AN EXTRACT FROM THE NAYL ‘S-SAFAA WA IJLAA ‘D-DUJAA:
(The Attainment of Spiritual Clarity and the Removal of Spiritual Darkness)
By Shaykh Muhammad Shareef bin Farid
A Commentary Upon the Akhlaaq ‘l-Mustafa of Shaykh Abdullahi Dan Fodio
Among his character traits, upon him be peace which are a part of the branches of faith is in what Shaykh Abdullahi Dan Fodio said in his Akhlaaq ‘l-Mustafa (The Character Traits of the Chosen One): “…he would get angry for the sake of his Lord”; which means that he only became angry for the sake of Allah. This indicates that when anyone overstepped the bounds of the limits of Allah, he would then become angry at the offense.
It has been related in a narration of at-Tirmidhi in his as-Shimaa’il ‘l-Muhammadiyya on the authority of al-Hassan ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with them, who said describing his grandfather, ﺻﻠﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ : “Whenever the limits of the truth were overstepped, nothing could overcome his anger until he eventually gave victory to the truth.”
This means that whenever anyone overstepped the bounds of the truth, nothing could divert the anger of the Messenger of Allah or anything from those matters which normally diverted a person such as conventions and customs, until he gave assistance to the truth.
It has been related in a narration of Qadi `Iyad in his as-Shifa: “Nothing could overcome his anger when the truth was opposed until he gave assistance to it.”
For, anger for the sake of Allah is an obligation regarding the rights of the Prophets, upon them blessings and peace, because they were commissioned in order to give assistance to the rights of Allah and His religion. For this reason a prophet never gets angry except for the sake of Allah alone.
Whenever one of the prophets became angry for anything, Allah too became angry for that thing. It has been related in a prophetic tradition with a weak chain of transmission on the authority of Muhammad ibn `Amr ibn al-Hamaq that the Messenger of Allah, ﺻﻠﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ said: “No servant realizes the truth of true faith until he becomes angry for the sake of Allah and becomes content for the sake of Allah. For, when he is able to do this, only then will he achieve the reality of true faith.”
This means that the faith of the servants of Allah can never be perfected until they are content for the sake of Allah and angry for His sake.
This is because they are His beloved and protected friends (awliyya) whom Allah has become their hearing by which they hear, their sight by which they see, their tongue by which they speak, their hearts by which they reason; thus when they become angry for anything Allah Himself becomes angry due to their anger.
It is for this reason the Messenger of Allah, ﺻﻠﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ said regarding Umar ibn al-Khataab as it was related by Abu’n-Nu`aym, ad-Daylami, and Ibn ‘n-Najaar on the authority of Ali ibn Abi Talib: “Be fearfully aware of the anger of Umar, for indeed Allah becomes angry as a result of his anger.”
He also once said to his daughter, Fatima az-Zahra as it has been related by Ibn ‘n-Najaar on the authority of Ali ibn Abi Talib: “Indeed Allah becomes angry due to your anger, and He becomes content as a result of your contentment.”
Then, the Shaykh Abdullahi Dan Fodio said about the Messenger of Allah, ﺻﻠﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ “…and he never became angry for himself” is that he never became angry for any reason regarding himself, or he never became angry as a result of his own whims. For whenever anyone made an infraction against the Messenger of Allah, ﺻﻠﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ by words or deeds from the uncouth Arabs, or those who were ignorant of the correct courtesy towards him, or from some of the intentional harm of the hypocrites; he would never become angry as a result of that. On the contrary he would encounter their transgressions with benevolence, pardon, kindness and nobility, as we mentioned previously.
In a narration of Qadi `Iyad it said: “…and he never became angry for himself, nor did he ever take revenge for himself.” He did this emulating the words of Allah ta`ala: “Take the way of pardoning, command the practical and turn away from the ignorant.”
Shaykh Abdullahi’s brother and teacher, Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio said in his Umdat’l-Bayaan Fee’l-`Uluum Alatee Waajibat ‘Ala’l-`Ayaan:
“Anger is one of the blameworthy qualities which it is forbidden to have. Its reality is the boiling of the blood of the heart to seek revenge. It has three degrees:
 insufficient (tafreet);
 excessive (ifrat);
and  moderate (i`tidal).
