Let go of anger and replace it with forgiveness

Beautiful sunshine in a blue sky

Let go of anger today, and replace it with forgiveness

By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com

A man said to the Messenger of Allah, (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam – peace be upon him): “Advise me! “The Prophet said, “Do not become angry and furious.” The man asked (the same) again and again, and the Prophet said in each case, “Do not become angry and furious.” [Al-Bukhari; Vol. 8 No. 137]

Resolve to give up anger, even if only for today. Whatever anger you are harboring against others, let it go. Whatever anger you have against yourself for mistakes you have made, or for wrongs you have done, let it go. It’s not helping you, it is only damaging your own spirit.

Remember that we are human; we are all imperfect. From the very beginning, starting with Adam and Hawaa (Adam and Eve) we humans made mistakes.

Other people have made mistakes and harmed you in the past because they are human; forgive them. You have made mistakes because you are human; forgive yourself, and turn to Allah in tawbah (repentance).

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has taught us some strategies for dealing with anger. For example, he said:

“I know a word, the saying of which will cause him to relax, if he does say it. If he says: ‘I seek Refuge with Allah from Satan’ then all his anger will go away.” [Al-Bukhari; Vol. 4, No. 502]

And he said,

“Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created of fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform ablution.” [Abu Daud; Book 41, No. 4766]

Abu Dharr narrated: The Apostle of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said to us: “When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise he should lie down.” [Abu Daud; Book 41, No. 4764]

In another hadith, the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said:

“If one of you becomes angry then he should be silent.”

Narrated ‘Abdur Rahman bin Abi Bakra: Abu Bakr wrote to his son who was in Sijistan: Do not judge between two persons when you are angry, for I heard the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, saying: “A judge should not judge between two persons while he is in an angry mood.” [Al-Bukhari; Vol. 9, No. 272]

So the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, has given us several strategies to deal with anger:

  1. Seek refuge with Allah from Shaytan. This reminds us that fury and rage are not good things; they are evil forces that we need to get rid of before they take us over. Seeking refuge with Allah reminds us that Allah is near, watching us; also it reminds us to turn the matter over to Allah, so that we can let go of our anger.
  2. Perform wudu’ (ritual washing for purity). SubhanAllah, what a beautiful thing. The wudu’ is a source of blessings and barakah for us. It also has a powerful symbolic value, washing away our anger and making us peaceful and pure.
  3. Sit down, or even lie down. Modern science has learned that the body influences the emotions as well as the other way around. So assuming a peaceful posture leads to peaceful emotions. Sitting down or lying down are non-threatening positions. This helps to defuse any conflict before it escalates.
  4. Stay silent. This is very important. All too often spouses or family members say things to each other in anger, and later they deeply regret their words. By then it’s too late:  the words have been uttered and the damage is done. When you are most angry is precisely the time to remain silent. Seek refuge with Allah, make wudu, pray, go for a walk, go to the masjid… allow yourself time to calm down and reflect.
  5. Do not judge between people (in other words make important decisions). Obviously making important decisions out of anger is a formula for disaster.

These are all wonderful points for dealing with anger in the moment. However, in todays “Islamic Sunray” I am also speaking about past anger. We all have old emotional wounds that we carry around like scars. We have old resentments and hurts.

If you hold on to these hurts, they will destroy your marriage, or at least make it an unhappy, chafing relationship. Holding on to resentments and grudges will destroy your friendships, leaving you isolated. These persistent negative emotions will eat into your own soul, leaving you bitter and unhappy.

Let them go. Modern medicine tells us that carrying around these old resentments and anger is bad for the health.

Steven Stosny, PhD, and author of “The Powerful Self: A Workbook of Theraputic Self Empowerment”, says,

“Consistent, prolonged levels of anger give a person a five times greater chance of dying before age 50. Anger elevates blood pressure, increases threat of stroke, heart disease, cancer, depression, anxiety disorders, and, in general, depresses the immune system (angry people have lots of little aches and pains or get a lot of colds and bouts of flu or headaches or upset stomachs). To make matters worse, angry people tend to seek relief from the ill-moods caused by anger through other health-endangering habits, such as smoking and drinking, or through compulsive behavior such as workaholism and perfectionism.

Laboratory experiments have shown that even subtle forms of anger impair problem-solving abilities and general performance competence. In addition to increasing error rates, anger narrows and makes rigid mental focus, tending to obscure alternative perspectives. The angry person has one “right way” of doing things, which, if selected in anger, is seldom the best way.”

Anger hurts our spirits. It makes us brittle and cynical. We become impatient, closed off and quick to judge.

Hurt, anger and resentment tighten your chest and narrow your vision. They make your world smaller.

Forgiveness, on the other hand, opens your lungs and lets you breathe. It releases your heart to beat freely, it removes the shackles from your mind, and lets all the weight drop off your back.

