Islam And The Wage Labor Law

The hiring of workers is a contractual operation made to offer the effort to make a second part the owner of the utility for a recompense that the wage earner deserves.

The wage labor Jaw is a group of rules that organize the relations of hiring concerning work and what results from them and what is related to them to protect the rights of the contracting parties.

The Islamic jurisprudence bas taken care of organizing the wages and their laws to preserve the rights of wage earners and protect their efforts against greed and exploitation it has preserved the rights of employers by ordering the employee to conform to the contents of the abiding contract.

Islam has made a set of rules to organize this relation and denote the obligations and responsibilities of the contracting parties.

To achieve its legal method limited to carry out the objectives of wages, Islam has adopted the following steps:

1. Islam has urged the Muslim person to be a skillful, honest worker. It has been reported from Imam Ali (‘a) that be said:

"Verily, Allah, the Great and Almighty loves the honest worker.”1

"Verily, Allah, the Exalted, loves the believer who works.2

2. Islam has forbidden free exploitation and works to liberate the efforts of wage earners from exploitation and deprivation and preserve the principles of right and justice, so Islam has regarded this sort of productive relation as oppression.

Since ancient times, employees and wage earners have suffered from the domination and oppression of feudal lords and rulers. Then, the communist regime and the despotic dictatorship have repeated this oppression to force the employees to work without wage.

Addressing Imam Ali (‘a), Allah's Apostle (S) has clearly and frankly pointed out the of Islam towards this oppressive regime.

He said:

"Ali, the farmers should not be oppressed in your presence; the land tax which has been fired should not be increased, and the Muslim (i.e. the wage-earner) should not be exploited.3

In his will to his governors, Imam Ali (‘a) has written:

“Do not exploit the Muslim (the wage earners), and whoever asks you to give him other than his share certainly trespasses, then do not give it to him."4

3. Islam has forced the employer to preserve the rights of the wage earner, completely. Concerning the porter and the wage earner, Imam Ja'far reported from Muhammad al-Sadiq (‘a), who said:

"Give him his wage before his sweat becomes dry."5

One of his companions called Su'aib has reported from him (‘a) that he said,

"We hired people out to Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (‘a) - to work in his garden; their limited time was till the afternoon. When they had finished, he said to Mu'tib, "Give them their wages before their sweat dries."6

4. Islam has obliged the employers to observe the principles of justice and lift deception and damage from the wage earner by giving him the wage that suites his effort, which he offers to society, to conform to the Words of Allah, the Exalted:

“Verily Allah enjoins justice and doing of good (to others)...” (Holy Qur'an, 16: 90)

And a tradition of the Great Prophet Muhammad (S):

“Causing damage to one's self or to others is forbidden in Islam.”

Islam has recommended the Islamic State to help the wage earner to possess the means of production through establishing independent or joint projects where the wage earner is a partner in the net profit, on condition that this organization should be subject to two phases of production to avoid the misuse of the human body to make a profit from which is forbidden in Islam.

These two phases are:

A. The contractual labor with the productive foundation phase: each wage earner takes his due.

B. Distribution of the surplus profits phase: When the employers have partially or completely possessed the shares of the foundation, the surplus profits are distributed among them.

These procedures are achieved through the manner which the State choses stemming from the Islamic idea that says it is reprehensible for the worker to hire himself out, because he loses some of his efforts during the period of hiring, so, it is better to leave everything that is reprehensible in the opinion of Islamic jurisprudence.

In the following saying, for reprehensibility, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has forbidden the worker from hiring himself out to others:

“Whoever hires himself out (to others) certainly deprives himself of livelihood and how can keep from depriving himself because what he earns is for the employer who hired him out”.7

5. The Islamic laws in agreement on the idea that the state should meet the needs of the persons in the Islamic society and achieve a guarantee and common security to all persons whether they are wage earners or not.

This is achieved through giving shares of Zakat (alms) and Khums (one-fifth) and of the revenues of the state treasury to those whose incomes are not adequate or are unable to meet their needs from their own work.

This principle has clearly been mentioned in the following holy tradition:

“Verily, Allah has allotted (ashar) for the poor from the property of the rich, and if he (the rich person) knows that which he has allotted for them is not adequate, then he should increase it”.8

Also, this principle has come in the following words from Imam Ali (‘a):

“Fear Allah and keep Allah in view in respect of the lowest class, consisting of those who have few means: the poor, the destitute, the penniless, and the disabled, because in this class there are both the discontented as well as those who’ beg.

Take care for the sake of Allah His obligations towards them for which He has made you responsible. Fix for them a share from the public funds and a share from the crops of the lands taken over as booty for Islam.”9

Thus, the system of economic distribution, in Islam, takes the shares of the properties of the rich and gives them to the poor as recompense to satisfy, the shortage from which they suffer and achieve the level of suitable adequacy, which the social situation merits.

When this principle is applied in favor of the wage earners, it will result in the law of security for the worker in the times of decrepitude, illness, and emergencies that make him unable to work; even if he works, he is given a share of the revenues of the public treasury, that is, when his income is inadequate.

With this principle - the principle of taking Khums and Zakat and giving them to the poor - Islam achieves the operation of repeating the surplus effort where the wage earner loses and the employer earns, then, Islam reallocates this surplus effort to the needy wage earner again.

We may base this economic concept in the Islamic method on the following tradition of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (‘a):

“Whoever hires himself out (to others) certainly deprives himself of livelihood and how can keep from depriving himself, because what he earns is for the employer who hired him out”.

And on the following tradition of the Apostle of Allah (S) when a man asked him: "And what is Zakat?"

He answered: “Our rich repay our poor.”

When we unite the meanings of the above-mentioned traditions, we will discover that Islam insists on repeating the surplus profits to their owners, namely the wage earners.

In addition to this principle, the Islamic state is the supporter and guarantor of all persons in society, Muslims and non-Muslims, according to the saying of Imam Ali (‘a):

"People are dependent on the public treasury."

6. Islam has urged the worker to be honest in business. In a holy tradition, it has been reported:

"Verily, Allah loves the honest employee."

“May Allah have mercy upon the person who does a work and perfects it”.

Islam has stressed honesty in business to urge the worker to increase production through sparing no effort to get a legal wage; otherwise, he obtains an illegal wage.

Therefore, Islam achieves its objectives in increasing production and achieving justice in distribution through firmly, connected moral, lawful methods.

  • 1. Al-Kulaini, Al-Furu’ min al-Kafi, vol. 5, p. 113.
  • 2. Al-Furu’ min al-Kafi, vol. 5, p. 113.
  • 3. Al-Furu’ min al-Kafi, vol. 5, p. 284.
  • 4. Al-Furu’ min al-Kafi, vol. 5, 284.
  • 5. Al-Furu’ min al-Kafi, vol. 5, p. 289.
  • 6. Al-Furu’ min al-Kafi, vol. 5, 289.
  • 7. Al-Furu’ min al-Kafi, vol. 5, p. 90.
  • 8. Al-Noori, Mirza, Mustadrak al-Wasa'il, the Chapter on Zakat.
  • 9. Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (‘a), Nahjul Balagha, presented by Dr. Subhi al-Salih, p. 438.