Anger management and Controlling the Nafs

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Question:

Mufti Sahab, I am dealing with a spiritual problem.

My Nafs gets angry, impatient, and arrogant when I want to do something good. I’ve allowed my Nafs to overpower me before, by engaging in different sins. This is why I feel overcome by it.

Sometimes, I fear that my heart might act upon what my Nafs command. It is a very overpowering feeling of arrogance and anger. While reading The Quran, I feel this arrogance and I feel it upon my face.

How can I get my Nafs under control so that it doesn’t overpower me? And, do these feelings from the Nafs constitute Kufr?

Answer:
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

It is natural for a person to get angry, more so when one tries to oppose the evil dictates of the Nafs. These feeling do not constitute Kufr. Your Iman is intact. However, a strong and intelligent person is he who strives to bring his Nafs under control and doesn’t succumb to the evil dictates of his Nafs.

Nabi Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam said:
“‏ليس الشديد بالصرعة، إنما الشديد الذى يملك نفسه عند الغضب‏”‏
Translation: “A strong man is not the one who is good at wrestling, rather a strong man is he who controls himself in a fit of anger.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

“‏ الكيس من دان نفسه، وعمل لما بعد الموت ، والعاجز من أتبع نفسه هواها، وتمنى على الله‏”‏
Translation: “An intelligent man is the one who supresses his Nafs (i.e. refrains from doing evil deeds) and does such deeds (that will benefit him) after death; and the foolish person is the one who subdues himself to his temptations and desires of his Nafs and puts his hope in Allah (that he will be forgiven)” (Tirmidhi) 

The first step in bringing the Nafs under control is linking oneself with a spiritual guide/Sheikh. After identifying a spiritual guide, one should consult with him regularly and follow his advice.

Do not diagnose the spiritual problems yourself and practise on self-prescribed remedies. When the remedies do not work, you will get frustrated. This is similar to a person with a chronic illness who hasn’t consulted an expert in the medical field to help him diagnose the problem and get appropriate medication.

You seem to exhale the anger when you recite Quran, that is not the prescription to overcome the anger and Nafs. Rather, we have been advised to take the following steps to cool the anger:

• Sit or lie down. Sleeping or taking a short nap is also very beneficial in calming down one’s anger.

• Make Wudhu or drink some cold water. It is mentioned in the Hadith:

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ إِنَّ الْغَضَبَ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ وَإِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ خُلِقَ مِنَ النَّارِ وَإِنَّمَا تُطْفَأُ النَّارُ بِالْمَاءِ فَإِذَا غَضِبَ أَحَدُكُمْ فَلْيَتَوَضَّأْ ‏”‏ ‏.‏
Translation: Nabi Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam said: Anger comes from Shaitan and Shaitan is created of fire. Only water can extinguish fire; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform Wudhu. (Sunan Abi Dawud 4784)

• Recite Ta’awuz, i.e. أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ

You mention that you can feel the arrogance/anger on your face, see the following Hadith:

عَنْ مُعَاذِ بْنِ جَبَلٍ، رضى الله عنه قَالَ اسْتَبَّ رَجُلاَنِ عِنْدَ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم حَتَّى عُرِفَ الْغَضَبُ فِي وَجْهِ أَحَدِهِمَا فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ إِنِّي لأَعْلَمُ كَلِمَةً لَوْ قَالَهَا لَذَهَبَ غَضَبُهُ أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ ‏”‏
Translation: Mu`adh bin Jabal narrates that two men cursed each other in the presence of Nabi Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam until anger could be seen in the face of one of them. So Nabi Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam said: “Verily, I know a statement, that if he were to say it, his anger would vanish. (the statement is:) 

أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ

(A`ūdhu billāhi minash-shaiṭānir-rajīm) ‘I seek refuge in Allah from Shaitan, the rejected” 
(Jami` at-Tirmidhi 3452)

One should not forget to constantly make Duaa. Allah Ta’ala is the only One who can save us from the evil of our Nafs. The following Duaas may be read in order to be saved from the evil of the Nafs:

 يَا حَيُّ يَا قَيُّومُ بِرَحْمَتِكَ أَسْتَغِيثُ أَصْلِحْ لِي شَأْنِي كُلَّهُ، وَلَا تَكِلْنِي إِلَى نَفْسِي طَرْفَةَ عَيْنٍ  
Translation: Oh Allah, The Ever Living The All Sustaining, I beg You for Your mercy. Correct all my matters and don’t leave me to my Nafs for even a blink of an eye. (Shuabul Imaan) 

 اللَّهُمَّ آتِ نَفْسِي تَقْوَاهَا وَزَكِّهَا أَنْتَ خَيْرُ مَنْ زَكَّاهَا أَنْتَ وَلِيُّهَا وَمَوْلاَهَا
Translation: O Allah! Grant my Nafs the sense of piety and purify it as You are the Best One to purify it. You are its Guardian and its Protecting Friend. (Sahih Muslim 2722) 

You may listen to the advice on controlling and managing anger here

You may also read the commentary of Qasidah Burdah. The second chapter deals with how to avoid the desires of the Nafs. You may also access the audio via the following link: https://daruliftaa.net/qaseeda-burdah/

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Mahmood | darulmahmood.net