Hiring best person for the Job

Islam constrains employers to recruit, select, and promote workers based on merit. It decries favouritism and nepotism and any type of discrimination. The Quran has given a clear and straightforward rule for hiring a worker; “the best of men for you to hire is the strong (competent) and the trustworthy” (28:26).[1] In another instance, the sister of Musa (AS) recommends hiring of her mother by Pharoah’s family as a wet nurse. She specifically mentions that they will look after the child well and will be well-wishers of Musa (AS).[2]

We find similar view in the tradition of the Prophet (ﷺ) where he said that “if you give a job to someone who is not knowledgeable, just wait for the destruction”. In another hadith, the Prophet (ﷺ) warned that “whoever is appointed to manage the affairs of a Muslim community, and then he appoints someone based on nepotism, he will therefore be condemned by Allah”.[3] Islam considers it the duty of the employer to look for the best available worker. In the words of Umar (RA), “If a person of lesser ability is appointed when a better one is available, then his action would be tantamount to betraying God, Prophet (ﷺ) and the people”.[4]

Islam also requires the employer not to discriminate against people whom he dislikes (05:08) and requires him to treat all employees or applicants equally. Ali (RA), in his famous epistle to the governor of Egypt, said, “Never select men for responsible posts either out of any regard for personal connections or under any influence, for that might lead to injustice and corruption. Do not underestimate and underpay the good work done. Similarly, do not overpay a work simply because it has been done by a very important person and do not let his position and prestige be the cause of overvaluation of the merit of his work. At the same time, do not undervalue a great deed if it is done by a very ordinary person or a commoner. Let equity, justice and fair play be your motto”.[5]

  Hiring best person for the Job  

Keeping in view Islam’s focus on knowledge and learning,[6] an employer is required to provide the employee with the necessary training to succeed at the job. Islam supports the apprenticeship model of learning. The practice of apprenticeship is also evident in the story of Musa and Khidr (another learned man) with whom Musa lives for some days to learn knowledge (18:65).[7] In another instance, the Quran refers to Musa (AS) being chosen for a special task (20:41).[8]

[1] In the same verse, the daughter of Shuaib (AS) recommends hiring of Musa (AS) in the following words: One of those (girls) said: ‘O (my) respectable father, take him (into your service). Surely, the best person you can employ is the one who is strong and trustworthy (and he is worthy of this assignment)”. (28:26)


[2] “And We had in advance prohibited him from the feed of wet nurses. So (Musa’s [Moses’s] sister) said: ‘Shall I tell you about a family who will bring up this (child) for you and will (also) be his well-wisher?” (28:12)

[3] “Whoever is appointed in charge of any affairs of the Muslims and appoints over them anyone by way of favouritism, the curse of Allah be upon him and Allah will not accept any obligatory or nafl prayer from him until he admits him to Hell. And whoever allows anyone to transgress the sacred limits set by Allah has transgressed the sacred limits of Allah unlawfully, and on him will be the curse of Allah and Allah will forsake him”. (Musnad Ahmad: 21)

مَنْ وَلِيَ مِنْ أَمْرِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ شَيْئًا فَأَمَّرَ عَلَيْهِمْ أَحَدًا مُحَابَاةً فَعَلَيْهِ لَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ لَا يَقْبَلُ اللَّهُ مِنْهُ صَرْفًا وَلَا عَدْلًا حَتَّى يُدْخِلَهُ جَهَنَّمَ وَمَنْ أَعْطَى أَحَدًا حِمَى اللَّهِ فَقَدْ انْتَهَكَ فِي حِمَى اللَّهِ شَيْئًا بِغَيْرِ حَقِّهِ فَعَلَيْهِ لَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ أَوْ قَالَ تَبَرَّأَتْ مِنْهُ ذِمَّةُ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ


[4] Ibn Taimiyyah, Ibn Taimiyyah, Imam Taqi al Din al Ahmad 1983. Public duties in Islam. [al-Risala fi al-Hisba] (M. Holland Trans.). Wiltshire, UK: The Islamic Foundation.

[5] Nahj ul-Balagha; letter 53.

[6] “The seeking of knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim”. (Mishkat al-Masabih: 218)

طَلَبُ الْعِلْمِ فَرِيضَةٌ عَلَى كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ

[7] Hierarchy in the fifteenth century guilds also shows that these followed the apprenticeship model.

[8] “And (now) I have chosen you for Myself (for the task of Messengership and the exceptional favour)”.

وَاصْطَنَعْتُكَ لِنَفْسِي

The words in this verse are used for selecting a person for a special task and then train such a person accordingly.