How many hearts have been lost in an effort to win arguments? And yet, as human beings it is natural and even our right to disagree, and to think critically. One of the most difficult challenges of character for Muslims of every background is being able to practice hilm (forbearance) during times of anger and disagreement—that is to be able to disagree with a dignified and generous spirit, and to think critically without being argumentative, stubborn, and condescending. It is because we as a community fall into this so much, and on so many levels, that I found this issue to be a relevant reminder to myself and others.
The activist argues about strategy, the student argues about fiqh and other branches of knowledge, the community leader argues in the board room, and the Imam with those who disagree with his style or approach. Whether it be with our family, friends, community members or the Islamophobe—we often find ourselves in situations where anger and argumentation can creep in, sour the mood, and sully the spirit. Below is a collection of Quranic verses, Prophetic narrations, and sayings of righteous people mostly taken from Sa’eed Hawwa’s work “Selected Writings on Purifying the Soul.” These statements remind us to prevent anger and argumentation from getting the better of us.
May Allah help us to remember that when we deal with people, our transactions are actually with Him and not His creation. As such, may awareness of His presence (ihsan) bring goodness from our speech and characters during times of difficulty as well as ease. Ameen.
1. “And when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with ‘Salamaa’ (peaceful words of gentleness).” (Qur’an, 25:63)
2. “If they pass by some vain speech or play, they pass by it with dignity.” (Qur’an, 25:72)
3. “And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys… But of the people is he who disputes about Allah without knowledge or guidance or an enlightening Book.” (Qur’an, 31:19-20)
4. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him) said: “He who gave up disputing while he is right, a palace of high rank in Paradise will be built for him. He who gave up disputing while he is a fabricator, a palace in the center of Paradise will be built for him.” (al-Tirmidhi who declared it as hasan)
5. “There are no people who went astray after having been guided except for indulging in disputation.” (al-Tirmidhi)
6. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ repeated three times, “Those who search deeply for confusing questions have perished.” (Muslim)
7. “Do not dispute with your brother, ridicule him, nor promise him and then break your promise.” (al-Tirmidhi)
8. Bilal ibn Sa’d radiAllahu `anhu (ra) said, “If you see a disputing, arrogant, and bigoted person, bear in mind that they are utterly lost.”
9. Luqman `alayhi assalam (as) said to his son, “O son! Do not dispute with the knowledgeable lest they detest you.”
10. `Umar (ra) said, “Do not learn knowledge for three things and do not leave it for three things. Do not learn it to dispute over it, to show off with it, or to boast about it. Do not leave seeking it out of shyness, dislike for it, or contending with ignorance in its stead.”
11. It was narrated that Abu Hanifa said to Dawud al-Taa’i, “Why do you prefer seclusion?” Dawud replied, “To struggle against myself to leave disputing.” Abu Hanifah said, “Attend meetings, listen to what is said, and remain silent.” Dawud said, “I have done so, but I have found nothing heavier than this.”
12. `A’ishah (ra) narrated that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “The most hated person with Allah is the most quarrelsome person.” (al-Bukhari)
13. Ibn Qutaybah said that his disputant said to him, “What is the matter with you?” He replied to him, “I will not dispute with you.” The disputant then said, “Thus you have come to know that I am right.” Ibn Qutaybah responded, “No, but I respect myself more than that.” At this the disputant retracted and said, “And I will not claim a thing that is not my right.”
14. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The one initiating abuse incurs the sin of abusing as long as the other did not return it.” (Muslim)
15. “The believer does not curse.” (al-Tirmidhi who declared it hasan)
16. “The believer does not defame, abuse, disparage, nor vilify.” (al-Tirmidhi, sahih)
17. “Do not invoke Allah’s curse, His anger, or Hellfire.” (al-Tirmidhi who declared it hasan sahih)
18. “Men accustomed to cursing will not be intercessors or witnesses on the Day of Resurrection.” (Muslim)
19. Abdullah ibn ‘Amr (ra) narrated, “I asked the Messenger of Allah ﷺ about what saves me from Allah’s wrath, and he said, “Do not become angry.” (al-Tabarani and Ibn Abdul Barr) Ibn `Umar, Ibn Mas’ud, and Abu Darda’ (ra) relate similar conversations on their own behalf.
20. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “He who is victorious over his passion at the time of anger is the strongest among you. He who forgives having the power to release (his anger and take revenge) is the most patient among you.” (a-Baihaqi in Shu’ab al-Imaan)
21. Abu Hurairah (ra) narrated, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘The strong person is not he who has physical strength but the person is strong if he can control his anger.” (al-Bukhari and Muslim)
22. `Umar ibn Abdul Aziz wrote to one of his governors and said, “Do not punish at the time of anger. If you are angry with any man, keep him in detention. When your anger is appeased punish him in proportion to his crime.”
23. ‘Ali ibn Zaid mentioned, “A man of the Quraysh spoke harshly to the Caliph `Umar Ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz who remained silent for a long time and then said, “You wish that the devil rouses in me the pride of the Caliphate and I treat you so rudely that you can take revenge tomorrow (in the Afterlife) on me.”
24. Ibn ‘Abbas (ra) narrated, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “And when you get angry, keep silent.” (Ahmad, Ibn Abi Dunya, al-Tabarani, and al-Bayhaqi)
25. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Anger is a burning coal. It burns in the heart.” (al-Tirmidhi and al-Bayhaqi)
26. “When anyone of you gets angry, let him perform ablution because anger arises from fire.” (Abu Dawud)
27. “Nobody swallows a more bitter pill than that of anger—seeking the satisfaction of Allah.” (Ibn Majah)
28. `Umar (ra) said, “He who fears Allah cannot give an outlet to his anger (by sinning). He who fears Allah cannot do what he likes.”
29. A nomad said to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ “Advise me.” And he ﷺ said, “If a man defamed you with what he knows about you, do not defame him with what you know about him. For the sin is against him.” The nomad said, “I never abused any person after that.”
30. Al-Hasan (ra) said, “He that did not safeguard his tongue did not understand his religion.”
You thought it was over didn’t you? Here is a little something extra to encourage us not only to avoid such negative traits, but to also proactively seek positive ones in their place.
10 Reasons to Strive for Generosity of Spirit and Kindness in Speech
1. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Kind speech and feeding (the hungry) guarantee you Paradise.” (al-Tabarani)
2. “And speak nicely to people.” (Qur’an, 2:83)
3. “When you are greeted with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it, or (at least) return it equally.” (Qur’an, 4:86) Ibn Abbas commented on this and said, “He who greets you return his greeting in better words even if he were a Magian.1 He also said, “If Pharoah were to speak nicely to me, I would do so to him.”
4. Anas (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Verily there are chambers in Paradise; their insides and outsides can be seen – for him who spoke kindly and fed (the hungry).” (al-Tirmidhi)
5. He ﷺ also said, “A good word is also a charitable deed.” (Muslim)
6. “Ward off the Fire even if by giving half a date in charity. If you could not afford that then utter a kind word.” (al-Bukhari and Muslim)
7. `Umar (ra) said, “Generosity is an easy thing. It is a smiling face and kind words.”
8. Some wise men said, “Do not be stingy with a word that does not arouse your Lord’s wrath yet it pleases your brother. It may happen that Allah gives you the reward of those who do good works.”
9. “And let not those among you who are blessed with graces and wealth swear not to give to their kinsmen, the poor, and those who left their homes for Allah’s cause. Let them pardon and forgive. Do you not wish that Allah should forgive you?” (Qur’an, 24:22). Abu Bakr (ra) had cut off his financial support of his relative Mustah because Mustah had participated in the slander against his daughter `A’ishah (ra). After this verse was revealed, he resumed and even increased the amount he gave Mustah in financial support.
10. “Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish.” (Qur’an, 7:199)
- From the Zoroastrian fire-worshippers of that time ↩