Islam is a religion of peace and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was sent as a blessing for the entire Humanity. Islam teaches fulfilling the rights of everyone including workers and laborers. In this world, some of us are bosses and some of us are workers. But the Boss has no superiority over the worker. The Boss is supposed to treat the worker like his/her own brother/sister. The boss is supposed to fulfill all the rights. It is mentioned in the Quran “Do they distribute the mercy of your Lord? It is We who have apportioned among them their livelihood in the life of this world and have raised some of them above others in degrees (of rank) that they may make use of one another for service. But the mercy of your Lord is better than whatever they accumulate.” (Az-Zukhruf 43:32). The least that a boss can do is pay the wages of their employees honestly and on time.Abdullah ibn Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace, and blessings be upon him, said, “Pay the worker his wages before his sweat has dried.” (Sunan Ibn Ma¯jah 2443) And the commandments go beyond the simple payment of wages. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is reported to have said: “Your employees are your brothers upon whom Allah has given you authority, so if a Muslim has another person under his control, he/she should feed them with the like of what one eats and clothe them with the like of what one wears and you should not overburden them with what they cannot bear and if you do so, help them in their jobs.” And the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has exemplified this through his own behavior. As an employer, he used to sit on the floor and eat with his servant boy Anas ibn Malik, who served him for ten years. Anas is reported to have said that the Prophet (PBUH) never rebuked him for anything: “When I did something, he never questioned my manner of doing it; and when I did not do something, he never questioned my failure to do it. He was the most good-natured of all men.” Now, look around our society. Look at our fellow Muslims and the sheer disregard for labor rights. Right from our homes to our factories or small restaurants, we leave no opportunity to harass our employees.
At home, the way the servants are treated is known to all. Islam taught us to sit with them and eat the same food. How much of it are we doing? We do not want to give them weekly off. How many times we have seen our maids work during pregnancy or during lactation. We give them only our over-used and torn clothes or leftover, stale food. In factories, workers are being exploitedand are gullible and desperate. They work without safety putting their lives at risk. They do not clearly know what work they have been hired for, contracts are not signed, payment is not fixed and even if it is fixed, many times it is not paid fully. When it comes to contracts, remember the teachings of the Quran and Hadith. Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an “O you who believe, fulfill your contracts.” (Al-Ma’idah 5: 1). The Prophet PBUH said, “Muslims must abide by their agreements unless there is an agreement that makes halal what is haram or makes haram what is halal.“ (At-Tirmidhi). The employers have an image that workers are lazy and always trying to escape from work. There are many laws of the land which have been created for the welfare and safety of workers, but our owners are always looking at ways to how not to fulfill them and to escape and save money. There are highest numbers of child laborers too. And it is a shame. There is absence of safety guidelines and the rights of the workers often get neglected and this is the negating of the teachings of Islam. The International Labour Laws came into existence a few decades back. But there are also some latest laws that deal with the rights and conditions of workers and employees. At a time when slavery was the norm, Islam was the first to give Labour rights. So it is paradoxical that the believers of Islam have left behind the message on labor rights.
( The author is a freelancer. Views are his own)