On the authority of Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him): A man came to the Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) and said, “Advise me.” He [the Prophet (peace be upon him)] said, “Do not become angry.” The man repeated [his request] several times and he [the Prophet (peace be upon him)] said, “Do not become angry.” (Recorded by al-Bukhari)
This was hadith was narrated Abu Huraira, who narrated more hadith than any other companion. His brief biography was provided at the beginning of hadith 10, you can find it here.
In a narration in Sunan al-Tirmidhi, a man came to the Prophet (s) and said, “Teach me something that will not be heavy upon me so that I will be able to keep it and memorize it.” The Prophet (s) then said, “Do not get angry.” Hence this is a very short, easy to keep in mind piece of advice, but it’s importance and implications are great. If one truly understands the harm of anger, they will realise the significance of this piece of advice.
“Do not become angry”
The Prophet (s), the best example for all mankind, would never get angry or take revenge for his own personal interest. His (s) anger was reserved for the sake of Allah (swt). He (s)once said:
“The strong person is not the one who is strong in wrestling. But the strong person is the one who is able to restrain himself when he is angry.” (Recorded in al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Anas ibn Malik (s) who served the Prophet (s) for ten years said that the Prophet (s) never once got angry with him or asked “Why didn’t you do such and such?”. He always remained patient and gentle in his (s) dealings with both adults and children. If he (s) saw something he disliked (for the sake of Allah) the colour of his face would change and people would know his displeasure by the expression on his face, but he (s) did not speak or act out of anger. He (s) never struck anyone except on the battle field for the sake of Allah (swt).
Anger is a feeling that can be controlled. In the same way that a believer should think before they speak, they should think before they act on the feeling of anger. If we think of the situations that cause people to get angry, they are often over petty, minor things, such as a difference of opinion, a disagreement in a sporting event, not getting their own way, the behaviour of a small child or a trivial matter with a spouse. Our inability to control our anger can create a sitaution that is blown out of proportion and leads to bad words being said or bad deeds being performed. Do we really need to get angry on such occaisions? It is only Shaitan who is happy when we get angry and we ignore this valuable piece of advice from our beloved Prophet (s).
As soon as the feeling of anger rises, one should ask oneself, “Why am I getting angry? Is this something really worth getting angry over?” If they are standing, they should sit, and if they are sitting they should lie down. They should then pause to remember Allah (swt) and the Hereafter and allow the feeling of the heat of the moment to subside. By not getting angry, the believer pleases Allah (swt). Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:
“And be quick in the race for forgiveness from you Lord, and for Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for the pious (al-Mutaqeen) – those who spend [for the sake of Allah] in prosperity and adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men. Verily, Allah (swt), loves the good-doers (al-muhsineen)” (Surah ali-Imran:133-134)
The person who restrains themselves when they feel anger has fulfilled one of the characteristics of the people of taqwa, and the true muhsineen (those who have ihsaan). If we can put thoughts of the Hereafter before those of our naffs, we can reach this highest state inshaAllah.