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Islamic Work Ethics

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By Umer Chapra
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 00:00

T e goal is !usti"e to #ot e$ployers a%d e$ployees i% all e"o%o$i" relatio%s ips to eli$i%ate la#or& e$ployer "o%fli"t a%d esta#lis i%dustrial pea"e
T e "o%"ept of #rot er ood a%d e'ual treat$e%t of all i%dividuals i% so"iety a%d #efore t e (a) is %ot $ea%i%gful u%less a""o$pa%ied #y e"o%o$i" !usti"e su" t at everyo%e gets is due for is "o%tri#utio% to so"iety or to t e so"ial produ"t a%d t at t ere is %o e*ploitatio% of o%e i%dividual #y a%ot er. T e +ura% urges ,usli$s to )it old %ot t i%gs $ostly due to ot ers-, i$plyi%g t ere#y t at every i%dividual $ust get ) at is really due to i$, a%d %ot #y deprivi%g ot ers of t eir s are. T e .rop et ,u a$$ad (pea"e #e upo% i$) aptly )ar%ed:
Work & Business Ethics in Islam - Workers' Rights in Islam - he Economic Life of Islam - Lessons from Islamic an! Ethical "inance - Islamic Economy & #ocial $ustice %"ol!er& - 'ro!uction an! Consumption Ethics in Islam

/0e)are of i%!usti"e for i%!usti"e )ill #e e'uivale%t to dar1%ess o% t e 2ay of 3udg$e%t./ (A $ad) T is )ar%i%g agai%st i%!usti"e a%d e*ploitatio% is desig%ed to prote"t t e rig ts of all i%dividuals i% so"iety () et er "o%su$ers or produ"ers a%d distri#utors, a%d ) et er e$ployers or e$ployees) a%d to pro$ote ge%eral )elfare, t e ulti$ate goal of 4sla$. 5f spe"ial sig%ifi"a%"e ere is t e relatio%s ip #et)ee% t e e$ployer a%d t e e$ployee ) i" 4sla$ pla"es i% a proper setti%g a%d spe"ifies %or$s for t e $utual treat$e%t of #ot so as to esta#lis !usti"e #et)ee% t e$. A% e$ployee is e%titled to a -!ust- )age for is "o%tri#utio% to output a%d it is u%la)ful for a ,usli$ e$ployer to e*ploit is e$ployee. T e .rop et de"lared t at: /T ree perso%s ) o )ill "ertai%ly fa"e 6od-s displeasure o% t e 2ay of 3udg$e%t are: o%e ) o dies )it out fulfilli%g is "o$$it$e%t to 6od7 o%e ) o sells a free perso% a%d e%!oys t e pri"e7 a%d o%e ) o e%gages a la#orer, re"eives due )or1 fro$ i$ #ut does %ot pay i$ is )age./ (Al&0u1 ari) T is hadith, #y pla"i%g t e e*ploitatio% of la#or a%d t e e%slavi%g of a free perso% o% a% e'ual footi%g, suggests o) averse 4sla$ is to e*ploitatio% of la#or. There are however a number of hadiths from which may be inferred qualitatively the level of 'minimum' and 'ideal' wages Ethics of Labor 8 at a -!ust- )age is a%d ) at "o%stitutes -e*ploitatio%- of la#or %eeds to #e deter$i%ed i% t e lig t of t e tea" i%gs of t e +ura% a%d t e 9u%%a .

4sla$ does %ot re"og%i:e t e "o%tri#utio% to output $ade #y fa"tors of produ"tio% ot er t a% la#or a%d t erefore t e "o%"ept of e*ploitatio% of la#or i% 4sla$ )ould ave %o relatio% )it t e "o%"ept of surplus value as propou%ded #y ,ar*. 4t "ould #e argued t eoreti"ally t at -!ust- )age s ould #e e'ual to t e value of t e "o%tri#utio% to output $ade #y trade la#orer. 0ut t is is diffi"ult to deter$i%e a%d )ould ave little pra"ti"al value i% regulati%g )ages. T ere are o)ever a %u$#er ofhadiths fro$ ) i" $ay #e i%ferred 'ualitatively t e level of -$i%i$u$- a%d -ideal)ages. A""ordi%g to .rop et ,u a$$ad: /A% e$ployee ($ale or fe$ale) is e%titled to at least $oderately good food a%d "lot i%g a%d to %ot #ei%g #urde%ed )it la#or e*"ept ) at e (or s e) "a% #ear./ (,ali1) ;ro$ t is hadith it $ay #e i%ferred t at -$i%i$u$- )age s ould #e su" t at it e%a#les a% e$ployee to get a suffi"ie%t 'ua%tity of reaso%a#ly good food a%d "lot i%g for i$self a%d is fa$ily )it out over#urde%i%g i$self. T is )as "o%sidered #y t e .rop et-s "o$pa%io%s to #e t e $i%i$u$ eve% to $ai%tai% t e spiritual sta%dard of ,usli$ so"iety. -<t $a%, t e t ird =alip , is reported to ave said: /2o %ot over#urde% your u%s1illed fe$ale e$ployee i% er pursuit of a livi%g, #e"ause if you do so, s e $ay resort to i$$orality7 a%d do %ot over#urde% a $ale su#ordi%ate, for if you do so, e $ay resort to steali%g. 0e "o%siderate )it your e$ployees a%d 6od )ill #e "o%siderate )it you. 4t is i%"u$#e%t upo% you to provide t e$ good a%d la)ful food./ (,ali1) T e ideal )age $ay #e i%ferred fro$ t e follo)i%g hadith to #e a )age t at )ould e%a#le t e e$ployee to eat food a%d )ear "lot i%g !ust li1e t e e$ployer is i$self "apa#le of: />our e$ployees are your #rot ers ) o$ 6od ad $ade your su#ordi%ates. 9o e ) o as is #rot er u%der, i$, let i$ feed )it ) at e feeds i$self, a%d "lot e i$ )it ) at e "lot es i$self./ (Al&0u1 ari) T e !ust )age "a%%ot t erefore #e #elo) t e -$i%i$u$- )age. 4ts desira#le level )ould of "ourse #e "loser to t e ideal )age so as to $i%i$i:e t e i%e'ualities of i%"o$e to #ridge t e gulf #et)ee% t e )or1i%g "o%ditio%s of t e e$ployers a%d e$ployees ) i" te%ds to "reate disti%"t "lasses of t e - aves- a%d - ave&%ots-, t us )ea1e%i%g t e #o%ds of #rot er ood ) i" "o%stitute a% esse%tial feature of a truly ,usli$ so"iety. 0et)ee% t e t)o u%its t e a"tual level )ould #e deter$i%ed #y t e i%tera"tio% of supply a%d de$a%d, t e e*te%t of e"o%o$i" gro)t , t e level of $oral "o%s"ious%ess i% ,usli$ so"iety, a%d t e e*te%t to ) i" t e state plays its legiti$ate role. 0esides #ei%g paid at least $i%i$u$ )ages a%d prefera#ly ideal )ages, 4sla$ re'uires t at la#orers s ould %ot #e $ade to )or1 so ard or i% su" $isera#le "o%ditio%s t at t eir ealt deteriorates or t eir a#ility to e%!oy i%"o$e or parti"ipate i% fa$ily life gets i$paired. 4f t ey are $ade to perfor$ a tas1 ) i" is #eyo%d t eir "apa"ity t ey s ould #e provided )it suffi"ie%t elp to e%a#le t e$ to do t e !o# )it out u%due ards ip. 4% t e hadith 'uoted a#ove i% ) i" t e .rop et ad$o%is es e$ployers to "o%sider t e e$ployees as t eir #rot ers, e said furt er: /...a%d do %ot #urde% t e$ )it ) at overpo)ers t e$. 4f you do so, t e% elp t e$./ (Al&0u1 ari) ;ro$ t is hadith it $ay #e i%ferred t at fi*atio% of $a*i$u$ ours of )or1, "reatio% of proper )or1i%g "o%ditio%s, a%d e%for"e$e%t of pre"autio%ary $easures agai%st i%dustrial a:ards, )ould #e fully i% "o%for$ity )it t e spirit of 4sla$i" tea" i%gs. 8 ile t is is t e treat$e%t e*pe"ted of a% e$ployer for is e$ployees, 4sla$, #e"ause of its "o$$it$e%t to !usti"e, prote"ts t e e$ployer #y pla"i%g "ertai% $oral o#ligatio%s o% t e e$ployee as )ell. T e first o#ligatio% is to do t e !o# "o%s"ie%tiously a%d dilige%tly )it $a*i$u$ possi#le degree of "are a%d s1ill. T e .rop et e* orted: /6od as $ade #e%efi"e%"e o#ligatory upo% you./ (,usli$) A%d t at: /6od loves t at ) e% a%y o%e of you does a !o#, e does it perfe"tly./ (Al&0ay a'i) T ere "a% #e %o 'uestio% t at so"ial a%d e"o%o$i" !usti"e, ) i" 4sla$ stresses u%a$#iguously, re'uires t e effi"ie%t perfor$a%"e of t e fu%"tio% for ) i" o%e as #ee% e$ployed. 5% a%ot er o""asio% t e .rop et ,u a$$ad said: /A% e$ployee ) o e*"els i% is devotio% to 6od a%d also re%ders to is $aster ) at is due to i$ of duty, si%"erity a%d o#edie%"e, for i$ t ere is dou#le re)ards ()it 6od)./ (Al&0u1 ari) A se"o%d o#ligatio% o% t e e$ployer is to #e o%est a%d trust)ort y. T e +ura% says t at t e #est perso% a%yo%e "a% ire is t e stro%g (a#le) a%d t e o%est, a%d t e .rop et as said: /?e ) o$ )e ave appoi%ted for a !o# a%d ave provided )it liveli ood, t e% ) atever e appropriates #eyo%d t is is ill gotte%./ (A#u 2a)ud) T us, if 4sla$ as pla"ed a %u$#er of o#ligatio%s o% t e e$ployer, t e e$ployee is also e*pe"ted to do t e !o# "o%s"ie%tiously a%d dilige%tly, a%d #e o%est a%d trust)ort y. T e goal is !usti"e to #ot e$ployers a%d e$ployees i% all e"o%o$i" relatio%s ips. 4t is o%ly #y su" ar$o%ious regulatio%s of $utual respo%si#ilities e$p asi:i%g "o&operatio% a%d "o%s"ie%tious fulfill$e%t of o%e-s o#ligatio%s i% a% e%viro%$e%t of #rot er ood, !usti"e, a%d supre$a"y of $oral values, t at t ere "a% #e ope of eli$i%ati%g la#or& e$ployer "o%fli"t a%d fri"tio% a%d esta#lis i%g i%dustrial pea"e. E(uitable )istribution of Income 8it t e i%te%se a%d u%i'ue "o$$it$e%t of 4sla$ to u$a% #rot er ood a%d to so"ial a%d e"o%o$i" !usti"e, gross i%e'ualities of i%"o$e a%d )ealt "ould %ot #ut #e repug%a%t to its spirit. 9u" i%e'ualities "ould o%ly destroy rat er t a% foster t e feeli%gs of #rot er ood t at 4sla$ )is es to "reate. 0esides, si%"e all resour"es are, a""ordi%g to t e +ura%: *gifts of +o! to all human beings, (Al&0a'ara 2: 2@), t ere is %o reaso% ) y t ey s ould re$ai% "o%"e%trated i% a fe) a%ds. ?e%"e, 4sla$ e$p asi:es distri#utive !usti"e a%d i%"orporates i% its syste$ a progra$ for redistri#utio% of i%"o$e a%d )ealt so t at every i%dividual is guara%teed a sta%dard of livi%g t at is u$a%e a%d respe"ta#le, a%d i% ar$o%y )it t e regard for t e dig%ity of $a% i% ere%t i% t e tea" i%gs of 4sla$. A ,usli$ so"iety t at fails to guara%tee su" a u$a%e sta%dard is really %ot )ort y of t e %a$e as t e .rop et de"lared: While the intense and unique commitment of Islam to human brotherhood and to social and economic justice, gross inequalities of income and wealth could not but be repugnant to its spirit.

/?e is %ot a true ,usli$ ) o eats is fill ) e% is %e*t&door %eig #or is u%gry./ (Al&0u1 ari) 5$ar, t e se"o%d =alip , e*plai%i%g t e redistri#utive !usti"e i% 4sla$, e$p asi:ed i% o%e of is pu#li" addresses t at everyo%e ad a% e'ual rig t i% t e )ealt of t e "o$$u%ity, t at %o o%e, %ot eve% e i$self, e%!oyed a greater rig t i% it t a% a%yo%e else, a%d t at if e )ere to live lo%ger, e )ould see to it t at eve% a s ep erd o% t e The Islamic stresses on distributive justice are so emphatic that there had been some Muslims who have been led to believe in absolute equality of wealth. ,ou%t 9a%-a- re"eived is s are fro$ is )ealt . T e =alip -Ali is reported to ave stressed t at -6od as $ade it o#ligatory o% t e ri" to provide t e poor )it ) at is ade'uately for t e$7 if t e poor are u%gry or %a1ed or trou#led it is #e"ause t e ri" ave deprived t e$ (of t eir rig t), a%d it )ill #e proper for 6od to a""ou%t t e$ for it a%d to pu%is t e$. T e !urists ave al$ost u%a%i$ously eld t e positio% t at it is t e duty of t e ) ole ,usli$ so"iety i% ge%eral a%d of its ri" i% parti"ular to ta1e "are of t e #asi" %eeds of t e poor, a%d if t e )ell&to&do %ot fulfill t is respo%si#ility i% spite of t eir a#ility to do so t e state "a% a%d s ould "o$pel t e$, to assu$e t eir respo%si#ility. he Islamic 'rogram "or Re!istribution T e 4sla$i" progra$ for redistri#utio% "o%sists of t ree parts. 5%e, as dis"ussed earlier, 4sla$i" tea" i%gs i$ply t e te%deri%g of assista%"e i% fi%di%g gai%ful e$ploy$e%t to t ose u%e$ployed a%d t ose loo1i%g for )or1 a%d a -!ust- re$u%eratio% for t ose )or1i%g. T)o, it e$p asi:es t e pay$e%t of Zakat (al$sgivi%g) for redistri#uti%g i%"o$e fro$ t e ri" to t e poor ) o, #e"ause of perso%al disa#ility or a%di"aps (p ysi"al or $e%tal or "o%ditio%s e*ter%al to t e$ e.g. u%e$ploy$e%t), are u%a#le to attai% a respe"ta#le sta%dard of livi%g #y t eir o)% effort, -so t at-, i% t e )ords of t e +ura%7 *-ealth !oes not circulate only among your rich, (Al&?as r 5@: 7) A%d t ree: divisio%s of t e estate of a de"eased perso%, i% a""orda%"e )it a give% for$ula, a$o%g a %u$#er of i%dividuals so as to i%te%sify a%d a""elerate t e distri#utio% of )ealt i% so"iety. T is 4sla$i" "o%"ept of e'uity i% t e distri#utio% of i%"o$e a%d )ealt a%d its "o%"ept of e"o%o$i" !usti"e does %ot o)ever re'uire t at everyo%e #e re)arded e'ually, irrespe"tive of is "o%tri#utio% to so"iety. 4sla$ tolerates so$e i%e'ualities of i%"o$e #e"ause all $e% are %ot e'ual i% t eir " ara"ter, a#ility a%d servi"e to so"iety. T erefore, distri#utive !usti"e i% 4sla$i" so"iety, after guara%teei%g a u$a%e sta%dard of livi%g to all $e$#ers