When was the last time you got angry? Why did you get angry? How did you react to the situation? Were you regretful afterwards? What does the Quran say about anger?
We see the word ghaḍab (غضب) meaning anger in the Quran repeated over 20 times. It is a topic of great importance in our life. We become agitated and angry over big and small issues in life related to our work, relationship, family, bills, and what others think about us. We do not even realize that we are destroying our own physical and psychological health. We shatter our own peace of mind and the peace of others living with us.
In which contexts is anger in the Quran used? Does the Quran offer anger management choices? Read the following article and find out so much more.
What is anger?
Different definitions have been provided for the term anger (ghaḍab), each highlighting a specific aspect of this state:
- Anger is the heavy pumping or gushing of blood in your veins out of grudge or the desire to take revenge because something is annoying you and is against your desire. 1
- Anger could also be defined as a force instilled in mankind to defend him/herself especially when he/she is wronged and oppressed. Nevertheless, its course could be deviated and it could be used in the wrong place. In such a case anger becomes a vice.
- Anger is a personal state that moves one to action because one feels that he/she is no longer in control of a situation or feels disrespected. There are two scenarios:
- One becomes angry to prevent an undesirable event from happening;
- An undesirable event has already happened which moves one to take revenge.
- “Anger is an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong. Anger can be a good thing. It can give you a way to express negative feelings, for example, or motivate you to find solutions to problems.”
Anger and physical health
Sometimes you feel so angry and would just like to punch a wall. Would that really cool you down?
Anger reactions are pretty harmful to your physical health.
Research has shown that the immune system of people who get angry more often, become weaker, hence they become sick more often.
According to scientific research, anger is related to coronary disease and high blood pressure. According to one research, those who do not control their anger, are 9% more likely to get a heart attack.
Anger and reasoning
At times of anger, one’s intellectual power is overshadowed. Think of an undesirable event taking place, igniting sparks of anger in a person’s mind. A fire is lit up and as the seconds go by, it gets bigger and bigger. Black smoke is all over the place in the person’s mind obstructing the rays of light, meaning the intellect to shine upon the mind. That person cannot see and think properly, hence, does violent and inhumane acts which make him regret once the smoke clears away. That is why admonitions are useless when someone is really enraged.
Verses of anger in the Quran
The term ghaḍab (غضب) or anger in the Quran and its derivatives have been used 22 times.
Verses of anger in the Quran can be divided into three parts:
- Verses which talk about God’s anger in the Quran;
- Verses which talk about how the believers suppress their anger and display a good scene of anger management.
- Verses which talk about anger in an inappropriate place
Let us look at each category more carefully:
1. Verses about God’s anger in the Quran: Does Allah get angry in the Quran?
Yes, He does! There are sixteen verses which mention God’s anger in the Quran. Take a look at the following instances:
وَيُعَذِّبَ الْمُنَافِقِينَ وَالْمُنَافِقَاتِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ وَالْمُشْرِكَاتِ الظَّانِّينَ بِاللَّهِ ظَنَّ السَّوْءِ ۚ عَلَيْهِمْ دَائِرَةُ السَّوْءِ ۖ وَغَضِبَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَنَهُمْ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا
That He may punish the hypocrites, men and women, and the polytheists, men and women, who entertain a bad opinion of Allah. For them shall be an adverse turn of fortune: Allah is wrathful with them and He has cursed them, and prepared hell for them and it is an evil destination. 2
- God’s anger in the Quran is regarding two groups of hypocrites and polytheists who have a bad opinion of Him.
Having a bad opinion of Allah means no or little faith in God’s power, wisdom and mercy, which leads to a mindless life and negative thoughts all the time resulting in tension, stress and depression. God is angry in the Quran with these people.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَوَلَّوْا قَوْمًا غَضِبَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ قَدْ يَئِسُوا مِنَ الْآخِرَةِ كَمَا يَئِسَ الْكُفَّارُ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ الْقُبُورِ
O you who have faith! Do not befriend a people at whom Allah is wrathful: they have despaired of the Hereafter, just as the faithless have despaired of the occupants of the graves. 3
- God’s anger in the Quran is about those who have despaired of the Hereafter.
