Economic System of Islam 3 – Labor Work Ethics

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Jamal Badawi

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In the name of God he never synced, the Merciful, the creator and Sustainer of the universe, peace and blessings upon the servant and messenger Muhammad forever. I mean, I greet you with a greeting that is common in Islam, assalamu Aleikum, which means peace beyond to you. I'm your host Hamad Rashid. Today we have our third program in our series dealing with the economic system of Islam. Today we'll be looking at the topic of work in Islam. I have joining me on the program is usual. Dr. Jamal Badawi of St. Mary's University brother Jamal Assalamu alaykum. Ronnie,

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could I have you very quickly as as our fashion summarize the main points that we touched on in our second program in the series dealing with the economic system of Islam. And certainly, the second program dealt mainly with the concept of property, rights of property, and Islam. And we indicated that Islam recognizes the right of people to own property as an instinctive the natural tendency among all people. However, we said there are also various levels of property that you can speak about

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things that are owned by one individual, by family, by tribe, by a nation, our society at large or jointly owned by the entire human race like oceans and give examples of that.

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Secondly, we talked about the fact that the recognition of the right to own and Islam is also subject to legitimacy, legitimacy of obtaining or acquiring this property. Using this property and disposing of it, we have given specific examples as to what is regarded as legitimate and Islam, such as obtaining property through one's own effort, hunting, fishing, labor, that you do, or for a pay for a salary or whatever.

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On the other hand, we have also given the other side of the coin, what means are regarded as illegitimate or unlawful from the point of view of Islamic law

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to acquire property, such as the theft, extortion or other illegitimate means. And then we said that

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this also, this restrictions do not preclude also that even when you on the right, the on the on the property, rightfully should say, there are also obligations and duties on that property, including the, for example, in soccer, or the charity, the appointed minimum percentage that you have

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to pay the obligation to maintain your immediate family and in some cases, even some of the needy relatives. And we said that on the whole, this is within the boundaries, not just legal provisions. But there are also additional, ethical or moral teachings, if you will, pertaining to the question of acquisition of property, the obligation not to hold property away from circulation and get the society to benefit from the wealth that's available, not necessarily on by charity, but at least by way of investment to provide jobs and opportunities and benefits for others.

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Well, turning to today's topic, and to put our discussions into context, I wonder if I could ask you to

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give some explanation of the Islamic concept of work and who is a worker from an Islamic perspective? Okay. It appears that this topic of this program seemed to follow rather nicely from the previous one, because, as indicated before, of course, the one of the main sources of legitimate right of property in Islam is the labor or working well,

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in an Islamic understanding, labor

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can be defined as any effort, physical and or mental, that is exerted by the person which would include

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the conventional definition of labor that most people would think of immediately like manual labor, when you say labor. Most people think of manual, this is only one part of it. But it also include

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other types of exertion like mental effort,

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all jobs that might fall under clerical professional managerial

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would come under this

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Definition of labor to.

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But in Islam, even you can add to this, the labor or work of people who are appointed or entrusted with some duties in public offices, even rulers. A ruler in Islam can also be called a worker. That might sound rather strange, you know, but there was a little incident that happened in the days of Mongolia.

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The

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rulers after Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him.

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And one time he was sitting there, and MN, a very pious and courageous Muslim by the name of Abu Muslim,

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entered in his court. And he said to him, Assalamu alayka, you have

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the word ajira. In Arabic, means worker says Peace be upon you workers. So the people of course, around the rollers are offenders and that is it. You don't mean a GS which mean workers, you mean Amir's, which means like a roller

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commander, he said, No, peace be upon you, a GS, which means workers. And then letters smile, we're told his people said, No, let him he knows what he's saying. And then that courageous man said to him, listen to the ruler, he said to the ruler,

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you are a worker,

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and God has appointed you just like hired you. And if you do your duty, properly, as a ruler, God will give you abundant rewards. And if you don't do it, right, God will punish you. So this is the kind of conception that they had that any kind of work, not just manual or mental, any kind of activity that is beneficial to the rest of the community was regarded as well. It follows from this definition.

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That, first of all,

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all human beings can be set to be equal, in that sense, equal in the sense that they have the dignity

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that all of them are workers because nobody is exempt or can live without some kind of exertion of effort, except, of course, in rare cases like disabilities, but otherwise, all humans are workers and that sense.

