Story 43: Unfixed Wages

One day, Sulayman ibn Ja'far al-Ja'fari and Imam Al-Ridha’ (‘a) left together for work. The sun was setting and Sulayman wanted to return home. Ali ibn Musa Al-Ridha’ (‘a) said to him, “Come to my home and stay with us tonight.” He accepted the Imam's (‘a) offer and went to his (‘a) house.

The Imam (‘a) saw his servant busy planting flowers in the garden. Meanwhile, the Imam’s (‘a) eyes were fixed upon a stranger among them who was also busy planting flowers.

The Imam (‘a) inquired, “Who is he?”

The servants replied, “We have hired him to help us today.”

The Imam (‘a) said, “Alright, how much are his wages?”

“We will give him something at the end of the day to satisfy him.”

Imam Al-Ridha’’s (‘a) face appeared angry and he turned towards them in order to lash them with a whip. Sulayman ibn Ja'far came forward and said, “Why do you upset yourself?”

The Imam (‘a) replied, “I have warned them several times not to hire any labourer before setting his wages. First of all, determine the wages of the worker and then let him work. After the work is done, if you set the wage of his labour, you may also give him something extra. When he finds that you have given him something more, he will surely be grateful and will come to like you. In addition, the attachment between you will become stronger. Even if you just give him the wages that you have agreed upon, he will not be displeased with you. However, if the wages are not set and, after completion of the work, you pay him more than what you pay others, he will not think that you have done him a favour; rather he will think that you have not given him enough.”1

  • 1. Bihar ul-Anwar, v. 12, p. 31.