الَّذِينَ يُجَادِلُونَ فِي آيَاتِ اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ سُلْطَانٍ أَتَاهُمْ ۖ كَبُرَ مَقْتًا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَعِنْدَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يَطْبَعُ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ قَلْبِ مُتَكَبِّرٍ جَبَّارٍ
Those who dispute the signs of Allah without any authority that may have come to them—[that is] greatly outrageous to Allah and to those who have faith. That is how Allah seals the heart of every arrogant tyrant.’ 4
- God’s anger in the Quran is regarding those who dispute about the signs of Allah, without any authority that has reached them. Such people who claim something without bringing any logical proof have been referred to as arrogant tyrants. Arrogance can hence bring upon God’s anger.
وَإِذْ قُلْتُمْ يَا مُوسَىٰ لَنْ نَصْبِرَ عَلَىٰ طَعَامٍ وَاحِدٍ فَادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُخْرِجْ لَنَا مِمَّا تُنْبِتُ الْأَرْضُ مِنْ بَقْلِهَا وَقِثَّائِهَا وَفُومِهَا وَعَدَسِهَا وَبَصَلِهَا ۖ قَالَ أَتَسْتَبْدِلُونَ الَّذِي هُوَ أَدْنَىٰ بِالَّذِي هُوَ خَيْرٌ ۚ اهْبِطُوا مِصْرًا فَإِنَّ لَكُمْ مَا سَأَلْتُمْ ۗ وَضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الذِّلَّةُ وَالْمَسْكَنَةُ وَبَاءُوا بِغَضَبٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَانُوا يَكْفُرُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَيَقْتُلُونَ النَّبِيِّينَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ بِمَا عَصَوْا وَكَانُوا يَعْتَدُونَ
And when you said, ‘O Moses, ‘We will not put up with one kind of food. So invoke your Lord for us, so that He may bring forth for us of that which the earth grows—its greens and cucumbers, its garlic, lentils, and onions.’ He said, ‘Do you seek to replace what is superior with that which is inferior? Go down to any town and you will indeed get what you ask for!’ So they were struck with abasement and poverty, and they earned Allah’s wrath. That, because they would deny the signs of Allah and kill the prophets unjustly. That, because they would disobey and commit transgressions. 5
- God’s anger in the Quran is regarding the Jews who denied the signs of God, unjustly killed the prophets, disobeyed, and committed transgression.
كُلُوا مِنْ طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ وَلَا تَطْغَوْا فِيهِ فَيَحِلَّ عَلَيْكُمْ غَضَبِي ۖ وَمَنْ يَحْلِلْ عَلَيْهِ غَضَبِي فَقَدْ هَوَىٰ
‘Eat of the good things We have provided you, but do not overstep the bounds therein, lest My wrath should descend on you, and he on whom My wrath descends certainly perishes. 6
- God’s anger in the Quran is on those who overstep the bounds.
God’s anger in the Quran is with regards to 10 groups of people:
- Those who have despaired of the Hereafter
- Those who dispute about the Signs of Allah, without any authority
- Arrogant tyrants
- Those who deny the sign of God
- Those who unjustly kill the prophets
- Those who disobey
- Those who commit transgression.
- Those who overstep the bounds.
2. The believers and managing anger in the Quran
As stated above, one group of verses talk about how the believers control their anger in the Quran. Take a look at the following instances:
وَالَّذِينَ يَجْتَنِبُونَ كَبَائِرَ الْإِثْمِ وَالْفَوَاحِشَ وَإِذَا مَا غَضِبُوا هُمْ يَغْفِرُونَ
Those who avoid major sins and indecencies, and forgive when angered. 7
الَّذِينَ يُنْفِقُونَ فِي السَّرَّاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
Those who spend in ease and adversity, and suppress their anger, and excuse [the faults of] the people, and Allah loves the virtuous. 8
In both verses, anger in the Quran has been accompanied with pardoning and forgiving the fault of those who have done something wrong.
In another beautiful verse, God instructs His prophet to practice patience, not to get angry, and wait for the divine decree when the unbelievers pressurize the Prophet’s heart and he is about to curse them. God reminds him of Prophet Jonah (AS) and how he got angry and left his people.
فَاصْبِرْ لِحُكْمِ رَبِّكَ وَلَا تَكُنْ كَصَاحِبِ الْحُوتِ إِذْ نَادَىٰ وَهُوَ مَكْظُومٌ
So wait with patience for the Command of thy Lord, and be not like the Companion of the Fish,- when he cried out in agony.
