Anger is an emotion that is native to all human beings. It can be one of the most incendiary forms of expression if not restrained. People who often express themselves using anger as a tool of communication with others may struggle to maintain healthy relationships, whether personal or more distant. Therefore, it is imperative for us to learn how to control our anger, as it is not only injurious to our outer environment but also the inner, physiological one. Several studies have shown that misdirected and unrestrained anger affects our body in many ways.1 The Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) and the Imams (pbut) also spoke at length about anger and its pitfalls. According to the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp), anger can be harmful to one’s faith, as narrations tell us that he said, “Anger spoils faith as much as vinegar spoils honey.”2 Moreover, Imam Sadiq (p) is reported to have said, “Anger is a destroyer for the heart of a sage; and he who does not have his anger under his control does not have his wisdom under his control, either.”3

What is Anger?

Anger is one of the most basic human emotions. Depending on how a person expresses anger, it can either be passive and fester over time or be aggressive and reckless. Usually an emotional hurt or a perceived threat trigger it and invoke feelings that are increasingly displeasing. The intensity of that displeased feeling and how we react to it varies from person to person. Some individuals have a considerable anger threshold and can control it, while others do not. It is also important to note that while some can recognize when they are angry, others might be incapable of doing so. Experts believe that anger can be constructive or destructive, depending on how one expresses it. If it is well-managed, then it has a very limited effect on our health.4 But if it is out of control, then the aggressor may suffer severe health and relational ramifications. Imam al-Sadiq (p) has said, “Anger is the key to all evil.”5 Learning to control our anger is vital for healthy living.

The Health Risks

Perhaps, the most well-known side effect of anger is high blood pressure (hypertension), but there are several other side effects that are just as dangerous, such as diminished thyroid function, higher risk of cancer, and high cell death rates. Anger has a negative effect on almost all our bodies’ systems, including the cardiovascular, immune, and digestive systems. Poorly managed anger has been associated with health risks, such as coronary heart disease, obesity, depression, stroke, insomnia, and drug and alcohol addiction.6 Moreover, it also greatly diminishes the ability of our immune system to fight threats, leading to a higher risk of infection.

How Can We Control Our Anger?

Breathe – The next time you feel the rush of anger overtaking you, take a deep breath! Focusing on our breathing helps calm our nerves and gives us time to think before we speak. Imam al-Baqir (p) said in a hadith, “There is no strength like being able to repel one’s anger.”7

Think about the consequences – Whenever a person reacts impulsively in an abrasive manner toward someone or something, they will almost always regret it later. It is better to think about the outcome of the situation you are in and how it will affect you than to react angrily and repent for it after the fact. Narrations tell us that Imam Ali (p) said, “Rage is a type of madness, because the one enraged feels regret later on, and if he does not feel regret, then his madness has become ingrained.”8

Change your position – Imam Sadiq (p) said in a hadith, “If someone is angry and he is standing, he needs to sit down and change his position.”9

Perform wudhu – Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp) said, “If someone is angry, then it is better for him to do wudhu or take a shower.”10

Seek help – There is no shame in seeking help if you are unable to manage your anger. Talk to an expert who can guide you and better help you control your anger, so that you do not continue to fall prey to irrational impulses.

2. Shaykh al-Hurr al-Amili, Tafsil wasail al-Shia, vol. 15, p. 358.
3. Shaykh al-Namazi, Mustadrak safinat al-bihar, vol. 7, p. 598.
5. Muhammadi Rayshahri, Mizan al-hikma, vol. 2, p. 1423.
7. Muhammadi Rayshahri, Mizan al-hikma, vol. 3, p. 2266.
8. Nahj al-balagha, saying 255.
9. Shaykh al-Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, vol. 70, p. 272.
10. Shaykh al-Jawahiri, Jawahir al-Kalam, vol. 1, p. 26

2 – عن الإمام جعفر الصادق (ع) قال: قال رسول الله (ص): الغضب يفسد الايمان كما يفسد الخل العسل [الحر العاملي، وسائل الشيعة، ج ١٥، ص ٣٥٨]
3 – عن الإمام جعفر الصادق (ع): الغضب ممحقة لقلب الحكيم، ومن لم يملك غضبه لم يملك عقله [الشيخ النمازي، مستدرك سفينة البحار، ج ٧، ص ٥٩٨]
5 – المحمدي الريشهري، ميزان الحكمة، ج ٢، ص ١٤٢٣
7 – عن الإمام الباقر (ع): لا قوةَ كردّ الغضب [المحمدي الريشهري، ميزان الحكمة، ج ٣، ص ٢٢٦٦]
8 – عن الإمام أمير المؤمنين علي بن أبي طالب (ع): الحدة ضرب من الجنون لأن صاحبها يندم، فإن لم يندم فجنونه مستحكم [المحمدي الريشهري، ميزان الحكمة، ج ٣، ص ٢٢٦٥]
9 – عن النبي الأكرم (ص): … وأيما رجل غضب وهو قائم فليجلس فإنه سيذهب عنه رجز الشيطان، وإن كان جالسا فليقم، وأيما رجل غضب على ذي رحمه فليقم إليه وليدن منه، وليمسه، فان الرحم إذا مست الرحم سكنت [الشيخ المجلسي، بحار الأنوار، ج ٧٠، ص ٢٧٢]
10 – عن النبي الأكرم (ص): إذا غضب أحدكم فليتوضأ [الشيخ الجواهري، جواهر الكلام، ج ١، ص ٢٦]

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