Rights of employees and employers

Rights of employees and employers

Rights of employees and employers


Please can you outline some ḥadīths regarding the rights of employees and employers.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم


The relationship between an employer and employer is based on an Ijārah contract, as a service is provided in exchange for a wage. It is the responsibility of both parties to mutually agree the contractual terms and fulfil their responsibilities and be considerate to one another. Consulting each other before and during the employment is particularly useful to understand each other’s needs and expectations.

(1) Rights of employees

Islam has placed great emphasis on the rights of employees. Some ḥadīths and Qurʾānic verses are outlined in this regard.

The Prophet ﷺ said:

من استأجر أجيرا فليسم له إجارته

“Whoever employs an employee, he must specify for him his wage [in advance].” (Muṣannaf ʿAbd al-Razzāq, 15023, 15024. All the transmitters are of a very high calibre except that Ibrahīm Nakhaʿī did not hear the narration from any companion. However, such narrations of his are generally accepted, see al-Tamhīd 1:30; Tahdhīb al-Kamāl, 2:238; al-Ṣārim al-Munkī, p.107; Sharḥ ʿIlal al-Tirmidhī, 1:542, 556)

Thus, the remuneration must be appropriate, fair and proportionate to the effort of the employee and his needs. The employee must be remunerated on time.

The Prophet ﷺ said:

أعطوا الأجير أجره قبل أن يجف عرقه

“Give the employee his salary before his sweat dries.” (Sunan Ibn Mājah, 2443; Sharḥ Mushkil al-Āthār, 3014)

The Prophet ﷺ said:

مطل الغني ظلم، فإذا أتبع أحدكم على مليء فليتبع

“Procrastination (delay) of a wealthy person [in payment of debts or otherwise] is injustice. So, if your debt is transferred from your debtor to a rich debtor, you should agree.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 2287)

The Prophet ﷺ said:

قال الله: ثلاثة أنا خصمهم يوم القيامة: رجل أعطى بي ثم غدر، ورجل باع حرا فأكل ثمنه، ورجل استأجر أجيرا فاستوفى منه ولم يعط أجره

 ‘Allah said, “I will be an opponent of three types of people on the Day of Resurrection: A person who makes a covenant in My Name and is then treacherous, a person who sells a free person and eats his price, and a person who employs a labourer and takes full work from him but does not pay him his due.”’ (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 2227)

The Prophet ﷺ said:

إذا أتى أحدكم خادمه بطعامه فإن لم يجلسه معه فليناوله لقمة أو لقمتين أو أكلة أو أكلتين فإنه ولي علاجه

“When your servant brings your meal to you then if he does not let him sit with him, then he should at least give him a morsel or two morsels, as he has prepared it.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 2557)

The Prophet ﷺ said:

للمملوك طعامه وكسوته ولا يكلف من العمل إلا ما يطيق

 “The slave, his food and clothes [is his right], and he should not be burdened with work except what he is capable of.” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, 1662)

Maʿrūr ibn Suwayd said:

لقيت أبا ذر بالربذة، وعليه حلة، وعلى غلامه حلة. فسألته عن ذلك فقال: إني ساببت رجلا فعيرته بأمه. فقال لي النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: يا أبا ذر أعيرته بأمه؟ إنك امرؤ فيك جاهلية، إخوانكم خولكم، جعلهم الله تحت أيديكم، فمن كان أخوه تحت يده، فليطعمه مما يأكل، وليلبسه مما يلبس، ولا تكلفوهم ما يغلبهم، فإن كلفتموهم فأعينوهم.

‘I met Abu Dharr [may Allah be pleased with him] in Rabadhah and he was wearing a cloak, and his slave was also wearing a [similar] cloak. So, I asked him about it. He replied, “I abused a person by calling his mother with bad names.” The Prophet ﷺ said to me, “O Abu Dharr, did you abuse him by calling his mother with bad names? Indeed, you still have some characteristics of ignorance within you. Your slaves are your brothers. Allah has put them under your control. So, whoever has a brother under his control, he should feed him of what he eats and dress him of what he wears. Do not burden them in a way that overpowers them, and if you do burden them, then help them.”’ (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 30)

In the Qurʾān (2:286), Allah Almighty says, “Allah does not burden a soul except within its capacity.” Similarly, Allah Almighty narrates the statement of Prophet Shuʿaib (peace be upon him) when he wanted Prophet Mūsā (peace be upon him) to work for him, “And I do not wish to put you in difficulty” (28:27).

