What is Right After All?
Islam and the Ruled Class
Mufti Muhammad Qasim Attari
The Eighth group: Workers
The working class represents one of the marginalized and under-appreciated segments of society. Their plight and the challenges they face are widely known. Within the workplace hierarchy, owners, managers, and supervisors often engage in derogatory communication with their subordinates. These workers endure harsh working conditions and are subject to unjust reprimands. Furthermore, their salaries may be unjustly altered, and their basic rights denied. Unfortunately, the practice of overburdening employees and delaying their wage payments has become commonplace. Islam, on the other hand, teaches us the importance of protecting the rights of workers and ensuring timely remuneration for their efforts. It instructs us to assign tasks that align with their abilities and treat them with respect and compassion.
In listing the three types of people whom Allah will be against on the Day of Reckoning, the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم mentioned “the one who employs a worker but does not pay his wages.” The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم also explained the unique principle of fulfilling a worker’s rights, stating, “Give the worker his wages before his perspiration dries.”
The Ninth group: Slaves
Throughout history, human slavery has been an enduring practice across civilisations that inflicted immense suffering on its victims. Slaves were bought and sold in marketplaces, treated as commodities, and stripped of their fundamental rights. They endured unimaginable torture and were denied basic human dignity. Regrettably, they were regarded as the lowest and most despised members of society. However, with the advent of the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم and the illuminating teachings of Islam, a significant transformation occurred in the treatment of slaves. People were guided to exhibit kindness and compassion towards slaves, and the act of emancipating them was enshrined as a major act of worship. The Quran sates:
“True piety is in those who believe in Allah, the Day of Judgement, the angels, the Books, and the Prophet; who spend wealth- for the love of Allah-on relatives, orphans, the destitute, travellers, beggars, and on freeing slaves.”
Likewise, the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم gave glad tidings of salvation from Hell for the one who freed a slave. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, “Whoever frees a Muslim slave, Allah will save all the parts of his body from the Fire as he has freed the body parts of the slave.”
Indeed, it is a remarkable and beautiful aspect of Islam that our faith mandates the freeing of slaves as a form of expiation for various offenses, providing individuals with an opportunity to seek forgiveness and protection from the punishment of Allah while sharing the gift of freedom with fellow human beings. In granting slaves their rightful place in society, the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, “These slaves are your brothers, and Allah has put them under your command. Therefore, whoever has a brother under his command should feed him of what he eats and dress him of what he wears. Do not ask them to do things beyond their capacity, and if you do so, then help them.”
The Tenth group: The Sick and Disabled
It is universally acknowledged that good health and well-being are invaluable blessings, and those who are ill or disabled often face deprivation in various aspects of life. It is evident that this group is comparatively weaker than those who are healthy and able-bodied. Islam, recognizing the rights of every segment of society, including the oppressed, helpless, and weak, has provided guidance on how to treat the sick and disabled with kindness and compassion. Furthermore, Islam grants certain concessions and flexibility in religious rulings for their benefit. Visiting the sick is highly regarded and rewarded, likened to picking fruit from the trees of Paradise. The beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, “Whoever visits his ˹sick˺ Muslim brother is ˹in a state akin to˺ picking the fruits of Paradise until he returns.”
If you study the rulings of worship, it is evident that Islam has taken into consideration and accommodated the needs of children, the elderly, and the sick. In the performance of the prayer, which is one of the pillars of Islam, the imam is commanded to shorten the prayer as the young, old, weak and sick are present. But when he prays alone, he can pray however he wishes (i.e. he can prolong the prayer).
Islam, with its profound moral philosophy and rational foundation, firmly upholds the principle of supporting the weak and the oppressed. It emphasizes their rights and gives them priority over the strong and ruling class. The nobility of Islam is derived from its comprehensive framework which echoes with the human essence, and which cannot be matched by any other tradition. For the attainment of social stability, prosperity, protection of rights, and the establishment of a just society, it is imperative to uplift and support the weak and the marginalized. Islam recognizes the importance of these groups because it is a perfect and complete religion, originating from the Creator of the Universe. Allah, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, is inherently kind and merciful towards His people, and this is reflected in His religion, Islam.
The final Messenger of Allah, our master Muhammad صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم lived and breathed mercy and compassion, providing us with a living example of Allah’s religion. No other tradition can boast such a robust system in which the Divine sends a tradition rooted in mercy in conjunction with a person to live that tradition and serve as a moral compass for the world.
May Allah Almighty grant us the privilege of understanding the greatness of Islam and the wisdom of its rulings. May He also grant us the ability to learn about the rights of others and fulfil them.
اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ خاتَمِ النَّبِیّیْن صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم