Prohibition on Child and Forced Labour

Prohibition on Child and Forced Labour
  1. The provisions in this Chapter shall apply to all forms of work performed by children, whether or not the child is a worker. A child under the age of 14 years shall not be engaged in any work except light work (maximum of 2-hour work per day).[1]
  1. The minimum age for full-time employment shall be 16 years or earlier, depending on the completion of compulsory education.[2]
  2. A child who has attained the age of twelve years may be engaged to perform light work, provided that such work: a) is not harmful to the child’s health or safety, or the child’s moral or material welfare or development; and b) does not interfere with the child’s attendance at school, participation in vocational orientation or training programmes or the child’s capacity to benefit from instruction received.
  1. No person shall engage or permit the engagement of a child under the age of eighteen years to perform hazardous work.[3]
  2. No person shall engage or permit the engagement of a child under the age of eighteen years in any hazardous work, which constitutes the worst forms of child labour. The worst forms of child labour shall include:
  1. all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom, forced or compulsory labour, and forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;[4]
  2. the use, procurement or offer of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or pornographic performances;
  3. the use, procurement or offer of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in international treaties as ratified by the Government;
  4. work, which by its nature or circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of the child.[5]
  5. No person shall engage in the recruitment or use of forced labour or assist any other person in engaging in such activities.[6]


[1] The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Those who do not show mercy to our young ones and do not realise the right of our elders are not from us”. (Sunan Abi Dawud: 4943)

مَنْ لَمْ يَرْحَمْ صَغِيرَنَا وَيَعْرِفْ حَقَّ كَبِيرِنَا فَلَيْسَ مِنَّا

A fundamental principle in the employment relationship is kindness and compassion towards those who are dependent on the employer. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Allah Almighty will not show mercy to the person who does not show mercy to other people”. (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad: 370)

مَنْ لاَ يَرْحَمِ النَّاسَ لاَ يَرْحَمْهُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ‏

Prohibition on Child and Forced Labour Hadith 1

In engaging children for employment, due care should be exercised in choosing the work. The work must not be harmful to the child’s health or safety, or the child’s moral or material welfare or development. The work must not be beyond the worker’s capacity. The Quran gives some clear principle which it describes as the “capacity”. 

 People are not even required to follow religion beyond their capacities. Therefore, children cannot be made to do work which is assessed as beyond their power. “Allah does not put under stress any soul more than its endurance”. (02:286)

لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللّٰهُ نَفۡسًا اِلَّا وُسۡعَهَا

“So, fear Allah as much as you are able to”. (64:16)

فَاتَّقُوا اللّٰهَ مَا اسۡتَطَعۡتُمۡ

The Prophet (ﷺ) also declared: “if I order you to do something, then do of it as much as you can”. (Sahih Bukhari: 7288)

وَإِذَا أَمَرْتُكُمْ بِأَمْرٍ فَأْتُوا مِنْهُ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ

Anas (RA) reported: “I served the Prophet (ﷺ) for ten years, and he never said to me, “Uf” (a minor harsh word denoting impatience) and never blamed me by saying, “Why did you do so or why did not you do so?” (Sahih Bukhari: 6038)

خَدَمْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَشْرَ سِنِينَ، فَمَا قَالَ لِي أُفٍّ‏.‏ وَلاَ لِمَ صَنَعْتَ وَلاَ أَلاَّ صَنَعْتَ

Prohibition on Chield and Forced Labour Hadith 2

The believers are asked to ensure not only their safety but also the safety of their family. Though the verse relates to the hereafter, the scholars have interpreted it expansively. It is also parents’ responsibility not to engage a child in work which impacts his or health or education. “Believers! Safeguard yourselves and your families against a Fire whose fuel is men and stones”. (66:06)

يٰۤاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا قُوۡۤا اَنۡفُسَكُمۡ وَاَهۡلِيۡكُمۡ نَارًا وَّقُوۡدُهَا النَّاسُ وَالۡحِجَارَةُ

[2] Since seeking knowledge is the primary duty of every person, it is assumed that the minimum age for employment should be same or higher than the compulsory education age. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim”. (Sunan Ibn Majah: Book 1, 224)

طَلَبُ الْعِلْمِ فَرِيضَةٌ عَلَى كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ

It is the responsibility of parents and state to ensure that children complete their education and start working full time only after that. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “It is a sufficient sin for a man that he neglects him (those) whom he maintains (is supposed to take care of)”. (Sunan Abi Dawud: 1692)

كَفَى بِالْمَرْءِ إِثْمًا أَنْ يُضَيِّعَ مَنْ يَقُوتُ

“All of you are guardians and responsible for your wards and the things under your care.” (Sahih Bukhari: 893)

وَكُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ وَمَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ

[3] Even for Jihad (the Holy war), the Prophet (ﷺ) did not allow children to participate: “Ibn e Umar related the following: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) called me to present myself in front of him or the eve of the battle of Uhud, while I was fourteen years of age at that time, and he did not allow me to take part in that battle, but he called me in front of him on the eve of the battle of the Trench when I was fifteen years old, and he allowed me (to join the battle).” 

