Labour Rights in Islam

Written by: M Rashid Tabassum

Islam is a complete code of life. It guides its followers in every field of life. Every person in society has a status therefore Islam fixes rights of each person in society. Actually, Islam is the only faith which establishes human rights in the world. Those people who earn with struggle, gain dignity and respect in society. Islam upgrades to social status, dignity and rank of labourers. It likes those people who earns through struggle from legal ways either physical or mentally. Islam dislikes begging.  It also discourages those people, who earn through illegal ways and without struggle. Islam is the first faith which gives vast and comprehensive rights to each person. This faith is the greatest standard bearer of labourers. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) gave importance to labourer’s rights and said “pay the wages to laborers before dry his sweat”.

Quran and Hadith have insisted us to earn honest livelihood and search the grace of Allah. Allah says in Quran: “So when the (Jumu’ah) salah (prayer) has finished, you may scatter throughout the land, and seek the bounty of Allah, and much remember to Allah, so as to you may be successful” (62:10). In this verse, Allah Almighty orders to earn honestly. Holy prophet (SAW) said, “With the aim of seeking to honest livelihood is the duty of every Muslim.” The Farewell Hajj of the Holy Prophet (SAW) can be termed the charter of the human’s right. Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Allah likes to the skillful believer.” Allah likes to hard labourers, so that he does not require hinder to others.  Allah disliked the one who acquires knowledge (only) to earn profit from it. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said one is best who has earning best. Moreover he said the earning best when one’s earn from own hand.

Once an Ansari (native of Madinah) came to Allah’s Prophet (PBUH) and asked for help. He inquired if he has anything in his household? The Ansari replied: he has a blanket and a cup of drinking water. The Prophet said him to bring both items. After, the man brought the items, Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) took them up into his hands and said, ‘Who will purchase these two items?’ One of his companion offered one dirham for both. He (PBUH) again said, ‘Who will purchase them for more than one dirham? Another companion offered two Dirhams. He (PBUH) gave both items to the companion. He (PBUH) gave the two Dirhams to the Ansari, and said, ‘Get some food with one dirham, and purchase an axe with the other dirham.’ The person did so. The Prophet (PBUH) set the handle of axe with his own hand and handed over the axe to the Ansari and said, ‘Go to the forest, cut down the woods, and sell the woods in the market. Come back after two weeks.’

When he returned, he had ten dirham. He purchased some cereals and clothes with those Dirhams. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said, ‘‘ This is better for you. If you will go for begging, then your face will be blemish on the Day of Judgment.”

Actuallay Islam creates such thinking in people that they feel proud in earning and hate to the begging. Companions followed the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and took every possible struggle to earn honest livelihood. They have various professions. For example,

Hazrat Abu Bakar Siddique (R.A) worked as a cloth merchant. Hazrat Ali bin Abi Talib was a laborer. Hazrat Abdullah Bin Masood (R.A) was a shepherd. Hazrat Saad bin Al Waqaas (R.A) manufactured arrows. Hazrat Khubab bin Aas was a blacksmith. Zubair Bin Awwan worked as a tailor. Bilal bin Rebaat was a domestic servant. Salman of Persia was a barber. Amar bin Al Aas was a butcher. The history of Islam is full of with the many more examples.

The female companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also worked with hands. The wives of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) spun out the cotton and tanned hides. The daughter of Jehash was a skillful lady. She colored animals’ skins and made various items from leather. She gave charity from her earning.

Concluding more, it can be clarified that Islam does not disallow his followers to earn through legal ways but also give dignity and honor. So, earn through struggle and adopt legal profession as a big worship. All the Messengers and his companions got necessities of life through hard work. We should earn honest livelihood as a good Muslim.

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