Equality of Opportunity and Treatment

Equality of Opportunity and Treatment
  1. An employer shall not discriminate,[1] directly or indirectly, against a worker or job applicant[2] in any aspect of employment.[3]
  2. For the purpose of this Chapter, discrimination includes any distinction, exclusion or preference with the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity or treatment in employment or occupation, based on any of the following grounds:[4]
  3. race[5]
  4. tribe or place of origin[6]
  5. national extraction[7]
  6. colour[8]
  7. sex[9]
  8. religion[10]
  9. language[11]
  10. age[12]
  11. disability[13]
  12. trade union membership[14]
  1. Any distinction, exclusion or preference in respect of a particular job based on the inherent requirements thereof shall not be deemed to be discrimination[15].
  2. Special measures designed to meet the particular requirements of persons who, for reasons such as sex, age, or disablement, are generally recognised to require special protection or assistance, shall not be deemed to be discrimination.[16]
  3. Every worker shall be entitled to equal remuneration for work of equal value.[17] Every employer shall take steps to guarantee equal remuneration for work of equal value for all workers.[18] A worker who has been paid remuneration at less than the rate to which such worker is entitled to, in keeping with the equal pay rule, shall have the right to recover from the employer the amount by which such work has been underpaid.[19]
  4. Work of equal value is work, which requires workers a comparable amount of knowledge attested to by qualification, or work experience, capacities derived from acquired experience, responsibilities and physical or intellectual effort.[20]

[1] Quran does not allow discrimination based on sex, race, nationality, religion, and more. It declares equality of all humans by stating “O mankind! We created you from the same male and female”. (49:13)

يٰٓاَيُّہَا النَّاسُ اِنَّا خَلَقْنٰكُمْ مِّنْ ذَكَرٍ وَّاُنْثٰى۝

In another verse, Allah says: “O mankind! Fear your Lord, Who (initiated) your creation from a single soul, then from it created its mate, and from these two spread (the creation of) countless men and women”. (04:01)

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاءً ۝

Similar meaning can be inferred from the hadith which is part of the Farewell Sermon, “Abu Nadrah reported: The Messenger of Allah(ﷺ) , said during the middle of the day at the end of the pilgrimage, “O people, your Lord is one and your father Adam is one. There is no favour of an Arab over a foreigner, nor a foreigner over an Arab, and neither white skin over black skin nor black skin over white skin, except by righteousness. Have I not delivered the message?” They said, “The Messenger of Allah(ﷺ) has delivered the message”. (Musnad Aḥmad: 23489; 22978)

يا أيها الناس ألا إن ربكم واحد وإن أباكم واحد ألا لا فضل لعربي على أعجمي ولا لعجمي على عربي ولا لأحمر على أسود ولا أسود على أحمر إلا بالتقوى أبلغت قالوا بلغ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم

Similar hadith is narrated by Bayhaqi and Bazzar as well: “No Arab has any superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab. Nor does a white man have any superiority over a black man, or the black man any superiority over the white man. You are all children of Adam, and Adam was created from clay”. (Bayhaqi and al-Bazzar) The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “People should stop boasting about their fathers who have died, while they are but coals of Hell, or they will be more humiliated with Allah than the dung beetle who rolls dung with his nose. Indeed, Allah removed Jahiliyyah from you, and its boasting about lineage. [Indeed, a person is either] a pious believer, or a miserable sinner. And people are all the children of Adam (AS), and Adam (AS) was [created] from dust”. (Jami` at-Tirmidhi: 3955)

لَيَنْتَهِيَنَّ أَقْوَامٌ يَفْتَخِرُونَ بِآبَائِهِمُ الَّذِينَ مَاتُوا إِنَّمَا هُمْ فَحْمُ جَهَنَّمَ أَوْ لَيَكُونَنَّ أَهْوَنَ عَلَى اللَّهِ مِنَ الْجُعَلِ الَّذِي يُدَهْدِهُ الْخِرَاءَ بِأَنْفِهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ أَذْهَبَ عَنْكُمْ عُبِّيَّةَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ إِنَّمَا هُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ تَقِيٌّ وَفَاجِرٌ شَقِيٌّ النَّاسُ كُلُّهُمْ بَنُو آدَمَ وَآدَمُ خُلِقَ مِنْ تُرَابٍ

   Furthermore, Islam prohibits discrimination at work. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) stated, “You are not better than people with red or with black skins unless you excel them in piety”. (Mishkat al Masabih: 5198; Musnad Ahmad: 20442)

انْظُرْ، فَإِنَّكَ لَيْسَ بِخَيْرٍ مِنْ أَحْمَرَ وَلَا أَسْوَدَ إِلَّا أَنْ تَفْضُلَهُ بِتَقْوَى

   One can and should rise above the other, only based on the quality of their work without any discrimination. This is also implied from the verses 52:21 and 74:38. The Quranic verse 52:21 says, “Everyone will be held in (reward and punishment for) his own works”. (52:21)