Thus the qualities of those who manage their anger in the Quran are:
3. Verses about Unbelievers and managing anger in the Quran
At times, the wrong judgement rooted in the wrong mindset and ideology lead to one’s anger. Look at this beautiful verse about anger in the Quran:
وَإِذَا بُشِّرَ أَحَدُهُمْ بِالْأُنْثَىٰ ظَلَّ وَجْهُهُ مُسْوَدًّا وَهُوَ كَظِيمٌ
When one of them is brought the news of a female [newborn], his face becomes darkened, and he chokes with suppressed agony. 9
These men at the time of ignorance, believed that having girls in the family is a shame, so when the news of a baby girl was given to them they choked with suppressed anger and hid from the people out of distress. Two options would come to their mind:
أَيُمْسِكُهُ عَلَىٰ هُونٍ أَمْ يَدُسُّهُ فِي التُّرَابِ ۗ أَلَا سَاءَ مَا يَحْكُمُونَ
1. Retain it in humiliation, or 2. Bury it in the ground! Behold! Evil is the judgement that they make. 10
A point which can be understood from the verse is that ignorance and lack of knowledge combined with stubbornness can lead to inappropriate anger.
Praying 10 times every day to stay away from God’s anger in the Quran!
Every single day we ask God to guide us to the right path, the path of those who He has guided and blessed, not those who He has been angry with.
صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ
the path of those whom You have blessed — such as have not incurred Your wrath, nor are astray. 11
An extensive explanation has been provided in this regard in the article
Anger in hadith
A Bedouin once came to the Prophet (s) and said: `I live in the desert. Teach me the essence of wisdom.’ The Prophet (s) said to him: `I command you not to get angry’. He repeated his question three times and received the same answer. 12
Controlling one’s anger towards those one has authority over
Abu Ja’far says in a beautiful hadith,
“God Almighty says to Moses in the Torah, “O Moses, control your anger towards those over whom I have given you authority, so that I may spare you from My Wrath.” 13
This is a practical advice in the realm of the family with regards to the man having authority over his family. There are many narrations which enjoin men to overlook the flaws of their wives and not to turn the peaceful atmosphere of the family into one filled with enmity, anger, and revenge.
The most powerful person
In a narration from Imam Ali (AS) we read,
“The most powerful person is the one who is victorious over his anger with his forbearance.” 14
In one of the battles 15 of the Commander of the faithful (AS), when the enemy saw himself defeated, he spat in the face of his holiness. He got angry yet did not raise his sword to kill him. Instead, he waited for a couple of moments to calm down and then stroke his sword out of adherence to the truth and not for the sake of taking revenge.
Two practical ways for anger management
Abu Ja’far presents two golden keys in helping someone who is angry:
- Changing of physical position
“Whosoever is angry with someone, let him sit down immediately if he is standing; for, indeed, doing so will repel from him the uncleanliness of Satan.”
- Physical touch
“Whoever gets angry with his family member, let him approach and (gently) touch him; for the feeling of family affiliation, when stimulated by touch, induces calmness. 16
Anger is a natural reaction to undesirable events that happen to us in life. It is desirable in certain cases and reproached in others. The more our understanding of the Islamic belief system and our own self, the better we will realize where displaying anger is good or bad. In cases where we are dealing with small personal mistakes, it is better to forgive and restrain our anger.
- Raqib, vol. 1, p. 608.
- The Quran, 48:6 (Qarai).
- The quran, 60:13 (Qarai).
- The Quran, 40:35 (Qarai).
- The Quran, 2:61 (qarai).
- The Quran, 20:81 (Qarai)
- The Quran, 42:37 (Qarai).
- The Quran, 3:134 (Qarai).
- The Quran, 16:58 (Qarai).
- The Quran, 16:59 (qarai).
- The Quran, 1:7 (Qarai).
- Al‑Kafi, vol. 2, p. 303.
- Al‑Kafi, vol. 2, p. 302.
- Mizan al-Hikmah, hadith 15027.
- It was called the battle of Khandaq or the Ditch. In those battles, Muslims fought to defend themselves against the attacking armies of the Arab polytheists. They were great in number and power and were determined to destroy the new tree of ISlam. Among the Muslims, Ali was one of the greatest champions. In the battle of the ditch, he challenged the best fighter among the enemy and defeated him in one-to-one combat.
- Al‑Kafi, vol. 2, p 302.