Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Part 5, The Rules of Islamic Trade- There Does Not Exist a Labour Problem in Islam

Due to the current global financial crisis there is increasing interest in the Islamic Economic System, the most comprehensive book on this topic is The Economic System of Islam  by Sheikh Taqiuddin an-Nabhani. However as people have many questions relating to the Islamic rules of trade we will be posting related extracts from the draft translation of the Fiqh masterpiece 'The Islamic Personality, Volume 2' by Sheikh Taqiuddin an-Nabhani.

The capitalist system in economics was implemented upon the western world, and upon Russia before the communist party ruled it. Among the principles of the capitalist ideology is freedom of ownership from which resulted the owners manipulation (misuse) of the employees i.e. the workers as long as there existed mutual consent and as long as the theory of liability is the one dominating over them. Labourers received from the employers evil, injustice and exploitation of their sweat and efforts. When the socialist thought appeared and called for justice to the employee, it emerged upon the basis of solving the problems of the labourers; not on the basis of treating the hiring contract. Accordingly socialism came with solutions to give justice to the worker, by determining the time of work, the wage of worker, guaranteeing his leisure etc….So it destroyed the theory of liability and showed its incompetence to solve the problems. So the jurists of the western law were forced to change their view towards liability, so that the theory of liability can stand/face before the problems; therefore they inserted amendments to patch up their theory.

 Principles and rules were inserted into the work contract aiming to protect workers and to give them rights which they did not have before, like the right to get together, the right to form syndicates/unions, the right to strike, beside giving them retirement bonuses or compensation etc…even though the text of the theory of liability does not permit such rights. However interpolation had been made to the theory to solve the problems of workers which Socialist thought provoked/evoked amongst the workers. Then the socialist theory came to prevent ownership of wealth and give the worker everything he needs. Due to the contradiction of the viewpoints between the two ideologies, socialism from which emanates communism and capitalism, in respect of ownership and in respect of the employee, there emerged to them the labours problem. Each one of the two came to have a specific method in solving this problem which was generated by their two different viewpoints with respect to life.

As for Islam, there does not exist a problem known as labours problem nor is the Islamic Ummah divided into classes of workers and capitalists, or peasants and landlords etc….The whole issue is related to the employee, whether he was hired based on the work like specialists or technicians (faniyyeen) or he was hired based on his work only, like the rest employees; and whether he was an employee for persons or an employee for groups or a State employee, and whether he is a private employee or a common employee; they are all employees. The rules for such employees have been clarified and explained. 

Once the employees commenced with a named wage, they are entitled of the named wage for the hiring period, and they can leave their employer after their hiring period ends; and if they differed with him, there comes the role of experts to estimate the equivalent wage. These experts are chosen by the two parties but if they could not agree upon them, the ruler chooses them and obliges the two sides to accept the experts say by force. It is not allowed that the ruler decides a specific wage by making analogy with the impermissibility of price-fixing for goods, because the wage is the price of the benefit and the price is the price for the good. Just as the market of goods decides the price of the good naturally, the market of the benefits of workers is decided by the need for workers. However it is duty upon the State to prepare work for workers: 

The Imam is a shepherd (ra’i) and he is responsible (mas’ul) for his subjects (ra’iyah)” (narrated by Al-Bukhari).

 It is duty upon the State to remove the injustice of the owners of work upon workers, for silence upon injustice with the ability to remove it is forbidden and therein is great sin. If the State was complacent in lifting injustice or it itself oppressed employees, then the whole Ummah is obliged to account the State over this injustice and to endeavour to remove it. The Court of Unjust Acts is also obliged to look in this injustice and lift if from the oppressed people, and its verdict in the matter is executed upon the ruler and the State. This duty is not left to the employees who were oppressed alone as is the situation today in solving the problems of workers with strikes and demonstrations. This is because the injustice against any invidual of the citizens and the State’s complacence in taking care of the affairs of any individual citizen is a matter related to taking care of the whole Ummah even if it were specific to a person or persons. This is because it is execution of a Shar’ai rule, and it is not related to a specific group, even if it falls upon a specific group.

As for what workers require of medical/health guarantee for them and their families, and guarantee of their expenses in the situation of leaving work and at old age and guarantee of education for their children and similar guarantees usually discussed to secure the labourers, Islam does not discuss them when discussing the employees and employers because these are not the duty of the employer but rather the State. They are not also for workers only but rather for each unabled person among the citizens. This is because the State secures health and education freely for all, and secures for the unable person his expenditure whether he is a worker or not, since this is duty upon Bait ul-Mal and upon all Muslims.

Accordingly there does not exist labours problem nor a problem specific for a particular group or section of the Ummah. Any problem related to taking care of the affairs of citizens the State is responsible to solve it. The whole Ummah accounts the State so as to solve this problem and remove the injustice, not the official alone is responsible for the problem, nor the one upon whom the injustice falls.




Anonymous said...


interesting piece

in capitalist economies, wages are determined by demand and supply- if there is demand of pharamcists and shortage of supply, then this will ensure a high set wage, whereas if there is excess supply and low demand, the salary will be lower.

is this process acceptable in an islamic economy? if not how are wages determined then? how wld the wage of doctors or pharmacists be set?



Islamic Revival said...

It is discussed in: