Employment Contract in Islam
It is we who divide among them their livelihood in the life of this world, and We exalt some of them above others in rank, so that some of them may command work from the others (Qur'an, 43:32)
The apparent disparity between the rich and the poor is part of the divinely ordained economic strata. The financial inequality between various members of society is to facilitate mutual coexistence and cohesion. It engenders interdependence within the human race and weaves the diverse segments of society into an organic whole. Nature, in general, is a system of uniformities and diversities. These contra-flows forge harmony and stability and closely intertwine the human race into societies.
The poor are dependent on the rich for their bread, while the rich are dependent on the poor for their labour. The wealth of the rich is not to exploit the poverty of the poor, but rather to harness the potentialities of the skilled. This interdependence facilitates the smooth flow of life. This does not imply that Islam advocates two parallel social streams of the over nourished and the under nourished.
The wealth of the rich is not to aggravate the poverty of the poor. On the contrary, economic inequalities have been underscored by different human dispositions. Human beings are born with varying talents and gifts. They vary in physique and in their mental abilities. Islam recognizes these natural differences among people and establishes guidelines to ensure that economic diversity does not lead to the emergence of class conflict, the emergence of the elite and the ignoble.
Labour and Capital need not be two hostile camps working against the interests of each other. They have to mutually supplement each other for the common good of prosperity. Some of the very simple, yet fundamental concepts of Islam are:
Prophet Muhammad (saww): "Your brethren whom Allah has placed in your custody; Let him who has made custodian of his brother by Allah feed him from what he himself eats, clothe him out of what he clothes himself, and impose not on him work that will overcome him".
Although this tradition primarily refers to the treatment of slaves, it nevertheless contains some very pertinent directives for employers:
Your employees are your human brothers
Treat them with dignity and equality
Do not create animosity by flouting your wealth in a manner that will stir feelings of jealousy and greed.
The minimum wage should be high enough to meet the basic essentials and requirements of the worker. Anas who served the Prophet (saww) for a long time specifically states, The Prophet never paid a low wage to any person. One of the three persons that the Prophet (saw) will argue against on the Day of Judgement is a man who engaged a labourer and enjoyed full benefit from him, yet did not pay him (his due) wages.
Prophet (saw): "Pay the labourer his wages before his sweat dries".
The worker should not be given a task beyond his physical capabilities.
The Holy Prophet (saw) stated: " ...... and do not impose upon him more than he can bear".
Prophet (saw): "Good treatment of those under you brings fortune, whilst bad treatment brings misfortune".
Employment is a trust
Employment is a trust that has to be discharged with absolute commitment. Punctuality and proficiency are the two basic requirements for the discharge of this trust. The Holy Qur'an refers to these qualities in the following words: One of the two daughters (of Shoa'ib) said: O my father, employ him; surely the best of men for you to employ is he who is strong and trustworthy (Qur'an: 28:26).
Prophet Muhammad (saw): "A body nourished by ill-gotten gain shall not enter paradise". The Holy Qur'an states, Man is entitled to no more than what he works for. (Qu'ran, 53:93)
The Holy Prophet (saw) said: "When any man does any work, Allah wishes him to give it perfection and grace (i.e. the man is expected to do his work in the best possible way)".
The beautiful Deen of Allah has regulated every facet of man's activity. Divine directives are both perfect and compatible to every age and era. Adherence to these directives will ensure peace and stability, whilst aversion to the same may perpetuate strife, loss, and oppression.