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And that's such a new concept in Islam of one class and society or one group being above the other or superior to other orientate each other all are common in that particular description. It follows from that also, if you compare it with the contemporary scene, that in an ideal Islamic Society that Islam teaches, there is no sub subdivisions that this are the group or the class of entrepreneurs or managers. And these are the workers there is no such division in society. All of them are workers, maybe in different levels. Maybe they're doing different things. But they are all called workers, and that sense, but what about the question of work that work ethics? How would you characterize

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Islam's attitude towards work? Well, the interesting thing about it is that Islam does not only a field when you talk about work ethics on the in a sense of decency, or fair play that everybody should work and you should not be lazy. This is a kind of common statements that are usually related to the question of work ethics. And Islam work ethics is carried even a step further,

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to the point of being equated with worship. In fact, as you might recall from some programs in a long time ago, dealing with the moral system in Islam, it was indicated that the concept of worship in Islam is not confined to certain rituals, or performance of prayers, this is only part of it. But in the true Islamic understanding, every activity that's beneficial to oneself, one family, once society or to humanity at large, can be regarded as an act of worship provided to things good intention, and to do that effort or activity in the boundary within the boundaries that God has established for us. So everything can be regarded as an act of worship, including work. So work is

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worship in that sense, which means that when the person is taught this basic ethical value of work or work ethics, if you will, it is related to one duty towards God before talking about his duties towards other human beings that God wanted him to work. In fact, one verse in the Quran says wakulla motto, Casa de la mala Kumara pseudo says, say work, tell them mahama teach them work exist, which means exertion, everything in worship and activities in good deeds and moral behavior as well as economic activities work so that God's will and His Messenger and the believers will see the

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Which are the results of, of your work? It taught us from this of necessity that Islam discourages

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the attitude of idleness or laziness, or attitude of trying to live on the charity of other people, of course, unless the person is disabled, then he has no means. But this but otherwise an able bodied person is not encouraged to, to just live at the expense of others. Indeed,

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one incident happened during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him that was narrated in a tizzy and an essay.

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This man came to the process, and he was just asking for some kind of charity.

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The Prophet looked at him and says, Do you have any property?

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He says, No. Then he repeated again, do you have any property think anything. So I have nothing to say that all I have is just the kind of met, that me and my wife, we sit on it on one part of it and cover cover ourselves with the other half. And we have also kind of, from which we would drink, I don't have anything to bring them, bring them here. He brought them. And then the Prophet says, who would like to buy this thing, this that stuff?

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So people bought that and the result was to their hands, this is a kind of currency that they have to their hands.

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So the Prophet looked at this man, he said, I take one of those Durham's this money, and buy food for your family.

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And take the other day him and go and buy

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a metal x, x and bring it to me. So the man went, he bought the football recently brought the metal x, the prophet brought the piece of wood and fixed it in the X and says, All right, take that axe. And I don't want to see your face for 15 days. Go away, cut wood and sell it.

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So the man went after 15 days he came back. And this time he was really wealthy, at least compared to his previous state. He had 10. Durham's 10.

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And the Prophet asked him, How did you get that he said, right, I was, you know, cutting wood and God has blessed my effort. And now I have this excess amount of money. The Prophet looked at him and says, This is better for you than coming in the day of judgment with your face, hey, having the stigma of sign of begging, this was a very, you know, constructive lesson in trying one's best even though the person may be really in a bad shape, one should exert as much effort as possible to try to gain an honorable type of employment.

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Actually, the prophet said that even in a more

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straightforward saying, and he said that it is better for one of you to take his rope, go to the mountain, cut woods and sell it then asking people are begging people waiting, whether they are going to give him or decline

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to give him

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Well, now in nearly all cultures and civilizations, there are some people who look down on on manual labor.

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What is this large position with respect to manual labor? Okay, we have seen first in the previous question how the Prophet, Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him responded to this idea of working and he considered that a very honorable thing, even guys, you know,

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wood cutting is not that easy type of job. But I'm glad that you're asking say, you're asking the question in the form of what Islam says that what Muslims do or what kind of attitude because Muslims like everybody else also have their own faults. And there might be some Muslims who are guilty themselves, of harboring an attitude towards labor, or manual labor, which is not taught by Islam. So what is more important to see what Islam teaches and then hold them accountable to the extent they are complying with the teaching of their faith. But if you refer to the teaching of Islam, in the primary sources in the Quran, and the prophetic tradition, we find that manual labor

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is not only acceptable, it is respected and adored.

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In the famous story about Prophet Noah, when he was building the ark, the Quran says was not for he was making an ark. So he is a great prophet, and messenger of God, one of the five greatest prophets and he is cutting wood and making an ark with the help of others. There's no

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Nothing wrong with it. In one saying of the Prophet narrated in a hurry,

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he says that a person would not eat better food than that which is earned from the work of his hand in homiletic, from the work of his hand, and similar saying also, that we just got a few. He says, He who sleeps or, you know, start his evening with his hands tired of work, he will spend his night with his sins and mistakes forgiven, that is, this is a region of forgiveness of a sense.

