Ramadhan and Labor Empathy

by Sh. Abdur Rahman Khan

As we begin The Blessed Month of Ramadan (Fasting) we are reminded of the saying of Prophet Muhammad, (Peace and Blessings of God be upon him):

"The Most Merciful (God Almighty) shows mercy to those who have mercy on others. Show mercy to those on earth, and the One above the heaven will show mercy to you."

Mercy is the very essence of Fasting and often the Month of Ramadan is referred to as the month of mercy and Allah has made the sending forth of Muhammad (PBUH) as a Prophet of mercy to all of creation, as He Says (what means): "And We have not sent you (O Muhammad) except as a mercy to the worlds." [21:107]

So as Muslims and followers of this Prophet of mercy it is expected for us to exemplify that throughout our lives. Going through with rituals void of feelings and mercy of our fellow human beings, our fellow Muslims would not be truthful to the cause of mercy. If we really want to truly understand what Fasting means, then we have to participate more in what it calls us to do, beyond rituals. The larger culture of Ramadan lends itself to this advice in many ways, as to what we can do and what we should feel. It is part of the purpose and very culture of Ramadan to instill empathy that’s actionable.

One of mercy acts is to be kind and generous to workers. In expounding the importance of labors  the Prophet (PBUH), said: “Allaah Said, ‘I will be the opponent of three on the Day of Judgment: one who makes a covenant in My Name and then breaks it; one who sells a free man as a slave and devours his price and one who hires a workman and having taken full work from him, does not pay him his wages.'”

Workers should be treated with dignity and honor regardless of the kind of work they are performing, as long as this work is lawful. Thus, in the Month of Ramadan, is the time to express that mercy and make things easy for workers.

Workers should not be overburdened with work. They have the right to physical and mental rest and especially at the time of fasting when they need time to connect to The Most Merciful. Workers should have time for work and time for themselves and time for their acts of worship.

To live with that consciousness and awareness of showing mercy to those under our supervision is among the highest achievements of the mercy that comes with fasting. Any employer who shows that level of mercy to his workers will have more trust and in the end more production.  After all workers make the engines function and when a drop of mercy is shown during this blessed month the engines go a very far way.

Let’s reflect on the Hadith: The Prophet of mercy said: 

Your workers are your brethren upon whom Allah has given you authority. So, if one has one's brethren under one's control, one should feed them with the like of what one eats and clothe them with the like of what one wears. You should not overburden them with what they cannot bear, and if you do so, help them in their hard job. (Al-Bukhari)

Is there a better time than in the Blessed Month of Ramadhan to act upon this timeless advice? Ramadan each year comes to us with an offer to be counter-cultural, to think differently, to act differently and hopefully remember the destination; accountability with our Lord, The Most Merciful. 

Ramadhan Mubaarak!