Have you ever looked at the house help at home and thought, ‘Did he/she ever have a dream to become something in life? Or do they still want to become that thing? What is their story? Do they have a family? If something happened to them, do we know their next of kin? Do we know where they live? Whether they ate yesterday evening? Did they have an education? Or did they start school then dropped out because of finances? If they were given a chance to be whoever they want to be, what would they choose? What do they feel about their current job? About working for you? About spending time with your children?’
What about your garbage collector? Or the man who fixes your sink? Or the lady who babysits your children? Ever thought about their feelings, their goals in life, their thinking? If roles were reversed, would you be satisfied having a boss like you? Would you be happy with the pay you receive? With the workload given to you? With the treatment given? Would you be okay about the leftover or almost rotten food given to you alone while they feast on the table with all kinds of fresh, tasty food? Would you feel discriminated, underestimated, unappreciated?
Most of us never think about that. We never take a minute to just think about these people who work and toil for us. Sometimes we openly mistreat them or insult them or be so harsh with them for humanly mistakes. Sometimes we publicly show them that they are not in the same league/class with us. Sometimes we don’t even treat them like human beings. Sometimes we think, we worked hard to be where we are in life and they didn’t. They didn’t work hard enough, or they were just lazy or unambitious. Sometimes we forget that it is but a blessing to be this comfortable with our lives. Sometimes, or most times, we never think about them entirely?
So let’s take a moment to think about all the manual labourers that work for us or with us or those come across. If roles were reversed, would you want to be treated the way we or you treat them? Would we want to be paid the same amount we pay them (sometimes despite having more than enough for ourselves)? Would we want to be given another type of food while everyone else is eating special meals? Would we want to be ignored like we ignore them until we have a need? Would we want to be shouted upon for every humanly mistake we make?
Do we respect them? Do we honour them? Do we listen to what they have to say? All these people with low-paying jobs, do we ever appreciate them?
Manual labour is considered noble in Islam. Abu Hurairah RA reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “No food is better to man than that which he earns through his manual work. Dawud (alayhi sallam), the Prophet of Allah, ate only out of his earnings from his manual work.” (Bukhari)
We have a perfect example of how the prophet peace be upon him mingled with the slaves and the poor people. Here’s an excerpt from http://www.reviewofreligions.org/2876/the-life-character-of-the-seal-of-the-prophetssaw-part-4/ on the prophet and his slave, Zaid bin Harith.
“Hakim bin Hizam, the nephew of Hadhrat Khadijah(ra), was a merchant who constantly moved about with various trade caravans. Once he purchased a few slaves during a trade expedition and gave one of them as a gift to Hadhrat Khadijah(ra). The name of the slave gifted to Hadhrat Khadijah(ra) was Zaid bin Harithah(ra). In actuality, Zaid(ra) belonged to a free family, but during a plunder he was taken captive and was forcefully enslaved. Khadijah(ra) found Zaid(ra) to be wise and intelligent, so she entrusted him to Muhammad(saw).
It was always the practice of the Holy Prophet(saw) that he would treat his servants and slaves with immense love, like his own kith and kin. Hence, Muhammad(saw) was affectionate to Zaid(ra). Since Zaid(ra) possessed a sincere heart, he also developed love for Muhammad(saw). Meanwhile, Zaid(ra)’s father Harith and paternal uncle Ka‘b came to Makkah whilst looking for him. Both of them presented themselves before the Holy Prophet(saw), and with great humility requested the freedom of Zaid(ra), so that he may return home with them. Muhammad(saw) responded; “Absolutely! If Zaid wishes to leave with you, I delightedly give him permission to do so.” At this, Zaid was called upon and was asked by Muhammad(saw), “Zaid, Do you recognise these people?” “Yes,” responded Zaid(ra), “they are my father and paternal uncle.” Muhammad(saw) said, “They have come to take you. If you wish to leave with them, I gladly give you permission to do so.” “I shall not leave you on any account,” answered Zaid(ra), “To me, you are far dearer than my own uncle or father.” Zaid(ra)’s father reacted with great anger and grief, “What? Do you give preference to a life of slavery over that of freedom?” “Yes,” responded Zaid(ra), “for I have witnessed such virtues in him that I can now give preference to none above him.”
When Muhammad(saw) heard this response he immediately stood up and took Zaid(ra) to the Ka‘bah. There he announced in a loud voice, “O People! Be witness to the fact that as of this day I free Zaid(ra) and make him my son. He shall be my heir and I shall be his.” When Zaid(ra)’s uncle and father observed this sight, they were astounded. They happily left Zaid with Muhammad(saw). Since then, Zaid bin Harithah(ra) became known as Zaid bin Muhammad(ra).1 However, after the Hijrah, God revealed a commandment that it was unlawful to take an adopted child as an actual son.2 Upon this, Zaid(ra) was once again given his original name, Zaid bin Harithah. Nonetheless, the loving conduct of the ever-loyal Muhammad(saw) remained unaltered with this ever-sincere servant…”
Imagine a slave loving their master to the extent they wouldn’t want to go back to their family. How amazingly well do you think the prophet peace be upon him to make Zaid may peace be upon him, cherish him that much.
So here’s food for thought for all of us…if roles were reversed, would you be pleased working under YOU?
Reminding you of our creative writing classes coming up soon in shaa Allah. Register as soon as possible or if not, sponsor a student, sadaqa jariya for you 😉 Check details in the poster below.