t roug t e i%stitutio% of Zakat, allo)s su" differe%tials i% ear%i%gs as are i% 1eepi%g )it t e differe%"es i% t e value of t e "o%tri#utio%s or servi"es re%dered, ea" i%dividual re"eivi%g a% i%"o$e "orrespo%di%g to t e so"ial value of t e servi"es e "o%tri#utes to so"iety. T e 4sla$i" stresses o% distri#utive !usti"e are so e$p ati" t at t ere ad #ee% so$e ,usli$s ) o ave #ee% led to #elieve i% a#solute e'uality of )ealt . A#u 2 ar, a "o$pa%io% of t e .rop et, )as of t e opi%io% t at it is u%la)ful for a ,usli$ to possess )ealt #eyo%d t e esse%tial %eeds of is fa$ily. ?o)ever, $ost of t e .rop et-s "o$pa%io%s did %ot agree )it i$ i% t is e*tre$e vie) a%d tried to prevail upo% i$ to " a%ge is positio%. 0ut eve% A#u 2 ar )as %ot a protago%ist of e'uality of flo)s (i%"o$e), e )as i% favor of e'uality of sto"1s ()ealt a""u$ulatio%s). T is, e asserted, "ould #e attai%ed if t e e%tire surplus of i%"o$e over --ge%ui%e/ e*pe%ses (al-afw) )as spe%t #y t e i%dividual i% i$provi%g t e lot of is less fortu%ate #rot ers. T e "o%se%sus of ,usli$ s" olars, i% spite of #ei%g i%te%sely i% favor of distri#utive !usti"e, as o)ever al)ays #ee% t at if a ,usli$ ear%s #y rig tful $ea%s a%d fro$ is o)% i%"o$e a%d )ealt fulfils is o#ligatio%s to)ard t e )elfare of is so"iety #y payi%g Zakat a%d ot er re'uired "o%tri#utio%s, t ere is %ot i%g )ro%g i% is possessi%g $ore )ealt t a% ot er fello) ,usli$s. 4% reality, o)ever, if t e 4sla$i" tea" i%gs of Halal (la)ful) a%d Haram (u%la)ful) i% t e ear%i%g of )ealt are follo)ed, t e %or$ of !usti"e to e$ployees a%d "o%su$ers is applied, provisio% for redistri#utio% of i%"o$e a%d )ealt are i$ple$e%ted a%d t e 4sla$i" la) of i% erita%"e is e%for"ed, t ere "a%%ot #e a%y gross i%e'ualities of i%"o$e a%d )ealt i% ,usli$ so"iety. "ree!om of the In!i.i!ual -ithin the Conte/t of #ocial Welfare T e $ost i$porta%t pillar of ,usli$ fait is t e #elief t at $a% as #ee% "reated #y 6od a%d is su#servie%t to %o%e #ut ?i$. T is provides t e esse%"e of t e 4sla$i" od has created you free and therefore be nothing but free " arter of freedo$ fro$ all #o%dage. ?e%"e t e +ura% says t at o%e of t e pri$ary o#!e"tives of ,u a$$ad-s .rop eti" $issio% )as to: *release them %mankin!& from the bur!ens an! chains upon them, (Al&A-raf 7: 157) 4t is t is spirit of freedo$ ) i" pro$pted 5$ar, t e se"o%d =alip , to de"lare: 9i%"e ) e% ave you e%slaved people alt oug t eir $ot ers ad #or%e t e$ freeA 4$a$ 9 afi-i, t e fou%der of t e 9 afiBi s" ool of ,usli$ !urisprude%"e, e*pressed t e sa$e spirit ) e% e said: 6od as "reated you free a%d t erefore #e %ot i%g #ut free. 0e"ause $a% is #or% free %o o%e, %ot eve% t e state, as t e rig t to a#rogate t is freedo$ a%d to su#!e"t is life to regi$e%tatio%. T ere is "o%se%sus a$o%g ,usli$ !urists t at restri"tio%s "a%%ot #e i$posed o% a free, $ature, a%d sa%e perso%. 