Islamic Outlook on Bullying

How the word Bully evolved?

The word "bully" does not mean the same when it was coined. It was to show love or endorsement but the connotations has tragically changed into negative since 17c. The world of social media has given immense authority of bullying not only celebrities but a common man too and it seems like people have got the license to use their freedom of speech yet disturbing the other person's freedom.

The effects can range to not only mental illness but to severe attempts like suicide. We all may know a person in our circle who is bullied, and sometimes even your closer friends let you down. But a religious person would hardly suffer from bullying as he is closer to Allah and knows the way out.

Allah also says in Quran in Surah Al-Hujurat, verse 11:

“O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.” [49:11]

Social bullying

The concept of social bullying is a type of emotionally aggressive bullying behavior, also called indirect aggression, relational aggression or hidden bullying. This is a form of bullying which can be harder to spot as it can occur behind the back of the victim, or it can take the form of public embarrassment. Islam plays an important role in preventing this type of bullying, in addition to lowering one’s propensity to engage in cyber bullying circles.

What Quran and Hadith say on Social Bullying?

Islam provides simple guidance on human social contact and relationships. This general parameter is known Daruriyyat al Khamsah which requires each individual Muslim to protect his (deen), existence (nafs), purpose or intellect (Aql), lineage (Nasl) and property (Mal).

As Allah has mentioned to protect these rights and self-respect of each Muslim in Surah Al-Araf, verse 33:

Say, "My Lord has only forbidden immoralities - what is apparent of them and what is concealed - and sin, and oppression without right, and that you associate with Allah that for which He has not sent down authority, and that you say about Allah that which you do not know." [7:33]

Protecting these values would bring peace to human society including harmony between individuals, communities and the broader community. Any acts of perturbing the right of others through text, or texts, are also prohibited. Our beloved Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H) also said,

“The Muslim is one from whose tongue and hand other Muslims are safe. The emigrant is one who abandons those things God has prohibited" (Al-Bukhari).

Bullying and mental health

There are people who are safe and who respect others' dignity so much so that other Muslims can unquestionably or suspiciously turn their backs on them. With no fear they may entrust these people and that person would be absolutely free from either the hand or tongue of the Muslims. Thus, when bullying occurs then it affects another person’s mental health in so many aspects. A victim is more likely to develop social fear, anxiety, and the person’s self-esteem can be lowered.

Nafs al-Ammara

And then when our emotional needs are wrongly met, the nafs al-ammara starts influencing our emotions, thoughts and behaviors. If it is in power, our thoughts are obscured leading us to take things too seriously, see everything in a negative light as well as believe situations cannot be changed for the greater good. These are the adverse effects of bullying on mental health.

Islam is the religion of humanity and it highly protects the rights and self-respect of humans. This is why Allah has highly emphasized on the behavior of humans with other humans.