By Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani
30 October 2021
Rights of Labourers and Workers in Islam
1. Treat the Workers as your brothers.
2. The workers should not be subject to mental, physical, or practical hardships, but rather should be treated nicely.
3. Visiting the employees when they are unwell is inspired by the saying of the Prophet peace be upon him.
4. We should look after our workers’ needs in addition to their fixed salary and continually inquire about their circumstances.
5. The Prophet said at the time of his death, “take care of prayers and servants”.
How should employers behave with their employees? “They are your brothers,” the Prophet (peace be upon him) remarked in this regard (Raddul Muhtaar: 3/380). That is, rather than treating the workers as rulers, you should approach them as brothers. These qualities of Hazrat Shoaib (peace be upon him) as an employer are described in the Qur'an:
“He said, "Indeed, I wish to wed you one of these, my two daughters, on [the condition] that you serve me for eight years; but if you complete ten, it will be [as a favor] from you. And I do not wish to put you in difficulty. You will find me, if Allah wills, from among the righteous.” (28:27)
This means that the employer should treat the employee in such a way that he is not subjected to any mental, physical, or practical hardships, but rather is treated nicely. In the life of the Holy Prophet, we see a real example of this. He has issued numerous directions to the masters and employers to respect and entertain their employees and servants. As a result, Abu Hurairah narrates that the Prophet said:
“When your servant brings your food to you if you do not ask him to join you, then at least ask him to take one or two handfuls, for he has suffered from its heat (while cooking it) and has taken pains to cook it nicely.” (Sahih Bukhari: 5460)
The Holy Prophet's instructions not only educate about financial good behaviour, but also about treating servants and employees with respect. The Prophet used to visit the funerals of the servants and labourers, demonstrating his respect and reverence for them. This was set up in such a way that when for a few days he didn't see a black woman who used to sweep the mosque, he inquired about her. He was informed that she had passed away. “Why didn't you tell me?” he said [to his companions]. He was displeased with this incident, as though her case was disregarded. Then he went on to say, “Tell me about her grave.” The grave was mentioned to him. He then went to her grave and said a funeral prayer for her. (Sahih al-Bukhari 458)
One of the practices of good manners was that if the servants or labourers became unwell, he would visit them, and there was no distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims. There is a well-known incident about a Jewish youngster among his servants. He went to see him when he became ill. (Sahih Bukhari)
One of the aspects of being kind to the labourers and workers was that he would occasionally pay them a visit. For them, the delight of this visit was comparable to Eid. Hazrat Anas narrates that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) paid us a visit. My mother, I, and my maternal aunt 'Umme Haram' were present at the moment. Despite the fact that it was not prayer time, the Prophet (peace be upon him) instructed us to rise and conduct Nafl prayer behind him. As a result, he led the prayer and prayed for everyone in the family for well-being in this world and in the afterlife. My mother also requested that the Prophet pray for his little servant [Hazrat Anas]. So he prayed for everything wonderful to happen to me and then said, "O Allah!" Bless him with more wealth and children.”
We know from the Prophet’s actions that we should look after our workers’ needs in addition to their fixed salary and continually inquire about their circumstances. According to a member of the Banu Makhzoom tribe, the Holy Prophet had a servant (peace be upon him). He used to ask him, “Do you have any need?” (Musnad Ahmad). The Prophet allowed the workers to seek any things they wished. I was spending the night with him [the Prophet pbuh], stated Rabi'ah ibn Ka'b Aslami. I provided him with water for ablution and other needs. He told me to go after whatever I wanted. I sought what I wanted from him. Then he told me to "prostrate frequently" (Sahih Muslim), which means to pray as much as possible.
People sometimes don't think twice about blaming their employees and subordinates and don't even give them an opportunity to defend themselves. The Prophet was outraged by this and directed that the situation be handled with forgiveness and mercy. It is narrated on the authority of Hazrat Abdullah bin Umar that a man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and stated, “I have a servant who makes mistakes and excesses. Is it possible for me to beat him?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) remained silent. He asked the same question a second and third time.
According to some other narrations, he said, “How many times shall I pardon [my servant]?”. The Prophet said, “Seventy times a day” (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi). Obviously, it isn't meant here to be a maximum of seventy. The idea is to achieve a diversity of forgiveness. The Holy Prophet himself had a tradition of never raising his hand against any of his servants or his wife. (Sahih Muslim on Hazrat Ayesha's authority)
Hazrat Anas, the Holy Prophet's special servant who came to his service at an early age, relates that when the Holy Prophet sent me for a need, I answered, "I will not go," even though I knew in my heart that I would go since the Prophet (peace be upon him) had instructed me. So I strolled out until I came upon a group of children playing in the bazaar. From behind, I noticed the Holy Prophet grabbing my neck. He was smiling. He exclaimed, “O Anas! Did you follow my instructions?” I replied, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah. I'm leaving.” (Sahih Muslim on the authority of Hazrat Anas)
The Prophet would be in excruciating anguish if someone beat his slave or worker. Hazrat Abu Masood narrates that “while I was whipping my slave, I heard a voice behind me, but I was so enraged that I couldn't understand it. I recognised the caller as Allah’s Messenger when he approached. “Abu Masood!” the Prophet exclaimed. Know. Abu Masood! Understand. I then threw down my whip with my hand. He then exclaimed, "Abu Masood!" You should be aware that Allah Almighty has more authority over you than you do over this slave. Hazrat Abu Masood narrates, “I said: After today, I would never whip any slave.” He also said, “O Allah's Messenger!” For Allah's delight, this slave is free. The Prophet said, “You would have been enveloped in the fire of Hell if you hadn't done so”. (Sahih Muslim)
Hazrat Ayesha narrates that a man approached the Messenger of Allah and sat in front of him, saying, "O Messenger of Allah! Some of my slaves deceive me, betray me, and disobey me. I curse and beat them as well. So, what is your opinion about my attitude towards them?” The Prophet said, "You will be held accountable for their treachery, disobedience, and lying, as well as your punishment of them. You will have neither reward nor punishment if both are based on justice. You will be rewarded if your punishment is less in comparison to their mistakes, and you will be avenged if the punishment is raised by mistake”. The man left the place and started crying. Finally he said: “I think it is better to separate them now. I call you as a witness and say that they are all free.” (Tirmidhi, on the authority of Hazrat Aisha)
Slavery abuse was frowned upon by Muslims as a result of the Prophet's education. In his statement, the Prophet (peace be upon him) also stated that there should be no scorn for the slave and no overabundance of regard for the owner. When this command is given to slaves, the ordinary servants and workers too deserve the same respect.
Prior to Islam, the slave addressed his master as "Lord" and the master addressed his slave as "Abd" (slave). The Prophet guided the people and said, “You are all Allah's servants.” (Sahih Bukhari on the authority of Abu Hurairah) In today's vernacular, the slave can address his master as 'master' or 'Sir.' Similarly, the master can say to his slave, "O child," "O young man," and so on.
The Prophet's concern for the working or labour class can be gauged by the fact that as his breath began to suffocate at the time of his death, he provided this final advice: "take care of prayers and slaves.” (Sunan Ibn Majah on the authority of Hazrat Anas)
(Translated from Urdu by Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam)
New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism