Several Cures for Anger from the Sunnah
1. To say "Audhu billahi minashaytan nirajim." [Bukhari, Muslim]
2. If he is standing, then he should sit. If the anger fails to subside, then he should lie down. [Abu Dawood]
3. A person should remain silent. [Imam Ahmad]
4. Make wudhu. [Abu Dawood]
5. Make ghusl [Abu Nuaim]
(Summary of 'Jami'ul Uloom waal Hikam fi sharhi khamsina haditham min jawa mi'il kaleem' by ibn Rajab)
"The strong man is not the one who is the wrestler [or body-builder] but the strong man is the one who holds himself back at the time of anger."
In the last edition, we provided different cures for anger, in fact five were mentioned from different narrations. In this issue, we would like to provide a further elaboration.
The first cure for anger was to say ta'wwudh [ie "audhu billahi minashaytan nirajeem". ] This cure was given by the Prophet (saw) when a man showed anger in a situation where he was in front of the Prophet (saw). The Prophet (saw) said "I know something that if he says it, his anger will go away and this is "audhu billahi minashaytan nirajeem." What does this have to do with curing anger? Since anger comes from shaytan, you should seek refuge with Allah from the accursed shaytan.
The second cure which is mentioned in the hadeeth mentioned by Abu Dawood is that if a person is standing, he should sit and if his anger doesn't go away, then he should lie down. This is a very important cure for anger. The Scholars say that the reason that the Prophet (saw) gave this cure is because that when a person is angry and he is standing he is more capable of taking revenge whereas if he sits down, he will be less able and if the anger still does not subside, then he should lay down which will prevent him from acting out in a manner that he will regret later one.
The third cure that was mentioned was not speaking at the time of anger. Ibn Rajab Ž declared this to be a very great cure that Rasulollah (saw) has mentioned since it is in the state of anger that a person states a lot of things that he or she may regret later on. Sometimes, regretting one's actions will not help since once words are spoken, the damage will take effect. For example, a person in anger may question Allah (swt) or raise an objection (may Allah (swt) forbid this). In anger, a husband may divorce his wife. In anger, people say things that destroy relationships and may take years to rebuild. Breaking one's heart is very easy while joining the hearts is very difficult. Damaging a relationship can be done with one word while building relationships may, in some cases, take years. That is why it is best to refrain from speaking when in anger and to wait until the anger subsides and speak in a calm manner so that a person does not regret what he is saying.
The fourth and fifth cures were in regards to making wudhu and taking a bath. Both of these things have to do with using water because some narrations indicate that anger is from shaytan and shaytan has been created from the fire and the way to extinguish this fire is to use water whether it is in the manner of making wudhu or taking a bath. Someone's anger may go away by just making wudhu and someone else might have to take a bath in order for his anger to subside. A person can see also through experience that when he is angry, his body is very hot so that the way to cool him down is to put water over his body either through wudhu or through a bath.
We must remember one thing that what has been mentioned here is that the anger that has been mentioned here is the type of anger that is disliked in Islam since there are two types of anger. The first type is the anger which is disliked while the other is the type which is liked. The anger which is disliked is the one where a person takes revenge from someone because of himself or herself. The Prophet (saw) never did this and provided the cures for this type of anger which have been mentioned above. The type of anger which is liked is the type of anger when a person sees a commandment of Allah (swt) and His Rasul (saw) being broken. This is not only a sign of iman [faith] and liked but is also at times necessary. The Prophet (saw) became angry like this many times to the degree that his complexion would change. This is the type of anger that Imam Shafi'i (ra) was referring to when he said that "whoever does not get angry, he is a donkey."