كُلُّ امْرِئٍ بِمَا كَسَبَ رَهِينٌ ۝

“Everyone is held in pledge for (the deeds) that he has earned”. (74:38)

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ رَهِينَةٌ۝

Every employer has the responsibility to provide their workers with equal wages for equal work (and work of equal value) and efficiency wages where they are earned. The Quran also gives another guideline about the best workers. They are those who believe in the organizational culture (in line with the religious commandments) and do their work diligently. “Indeed, those who believe and keep doing pious actions, it is they who are the best of the creation”. (98:07)

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أُولَئِكَ هُمْ خَيْرُ الْبَرِيَّةِ ۝

 [2] Quran states, “Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity”. (60:08)

لَّا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّـهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ ۝

Here, the Quran refers to equal opportunity of jobs (including employment quota) for minorities irrespective of their religion. This also includes the job, training, and internship opportunities for foreigners. Similarly, the Quranic verse 04:58 mentions”, Surely, Allah commands you to render the trusts to those who are worthy of them; and when you rule over people, rule with justice (or: and when you judge matters amongst people, give judgment with justice). What excellent advice Allah gives you! Surely, Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing”. (04:58)

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَن تُؤَدُّوا الْأَمَانَاتِ إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهَا ۝

This suggests that in order to prevent discrimination, enterprise regulations must clearly define the eligibility criteria for recruitment, and only the eligible and capable individual should be employed. [3] The Quran does not allow discrimination of workers. We infer equal wages/benefits and treatment for all without any discrimination from the verse, “And that man (according to justice) will get only that for which he strives. And that all his endeavours will soon be shown (i.e., exposed). Then he will be given a full reward (for all his endeavours)”. (53:39-41)

وَأَن لَّيْسَ لِلْإِنسَانِ إِلَّا مَا سَعَىٰ ۝ وَأَنَّ سَعْيَهُ سَوْفَ يُرَىٰ ۝ ثُمَّ يُجْزَاهُ الْجَزَاءَ الْأَوْفَىٰ۝

The following Quranic verse also calls for an equal/just compensation according to the work of the worker. Therefore, the reward and punishment for workers are also to be given without discrimination as inferred in verses 02:81-82 and 11:03. It states that “and will reward for merit everyone enjoying merit (i.e., He will bestow reward and ranks corresponding to one’s amount of righteous deeds and dedicated services)”. (11:03)

وَيُؤْتِ كُلَّ ذِي فَضْلٍ فَضْلَهُ۝

This implies that every person who works more is rewarded more generously. Bonus to the high achievers should be given without discrimination. It can also be inferred from the verse 22:25 that Islam does not allow discrimination in any aspect of employment, especially access to employment on the ground of nationality, and prescribes punishment for any kind of discrimination. “Surely, those who disbelieve and hinder (others) from the Path of Allah and this Sacred Mosque (the Ka’ba) which We have made equal for all the people—(there is no discrimination) in it between its inhabitants and the visitors—and he who resolves in it to deviate unjustly (i.e., transgress the appointed limits and violate rights), We shall make him taste grievous torment”. (22:25)

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَيَصُدُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَالْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ الَّذِي جَعَلْنَاهُ لِلنَّاسِ سَوَاءً الْعَاكِفُ فِيهِ وَالْبَادِ ۚ وَمَن يُرِدْ فِيهِ بِإِلْحَادٍ بِظُلْمٍ نُّذِقْهُ مِنْ عَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ۝

  [4] The Quranic verse 49:11 states, “O believers! Let no community ridicule another community. It is likely that they may be better than those (who ridicule). Nor should women make fun of other women. It is likely that they may be better than those (who make fun). And do not offend or find fault with one another, nor call each other names. Calling someone wicked or indecent after (he embraces) faith is an extremely evil name. And those who do not turn to Allah in repentance, it is they who are the wrongdoers”. (49:11)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِّن قَوْمٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُونُوا خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَاءٌ مِّن نِّسَاءٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُنَّ ۖ وَلَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا بِالْأَلْقَابِ ۖ بِئْسَ الِاسْمُ الْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ الْإِيمَانِ ۚ وَمَن لَّمْ يَتُبْ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ۝

This verse implies that harassment, bullying and discrimination on the basis of colour, caste, creed, etc. are not allowed in Islam. Discriminating workers or work colleagues on the basis of tribe, national extraction, colour or religion or any other ground is not allowed in Islam. A code of conduct in the workplace is required. Similarly, the Quran declares that discrimination on the basis of sex, colour, caste, creed, and nationality is prohibited. The most respectable are those who follow the law. As 49:13 states, “O people! We created you from a male and a female, and (divided) you into (large) peoples and tribes, so that you might recognize one another. Surely, the most honourable amongst you in the sight of Allah is he who fears Allah the most. Certainly, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware”. (49:13)