The employer must not oppress the employee in any way. Almighty Allah says, “O you who believe, stand firmly for justice” (Qurʾān, 4:135), “And Allah does not want injustice for [His] servants” (Qurʾān, 40:31).

The Prophet ﷺ said:

لا تحاسدوا ولا تناجشوا ولا تباغضوا ولا تدابروا ولا يبع بعضكم على بيع بعض وكونوا عباد الله إخوانا، المسلم أخو المسلم لا يظلمه ولا يخذله ولا يحقره التقوى هاهنا، ويشير إلى صدره ثلاث مرات. بحسب امرئ من الشر أن يحقر أخاه المسلم، كل المسلم على المسلم حرام دمه وماله وعرضه

“Do not envy one another, do not inflate prices by overbidding against one another, do not hate one another, do not turn away from one another, do not enter into a transaction over the transaction of others, and o servants of Allah, be brothers. The Muslim is a brother of another Muslim. He does not oppress him, nor abandon him, nor undermine him. The piety is here, and he would point towards his chest thrice. It is enough evil to look down on his Muslim brother. All things of a Muslim are inviolable for a Muslim: his blood, his wealth and his honour.” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, 2564)

The Prophet ﷺ narrates from Allah Almighty who said:

يا عبادي، إني حرمت الظلم على نفسي وجعلته بينكم محرما فلا تظالموا

“O my servants, verily I have made oppression unlawful for Me and made it unlawful amongst you, so do not commit oppression on each other.” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, 2577)

 The Prophet ﷺ said:

لا ضرر ولا ضرار

“There should be no harm or reciprocating harm.” (Musnad Aḥmad, 2865; al-Mustadrak, 2345; the narration of al-Mustadrak is ṣaḥīḥ)

ʿĀʾishah (d. 58/678) (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates:

ما ضرب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم شيئا قط بيده ولا امرأة ولا خادما إلا أن يجاهد في سبيل الله، وما نيل منه شيء قط فينتقم من صاحبه إلا أن ينتهك شيء من محارم الله فينتقم لله عز وجل

“Allah’s messenger ﷺ never hit anything with his hand, neither a woman nor an assistant, but only when he would fight in the cause of Allah. And he never took revenge for anything from its perpetrator unless anything from the prohibitions of Allah was violated, then he would take revenge for Allah, the Exalted and Glorious.” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, 2328)

Anas ibn Mālik (d. 93/711-2) (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

خدمت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم عشر سنين، فما قال لي أف، ولا: لم صنعت؟ ولا: ألا صنعت؟

“I served the Messenger of Allah ﷺ for ten years. He did not say ‘uff’ [ever], nor: why did you do this or why did you not do this?” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 6038)

In addition to this, the general welfare of employees is the moral responsibility of employers. Almighty Allah mentions: “Do good to those whom your right hand possess” (Qurʾān, 4:37). The Prophet ﷺ said, “Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 893). The employee should also facilitate for the employee to fulfil their religious obligations by allowing time for Ṣalāh and other religious duties and ensure he does not ask his employees to violate the rules of Sharīʿah in any way.

In addition to this, the employer should be tolerant and forbearing. Consideration and support should be provided to employees who have served for many years and who may not be as productive as they were once. Consider the ḥadīth wherein the Prophet ﷺ advised one of his companions against slaughtering a camel that he had used for twenty years for his work (Musnad Aḥmad, 17548, 17567; al-Tārīkh al-Kabīr, 6: 357; Musnad al-Bazzār 4:290; al-Ḍuʿafāʾ al-Kabīr, 1:44; al-Muʿjam al-Kabīr, 10:79, 22:255; al-Muʿjam al-Awsaṭ, 9:52; al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb 3:144; al-Jawāb al-Ṣaḥīḥ, 6:191; Kashf al-Astār, 3:135; Majmaʿ al-Zawāʾid, 9:5-10). The ḥadīth is collectively authentic.

