An Explanation of the Ḥadīth: “Do Not Become Angry”

Al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalī

An admonition against becoming angry and the benefits of controlling one’s temper. A Muslim will find his anger leaves him quickly if he can overcome his desires when upset.
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Abū Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) narrated that a man came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said:

“Advise me.” He replied: “Do not become angry,” the man repeated his request and he said [each time] : “Do not become angry.”

Narrated by al-Bukhārī 1

Imām Ibn Rajab (d. 795 AH) commented:

There are two possibilities regarding his (ﷺ) saying: “Do not become angry” :

He is ordering [the man] to take the necessary actions by which good conduct, manners, and a respectable bearing is attained. These include graciousness, generosity, forbearance, shame, humility, tolerance, endurance, refraining from overtly harming others, forgiveness, pardoning, suppressing rage, showing happiness, smiling, and other beautiful traits. Any person that is able to adopt these characteristics to the point where they become innate, will undoubtedly be able to defend himself from becoming angry, should the opportunity present itself.

Or he means: Do not act in accordance with your anger when you are in that state. Rather, struggle in opposition to yourself, fight the urge to implement your desires, or carry out that which your anger commands you with. For if anger is granted sovereignty over the son of Ādam, then it becomes both his commander and forbidder. This is the meaning referred to by Allāh the Exalted in Might:

وَلَمَّا سَكَتَ عَن مُّوسَى الْغَضَبُ
“And when the anger subsided in Moses”
[Al-Aʿrāf, 7:154]

If a person is able to resist the urge to implement that which his anger commands him, and he is able to struggle against his desires when angry, he will have successfully defended himself from the evil effects of anger. Furthermore, his anger may then subside in rapid abandonment. It would then be as if he was never angry [in the first place]!

This alludes to the saying of the Exalted in Might:

وَإِذَا مَا غَضِبُوا هُمْ يَغْفِرُونَ
“And when they are angry, they forgive.”
[Al-Shūrá, 42:37]

And the saying of the Exalted in Might:

وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
“And who restrain anger and pardon the people–And Allāh loves the doers of good.”
[Āli-Imrān, 3:134]

Endnotes:

1. Narrated by al-Bukhārī 10:519

Source: Jāmiʿ al-ʿUlūm 1:404
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: January 18, 2023
Edited: January 25, 2023

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