How Islam regards the Labor and Worker
In the name of Allah, peace and prayer of Allah be upon His messenger,
Islam as a religion that brings mercy to all creatures, concerns a lot about the basic rights of man, even of a slave. The companions who ever helped the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-, both from slaves and free men, all were satisfied with his good manners. This is an ideal picture that should be taken as example of interaction between a master and his servant, a boss and his worker.
Before that, we need to differ between the definition of slave and servant or labor. For a slave, his body and soul belong to his master, hence everything that he owns, belongs to his master. He is not free to do anything, but after the permission of his master. This condition is 100% different with a servant. The relation between a servant and his master is like a worker who works for other people, with an amount of wage that has been agreed beforehand. The interaction between a servant and his master is considered as ‘ijarah’ (renting of service). Hence, the amount of task given should be limited by time and its quantity. Whatever beyond that limit, is not the obligation of the servant or labor anymore.
We apologize for the using of the word: “master” and “servant” or “labor”. Although these terms are not enough to represent the task structure between subordinate and superior, but we found trouble in searching for its equivalent.
There are some hadith that signify Islam’s concerns about the rights of workers. Most of those hadith, textually, talk about the slave. Hence, we can conclude that if slaves were treated very kindly by Islam, certainly of helpers and laborers who were not slaves, their position is far more respectable one.
Rights of Slave in Islam
First: Islam positioned the servant as a brother to his master. From Abu Dharr -may Allah be pleased with him-, the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said,
إِخْوَانُكُمْ خَوَلُكُمْ ، جَعَلَهُمُ اللهُ تَحْتَ أَيْدِيكُمْ
“Your brothers are your servant. Allah positions them under your power.” (Narrated by Bukhari, inhadith no.30)
The Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- mentioned the servants as brothers of his master to make their degree equal with brother.
Second, he -peace and pryer of Allah be upon him- forbade the masters to give tasks to their servants that were more than they could bear. If they were forced to do so, he ordered the masters to help them.
In a hadith from Abu Dharr -may Allah be pleased with him-, the Prophet peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said,:
وَلاَ تُكَلِّفُوهُمْ مَا يَغْلِبُهُمْ، فَإِنْ كَلَّفْتُمُوهُمْ فَأَعِينُوهُمْ
“”Don’t burden them (the slaves), and if you give them some tasks, help them.” (Narrated by Bukhari in hadith no. 30).
Third, the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- obliged the masters to give the wage of their workers in time, without reducing it even for a bit. From Abdullah Ibn Umar -may Allah be pleased with him-, the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said:
أَعْطُوا الأَجِيرَ أَجْرَهُ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَجِفَّ عَرَقُهُ
“Give the worker his wages before his sweat dries.” (Narrated by Ibn Maja and classed valid by Al Albani).
Fourth, Islam gives a stern warning to employers who oppress their servants or employees. From a hadith qudsi that was narrated by Abu Huraira -may Allah be pleased with him-, the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said, that Allah decreed,
ثَلاَثَةٌ أَنَا خَصْمُهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ… وَرَجُلٌ اسْتَأْجَرَ أَجِيرًا فَاسْتَوْفَى مِنْهُ وَلَمْ يُعْطِ أَجْرَهُ
“`I am the opponent of three on the Day of Resurrection, and if I am someone’s opponent I will defeat him: A man who makes promises in My Name, then proves treacherous; a man who sells a free man and consumes his price; and a man who hires a worker, makes use of him, then does not give him his wages. ’’ (Narrated by Bukhari no. 2227 and Ibn Maja, hadith no. 2442).
Can you imagine, at the time when we need Allah’s help the most, instead, Allah turns to be our enemy???
Fifth, Islam motivates the masters to ease the burden of their employers and servants. From Amr Ibn Huwairits, the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said,
مَا خَفَّفْتَ عَنْ خَادِمِكَ مِنْ عَمَلِهِ كَانَ لَكَ أَجْرًا فِي مَوَازِينِكَ
“The ease that you give to your slave, will be a reward on your scale of deed.” (Narrated by Ibn Hibban in his compilation of valid hadith, and Shuhaib al Arnauth stated that its narration is valid).
Sixth, Islam motivates the masters and employers to be modest yet authoritative toward their labors and servants. From Abu Huraira, the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said,
مَا اسْتَكْبَرَ مَنْ أَكَلَ مَعَهُ خَادِمُهُ، وَرَكِبَ الْحِمَارَ بِالأَسْوَاقِ، وَاعْتَقَلَ الشَّاةَ فَحَلَبَهَا
“”Not an arrogant one, a master who are willing to eat with his slave, willing to ride on the donkey at the market, willing to tie the goat and milk it.” (Narrated by Bukhari in “Adabul Mufrad” no. 568, Baihaqi in “Syuabul Iman” no. 7839 and classed good by al-Albani).
