The central theme in the Qur’an and, indeed, in the life of a Muslim revolves around two phrases “Enjoin all that is good on yourself and your environment” and “Work against all that is wrong in yourself and in your environment.” Within the context of your question it is, therefore, incumbent upon each individual to stop someone when harm is being caused, without causing reciprocal harm. So, how do we do this?

From the outset, it’s importantto have the right mindset: you are trying to help this person become a better version of themselves, rather than “putting them in their place.” First, disrupt the harm while it is occurring using a clear, firm voice. In order to not cause harm, avoid using personal pronouns. For example, “Hey, that’s really disrespectful,” or “These comments are incredibly insensitive!” Second, name the harm that’s occurring. This is important because often time, people don’t pay attention to what they are saying, so it’s useful to demonstrate how it’s causing personal discomfort. For example, you might say, “That comment is Islamophobic,” or “Your words are really hurtful to me and I feel upset because of how you are speaking to me.” The third step is to teach the person why their comments are inappropriate. You might share, for example, “These comments make me feel uncomfortable and hurt my feelings. Everyone has the right to be treated with respect. We are all part of one society, and we need to be accepting of differences, not use them to cause harm.” Finally, it is essential to request a specific change in behaviour and, if appropriate, name consequences. That might sound like, “Moving forward I expect you to treat me with respect or to not speak with me at all,” or “Next time I expect you to think about how harmful your words might be before you speak so you can filter your speech.” Whenever necessary, seek help from someone in a position of responsibility to support this process.