Racism and Islamophobia has been an unfortunate part of society since time immemorial.  Islamophobia itself has existed since the time of our beloved Prophet (Peace be Upon him). Our first question might be: why does it exist despite all of the people fighting against it?  The short answer is that racism, discrimination, stereotypes are tools used to divide humanity and make it easier for us to be conquered by our only sworn enemy: Iblees (the devil).

Keeping this in mind, it is essential to not respond to Islamophobia with anger or violence. So, how should we respond to discrimination of any sort? We are taught in the Qur’an to “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful speech; and argue with them in a way that shows the best of manners and character. Indeed, your Lord knows full well those who have chosen to stray from His path and your Lord knows who has chosen the way of His guidance.”(16:125) When confronted, the first response should be one of restraint and the best way to release your shock and frustration is with one word such as “WOW!” spoken loudly so that everyone in the vicinity can hear you – especially adults or people in positions of authority. Second, is to name it such as: “that’s racism.”  When naming it, do not call the person a name otherwise you are contributing to discrimination and harassment.  Third, identify the impact of the offensive behaviour such as, “Racist name calling is hurtful. In this society we respect everyone and we are all responsible for the impact of our words.” Finally, ask for a change in behaviour such as, “Please think about what you say.  Discrimination and bullying against anyone cannot be tolerated in our society. We all have a right to feel safe.”

If you are not the direct victim, then be an upstander and follow the same four steps in defence of a targeted victim. After confronting the negative behaviour, be sure to console the victim and seek help on their behalf, if needed.