Due to the current economic climate many people are out of work. Often two people come at the same time to apply for the same vacancy. In order to help the desperate applicants within my budget, I hire both at a much reduced wage compared to the norm. Is this exploitation or is it acceptable, since it helps both to earn at least something?
It is fundamentally important to first understand the Islamic mindset with regard to all monetary transactions. Contrary to the western attitude of driving a hard bargain and extracting the most in exchange for the least, Islam has ordained justice and also greatly emphasised kindness and consideration when dealing with others. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has blessed those who are kind and considerate in their dealings with his dua: “May Allah have mercy on the one who is kind and easy-going when he buys, sells and when he demands payment.” Everyone cherishes the duas of a saintly person. Imagine the good fortune of the one who gets the duas of the most beloved Messenger of Allah Ta’ala, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)!!! Imagine what barakah (blessings) this will bring in one’s earnings!!! After all it is not the amount of wealth that a persons has that brings happiness in his life. Instead it is the barakah in that wealth that brings comfort and enjoyment even though it may less in quantity.
The Sahaaba (R.A.) understood this lesson perfectly. Hazrath Jareer bin Abdullah (R.A.) once asked his slave to buy a horse for him. The slave concluded the deal with the seller for 300 Dirhams (silver coins) and brought him to Hazrath Jareer (R.A.) to collect the payment. Upon seeing the horse Hazrath Jareer (R.A.) asked the seller: “Will you sell the horse for 400 Dirhams?” The seller gladly agreed. Hazrath Jareer (R.A.) then continued to raise the price until he finally paid the seller 700 Dirhams. Someone asked him in surprise: “Why did you pay 700 Dirhams when the seller had already himself agreed on 300 Dirhams?” Hazrath Jareer (R.A.) responded that he had pledged to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that he will be a wellwisher of every Muslim. Since he discerned that the true worth of the horse was 700 Dirhams (which the seller was probably not aware of), he offered the extra amount in fulfilment of his pledge to be a well-wisher for his Muslim brother! What a far cry this is from the present condition – where people hope for, or even plot, the downfall of their Muslim brother. Nevertheless the approach that Islam has taught is one of well-wishing, kindness and compassion. In any transaction if both parties adopt these teachings, there will be great peace and happiness. Thus the employee should adopt this attitude and try to go the extra mile in doing the task that he has been employed for in the best possible manner. Likewise the employer should put himself in the shoes of his employee and consider what is fair and just. If he is employing an unskilled person for a menial task, he should at least consider what it costs for the person to take care of the most basic needs of his family.
Any transaction that is concluded on mutual agreement is valid, provided no laws of Shariah are contravened. There is no fixed rule for the amount that one must pay his employee. Various factors such as responsibility, skill and loyalty of the employee as well as the profitability of the business and other related factors will be considered. In any case the employer should try to maximise his barakah by being as considerate as he can and thereby be a recipient of the duas of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). The employee should also be grateful and try to do more than just his duty. May Allah Ta’ala enable us to implement the teachings of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in all our dealings. Aameen.