Q&A: Compassion to Staff


Q: We run a family business. I am  forever at loggerheads with my elder brother, who is the CEO, as I think that he does not treat the staff fairly. I feel that it is only out of desperation that the staff grudgingly accept to work for the minimal wages paid to them, and their hearts are forever cursing us. Furthermore, some of the staff have loyally served the business for more than 10 years, yet still earn a pittance, even though the business can well afford to pay a better salary. Please advise.

A: Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has mentioned, “None of you is a true believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” (Saheeh Bukhaari #13).

It was after hearing this blessed hadeeth that Sayyiduna Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) and another Sahaabi went to the market to purchase something. Although the item that they wished to purchase was being sold for thirty dirhams, the Sahaabi with  Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) raised the price and insisted on paying the seller fifty! When the seller asked him, in surprise, why he was paying more than the price demanded, he replied, “I heard Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) say that a person is not a true believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself, and I feel that this item is worth fifty.” (Majma‘uz Zawaaid #340)

The abovementioned hadeeth and incident is sufficient to teach us that if a person possesses true imaan, then together with earning a halaal living, his heart will burn with the concern of how he can bring comfort and happiness to the creation of Allah Ta‘ala. Hence, he will be of advantage to people, not take advantage of people.

Spirit of Deen

Since bringing comfort and happiness to people is the very spirit of Islam and imaan, incidents such as the one above are not isolated occurrences, but abounded in the lives of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum), Taabi‘een (rahimahumullah) and pious people of the past who were blessed with the true understanding and spirit of Deen. Let us consider the following incident:

A woman once came to Yunus bin ‘Ubaid (rahimahullah) and offered to sell him a silken robe. Yunus bin ‘Ubaid (rahimahullah) asked her the price, to which she replied, “five hundred.”  Yunus bin ‘Ubaid (rahimahullah) responded, “It is worth more than that.” The woman thus increased the price to six hundred, but Yunus bin ‘Ubaid (rahimahullah) again said, “It is worth more than that.” Yunus bin ‘Ubaid (rahimahullah) continued to raise the price in this manner, until he eventually purchased the silken robe from her for one thousand. (Siyaru Aa’laamin Nubalaa vol. 6, pg. 289)


Unfortunately, today we live among disbelievers whose hallmark and purpose in life is nothing more than the amassment of wealth. The unfortunate result is that we find our core Islamic values gradually eroding away, replaced by the values and priorities of the disbelievers. Instead of our hearts being infused with the spirit of compassion and kindness, they become contaminated with the doctrine of capitalism, where ‘each man for himself and God for all’ is the theme that reigns supreme. Thereafter, whether by hook or by crook, halaal or haraam, we are prepared to resort to any means necessary to turn the figures, even if it means partnering with the bank in transactions of interest or exploiting people who are in situations of desperation. It is for this reason that the qualities of justice, kindness and compassion with which Islam is synonymous and for which the Muslims were once renowned, have come close to extinction, while incidents such as those mentioned above are few and far apart and are generally found only in the pages of history.

Since the hadeeth has taught us to love for others what we love for ourselves, an effective remedy to assist us in instilling kindness for the creation in our hearts is for us to always imagine ourselves in the shoes of the person with whom we are dealing. Before doing anything, ask ourselves, “If I was this person, would I be happy to be treated in this way?” Insha-Allah, if we regularly ponder in this manner, we will become sympathetic to the plight of others and will engender the true spirit of mercy and kindness within our hearts.

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