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One time the Prophet was asked, what kind of earning is best, what is the most noble type of earning, he said, from the man's, or the persons working with his with his hand, and also from an honest sale, and income that comes from honest commercial dealings.

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One time a companion of the Prophet came to shake hands with him, and the Prophet, note that his hand was really rough, and to some extent, blisters, blisters. And he said, What happened to your your hand sad. He said, Well, because of, you know, my effort to earn living for myself and my children. The Prophet kissed that hand, and he said, this is a hand which is loved by God, and His Messenger.

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This attitude has not been restricted or confined to the lifetime of the Prophet but you find anytime, anywhere, when there are true Muslims,

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practicing Muslims, you find that the respect for laborers, all types of labour, including manual labor, is so great, just to give you an illustration, and after the profit, during the reign of the second Caleb farmer, once he passed by a group of people who were sitting there, putting their heads like that, and, you know, reciting prayers and all that, and it was those people.

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He was told that these people call themselves al mutawa qilu mitakeumi, those who depend on God. He said, No, these are not metaxalone. These are metaxalone, with a Quran and Arabic means those who are eating away the property of others, in other words, living on charity, with akyuu, not metaxalone. And he said, should I tell you as to who the true miracles are, or the people who really depend on God? They said, Yes. He said, The true people who depend on God are those who put the seed

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in the ground, and then depend on God. That's a good lesson. What is really saying that to depend on God does not mean that you have to be fatalistic or lazy or do nothing. But try first just like the farmer put the seed. Yes, you have to depend on God, to have the plant come out, but do your best, put the seed put the fertilizers, you know, give it water and all that, and then depends on God do something first before you say all right, I depend on God for my living, we all depend on God for our living, but you have to do something

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for the pursuing this point, with respect to the attitude of manual labor. Some argue that there are a few texts in the Quran, and in the prophetic sayings, which seemed to which appeared to discourage certain kinds of, of work. How would you respond to people who would use those references? Well, usually the the when things are taken out of the context and out of the total frame of reference, you're right. Some people come with this kind of

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conclusions. I think the question is quite common. But so for example, some people refer to the Quran and they say that in numerous places in the Quran, it always speaks about the importance of the life here after that we're going to die we're going to resurrect again and this life would be nothing. And there are several prophetic tradition also showing that in our life here on Earth, just like a traveler who stops under a tree for a short time, so that's just small, as compared to eternal life in the hereafter.

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But again, this does not mean that we have to do nothing to earn our living or to be comfortable Also, while on Earth. It simply means put your life in perspective. Don't forget life hereafter because you're too busy getting the maximum joys of this life but then say don't have any jewelry, and Elvis, permissible Of course, and innocent enjoyment of life.

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The other thing also that could be that sometimes is referred to is one verse in the Quran. That refers to the importance of leaving everything leaving trade at the time of the Juma Friday, congregational prayers, you know, every week, they have to be this congregational prayer.

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But that very same chapter, that is with this

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also speaks about the necessity of spreading and the earth after you finish your prayer and seek the provision of God. So just that hour or so that you have to spend and pray, but it doesn't really discourage commercial dealings, such as simply says, Don't forget other activities also. And some saying of the Prophet, he speaks about emotions, and say that they will all be condemned. But he again says, except those who are God conscious God fearing, and those who are truthful in their dealings, so it does not really discourage commercial dating, but discourage

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cheating and improper negotiations are contracts.

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Some of the same also as one merited for example in

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which may give the indication that the profit discourage people from engaging in agriculture. But that the context of that thing is the people who keep close to lend

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as an allegory of people who avoid also traveling or avoid also struggling or fighting for the sake of God, when and whenever the need arises, like defense and all that. So it's not condemnation of agriculture, as such as how could people survive. It's talking about people who keep, you know, stationary without really defending themselves or trying to do something for the benefit of other people. So the restrictions that we, you know, Islam speaks about with respect to labor, or something within the context of Islam does not mean at all discouragement of activities or any sector of the economy, but simply putting things in proper

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and proper rate. We mentioned closing to that answer about restrictions, are there certain types of work in Islam that are subject to restrictions? Yes, and that comes on, like, we discussed in the previous program, also on the rights of property, it emanates from the basic moral and ethical orientation of Islam. Just to give you an example, even though this was mentioned before, they just have to make cross reference to earn money, for example, or to work.

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For example, in the production,

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and distribution,

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and or distribution, I should say, of alcoholic beverages.

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Drugs, I'm referring to harmful drugs, you know, things that people take to get high.

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intoxicants in general, would be something that is unbuffered, that Muslims should not, for example, work in a winery or a beer

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making plant.

