There’s an expression, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Meaning that when people are put into a position of responsibility there is a tendency to take an authoritative stance which may allow moral degradation and arrogance to grow in the heart of a person. The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) taught us, “The believer is a mirror to her/his faithful brother or sister. She/he protects her/him against loss and defends her/him behind her/his back.” This means, as stated by the companions, “The believer is a mirror to her/his sister/brother. If she/he sees something wrong in her/him, she/he should correct it” (Adab al-Mufrad by Imam Bukhari, Graded Hasan/Good). Based on these statements, it is the moral imperative of every Muslim to protect each other and their spaces of work and/or worship from the corruption of power. So, can we do this?

First, is to seek a private audience with the person in a position. It is important to not confront a person publicly in order to maintain the integrity of yourself and the dignity of the person you are trying to help. Second, remember to use words of respect when speaking with the person and to be clear in what the issue is. For example, you may begin by letting the person know that you would like to provide sincere advice. Or just state that there is an issue and you need to speak with this person about coming to a resolution. After this statement, make sure the person is ready to have the conversation at that moment. This is important because you want the person to buy into the conversation rather than getting their back up and becoming confrontational. The next step is to be crystal clear about what the specific issue is. This includes discussing only one or two issues; do not provide a laundry list of issues because the person will become overwhelmed and shut down. Details are extremely important. You will need to provide dates, times and peoples’ names. Using general terms such as “We think” or “A few people said” will not be acceptable, as the person may feel attacked or respond with the notion that the issue is based on conjecture. At this point in the conversation it’s important to check and ensure all parties involved are still working together and, if they are, then ask the question, “How can we resolve this issue?” In round robin fashion, allow everyone to contribute to the answer without judgment until a reasonable solution can be agreed upon. 

This process is generic and may be oversimplified. It’s essential to choose a protocol that meets the professionalism of those involved and that respect is maintained. It’s always a good idea to consider a third party be part of the conversation to ensure an objective lens is maintained.