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ۝

Therefore, discrimination which prevents equal opportunity or treatment in employment should be prohibited. In another instance, the Prophet (ﷺ) prohibited from violating the rights of orphans (children who have no one to look after them) and women.  “O Allah, I declare inviolable the rights of two weak ones: the orphans and women”. (Riyad as-Salihin: 270)

‏اللهم إني أحرج حق الضعيفين اليتيم والمرأة‏‏

 [5] Quranic verses quoted above (04:01, 49:13) and sayings of the Prophet (ﷺ) from al-Bayhaqi and al-Bazzar as well as Mishkat al Masabih, referred to in above footnotes, are applicable here. The Prophet (ﷺ) declared clearly that Allah is concerned only with a person’s intentions and actions. “Allah does not look at your figures, nor at your attire but He looks at your hearts and accomplishments”. (Riyad as-Salihin: 07)

إن الله لا ينظر إلى أجسامكم ، ولا إلى صوركم، ولكن ينظر إلى قلوبكم وأعمالكم

 One of the sins of Pharoah was to create a societal division on the basis of race and discriminate against those whom he treated low. The Quran points it out in the following words: “Behold, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and divided its people into castes. One group of them he deemed utterly low; he would slaughter their sons and spare (only) their women: for, behold, he was one of those who spread corruption (on earth)”. (28:4)

اِنَّ فِرۡعَوۡنَ عَلَا فِی الۡاَرۡضِ وَ جَعَلَ اَہۡلَہَا شِیَعًا یَّسۡتَضۡعِفُ طَآئِفَۃً مِّنۡہُمۡ یُذَبِّحُ اَبۡنَآءَہُمۡ وَ یَسۡتَحۡیٖ نِسَآءَہُمۡ ؕ اِنَّہٗ کَانَ مِنَ الۡمُفۡسِدِیۡنَ ۝

 [6] The Quranic verses 49:11 and 49:13, in the previous footnote are applicable here as well. Moreover, the Quran appreciates the presence and practice of justice in each and every situation, as verse 60:08 mentions”, Allah does not forbid you to be fair to them and treat them with equity and justice who did not fight against you on (the question of) Din (Religion), nor did they drive you out of your homes (i.e., homeland). Surely, Allah likes those who conduct themselves with equity and justice”. (60:08)

لَّا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ۝

Excluding or preferring workers or applicants on the basis of religion, caste, creed or nationality is forbidden. Discrimination on the basis of refugee status is similarly prohibited. The companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) had to migrate to other locations in order to escape prosecution. Finally, the Prophet (ﷺ) also migrated to Madina in 622 AD. The Prophet Abraham (AS) and his family were also forced to migrate (21:71). Similarly, the Prophet Musa (AS) migrated to Midian to avoid persecution by the Egyptians. (28:20-28). The Quran further supports migration to protect one’s life and beliefs. (04:97) Foreign workers have the same rights as the local workers. This is evident in the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ) when he declared brotherhood among the migrants and locals and declared that the rights of migrants and locals are the same. Anas bin Malik (RA) reported that “the Prophet (ﷺ) made a treaty (of brotherhood) between the Ansar and the Quraish in my home”. (Sahih Bukhari: 6083) The theme is also supported in the Quran. “And those who believed afterwards, and left their homes (sacrificing) in the cause of truth, and joined you in fighting (in defence against the aggressing enemies who initiated and imposed war to jolt off the newly born system of social justice, peace and security), they are (also) from amongst you. And (as for inheritance and affinity with blood relations) the relatives have a higher claim on one another in the Book of Allah. Surely, Allah knows best everything”. (08:75) 

وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِن بَعْدُ وَهَاجَرُوا وَجَاهَدُوا مَعَكُمْ فَأُولَٰئِكَ مِنكُمْ ۚ وَأُولُو الْأَرْحَامِ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلَىٰ بِبَعْضٍ فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ۝

  [7] Aside from the applicability of Quranic verses 49:11, 49:13 and 60:08, the verse 2:282 mentions, “O you who believe! When you contract a debt for a fixed period, write it down. Let a scribe write it down in justice between you. Let not the scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so let him write. Let him (the debtor) who incurs the liability dictate, and he must fear Allah, his Lord, and diminish not anything of what he owes. But if the debtor is of poor understanding, or weak, or is unable himself to dictate, then let his guardian dictate in justice …”. (02:282)

فَإِن كَانَ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِ الْحَقُّ سَفِيهًا أَوْ ضَعِيفًا أَوْ لَا يَسْتَطِيعُ أَن يُمِلَّ هُوَ فَلْيُمْلِلْ وَلِيُّهُ بِالْعَدْلِ۝

