Unprofessionalism in the Muslim Community

By Sumayah Hassan on http://www.suhaibwebb.com

It’s the end of the month, but there will be no paycheck for another week.

As though being late wasn’t bad enough, to top it off, you are made to feel as though the money you’ve worked for isn’t your right; they are doing you a favor by paying you anything at all. This Islamic Organization is simply out of money, and you have to wait until they get some. It coincidentally comes to your attention that some employees in higher positions had their checks issued on time and without any delay.

An Islamic school wanted you to teach two subjects and pay you as a quarter-time employee. Apparently if you don’t teach 4 subjects to the entire school then you will not be considered a full-time teacher (that isn’t a sarcastic remark). In addition, you were told that your pay was based on 1/4 of the full-time teacher’s pay. When you find out what that rate is, you know that your pay is much lower than what 1/4 actually is. They are trying to take advantage of the fact that you are new and don’t know anyone or how much they make. Sadly, you do know another teacher, and you realize their dishonesty. As a result, you quit.

Another school refused to pay you your last paycheck after they were informed that you wouldn’t be returning next year. They claimed that withholding the pay was their right since you breached your contract, when in fact you had signed no contract in the first place. Now you have to take legal action in order to get your money. Contracts are made on a yearly basis, so to leave at the end of the year is simply to choose not to renew a contract. There should be no conditions on getting paid for work that was already done. That same school was telling you and all of its employees to report lower income than they were actually getting, in order for the school to be eligible for a tax break.

A Muslim-owned business approached you and requested a redesign for their website. When you gave them your price, they said it was too high. So you agreed to do it at a lower price, and explained your terms for design work (limiting the number of revisions to the design once you finalize it, requiring 50% pay upfront, and overtime will be charged at an hourly rate). In response you got a horrible attitude, they requested your references, more samples of your work, and said they might consider hiring you. When they had approached you in the first place and offered you the work, based on a design you did, that they saw, and liked. Other non-Muslim businesses you work with have gladly paid you the 50% and agreed to abide by these same terms.

Subhan’Allah (glory be to Allah). All of these are real stories.

You start to wonder if these organizations had planned to abuse you from the get-go.

But, you haven’t done anything wrong to them, so why would they bother? Then you remember Allah’s words from the Qur’an, “O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin” (49:12).

Is it because you are working with Muslim organizations, so your work is “Feesabillilah”—for the sake of Allah—that people pushing the boundaries shouldn’t bother you?

The short answer is no. Because if it was, we would all be willing to sacrifice to help get things done, and more importantly to help each other. That executive would give up part of his salary to help you pay your rent on time.

Is it because this is my Muslim brother or sister that I should let them fall behind on the payments?

It can’t be because they are the ones that want you to be there on time, every time, to work for them. They want flawless work, in a hurry, with an impossible deadline and an insane volume of work to be completed. This is a paid position: you were promised a paycheck in exchange for specific tasks and duties, and it is an agreement between you and your employer.

Allah requires us to respect these agreements, as stated in Surat Al-Israa, “…And fulfill [every] commitment. Indeed, the commitment is ever [that about which one will be] questioned” (17:34).

Are all employees doing right by their employers, and inherently the victims?

Of course not. Obviously both cases exist, but unprofessionalism just breeds more unprofessionalism. The employee that slacks should be fired. The employer that mistreats their worker should lose that employee to a more deserving firm.

“Woe to those who give less [than due], who, when they take a measure from people, take in full. But if they give by measure or by weight to them, they cause loss. Do they not think that they will be resurrected for a tremendous Day – the Day when mankind will stand before the Lord of the worlds?” (Qur’an, 83:1-6)

Allah warns us specifically about this type of behavior in the Holy Quran. Yet it seems as though Muslims are failing (repeatedly) to recognize or abide by this obligation.

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