for the sake of Allaah, when the limits set by Allaah are violated. This is the worthy kind of anger. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) became angry when he was told about the imaam who was putting people off praying because his recitation was too long. He became angry when he saw a curtain decorated with pictures of animate creatures in ‘Aa’ishah’s house. He became angry when Usaamah spoke to him about the Makhzoomi woman who was guilty of theft, and said to him, “Are you interceding concerning one of the punishments prescribed by Allaah?” He became angry when he was asked questions he disliked. His anger was only for the sake of Allaah. Knowing that suppressing anger is one of the signs of taqwa (piety). Allaah has praised certain people in His Book, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) highly commended them. There have been prepared for them Gardens as wide as the heavens and the earth. One of their characteristics is that they “... spend (in Allaah’s Cause) in prosperity and in adversity, [they] repress anger, and pardon men; verily, Allaah loves al- muhsinoon (the good-doers)” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:134 – interpretation of the meaning]. These are the people whose good qualities Allaah has mentioned, people whom others admire and want to catch up with. Another of their characteristics is that “when they are angry, they forgive” [al-Shoora 42:37 – interpretation of the meaning]. Paying attention when one is reminded. Anger is something natural, with regard to which people differ. It may be very hard for a person not to get angry, but a sincere person, if he becomes angry and is reminded about Allaah, will remember Him and will stay within the limits that He has prescribed. Some examples of this follow. Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with them both) reported that a man asked permission to see ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him), and permission was given. The man said, “O son of al-Khattaab, by Allaah, you are not giving us much, and you are not ruling us fairly!” ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) became so angry that he was about to hit the man, but al-Hirr ibn Qays (who was among the people sitting with ‘Umar) said, “O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, Allaah said to His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): ‘Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish (i.e., don’t punish them)’ [al-A’raaf 7:199 – interpretation of the meaning], and this man is one of the foolish.” By Allaah, ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) did not take the matter any further when this was recited to him. He adhered to the words of Allaah, may He be glorified and exalted. (Reported by al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, 8/304). This is how the Muslim should be, not like the evil hypocrite who, when he got angry and was told about the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and was advised by one of the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to seek refuge with Allaah from the Shaytaan, said, “Do you think there is something wrong with me? Do you think I am crazy? Go away!” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, 1/465). We seek refuge with Allaah from failure. Knowing the bad effects of anger. The bad effects of anger are many, harming both the self and others. A person may swear and utter obscenities, and may hit others, lashing out with no control. It may even lead to killing. The following story contains a lesson. ‘Alqamah ibn Waa’il reported that his father (may Allaah be pleased with him) told him: “I was sitting with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when a man came along, leading another by a twisted rope. He said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, this man killed my brother.’ The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) asked, ‘Did you kill him?’ He said, ‘Yes, I killed him.’ He asked, ‘How did you kill him?’ He said, ‘He and I were hitting trees to make the leaves fall (so we could use them for animal fodder). He swore at me, so I got angry and hit him on the side of the head with an axe, and I killed him.’...” (Reported by Muslim in al- Saheeh, 1307). Even if anger does not go as far as this, there may still be broken bones and injuries. If the person with whom a man is angry runs away, he may turn his anger upon himself, tearing his clothes, slapping his cheeks, falling unconscious, or breaking dishes and furniture. One of the worst things that result from anger and cause social ills and family breakdown is talaaq (divorce). Ask many of those who have divorced their wives how and when it happened, and they will tell you, “It was in a moment of anger.” Lives are shattered and children are lost as a result. Feelings of regret and failure haunt people’s minds, and life becomes bitter – all because of anger. If only they had remembered Allaah and come back to their senses, restrained their anger and sought refuge with Allaah from the Shaytaan, what happened would not have happened. Going against sharee’ah only ever results in loss. The physical harm that results from anger is very serious, as the doctors describe, such as thrombosis, high blood pressure, fatal heart attacks, diabetes, etc. We ask Allaah for good health. The angry person should think about himself at the time of anger. If the angry person could see himself in the mirror at the time of anger, he would despise himself and how he looks when his colour changes, he shakes uncontrollably, his face reddens, the veins of his neck stand out and he behaves like a crazy person. He would be put off by his own appearance, but it is well known that the ugliness that exists inside a person is even worse than any that may appear on the outside. How happy the Shaytaan must be when someone is in this state! We seek refuge with Allaah from the Shaytaan and from failure. Du’aa’. This is the believer’s constant weapon. He asks his Lord to rid him of evils, problems and bad characteristics, and he seeks refuge with Allaah from falling into the pit of kufr and wrongdoing caused by anger, because one of the three qualities which will save a person from Hellfire is being just and fair both at times of contentment and at times of anger. (Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3039). One of the du’aa’s of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was: “Allaahumma bi ‘ilmika’l-ghaybi wa qudratika ‘ala’l-khalqi aheeni ma ‘alimta’l-hayaata khayran li, wa tawaffani idha ‘alimta’l-wafaata khayran li. Allaahumma wa as’aluka khashyataka fi’l-ghaybi wa’l-shahaadah, wa as’aluka kalimat al-ikhlaasi fi’l-ridaa wa’l-ghadab, wa as’aluka’l-qasda fi’l- faqri wa’l-ghinaa, wa as’aluka na’eeman la yanfad, wa qurrata ‘aynin la tanqati’, wa as’aluka’l-ridaa bi’l-qadaa’, wa as’aluka bard al-‘aysh ba’d al- mawt, wa as’aluka ladhdhat al-nadhr ila wajhika wa’l-shawqa ilaa liqaa’ik, fi ghayri darraa’ mudirrah wa laa fitnati mudillah. Allaahumma zayyinnaa bi zeenati’l-eemaan wa’j’alnaa hudaatan muhtadeen (O Allaah, by Your knowledge of the Unseen and Your power over all creation, keep me alive so long as You know life is good for me, and bring about my death when you know death is good for me. O Allaah, I ask You to make me fear You in secret and in the open, I ask You to make me speak sincerely at times of contentment and at times of anger, I ask You to make me be moderate in poverty and in wealth, I ask You for a blessing that does not end, contentment that never ceases, and for acceptance of Your decree. I ask You for a good life after death, and I ask You for the joy of looking upon Your face and the longing to meet You, with no harmful adversity or misleading trial (fitnah). O Allaah, adorn us with the beauty of faith, guide us and let us be a means of guidance for others).” (Reported by al-Nisaa’i in al-Sunan, 3/55; and by al-Haakim. Saheeh al- Jaami’, 1301). Praise be to Allaah, Lord of the Worlds.