Seventh, Islam stresses to reduce the violence toward the subordinates to the maximum. A messenger of Allah, who ruled half of the world at his time, never slapped his servants. Aisha narrated,
مَا ضَرَبَ رَسُولُ اللهِ شَيْئًا قَطُّ بِيَدِهِ وَلاَ امْرَأَةً وَلاَ خَادِمًا…
“The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- never hit with his hands at all, not upon women, nor slaves. ” (Narrated by Muslim in hadith 2328, Abu Daud in hadith no. 4786).
The Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- ever met one of the companions who were hitting his slave, he was Abu Mas’ud al Anshari. At once, the Prophet-peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- reminded him from behind:
اعْلَمْ أَبَا مَسْعُودٍ، لَلَّهُ أَقْدَرُ عَلَيْكَ مِنْكَ عَلَيْهِ
“Know O Abu Mas’ud, Allah is More Powerful to punish you that way, than your ability to punish him.”
When Abu Mas’ud turned, he was surprised to see the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-. And he freed his slave spontaneously. The Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- praised him: :
أَمَا لَوْ لَمْ تَفْعَلْ لَلَفَحَتْكَ النَّارُ
“`If you had not done that, the Fire would have burned you’ — or `touched you.”'(Narrated by Muslim no. 1659, Abu Daud no. 5159, Tirmidhi no. 1948, and others).
It is not bravery, he who could only oppress his subordinate. Being harsh to the servants is just a sign of his lack of authority.
The Picture of How the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- interact with his servant
Anas Ibn Malik -may Allah be pleased with him- was among the those who ever served the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-. He served the Prophet- peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- for almost 9 years, since he was 10 years old. The following was Anas’ testimony:
The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- had the best character of all people. One day he sent me (when I was a child) on an errand. I mumbled: ‘I don’t want to go.’ Whereas my inner soul kept on telling me to accomplish the task Allah’s prophet ordered me to do. I went out and I passed by some boys who were playing in the market. Then suddenly the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- caught me by the neck from behind. I looked at him and he was smiling. He said: “O Anas, go where I told you to go.” I said: “Yes, I am going, O Messenger of Allâh.”’ Anas recalled :
وَاللهِ! لَقَدْ خَدَمْتُهُ سَبْعَ سِنِينَ أَوْ تِسْعَ سِنِينَ مَا عَلِمْتُ قَالَ لِشَيْءٍ صَنَعْتُ: لِمَ فَعَلْتَ كَذَا وَكَذَا. وَلاَ لِشَيْءٍ تَرَكْتُ: هَلاَّ فَعَلْتَ كَذَا وَكَذَا
`By Allah, I served him for seven years or nine years, and I never knew him to say of something that I did, “Why did you do such and such?” Or of something that I failed to do: “Why did you not do such and such?” (Narrated by Muslim in hadith no. 2310 and Abu Daud, no. 4773).
In another footage of his history, the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- was known as a man who really cared for the need of his servant. From Rabee’ah Ibn Ka’b al Aslami, he said:
I was one of the servant of the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-. He offered me: “O Rabee’ah, don’t you marry?”. I answered, “No, O Messenger of Allah, I don’t want to marry yet. I don’t have enough money to fund a wife, and I do not want preoccupied with something that will hamper me to serve you.” The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- then turned away from me. After that he asked me again: “O Rabee’ah, don’t you want to marry?”. I answered him with the same answer. The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- then turned away from me. Then I rectified my words, “O Messenger of Allah, you know better about what best for me in this world and in the Hereafter.” I said in my heart, “If he ask me again, I’ll say ‘Yes'”.
In fact, the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- asked me for the third times: “O Rabee’ah, don’t you want to marry?”. I responded at once, “Yes, ordered me as you wish.” Next, the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- ordered me to come to the family of so-and-so, one of the Anshar tribe….”(Narrated by Ahmad, hadith no. 16627, Hakim, no. 2718, and at Thayalisi no. 1173).
Not only he did excellent in worldly matters, but the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- also cared for the afterlife matters of his servant. Once, he had a jewish teenage as his servant. One day, the boy was very sick. The Prophet visited him and paid attention to him, When he felt that his death was coming, the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- visited him and sat near his head. He persuaded the boy to embrace Islam. Spontaneously, the boy turned to his father, as if he asked him for suggestion. His father said, “Obey Abu al Qosim (nickname of the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-).” Then the boy embraced Islam. After that, his soul departed from his body. The Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-left his house, saying: :
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي أَنْقَذَهُ مِنَ النَّارِ
“All praises be to Allah Who has saved him from the Hellfire.” (Narrated by Bukhari in hadith no. 1290).
These narrations have shown us how beautiful the etiquette in Islam in interacting with the servants. Unfortunately, there are still many of the muslims who don’t understand this essence, thus they just covered the beauty of their own religious teaching.
Excerpted from: http://Islamstory.com by Dr. Raghib As-Sirjani
Author: Ustadz Ammi Nur Baits
Published by www.Syaria.com