A man came to the Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and asked him (Peace and blessings be upon him) for advice. He (Peace and blessings be upon him) said,
“Do not become angry.” The man repeated his request for advice, and each time, the Prophet replied with this one phrase that sums up all good attitudes and behavior: “Do not become angry.” (Bukhari)
While you may not be able to avoid people’s anger and aggressive attitudes, you can surely deal with such situations in a wise and productive manner.
Anger can be like a fire. And you can’t possibly combat fire by another spark of fire, or pouring fuel onto it – this would result in a massive fire that would swallow everybody, including yourself. Whereas pouring water onto fire will curb it, if not end it entirely. Having a calm, tolerant temper can combat anger like water extinguishes fire.
Reacting calmly and tolerantly to an angry situation might first seem passive – but who cares! If you want to just add fuel to the fire, the situation will probably spiral out of control and end up in a fight of unpredictable magnitude.
I agree that being a calm, tolerant person does require a lot of self-discipline, which is normally “difficult”.
Here are some time-tested tips for averting anger:
1. You have to understand that anger is not a matter of power or ability.
“The strong man is not the one who can wrestle, but it is the one who can control himself when he is angry.” (Bukhari)
2. Regard anger as an infection
Keep due distance from those ill-tempered people, regardless of the extent of their anger and the reason behind it. Don’t react in a manner that will signal hatred. Doing so will probably just exacerbate the anger and exasperate the situation.
3. Feel free to delay your reaction
It won’t bruise your dignity nor tarnish your image. You can end your presence in this situation. Whether physically or if it’s a phone conversation, or a virtual presence with chatting, and react later when you’re mentally ready to deal positively with the situation.
4. Keep the interest of the Muslim community in mind
”Do not be angry with each other and do not envy each other and do not turn away from each other, and be slaves of Allah, brothers. It is not halal for a Muslim to shun his brother for more than three nights.” (Imam Malik’s Muwatta)
5. React with a calming statement
For example, “I understand how you feel, I know you must be angry, etc. Try and avert the angered person from thoughts that continue to anger them.
6. A few kind words can have a surprising effect
Reverting the whole situation into a pleasant tone will help lessen tensions. On the other hand, harsh words trigger retaliation. Watch your words because they can set the tone for an entire situation.
7. Don’t become that person
If you hate the attitude of the person who’s angry, know that reacting in a harsh manner will render you pretty much similar to him/her, so you’d better be careful.
Be strong and make your calm manner contain the situation. Be wise. Self-control is cornerstone to curbing people’s anger.
Remember that our beloved Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) never took revenge over a personal matter.
It is narrated that “The Prophet never took revenge for his own sake, but if the laws of Allah were violated, he would take revenge for the sake of Allah.”
Remain wise and apply the virtue of patience, which is your key tool to avert aggressive and anger attitudes.
Remember, the relationships and attitudes you cultivate within your life will impact your productivity.
So remain positive and avoid negativity!
About the author
Maha Youssuf is the Founder and Managing Director of The Muslim Tribune.