Dhaniah Suhana

Input by Ustazah Nuurunnuur

Referenced academic review of research on bullying obtained from here.

When the Oppressor is the Oppressed

Oppression does not only occur on a grand scale, such as during civil strife. Rather, it occurs all around us in our daily lives in the form of bullying - whether in the school, workplace or home.

Victims can often feel depressed, embarrassed, insecure, and develop low self-esteem. As a result of prolonged stress and anxiety, they may also develop psychosomatic symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches, and severe depression and anxiety disorders in the long-term.

Narrated by Anas Bin Malik, Allah’s Messenger said,

“Help your brother, whether is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one.”


While our basic moral judgment implores that we should help those who are oppressed, why should we also help the oppressors?

Scientists have found a type of bullying victim referred to as provocative victims, characterised by their problems with controlling their excessive energy. As a result of their disruptive behaviours causing irritation and tension, they are often targeted by many of their peers. In fact, they are even more likely to be physically bullied than pure victims.

Here is where it gets interesting. Provocative victims frequently act as bullies themselves, and bully others just as frequently as pure bullies do. They are also more likely than pure bullies to have low self-esteem and use physical aggression.

These bully/victims, motivated by their experiences of being victimised, act out of anger or the desire for revenge. If they were not first bullied themselves, there is a possibility that they may not engage in such aggressive and anxious behaviours.

Bullies are often popular and well-liked. However, ironically, they also tend to lack close, long-term relationships, leading to feelings of loneliness, anger or rejection. According to some researchers, emotional loneliness, or the lack of intimacy in personal relationships, can be considered the most severe form of loneliness, and this can lead to increased aggression.

Knowing that some individuals can become oppressors out of feelings of isolation and loneliness, it is clear how they too need help. Helping them may also break the chain reaction of oppression being passed on from one person to another.

Bullies are able to change if their behaviours are intervened early. This involves identifying their bullying behaviours, and teaching them new ways to interact with others or cope with their negative feelings.

Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. always offered his help to others. As followers of his sunnah, we can try to follow his examples to the best of our abilities. Hopefully, in the process, we are able to change the lives of others positively.

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