Insufficient anger is the absolute lack of anger; for this is blameworthy because he does not become angry when he witnesses forbidden things. For the lack of anger in that case is blameworthy.
Excessive anger is also blameworthy. It is anger overpowering a person until he leaves the proper management of the intellect and the deen, and he no longer has insight, consideration, reflection or deference. Whenever the fire of anger is intense, it will blind the one who is angry, and it will make him deaf to every warning. For if he is warned he will not listen. Rather, it will increase his anger.
As for praiseworthy anger it is in moderation. It is the anger which waits for the indication of the intellect and the deen. It arises when it is commended by the shari`a, and it is extinguished when it is condemned by the shari`a. It is ‘the Golden Mean’ which was described by the Messenger of Allah, ﺻﻠﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ , when he said: ‘The best of affairs is their middle.’
He whose anger inclines towards being insufficient, he must treat himself until his anger becomes stronger.
He whose anger inclines towards being excessive, he must treat himself until it returns completely to the middle way between the two extremes. That is the Straight Path.
As for the cure for anger it is also divided into two parts:
 a knowledge-cure
and  an action-cure.
The knowledge-cure consists of six things:
 that he reflects on the virtues of restraining rancor,
 That he should frighten himself with the punishment of Allah, by saying: ‘The power of Allah over me is greater than my power over this human being. If I carry out my anger against him, then what security will I have against the anger of Allah on the Day of Rising?’
 That he make himself fear the consequences of anger in this world if he does not have fear of the next life.
 That he reflect on the ugliness of his own form when he becomes angry. Then he will recall how someone else’s form looked during their anger. He should also reflect on how much he resembles the mad dog when he abandons tolerance, and how much he resembles the awliyya when he abandons his anger.
 That he reflect on the causes which incite him to take revenge. No doubt it is from the words of shaytaan to him: ‘This will make you look impotent and humiliated before the people.’ This is the knowledge-cure.”
Shaykh Abdullahi Dan Fodio said in his Diya `Uluum ‘d-Deen regarding the causes of anger:
“The causes of anger are arrogance, conceit, making fun of people, earmarking individuals for criticism, rushing in matters, perils, and the intense craving for attaining wealth and rank. Its cure is:
 to remember the merits of controlling rage,
 yearning for the reward for controlling one’s anger,
 having fear of Allah,
 recalling the end results of anger in this world’s life, and
 the recalling of the ugliness of the demeanor when one is angry.
 One should beware of the words of the Satan when he says: ‘If you do not take revenge for that incident, then it will be considered as impotence on your part, and losing face in the eyes of the people.’ Oppose him in that so that you will not be belittled in the eyes of Allah, the Angels, and the Prophets. If you are standing when you become angry, then you should sit down, and if you are sitting when you become angry, then you should lay down. If this does not work then make ablution and/or take a complete bath.”
It was related by Ibn Abi `Adiyy on the authority of Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, ﺻﻠﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ said: “When a man becomes angry he should say: ‘I seek refuge with Allah’; then his anger will dissipate.”
In the narration of at-Tabaraani on the authority of Ibn Mas`ud: “If one of you becomes angry, he should seek refuge with Allah from Satan the rejected, then his anger will be dissipated.”
It has been related by Ahmad on the authority of Ibn Abbas that the Messenger of Allah, ﺻﻠﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ said: “When one of you becomes angry, he should be quiet.”
In the transmission of Abu Dharr the Messenger of Allah, ﺻﻠﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ said: “When one of you becomes angry and he is standing he should sit down. His anger should dissipate; if not then he should lay down.”
It has been related by Ahmad and Abu Dawud on the authority of `Atiyya as-Sa`di that the Messenger of Allah, ﺻﻠﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ said: “Anger is from Satan, and Satan was created from fire. That which extinguishes fire is water, so when one of you becomes angry, then he should make ablution.”
In the narration of Ibn `Asakir on Mu`awiyya that the Messenger of Allah, ﺻﻠﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ said: “Water extinguishes fire, so when one of you becomes angry he should take a complete bath.”
The wisdom in the above cited prophetic traditions constitute the action cure for anger; and success is with Allah.
O GOD make us all among those who love for Your sake and become angry for Your sake; by the rank of our master Muhammad, upon him from Allah be the best blessings and most perfect peace.