The verse also implies that foreign workers (sponsored by employers) should not be discriminated against if they are unable to understand or speak the language, nor should they be taken advantage of. It also indicates the role of state in countries who are sending their labour abroad. They need to ensure that workers understand their contractual obligations and are well aware of their workplace rights. [8] Quran forbids discrimination based on colour. This can be implied from the Quranic verses 30:22, and 49:11 and 49:13 in above footnotes, as well as a hadith, which states, “A black man or black woman used to sweep the mosque, and he or she died. The Prophet (ﷺ) asked about her or him. He was told that she (or he) had died. He said, “Why did you not inform me?  Show me his grave (or her grave)”. So, he went to her (his) grave and offered her (his) funeral prayer”. (Sahih Bukhari: 458) This hadith implies that discrimination based on colour in recruitment or workplace dealings is not part of Islam. And that all workers must be treated fairly and respectfully. Similarly, the following verse refers to the diversity of colour and language, implicitly prohibiting any discrimination on such grounds: “And of His signs (too) is the creation of the heavens and the earth and (also) the diversity of your tongues and colours. Verily, in that are signs for the men of knowledge (and research)”. (30:22)

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافُ أَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَأَلْوَانِكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّلْعَالِمِينَ۝

[9] The verses 4:32, 49:13 and 60:12 give importance to the position of women and imply equal opportunities for women. Discrimination based on sex is forbidden in Islam.  Access to similar jobs as men is indicated in verses 7:32 and 66:01. The verse 7:32 says, “Say: ‘Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah that He has produced for His servants and the good things from (His) provision?’ Say: ‘These are (permissible) for the believers in the life of this world, and on the Day of Resurrection, would be exclusively for them.’ This is how We make the messages clear for a people who understand”. (7:32)

قُلْ مَنْ حَرَّمَ زِينَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي أَخْرَجَ لِعِبَادِهِ وَالطَّيِّبَاتِ مِنَ الرِّزْقِ ۚ قُلْ هِيَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا خَالِصَةً يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ۝

Female employment and labour force participation are not prohibited anywhere in Islam. The Quran and Sunnah have not stopped women from being in employment. While Quran prohibits certain activities, it does not mention female employment anywhere as a prohibited activity. “He has spelled out to you in detail (all) those things which He has forbidden to you”. (06:119)

وَقَدْ فَصَّلَ لَكُم مَّا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ۝

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: What Allah has made lawful in His Book is halal and what He has forbidden is haram, and that concerning which He is silent is allowed as His favor. So, accept from Allâh His favor, for Allâh is not forgetful of anything. He then recited, “And your Lord is not forgetful”. (19:64) (Mustadrak Hakim: 375/2)

وَمَا كَانَ رَبُّكَ نَسِيًّا

The Prophet (ﷺ) also said: “Allah has prescribed certain obligations for you, so do not neglect them; He has defined certain limits, so do not transgress them; He has prohibited certain things, so do not do them; and He has kept silent concerning other things out of mercy for you and not because of forgetfulness, so do not ask questions concerning them”. (Riyad as-Salihin: 1832; 40 Hadith Nawawi: 30)

إنَّ اللَّه تَعَالَى فَرَضَ فَرائِضَ فَلاَ تُضَيِّعُوهَا، وحدَّ حُدُودًا فَلا تَعْتَدُوهَا، وحَرَّم أشْياءَ فَلا تَنْتَهِكُوها، وَسكَتَ عَنْ أشْياءَ رَحْمةً لَكُمْ غَيْرَ نِسْيانٍ فَلا تَبْحثُوا عَنْهَا

This implies that only the Quran/Sunnah can term occupational activities, either halal or haram. Women must have access to equal opportunities, the same as men, and gender discrimination is forbidden. Women were always at the forefront of Islamic history. During the 13th year of Prophethood, 73 persons from Yathrib (later called Madina) took the oath of allegiance to the Prophet (ﷺ). This is referred to as the “second pledge of Aqabah”. Two of these persons were women. Women were allowed to work during the period of Iddah (waiting period). Jabir (RA) reported: “My maternal aunt was divorced by three pronouncements, and she went out to cut down fruit from her palm trees. A man met her and forbade her (to go out). So she went to the Prophet (ﷺ) and mentioned it to him. He said “Go out, and cut down fruit from your palm trees for perhaps you may give alms (sadaqah) or do an act of kindness”. (Sunan Abi Dawud: 2297)

عَنْ جَابِرٍ، قَالَ طُلِّقَتْ خَالَتِي ثَلاَثًا فَخَرَجَتْ تَجُدُّ نَخْلاً لَهَا فَلَقِيَهَا رَجُلٌ فَنَهَاهَا فَأَتَتِ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَذَكَرَتْ ذَلِكَ لَهُ فَقَالَ لَهَا ‏ ‏ اخْرُجِي فَجُدِّي نَخْلَكِ لَعَلَّكِ أَنْ تَصَدَّقِي مِنْهُ أَوْ تَفْعَلِي خَيْرًا

Women had equal rights in Islam. During the time of wars, an important aspect was granting of protection (Aman).  The Prophet (ﷺ) allowed the grant of protection by women. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Indeed a woman grants (assurances of protection) to a people” – meaning it is to be honored – “from the Muslims”. (Jami`at-Tirmidhi: 1579) On the day of the conquest of Makkah, Umm Hani (RA), daughter of Abi Talib, went to the Prophet (ﷺ) and had the following discussion: “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) ! My brother has told me that he will kill a person whom I gave shelter and that person is so and so the son of Hubaira.’ The Prophet (ﷺ) said, ‘We shelter the person whom you have sheltered”. (Sahih Bukhari: 357)

قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، زَعَمَ ابْنُ أُمِّي أَنَّهُ قَاتِلٌ رَجُلاً قَدْ أَجَرْتُهُ فُلاَنَ بْنَ هُبَيْرَةَ‏.‏ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏‏ قَدْ أَجَرْنَا مَنْ أَجَرْتِ يَا أُمَّ هَانِئٍ

Umm Hani (RA) further relates that “I granted asylum for two men among my brothers-in-law. So, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘We grant security to whomever you have granted security”.

قَالَتْ أَجَرْتُ رَجُلَيْنِ مِنْ أَحْمَائِي فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏‏ قَدْ أَمَّنَّا مَنْ أَمَّنْتِ

   Women have the right to choose a profession since none of the professions has been prohibited for women. Whatever is not forbidden is allowed in Islam. The Quran refers to a basic principle: “Who has forbidden the adornment (and beautification) of Allah that He has produced for His servants and (who has also forbidden) the pure and clean food? (Good things from among the means of sustenance)”. (07:32)

قُلْ مَنْ حَرَّمَ زِينَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي أَخْرَجَ لِعِبَادِهِ وَالطَّيِّبَاتِ مِنَ الرِّزْقِ قُلْ هِيَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا خَالِصَةً يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ كَذَلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ۝

Similarly, if Allah and His Prophet (ﷺ) has not prohibited something (like working of women), it is not banned today. The Quran refers to this in the following words: “And never does thy Sustainer forget (anything)”. (19:64)

وَمَا كَانَ رَبُّكَ نَسِيًّا۝

 [10] Aside from the verses 49:11, 60:08 and 2:282 implying prohibition in discrimination based on religion, the Quranic verse 29:56 says, “O My servants who have believed! Surely, My earth is vast, so worship Me alone”. (29:56)

يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ أَرْضِي وَاسِعَةٌ فَإِيَّايَ فَاعْبُدُونِ ۝

This refers to workplace freedom for every worker or worker to practice their religion without being discriminated against. Moreover, while hiring workers, the only valid criterion is skill and expertise, except in some instances, such as the teaching of religion in educational institutions. In such a case, the faith of the worker can be used as an inherent requirement of the job. During the departure to Madina from Makkah (Hijra), the Prophet (ﷺ) hired a non-believer as a guide. “Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and Abu Bakr hired a man from the tribe of Bani-Ad-Dil as an expert guide who was a pagan (follower of the religion of the pagans of Quraish). The Prophet (ﷺ) and Abu Bakr gave him their two riding camels and took a promise from him to bring their riding camels in the morning of the third day to the Cave of Thaur”. (Sahih al-Bukhari: 2264)

وَاسْتَأْجَرَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَأَبُو بَكْرٍ رَجُلاً مِنْ بَنِي الدِّيلِ، هَادِيًا خِرِّيتًا وَهْوَ عَلَى دِينِ كُفَّارِ قُرَيْشٍ، فَدَفَعَا إِلَيْهِ رَاحِلَتَيْهِمَا، وَوَاعَدَاهُ غَارَ ثَوْرٍ بَعْدَ ثَلاَثِ لَيَالٍ بِرَاحِلَتَيْهِمَا صُبْحَ ثَلاَثٍ

One of the servants (mind it, not the slave) of the Prophet (ﷺ) was a Jew boy. When he was ill, the Prophet (ﷺ) visited him. (Adab al Mufrad: 524) Moreover, verse 6:108 states, “And, (O Muslims,) do not abuse these (false gods) that these (polytheists) worship besides Allah, lest these people should (also, in retaliation,) revile against Allah’s Glory wrongfully due to ignorance. Thus, have We made the conduct of every sect (and faction) seem attractive to (their own eyes, and they regard only that as truth). Then all have to return to their Lord, and He will inform them of (the results of) their deeds which they used to do”. (06:108)

وَلَا تَسُبُّوا الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ فَيَسُبُّوا اللَّهَ عَدْوًا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ كَذَلِكَ زَيَّنَّا لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ عَمَلَهُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَى رَبِّهِمْ مَرْجِعُهُمْ فَيُنَبِّئُهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ ۝

In addition, the Quran mentions punishment for discrimination, based on religion, implying that no worker should be prohibited from his/her religious obligations. Religious discrimination is not permitted in the workplace. The verse, 02:114 says, “And who is more unjust than he who forbids remembering Allah’s Name in His mosques and strives to desolate them? It was not proper for them to enter the mosques but fearing (Allah). For them is disgrace in this world, and (also) there is a dreadful torment for them in the Hereafter”. (02:114)

وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّن مَّنَعَ مَسَاجِدَ اللَّهِ أَن يُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ وَسَعَىٰ فِي خَرَابِهَا ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ مَا كَانَ لَهُمْ أَن يَدْخُلُوهَا إِلَّا خَائِفِينَ ۚ لَهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا خِزْيٌ وَلَهُمْ فِي الْآخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ۝

Right to practice one’s religion in a workplace is protected and workers cannot be discriminated against on the ground of their faith: “They are those who were unjustly expelled from their homes simply because they said: ‘Our Lord is Allah.’ And had Allah not been repelling one (aggressive) class of human society by the other (through defensive struggle), the cloisters (temples), synagogues, churches and mosques (i.e., religious centres and places of worship of all religions) would have been ruined where Allah’s Name is abundantly commemorated. And whoever helps (the Din [Religion] of) Allah, Allah surely helps him. Allah is indeed All-Powerful, Ever-Dominant”. (22:40)

الَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِنْ دِيَارِهِمْ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ إِلَّا أَنْ يَقُولُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ وَلَوْلَا دَفْعُ اللَّهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُمْ بِبَعْضٍ لَهُدِّمَتْ صَوَامِعُ وَبِيَعٌ وَصَلَوَاتٌ وَمَسَاجِدُ يُذْكَرُ فِيهَا اسْمُ اللَّهِ كَثِيرًا وَلَيَنْصُرَنَّ اللَّهُ مَنْ يَنْصُرُهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَقَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ ۝

We find in Seerah books that the Prophet (ﷺ) allowed a delegation of Christians from Najran to pray in the mosque, although the companions first tried to stop them.  (Seerat Rasul ul Allah (ﷺ) by Ibn Ishaq; Dalail un Nabuwwat by Bayhaqi) [11] Quranic verse 30:22 states that “And of His signs (too) is the creation of the heavens and the earth and (also) the diversity of your tongues and colours. Verily, in that are signs for the men of knowledge (and research)” (30:22). As stated above, this implies the prohibition of discrimination on the ground of language and colour.

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافُ أَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَأَلْوَانِكُمْ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِلْعَالِمِينَ ۝

[12] It is prohibited to discriminate against a worker on the ground of age. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “He is not one of us who shows no mercy to younger ones and does not acknowledge the honour due to our elders”. (Riyad as-Salihin: 355)

لَيْسَ مِنَّا مَنْ لَمْ يَرْحَمْ صَغِيرَنَا، وَيَعْرِفْ شَرفَ كَبِيرِنَا

“The Prophet (ﷺ) said: Glorifying Allah involves showing honour to a grey-haired Muslim and to one who can expound the Qur’an, but not to one who acts extravagantly regarding it, or turns away from it, and showing honour to a just ruler”. (Sunan Abi Dawud 4843)

إِنَّ مِنْ إِجْلاَلِ اللَّهِ إِكْرَامَ ذِي الشَّيْبَةِ الْمُسْلِمِ وَحَامِلِ الْقُرْآنِ غَيْرِ الْغَالِي فِيهِ وَالْجَافِي عَنْهُ وَإِكْرَامَ ذِي السُّلْطَانِ الْمُقْسِطِ

[13] Islam treats all equally and does not allow discrimination on the basis of disability. The Prophet’s (ﷺ) behaviour toward persons with disabilities must be followed as an example. Abdullah ibn Umm Maktoum, a blind companion, was designated as the Leader of Madina when the Prophet (ﷺ) went away on military expeditions. Abdullah bin Umar (RA) narrated that “the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) had two Mu’adhdhins, Bilal and ‘Abdullah b. Umm Maktum, who (latter) was blind”. (Sahih Muslim: 380 a) Anas (RA) narrated that “The Prophet (ﷺ) appointed Ibn Umm Makthum as a governor of Medina (in his absence) twice”. (Sunan Abi Dawud: 2931)

أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم اسْتَخْلَفَ ابْنَ أُمِّ مَكْتُومٍ عَلَى الْمَدِينَةِ مَرَّتَيْ

 Anas (RA) further said that “the Prophet (ﷺ) appointed Ibn Umm Maktum as substitute to lead the people in prayer in the Prophet’s (ﷺ) absence, and he was blind”. (Sunan Abi Dawud: 595)

أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم اسْتَخْلَفَ ابْنَ أُمِّ مَكْتُومٍ يَؤُمُّ النَّاسَ وَهُوَ أَعْمَى

The Quran refers to the speech disability of Musa (AS) in the following words: “And my breast constricts (under such adverse circumstances) and my tongue does not express (fluently), so send (Gabriel with revelation) to Harun ([Aaron] as well so that he becomes my helper)”.

