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.
In Project Management there are three main areas that need to be balanced in order to successfully complete a project.
- The Budget, or how much money is allocated to completing the project.
- The Schedule, which breaks the project into smaller tasks and their respective deadlines.
- The Scope, which are the things that need to be completed and delivered by the due date.
Whenever any of these three factors are changed, the entire project is thrown off.
How is that?
Here’s a situation:
You gave me $20 and asked me to go to a store and get some items on a list. The list costs exactly $20 including tax. So I have 45 minutes to go and bring the groceries back. The project here is getting the groceries. If you were to call me on the phone, and tell me you need some meat from the Halal store as well, that would throw me off. Because of the money, I am now over my budget; also, it will increase the time I’ll need, so I won’t be able to deliver on schedule.
So changing any of the three factors in a project will change the other two. If you push these limits then either the project will fail or it will be completed with poor quality.
Bottom line: When the balance is lost, the project suffers.
I believe that to be the exact case with these Muslim businesses and institutions. They are attempting to ‘milk’ employees for work they aren’t willing (or able) to pay for. They have expectations that exceed their ability or willingness to fairly compensate. Employees come in with higher than usual expectations from a Muslim employer, and expect über-ethical and fair treatment. Employees’ morale and trust in their employer drops, and as a result the quality of their work suffers.
Expectations have to be made clear, respected, and fulfilled by both sides. If we all know Allah is watching us, then we should act like it. Muslim businesses and Islamic organizations are the pillars of our community; when we build our Ummah on broken principles it will fall apart overnight.
Most of you reading this know that sadly this is the situation in general. I am sure there are exceptions to the rule, but I have traveled, searched, and have yet to find a case where this doesn’t stand true in one way or another.
We have reached rock bottom when Muslims sincerely warn other Muslims against getting jobs with Muslim companies or Islamic organizations. Why is it that in exchange for being in a so-called Islamic environment, you will face all sorts of head- and heartache?
I’m not writing this with the intention to bash other Muslims or talk smack about the Ummah. On the contrary, I want to point this out and have it addressed and remedied, so that it is no longer the case. I make du`a’ that Allah guides us all to the best of manners and etiquette, and that we are among those that heed good advice and follow the best of it. Ameen.