(2) Rights of employers

The employee must fulfil the contractual obligations and support the employer in every way possible. He should regard the employer’s success as his own personal success and work with this spirit and enthusiasm. He should not lie, cheat or betray trust and always be honest.

Allah Almighty said in the Qurʾān (5:1), “O those who believe, fulfil all obligations.”

The Prophet ﷺ is reported to have said:

إن الله يحب إذا عمل أحدكم عملا أن يتقنه

“Indeed, Allah likes that when one of you do work, to do it with perfection.” (Musnad Abī Yaʿlā, 4386; al-Maṣāḥif, p.344; al-Muʿjam al-Awsaṭ, 897; Shuʿab al-Īmān, 4929. This narration is weak due to Muṣʿab ibn Thābit, d. 157/773-4, see Tahdhīb al-Kamāl, 28:20)

The Prophet ﷺ said:

إن الله كتب الإحسان على كل شيء

“Indeed, Allah has prescribed perfection in every thing.” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, 1955)

The Prophet ﷺ said:

لا ضرر ولا ضرار

“There should be no harm or reciprocating harm.” (Musnad Aḥmad, 2865; al-Mustadrak, 2345; the narration of al-Mustadrak is ṣaḥīḥ)

The Prophet ﷺ said:

آية المنافق ثلاث: إذا حدث كذب، وإذا وعد أخلف، وإذا اؤتمن خان

“The sign of the hypocrite is three: When he speaks he lies, when he makes a promise he breaks it, and when he is trusted, he betrays.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 33)

Allah Almighty said in the Qurʾān (4:58), “Indeed, Allah orders you to render the trusts to their owners.”

The Prophet ﷺ said:

إن الصدق يهدي إلى البر، وإن البر يهدي إلى الجنة، وإن الرجل ليصدق حتى يكون صديقا. وإن الكذب يهدي إلى الفجور، وإن الفجور يهدي إلى النار، وإن الرجل ليكذب حتى يكتب عند الله كذابا

“Verily, truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise. A man continues to be truthful until he is [recorded with Allah as] truthful. And verily, falsehood leads to sins and sins leads to the Hellfire. A man continues to lie until he is recorded with Allah as a liar.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 6094)

The Prophet ﷺ said:

الحلف منفقة للسلعة ممحقة للبركة

“Taking an oath will sell the product but remove the blessing.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 2260)

The Prophet ﷺ said:

الخازن الأمين الذي يؤدي ما أمر به طيبة نفسه أحد المتصدقين

“The honest treasurer who gives willingly what he is instructed to give, is one of the two charitable persons (the second being the owner).” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 2260)

The Prophet ﷺ said:

من غشنا فليس منا

“Whoever deceives us is not from amongst us” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, 101).

According to the subsequent narration, the Prophet ﷺ passed by a pile of food in the market. He placed his hand inside it and felt dampness, although the surface was dry. The Prophet ﷺ said:

ما هذا يا صاحب الطعام

“O owner of the food, what is this?”

The man said, “It was damaged by rain, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet ﷺ said:

أفلا جعلته فوق الطعام كي يراه الناس، من غش فليس مني

“Why did you not put it (the rain-damaged food) on top of the food so that people can see it.  Whoever cheats, is not from amongst me.” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, 102)

The Prophet ﷺ said:

والخادم في مال سيده راع وهو مسئول عن رعيته

“And the servant is a guardian of his master’s wealth and is responsible for his charge. (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 2409)

In addition, the employee should have a strong work ethic. The Prophet ﷺ said:

لأن يأخذ أحدكم حبله فيأتي بحزمة الحطب على ظهره فيبيعها، فيكف الله بها وجهه خير له من أن يسأل الناس أعطوه أو منعوه

“It is better for anyone of you to take a rope and bring a bundle of wood [from the forest] over his back and sell it and Allah will save his face [from the Hell-Fire] because of that, rather than to ask the people who may give him or refuse him.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 1471)

Allah knows best

Yusuf Shabbir

10 Ṣafar 1439 / 30 October 2017

Approved by: Mufti Shabbir Ahmad and Mufti Muhammad Tahir