وَيَضِيقُ صَدْرِي وَلَا يَنْطَلِقُ لِسَانِي فَأَرْسِلْ إِلَى هَارُونَ ۝

Not only does Islamic prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability, but it also requires the provision of reasonable accommodation in the working environment for persons with disabilities. A reference is already available in the story of Musa (AS) when he was asked to preach before the Pharoah. Musa (AS) prays for loosening the knot from his tongue so that they might fully understand his speech (20:28-29). Seemingly, it was a speech impediment like stammer or stutter. While his prayers were answered, what happened is incredible. The reasonable accommodation that was created for Musa (AS) was that he was given the written book (Torah) to facilitate his work and his brother Harun (AS) was also given prophethood to share the burden. Here is how the Quran reports it: “And We (have) inscribed for him on the Tablets (of the Torah) instructions for every matter and details of everything. Hold it with firmness, and enjoin your people (as well) to adopt the best thereof”. (07:145) 

وَ كَتَبْنَا لَهٗ فِی الْاَلْوَاحِ مِنْ كُلِّ شَیْءٍ مَّوْعِظَةً وَّ تَفْصِیْلًا لِّكُلِّ شَیْءٍۚ-فَخُذْهَا بِقُوَّةٍ وَّ اْمُرْ قَوْمَكَ یَاْخُذُوْا بِاَحْسَنِهَاؕ۝

 “The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Adam (AS) and Musa (AS) argued with each other. Musa (AS) said to Adam. ‘O Adam (AS)! You are our father who disappointed us and turned us out of Paradise.’ Then Adam (AS) said to him, ‘O Musa (AS)! Allah favored you with His talk (talked to you directly) and He wrote (the Torah) for you with His Own Hand. Do you blame me for action which Allah had written in my fate forty years before my creation?’ So Adam (AS) confuted Musa (AS), Adam (AS) confuted Musa (AS),” the Prophet (ﷺ) added, repeating the Statement three times”. (Sahih Muslim: 2652; Sahih Bukhari: 6614)

احْتَجَّ آدَمُ وَمُوسَى، فَقَالَ لَهُ مُوسَى يَا آدَمُ أَنْتَ أَبُونَا خَيَّبْتَنَا وَأَخْرَجْتَنَا مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ‏.‏ قَالَ لَهُ آدَمُ يَا مُوسَى اصْطَفَاكَ اللَّهُ بِكَلاَمِهِ، وَخَطَّ لَكَ بِيَدِهِ، أَتَلُومُنِي عَلَى أَمْرٍ قَدَّرَ اللَّهُ عَلَىَّ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَخْلُقَنِي بِأَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً‏.‏ فَحَجَّ آدَمُ مُوسَى، فَحَجَّ آدَمُ مُوسَى ‏”‏ ثَلاَثًا

[14] Islam supports trade union activity and prohibits discrimination on such grounds. For more information, please see under “Freedom of Association” sub chapter.   [15] Quran also refers to the matter of preferring a specific worker over the other based on knowledge etc. based on the inherent requirements of a job. This is not considered discrimination. As the verse 44:32 states, “And surely, We chose them (the Children of Israel) above (their contemporary civilizations of) the world based on knowledge”. (44:32)

وَلَقَدِ اخْتَرْنَاهُمْ عَلَى عِلْمٍ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ ۝

[16] Islam recognizes the measures taken to protect the interests of weak and marginalised groups of society. On various occasions, especially in religious duties like prayers, fasting, pilgrimage, and jihad, the person’s capacity is considered and religious duty is either reduced or waived off. Please refer to (03:97), (04:101) and (02:185). “Hence, pilgrimage unto the Temple is a duty owed to God by all people who are able to undertake it”. (03:97)

وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا۝

“And when you travel in the land, there will be no sin on you if you shorten the Prayer”. (04:101)

وَإِذَا ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَنْ تَقْصُرُوا مِنَ الصَّلَاةِ ۝

  [17] Quran talks of equal treatment in employment as referred to in the following verse 04:32 “And do not long for the thing in which Allah has made some of you superior to others. Men will have a share of what they earn, and women will have a share of what they earn, and keep begging Allah for His bounty. Surely, Allah knows best everything”. (4:32)

وَلَا تَتَمَنَّوْا مَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بِهِ بَعْضَكُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ لِلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا اكْتَسَبُوا وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا اكْتَسَبْنَ وَاسْأَلُوا اللَّهَ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا ۝

Here, the Quran prohibits discrimination in employment, allows for equal remuneration for work of equal value for both, men and women, and refers to providing equal opportunities for earning irrespective of gender, where women have access to similar jobs as men. [18] The Quran requires employers to guarantee equal remuneration which is also sufficient and timely remuneration (sustenance) for the worker by stating the verse 41:9-10 “Say: ‘Do you deny Him (Allah) Who created the earth in two days (i.e., two time-lengths) and set up peers with Him? He is the One Who is the Lord of all the worlds. And He placed over it heavy mountains (brought forth) from within it and treasured in it (His infinite) blessings (minerals, water reservoirs, natural resources and other substances and forces and energies) and provided and appointed in it sustenance (i.e., necessities of life for all the creatures. He accomplished (all that) in four days (i.e., four evolutionary periods. All of this sustenance is in fact) equal for all seekers (and the needy)”. (41:9-10)

