Allah, the Wise, has said:
يا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لا تَتَوَلَّوْا قَوْماً غَضِبَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) said:
الْغَضَبُ يُفْسِدُ الْإِيمَانَ كَمَا يُفْسِدُ الْخَلُّ الْعَسَلَ
One of the harmful diseases, which possesses numerous ill-effects and also causes aggravation of the nerves, is anger. This is especially so if it creates a feeling of vengefulness and malice, for then its harm becomes twofold.
Anger that manifests itself while battling the infidels or opposing someone who seeks to inflict harm upon one’s reputation, family, etc., is not only regarded as commendable by religion and intellect, but is also a sign of courage and valour.
But in instances other than the above, anger is from the whisperings of Shaitan and a key to all evils. It destroys intellect and forces changes in the physical and mental disposition of man by altering the colour of the face and the eyes, and bringing about mental aggravation and stress; it is also accompanied by other effects such as abuses, taunts, violence, ridicule, murder and other similar acts.
It is better to stay away from all such things that induce anger, and repel it by practicing patience and forbearance.3
When the life of Prophet Elisha was nearing its end, he decided it was time to appoint his successor. With this in mind, he gathered the people and said: Whosoever from amongst you undertakes to perform three things, I shall make him my successor: To fast during the days, to remain awake during the nights and abstain from anger.
A youth by the name of U’waidiya, who apparently did not possess a great status in the eyes of the people, stood up and said: I am willing to accept the undertaking. The next day when Prophet Elisha repeated his words, once again it was only this youth who stood up to accept the offer, and so Prophet Elisha appointed him as his successor; shortly afterwards he departed from the world.
God granted Prophethood to the youth, who was none other than Prophet Dhul Kifl.4
Once, Shaitaan resolved to make him angry and thus cause him to break his pledge, and so appointing a satan by the name of Abyadh for this task, commanded him: Go and make him angry.
Dhul Kifl would usually remain awake during the nights and sleep a little during the day. Abyadh waited till he had gone to sleep; then, approaching him, he shouted: I have been oppressed and have suffered injustice. Grant me justice from my oppressor!
Dhul Kifl said: Go and bring the person before me. The satan said: I shall not move from here since I know he shall not come with me. Giving him his ring, Dhul Kifl asked him to take it to the oppressor and ask him to come in his presence.
Abyadh took possession of the ring and departed. The next day arriving again, he wailed: I have been oppressed; the oppressor disregarded your ring and refused to come with me!
Dhul Kifl’s doorkeeper said: Let him rest, for neither did he sleep yesterday nor has he slept the whole of last night. But Abyadh insisted: I shall not let him sleep; I have been oppressed.
Hearing this, Dhul Kifl wrote a letter and handed it to Abyadh so that he could show it to the oppressor who would then present himself before Dhul Kifl.
On the third day, no sooner had Dhul Kifl closed his eyes when Abyadh appeared again and woke him up to state that the person still refused to come. This time Dhul Kifl took hold of Abyadh’s hand and, without any sign of anger, set off in the sun to talk to the person.
Realizing he had failed in his task of making Dhul Kifl angry, Abyadh slipped away from him and took to flight.5
Once, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) happened to be passing by a locality when he noticed a large crowd. In the midst of the people stood a strong and powerful man, who was exhibiting his strength by lifting a gigantic stone, which the people referred to as ‘stone of the strong ones’ and ‘weight of the champions’. The spectators, visibly impressed over his display of strength, were seen complimenting and praising him.
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) questioned: Why have these people gathered here? Some people, informing him of the weight-lifting acts of the champion, said: A person is displaying his strength.
Hearing this, he (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) said: Should I inform you, who (in reality) is a strong person and a champion? A champion is one, who, when someone abuses him, does not get enraged, exhibits tolerance, prevails over his ego and gains dominance over the satan of his self.6
Once, a person approached the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) and said: Impart me knowledge and teach me the rulings of religion. He (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) said: Go and refrain from getting enraged.
The man said: This very sentence shall suffice for me, and then proceeded to return to his tribe.
When he reached his tribe he observed that dispute had arisen amongst them and having armed themselves, they stood facing each other ready for battle. Observing this, the man too put on his battle-dress ready to join his friends for battle when suddenly he recollected the words of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) asking him to abstain from anger.
Dropping his weapons, he proceeded towards the opposition and began to reason with them: Battle and war shall not yield anything. I shall pay you from my own wealth whatever you desire!
Realizing the truth of his words, they acquiesced: We are more deserving of disregarding and ignoring the differences that have taken place.
And thus, by this advice of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny), a major conflict was averted.7
Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) had sent his servant out to perform a task for him. When a long time had passed and he had not returned, the Imam (peace be upon him) set out in search for him. After searching for a while, the Imam (peace be upon him) found him asleep.
Without the slightest exhibition of anger, the Imam (peace be upon him) sat down near his head and began to fan him till he woke up from his sleep. After he had woken up, he (peace be upon him) said to him: By God! It does not befit you that you sleep during the night as well as during the day. You ought to sleep during the night, but work for us during the day.8
Abdullah Ibn Taahir, after the death of his brother Talhah (d. 213 A.H.), was appointed the governor of Khorasan. He continued to rule over it till the time of Al-Waathiq Billah and, after seventeen years of governorship, died in the year 230 A.H. at the age of forty eight.
Abdullah Ibn Taahir relates:
One day when I was with the Abbasid Caliph, none of the servants were seen to be around. Observing this, the Caliph called out: O’ Slave! O’ Slave! A Turkish slave suddenly appeared and discourteously said to the Caliph:
The servants too have important tasks to do for themselves such as eating, using the lavatory, performing ablutions, offering prayers and sleeping; just as we go out for some important task you raise your voice and holler out O’ Slave! ’ Slave! How long will you go on saying: O’ Slave?
Abdullah says: Hearing this outburst, the Caliph lowered his head; I was convinced that the moment the Caliph raised his head he would order the slave to be beheaded!
However, when the Caliph raised his head after a few moments, he said to me: O’ Abdullah! When the masters conduct themselves in a good manner, the slaves become ill-mannered; (however) we cannot become ill-mannered in order that the slaves behave in a good manner (Meaning that the slaves misuse the patience and tolerance of their masters).9