Friday, May 20, 2005

Friday sermon in the UAE: Foreign workers :: Abdul Wahid Al-Humaid - Al-Riyadh

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The subject of recent Friday sermons in the mosques of the United Arab Emirates was the treatment of foreign workers in the county. The imams stressed the need for treating the workers fairly and guaranteeing their rights. The subject was recommended by the Emirates Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs which wanted Friday sermons on that particular day to focus on the matter in the wake of increasing complaints by foreign workers who say that employers delay paying their salaries.
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I have read a summary of what UAE Friday preachers said about the need to honor the rights of foreign workers and found the sermons to be impressive.

I wish our [Saudi] Ministry of Islamic Affairs would take the initiative and direct our imams to deliver Friday sermons addressing this very important issue. Treating foreign workers with respect and guaranteeing and protecting their rights is embedded in Islamic teachings. The Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah (the Prophet’s teachings) guaranteed workers’ rights long before modern labor laws were formulated by advanced countries. Islam guarantees workers rights beyond what is done by trade unions which some consider to be more concerned with rights than divine laws.
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I was even more impressed by what those UAE preachers said about the need for employers to offer the worker a fair salary — even if the worker agreed under pressure to accept a far lower wage than what is considered fair. What counts here is not what the laborer accepts but whether the wage offered is indeed proportionate to the effort he or she makes. Scholars say the case of these workers is like someone who finds himself forced to sell his house at an unfairly low price because he is in need of money and has no other alternative.

There are many among us who insist on doing things that are far less important than doing justice to their workers; they think they are heeding Islamic teachings and are unaware they were in fact committing a great sin by their behavior. In their Friday sermons, imams continue to address far less important issues and repeat them ad nauseam while ignoring issues of much greater significance and importance.
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