قُلْ أَئِنَّكُمْ لَتَكْفُرُونَ بِالَّذِي خَلَقَ الْأَرْضَ فِي يَوْمَيْنِ وَتَجْعَلُونَ لَهُ أَندَادًا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ  ۝ وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا رَوَاسِيَ مِن فَوْقِهَا وَبَارَكَ فِيهَا وَقَدَّرَ فِيهَا أَقْوَاتَهَا فِي أَرْبَعَةِ أَيَّامٍ سَوَاءً لِّلسَّائِلِينَ۝

Regarding the highlighted parts, it is required of the employer to provide workers with equal remuneration according to their work/effort what they have earned. The meaning of the verse portion سَوَاۗءً لِّلسَّاۗىِٕلِيْنَ has been described as “in accordance with (the needs of) those who seek (Sustenance)”, “and equally measured out sustenance for those who seek sustenance”, etc. which implicitly refer to the term “equal opportunity”. As per specifications of Islamic Law, everybody has equal rights to specific common resources: the wood in a forest, water from a stream/river and to sow the seed by ploughing the barren part of the earth, unless someone already has done it and own such land. The verse also indicates equal access to the same or similar jobs for all who seek to earn. The Quran refers to verse 26:181-183 which, aside from talking about full wage payment, talks about equal wages for work of equal value and instructs employers to do right by their workers. As stated in the Quran, “Always fill up the full measure and do not become injurious (to the rights of the people). And weigh with a straight balance. And do not give to the people their things (weighing) less than what is due, nor provoke strife in the land (by such moral, economic and social corruption and fraud)”. (26:181-183)

أَوْفُوا الْكَيْلَ وَلَا تَكُونُوا مِنَ الْمُخْسِرِينَ۝ وَزِنُوا بِالْقِسْطَاسِ الْمُسْتَقِيمِ ۝ وَلَا تَبْخَسُوا النَّاسَ أَشْيَاءَهُمْ وَلَا تَعْثَوْا فِي الْأَرْضِ مُفْسِدِينَ۝

Besides, the Quranic verse 57:25 supports the prevalence of justice and legal compliance system in all organizations. As said in the following verse, “Verily, We sent Our Messengers with clear signs, and We sent down with them the Book and the balance of justice so that people might grow firm and stable in justice. And (of minerals) We brought forth iron in which there is a fierce force (for weapons and defence) and which has (multiple other) benefits for people (in industrial development). And (the purpose is) that Allah may bring to light the one who helps Him and His Messengers (i.e., the Din [Religion of Islam]) without seeing. Surely, Allah is (Himself) the All-Powerful, the Almighty”. (57:25)

لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَنزَلْنَا مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْمِيزَانَ لِيَقُومَ النَّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ ۖ وَأَنزَلْنَا الْحَدِيدَ فِيهِ بَأْسٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَلِيَعْلَمَ اللَّهُ مَن يَنصُرُهُ وَرُسُلَهُ بِالْغَيْبِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ۝

 There is a need to replace the discriminatory rate of remuneration of a worker doing work of equal value with a just rate. It is the duty of the state institutions to ensure compliance with the principle of equal remuneration for work of equal value. [19]  The verses and interpretations, as explained in this chapter, are also applicable here. A worker who has been paid less than their due wages must be compensated by paying the underpaid amount in order to uphold justice. [20]  The words of the Prophet (ﷺ) also define the work of equal value. He equated two very different activities, i.e., Jihad and serving one’s parents as equal in reward. According to a hadith, A man came to the service of the Prophet (ﷺ) and asked his permission to participate in Jihad. He said: “Are your parents alive?” He said: “Yes (alive)”. He said: “Work hard to serve them (this is your jihad)”. (Sahih Bukhari: 3004)  

جَاءَ رَجُلٌ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَاسْتَأْذَنَهُ فِي الْجِهَادِ فَقَالَ ‏‏ أَحَىٌّ وَالِدَاكَ ‏‏‏.‏ قَالَ نَعَمْ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏‏ فَفِيهِمَا فَجَاهِدْ

 Jahimah (RA) came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said: “O Messenger of Allah! I want to go out and fight (in Jihad), and I have come to ask your advice”. He said: “Do you have a mother?” He said: “Yes”. He said: “Then stay with her, for Paradise is beneath her feet”. (Sunan an-Nasa’i: 3104) 

أَنَّ جَاهِمَةَ، جَاءَ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَرَدْتُ أَنْ أَغْزُوَ وَقَدْ جِئْتُ أَسْتَشِيرُكَ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ ‏‏ هَلْ لَكَ مِنْ أُمٍّ ‏‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ نَعَمْ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏‏ فَالْزَمْهَا فَإِنَّ الْجَنَّةَ تَحْتَ رِجْلَيْهَ

This implies that different kinds/types of work can hold equal value based on knowledge, competencies and effort, among others. ILO’s topic on Equality