Workers Day: Strange economic system

2017-05-01 10:04

Almighty mentions in the Quran as interpreted: “Fulfil the measure and weight and do not deprive people of their due and cause not corruption upon the earth after its reformation.” (Al-Araf) In the above verse of the Quran Almighty God informs and teaches us about paying correct, fair and live-able wages and salaries and about being honest in our dealings.

What shocking and poverty wages some workers are being paid today, this mantra we often hear from workers across South Africa. In many ways, workers' complaints and struggles signify the wickedness of an economy that makes workers work but keeps them in debt and poor. What a strange economic system. The rich get richer and poor get poorer.

Islam encourages hard work, compassion, empathy and not begging. In the Holy Quran, Almighty God says: “That man can have nothing but what he strives for; That (the fruit of) his striving will soon come in sight: Then will he be rewarded with a reward complete.” To work and earn pure (Halaal) money through your own labours and with your own hands is considered a virtuous deed and obligatory upon every able bodied person in the community and society. People have many basic needs to fulfil for themselves and their families and it is only through lawful means of earning, these can be fulfilled. Not through tenderpreneur driven fraud, stealing and corruption. Therefore in Islam to work and to provide sustenance for oneself and one’s family is considered an act of great worship.

Workers deserve to earn a fair/ living wage in order to support themselves and their families with dignity and respect. Fair, living wage demands are consistent and in line with Islamic Shariah law and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The Almighty says: “Fulfil the measure and weight and do not deprive people of their due and cause not corruption upon the earth after its reformation.”

The fair, living wage model has been broadly embraced by many workers and their families. Not paying a fair and live-able wage and not providing acceptable working conditions for workers, go against the grain of the teachings of Islam and the Sunnah. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said “Your employees are your brothers/ sisters upon whom Almighty has given you authority, so if you, as a Muslim, have others under your control, you should feed them with the like of what you eat and clothe them with the like of what you wear and should not overburden them with what they cannot bear and if you do so, help them in their jobs.”

Focusing exclusively on huge figures, bank balances, and profits and on positive financial statements is not how we should manage our businesses. Yes, profit is central to a business and it is encouraged; there is nothing wrong in making a reasonable profit but not at the expense of the workers’ rights. The Prophet said: “You should pay the labourer his wages before his sweat dries”. (Sunan Ibn Majah). In another tradition the Prophet (PBUH) also said, “Whoever lightens the work of his workers, Almighty will make easy his accounting on the Day of Judgement.” Workers have the right to pray, family time and need both physical and mental rest. This basic right has been guaranteed in the Quraan, traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and our Constitution.

By promoting and upkeeping the rights of all workers; farm, industry and non-industry, religious, and domestic we can reverse the inequality, imbalances, poverty and inequity that has so long afflicted us in South Africa.

Employers and employees all must be just, fair, honest and must deal with each other truthfully, righteously and with respect. Fairness and justice towards workers are noble causes and acts that leads to success and salvation in both the worlds (This world and the life after death).

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