I know that this is easy to say and hard to do, but we must begin to forgive.

Start with forgiving yourself. Ask Allah for forgiveness for anything you’ve done that you regret, and then forgive yourself. Let it go. Breathe in deeply, breathe out, and let that anger escape with your breath. Do this as often as you need.

Brothers and sisters, be gentle with yourselves and with others. The world is already so full of anger, hatred, racism, divisions, and suffering. The world is torn by war and conflict. Let’s change this by starting with ourselves. Go into the world today and be gentle, and forgive.

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Article by Wael

Wael Abdelgawad is an Egyptian-American living in Fresno, California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including Zawaj.com and IslamicAnswers.com, and also of various technology and travel websites. He is a writer and poet, and has been a web developer since 1997. This project, IslamicSunrays.com, is very dear to his heart, as it has allowed him to express ideas that have growing inside him for many years. Wael is divorced and has one lovely young daughter. He practices and teaches martial arts (somewhat obsessively), and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and vanilla fudge ice cream. Wael is an advocate for human rights and blogs about these issues at AbolishTorture.com. He is also a volunteer with the MyDeen Muslim youth organization in Fresno. Wael tagged this post with: , , , , , Read 266 articles by
15 Comments Post a Comment
  1. María M says:

    As salamu alaykum,

    Good tips to improve the behaviour.

    Thank you.

    Beslama

  2. Melissa Diaz says:

    Forgiving is probably easy. Here comes the hardest part is … how to forget what they’ve done to us. We probably can forgive things they’ve done that hurt us at a time but…sometimes it will just come again in our memories and there will restart the heart aches and restart anger. Forgiving is ok but make peace in our selves…that really huge works… takes energies and we will often get tired. Hhhhggg….

    • SisterZ says:

      Dear Melissa,

      I read your message early this morning and wanted to reply but didnt know what to say. Then today I had a Quran class and something my Shaykh said made me remember you and your message here.

      He was explaining Surah Al-Fatiha and when he came to Verse no.4: “Master of the Day of Judgement”; he said that the Day of Judgement is a Mercy for us all. How is this?

      It is a Mercy for us, because on this Day, those of us who have been wronged will surely receive justice as the Judge and Jury will be Allah Alone – The One Who is Most Just and Fair.

      And on the other hand, it is also a Mercy for those of us who are inclined to do wrong. Hopefully knowing that Judgement Day will surely come, will stop us from wronging others, hence a mercy for our souls.

      ***

      Sister, if you have been wronged, take comfort in knowing that Allah will give you justice in the Hereafter. Also remember that infact it is the one who wronged you who is at loss as he has damaged his own soul. Furthermore, you are in an extremely powerful position as you are in a position to forgive and by doing so you can become closer to Allah.

      I know its hard to forget, but you are human, so take it easy on yourself. Just keep reminding yourself that Allah(swt) will give you justice and gradually this will ease your pain and replace it with something sweeter inshaAllah.

      SisterZ

  3. Melissa Diaz says:

    Dear sister Z
    thanks so much for those soothing advice. I consider my self never do anything that hurt people or someone. If I’ve done something wrong I usually ask for their forgiveness. I always do that because I know that I will feel sad if someone do wrong to me. So by doing a good thing to someone or people around me I expect the same things from them and I just can not understand why me ex and his ‘secret’ woman hurted me. I never done anything wrong to them. I think it was my fate.
    This fate is very tough though. I already made a decision that insha Allah will be the best choice for my heart and my soul. I have to carry on with my life and my kids. I try not to look back…but as I mentioned before…sometimes I just fall down again and still need good nashihah to get stronger. Thank you so much for your concern… Jazakallaahu khoyron jazaa’…

    • SisterZ says:

      Allah tests those He loves my dear Sister :O)
      x

      • Melissa Diaz says:

        Yes sis… Allah tests those He loves. But I failed in His test. Does Allah still love me? Am I become a sinner since I’ve divorced my husband? Will I be able to smell the fragrance of Jannah? Will I be able to meet my beloved Prophet Saw and see the face of my Lord in Firdaus? These questions haunt me…make my restless soul feel deeper sadness…

        • SisterZ says:

          Dear Sis,

          We humans are prone to sin and Allah instilled this weakness in us so that we realise that we are dependant on Him for strength and guidance all the time. Again, it is human nature to sometimes fail and to sometimes succeed. If we fail again, we again try to succeed and we keep on going each time hopefully becoming stronger as we learn lessons from life’s experiences. Its an going cycle here to help us strive harder and harder.

          Wael posted this on IslamicSunrays Facebook page this morning:

          “Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain.”
          ~Author Unknown

          So think of each of your trials and difficulties as small pebbles. When you look back at life, you can collate all your trials and say: ‘Ya Allah, thank you for getting me through all that’.