4$a$ A#u ?a%ifa , t e fou%der of t e ?a%afi s" ool of ,usli$ !urisprude%"e, goes furt er a%d feels t at restri"tio%s $ay %ot #e i$posed o% a free, $ature, a%d sa$e perso% eve% if e urts is o)% i%terest #y, to 'uote is o)% e*a$ple, spe%di%g $o%ey ai$lessly )it out a%y #e%efit. T e reaso% e gives for t is is t at deprivi%g i$ t e freedo$ of " oi"e is li1e degradi%g is u$a%ity a%d treati%g i$ li1e a% a%i$al. T e i%!ury do%e #y t is )ould #e greater t a% t e i%!ury do%e to is e*travaga%"e. A greater loss "ould %ot #e i%fli"ted to avoid a s$aller loss.

T e differe%"e of opi%io%, o)ever, e*ists o%ly if a% i%dividual urts is o)% i%terest, )it out, of "ourse, over& steppi%g t e $oral #o%ds of 4sla$. 0ut if t e i%dividual urts t e i%terests of ot ers, t e% t ere is %o differe%"e of opi%io% t at restri"tio%s "a% a%d s ould #e i$posed o% i$. All !urists allo) restri"tio%s to #e i$posed if t is preve%ts i%!ury to ot ers or safeguards pu#li" i%terest, as i% A#u ?a%ifa -s )ords, -"o%trols o% a% u%trai%ed do"tor, or a "areless !udge, or a #a%1rupt e$ployer, #e"ause su" "o%trols re$ove a greater ar$ #y i%fli"ti%g a s$aller ar$.9o"ial )elfare as a pla"e of a#solute i$porta%"e i% 4sla$ a%d i%dividual freedo$, t oug %ot i%depe%de%t of its so"ial i$pli"atio%s. of pri$ary sig%ifi"a%"e, is

To set i%to a proper perspe"tive t e rig ts of t e i%dividual vis&C&vis ot er i%dividuals a%d so"iety, t e !urists ave agreed upo% t e follo)i%g #asi" pri%"iples: & T e larger i%terest of so"iety ta1es pre"ede%"e over t e i%terest of t e i%dividual. & Alt oug -relievi%g ards ip- a%d -pro$oti%g #e%efit- are #ot a$o%g t e pri$e o#!e"tives of t e 9 aria , t e for$er, ta1es pre"ede%"e over t e latter. & A #igger loss "a%%ot #e i%fli"ted to relieve a s$aller loss, or a #igger #e%efit "a%%ot #e sa"rifi"ed for a s$aller o%e. =o%versely, a s$aller ar$ "a% #e i%fli"ted to avoid a #igger ar$ or a s$aller #e%efit "a% #e sa"rifi"ed for a larger #e%efit. 4%dividual freedo$, )it i% t e et i"al li$its of 4sla$, is t erefore sa"red o%ly as lo%g as it does %ot "o%fli"t )it t e larger so"ial i%terest or as lo%g as t e i%dividual does %ot tra%sgress t e rig t of ot ers.

9our"e: Al&Da da $aga:i%e: ,usli$ De)s a%d Eie)s


Relate! Links0 T e F"o%o$i" 5#!e"tives of t e 4sla$i" 9tate 4sla$i" .erspe"tive o% T e 6lo#al ;i%a%"ial =risis 4 ?ave a +uestio%, 4 G%o) t e A%s)er, 4B$ at .ea"e G%o) 8 y >ou Are ?ere Tari' Ha$ada%: ?o) to F$po)er >ourself