Nafi` said, “I went to `Umar bin `Abdul `Aziz who was Caliph at that time and related the above narration to him, He said, “This age (fifteen) is the limit between childhood and manhood,” and wrote to his governors to give salaries to those who reached the age of fifteen”. (Bukhari: 2664)

[4] The Prophet (ﷺ) never engaged children in war. Moreover, he prohibited the killing of women and children in conflict. “The Prophet (ﷺ) saw a woman who had been killed on the road, and he forbade killing women and children.” (Sunan Ibn Majah: 2841)

أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم رَأَى امْرَأَةً مَقْتُولَةً فِي بَعْضِ الطَّرِيقِ فَنَهَى عَنْ قَتْلِ النِّسَاءِ وَالصِّبْيَانِ

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Do not kill a decrepit old man, or a young infant, or a child, or a woman.” (Sunan Abi Dawud: 2614)

لاَ تَقْتُلُوا شَيْخًا فَانِيًا وَلاَ طِفْلاً وَلاَ صَغِيرًا وَلاَ امْرَأَةً

In another narration, the Prophet (ﷺ) ordered not to kill children and non-combatant workers/servants during the war. (Sunan Kubra Nasai: 7395)

لا تقتلَنَّ ذرِّيَّةً ولا عسيفًا

[5] The Prophet (ﷺ) instructed the following: “Be kind to your children, and perfect their manners”. (Sunan Ibn Majah: 3671)

أَكْرِمُوا أَوْلاَدَكُمْ وَأَحْسِنُوا أَدَبَهُمْ

[6] Engaging someone in forced labour ins prohibited in Islam. “The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Allah says, ‘I will be against three persons on the Day of Resurrection: -1. One who makes a covenant in My Name, but he proves treacherous. -2. One who sells a free person (as a slave) and eats the price, -3. And one who employs a labourer and gets the full work done by him but does not pay him his wages”. (Sahih Bukhari: 2227).

قَالَ اللَّهُ: ثَلاَثَةٌ أَنَا خَصْمُهُمْ يَوْمَ القِيَامَةِ: رَجُلٌ أَعْطَى بِي ثُمَّ غَدَرَ، وَرَجُلٌ بَاعَ حُرًّا فَأَكَلَ ثَمَنَهُ، وَرَجُلٌ اسْتَأْجَرَ أَجِيرًا فَاسْتَوْفَى مِنْهُ وَلَمْ يُعْطِ أَجْرَهُ

Forced labour includes both aspects: selling a person as a slave and not paying a person their due wages.

The Prophet, at another occasion, said: “Beware, if anyone wrongs a contracting man, or diminishes his right, or forces him to work beyond his capacity, or takes from him anything without his consent, I shall plead for him on the Day of Judgment”. (Sunan Abi Dawud: 3052)

أَلاَ مَنْ ظَلَمَ مُعَاهِدًا أَوِ انْتَقَصَهُ أَوْ كَلَّفَهُ فَوْقَ طَاقَتِهِ أَوْ أَخَذَ مِنْهُ شَيْئًا بِغَيْرِ طِيبِ نَفْسٍ فَأَنَا حَجِيجُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ

Quran, while quoting the conversation between Musa (AS) and Shuaib (AS) indicates the tributes of a good employer: “And I do not want to make it hard for you. If Allah wills, you will find me of the pious”. (28:27)

وَمَاۤ اُرِيۡدُ اَنۡ اَشُقَّ عَلَيۡكَؕ سَتَجِدُنِىۡۤ اِنۡ شَآءَ اللّٰهُ مِنَ الصّٰلِحِيۡنَ

The Prophet (ﷺ) spoke of the master and worker relationship in the following words: “Those who work for you (your slaves) 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)”. (Sahih al-Bukhari: 2545)

إِنَّ إِخْوَانَكُمْ خَوَلُكُمْ جَعَلَهُمُ اللَّهُ تَحْتَ أَيْدِيكُمْ، فَمَنْ كَانَ أَخُوهُ تَحْتَ يَدِهِ فَلْيُطْعِمْهُ مِمَّا يَأْكُلُ، وَلْيُلْبِسْهُ مِمَّا يَلْبَسُ، وَلاَ تُكَلِّفُوهُمْ مَا يَغْلِبُهُمْ، فَإِنْ كَلَّفْتُمُوهُمْ مَا يَغْلِبُهُمْ فَأَعِينُوهُمْ

“The last words of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) were: “Prayer, prayer! And fear Allah about what your right hands possess, i.e., your workers”. (Musnad Ahmad: 585)

كَانَ آخِرُ كَلَامِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الصَّلَاةَ الصَّلَاةَ اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ فِيمَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُك

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