          – Does Allah still love you despite your failures? Sis, are you a mother, if not, you are someone’s child, right? Would you stop loving your child if she did something wrong? I doubt it very much. A mother’s nature is such that she would correct her child because she loves her but then also helps and supports her to become stronger, because Allah has instilled Mercy in her. Well know this, that Allah is so much more Merciful than any mother is to her child – He is The Most Merciful.

          – If your husband mistreated you, then what did you do wrong in leaving him? Allah has made divorce permissible for a reason. Marriage is meant to be a loving union of two people to give them peace and tranquility. If two people cannot live together happily, then it is better that they part. Allah is not harsh, He is Gentle and Kind.

          – Will I be able to meet my beloved Prophet(saw) and see the face of my Lord in Firdaus? Keep striving towards piety and righteousness and Allah promises that He will reveal His Face to those in Paradise. Keep striving on the way of the Sunnah of Rasool(saw) and inshaAllah he(saw) will intercede for you. We can all only try our best. Try not to be consumed with despair over such thoughts, instead these should act as incentives for us, not as stumbling blocks.

          Do what you do with Allah in mind, purify your intention and action and then move forward and He (swt) will surely put Baraqah in it for you.

          SisterZ
          x

          • wael says:

            Thank you SisterZ for this kind and encouraging advice.

            Wael

          • Melissa Diaz says:

            Dear sis Z…
            I love the parable about a mother and her kids. I know that ALlah the Most Merciful but I really never thought that way. It was just open my mind that how Merciful Allah is. I was blinded with anger because I’ve never been in such situation before. I was angry, was desperate and feeling uncertain about life. But there you are remind me with the simple daily things. Subhaanallaah…
            I took night pray last night and did a long prostration in front of my Lord. I convinced my self that Allah still loves me and I feel like I got a hope to become a choosen people to enter His Firdaus that Allah Himself will welcome them. Like what the end of suraa al Fajr say :
            “Yaa ayyatuhan nafsu muthmainnah. Irji’ii ilaa robbiki roodhiyatam mardhiiyah. Fadkhuli fii ‘ibaadi…wad khulii jannatii”

            And today… I go to work with a light feellings. Knowing that Allah still loves me. In every breath I take I say to my self : Allah loves me…Allah loves me.

            Sis Z…
            thank you again for your advices. I really grateful that I found this site and you. May Allah bless us all. Please pray for me, sis because I know I probably might fall down again. Please pray that I will become stronger and let this anger fly away. Thank you so much…jazakillah khoyron katsiiron.

          • wael says:

            I woke up because I was having nightmares and just couldn’t stay in bed any longer. So I turned on the computer, and saw your comment. I will recite these ayaat from Surat-al-Fajr, Insha’Allah, as I try to sleep again.

            Wael

  4. SisterZ says:

    My dear Sister Melissa,

    Alhumdulillah, I am so happy to hear this positive change in your voice.

    Hitting rock bottom can be a blessing in disguise, because when we do so, the only way from there is to come back up. So yes, on your journey back to surface, you may have to face a few more waves and trials, but you’ll be stronger because your goal is survival now (it is no longer anger, SubhaanAllah). Each wave, each pebble, each trial is there to push you to your inner limits and brings out every shred of strength you have in you.

    Each time you feel that anger boiling up inside you again, remind yourself that its just shaytaan trying to knock you down again. Seek refuge with Allah at this point by saying: ‘Aoudhubillahi minashaytaan-nirrajeem,’ as Allah says in Surah Nahl, Ayah 99: “Verily! He (shaytan) has no power over those who believe and put their trust only in their Lord (Allah).”

    Also keep this lovely dua of our beloved Prophet(saw) close to your heart: “Oh Allah, Controller of hearts, make my heart steadfast upon Your deen.”

    Keep a picture in mind: coming back to surface is beautiful – as from here you can see clearly and you can breathe clean air. You can see the beauty of Allah’s creation, the sparkling seas, the blue skies, the warm shining sun, the rocky cliffs, the green mountains. Its bright, its a new day, you are alive and yes of course Allah loves you, afterall He made you turn to Him in worship – that is the sole reason why we are here 🙂 x

    • Nirgaz says:

      Salam,
      JazkaAllah khair for your words of wisdom and advise…I needed them…I’ve been struggling lately…finding it harder and harder to not be anxious, angry, or resentful…I wake up everyday trying to do better only to make mistakes again…then have hard time forgivng myself . then cycle repeats again.
      InshAllah I am going to try and implement some of the things above. Take it moment by moment.
      But I love these posts, and I thank you.
      Nirgaz

  5. Hudha says:

    Thank you
    JazakAllah Khayr
    Your posts have indeed been enlightening and fulfilling.
    May Allah bless you with wisdom and knowledge always.

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