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Because the output, it's not that the work itself is forbidden, but because the output itself is unlawful. As far as the standard clause is concerned,

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there are also certain restrictions, which are meant for the welfare of the public or the welfare of society at large.

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This is what you might call in modern terms like health and safety regulations, under Islamic law, and this is an old thing, it's not nothing new, really, the ruler can impose certain restrictions about people having

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factories in given areas, having so much smoke that might be hurting people without having to do something about it.

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The protection, health protection and safety protection for workers, these are all restrictions, not on labor itself, but on the way of using people to do work in such a way that so as to protect them and to protect the welfare of the society at large. Now, within the the permissible permissible work, are there any restrictions with respect to the choice of professions or it's basically the freedom of choice of professions and careers? Okay, since you define this already, within the permissible, there is no restriction on what kind of profession a person may engage in. The basic rule is that the person is free to choose his profession. under Islamic law, it goes even beyond

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that. It makes it incumbent on the rulers or government to open up opportunities for people so that they can pursue whatever activities or profession they feel they can do an excellent job on. There is no aristocracy in Islamic law, that certain professions as used to be in the past, for example, in some places, the professions of certain types have to be limited to one particular group or race or class and society. It should be open to all.

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This is in recognition simply that God has created humans differently. Some people have more physical aptitude, manual aptitude, intellectual aptitude, there are all kinds of skills that are needed to keep life going. In fact, the Quran in one particular verse in chapter six 165 it says that God has created people and made some of them above others in degrees, not in

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terms of status but in terms of abilities, so that they can use each other. Not necessarily that the more powerful or the more educated uses, the less educated as some people may mistakenly understand it. But it simply means that each person is using the others to fulfill his needs. Just as the medical doctor may be using a builder to build his home, the builder is using the doctor also to provide him with medication. So every person is dependent on every other person. So the the there is no restriction insofar as having any particular social status which are attached to any particular profession. In fact, in the history of Islam, we'll find bright examples of people who were regarded

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as people who belong to the lowest social status, people look at it in terms of power and wealth, and all that, who came to positions of great prominence in Islamic history. One of this is a man, the son of

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his father was simply an adopted son, just like, actually, in the Arabic tradition. At that time. before its time, it was almost like a servant really. But he came to be the commander of a big army. And some of his own soldiers under his command used to be among the most noble and the most powerful of the aristocratic, quote, unquote, crocheted

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tribe.

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So this reflects simply the ideology of Islam of equating between people and making a distinction on the insofar as piety and productivity of the person insofar as what he or she can contribute to the well being of the society at large. What basis is there four differentials in pay? One wireless lamb equipped between people in terms of social status and their position before God does not necessarily mean that each person would have to be paid exactly the same as somebody else.

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Differential impact could be legitimate on the basis of difference in the quantity of production, the quality and scarcity, for example, if it takes a long time to get a training to be a brain surgeon, for example, when you have to be rewarded, and why Islam does not object to this differential fair differential, which is based on good reasons, is to encourage people to benefit society from their skills or ability because if you say everybody will be paid the same, then people would take the easier type of professions rather than the ones that require some hard work or long type of, of training.

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What is Islam to say about the protection of the rights of workers? Well, there are several ones. To start with any worker that you hire, of course, you have some kind of contractual agreement, whether verbal or written or oral. Well, and this, we find that the fifth chapter of the Quran says that it is an obligation on the Muslim to fulfill the condition of contracts. So that is part of it, including work contract. But even in contracts which are permissible in Islam, we find that Islam also requires that the person should not cheat the people is hiring. And one saying of the Prophet narrated and Buhari, he says, among three people, the prophet will speak against, and the Day of

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Judgment is a person who hire a worker to do work for him, and take all the work and effort from him and then does not pay him his generate.

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In one saying of the Prophet, he says that you should give the person you hired to do work, his payment before his sweat dries,

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what he really means that you don't unduly delay the pay. But of course, if both agree that the payment would be every week, two weeks or every month, that's fine. But the idea is not to drag and delay the payment of the Jew, right? In addition to this, we find that other thing of the Prophet seemed to imply protection of the weaker

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segments of society or people who are prone to exploitation, like women and children. And finally, maybe you can add this to that in some saying of the Prophet. He indicates that when you hire someone, don't overcharge them with work don't really require them to exert undue

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you know, efforts without justification. But if you give them really work that is very hard beyond their capacity, you should also give them a hand and helping them and that again reflect this egalitarian attitude in terms of treatment, and the respect of all types of labor.

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Time for today is gone. We want to thank you for watching, invite you back next week we'll continue our discussion on the economic system and Islam. Thank you.

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