Slavery has always been an issue all over the world. As a powerless part of the society, slave are often mistreated by their masters. In recent world, the case that involved slaves and their masters are mostly where their wages are not paid, physical abuse, and that the servants were forced to work surpassing the working hours. As for woman slaves, they often raped and sexually abused by their masters. As a human, slave is no different with others. Despite of their low social status, the servants deserve to be treated kindly and they have many rights to be fulfilled.
The servants welfare is a concern to many labor community where they demand equality and justice for servants all over the world. Role model for every Muslims in the world, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has stressed the importance of fulfilling the rights of servants even in the last minute of his life.
As reported by Ali ibn Abi Thalib (RA), the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
“Observe Salaah (the prayers), Observe Salaah And fear Allah with regards to your slaves and servants.“
So what are all the rights of the servants that should be fulfilled? Here are the rights of servants in Islam:
1. To be Treated with Kindness
Regardless of their social status as a subordinate, a servant should be treated with kindness. It is applied when the servant is bringing food to the master. See also Rights of Relatives in Islam
As narrated from Abu Hurayrah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“When the servant of any one of you brings his food to him, if he does not make him sit with him, then let him give him a morsel or two, or a mouthful or two, for he has endured its heat and preparation.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
2. To Receive Generosity
The hadith above has mentioned how a master should be generous with the servant in terms of food. As they have endured heat and tiredness to make the food, the servants should offer the servants a mouthful of food as an appreciation for their hard work. The maste could also ask their servants to sit together with them and enjoy the food.
3. To be Provided with the Needs
A master should be attentive of the basic needs of their servants. It’s include providing proper bedding and clothing for the servants. The master can keep valuable things to themselves, but they should also show some generosity by sharing it with the servants. If they don’t want to, at least they should suffice the clothing and bedding of the servants. See also Rights of Minorities in Islam
4. Their Mistakes to be Forgiven
“and do good. Truly, Allah loves Al-Muhsinoon (the good-doers).” (2:195)
A narration from Abdullah ibn Umar told a story about a man who came to the Prophet (peace be upon him). He asked the Prophet how many times he should forgive his servants, to which the Prophet replied:
“Forgive him seventy times each day.” (Abu Dawood)
Thus, to be forgiven by their masters is included in the right of the Prophet.
5. Not to be Given Task Out of Their Ability
Every people has their own endurance in performing certain task. The physical health of a servants should become a consideration for every masters. A master should not burdened a servant by giving task to them that surpassing their ability. Or else, the master is violating the right of a servants. See also Rights of Inheritance in Islam for Women
6. To be Treated As Family
Living in the same house, a servant might as good as a family. Thus, they deserve to be treated as a family member. Servants are equal with their master’s own brother. Masters are obliged to clothed their servants, feed them, and not to be assigned with task that surpassing their ability.
7. Not to be Cursed
Treating servants with kindness means speaking to them in a good manner. Not to be cursed is included in the rights of servants in Islam. As the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
” …do not curse your children and do not curse your servants…” (Abu Dawud)
8. Not to be Hit
An abusive treatment to servants is highly prohibited in Islam. A servant must not be hit by their master.
Aisha (RA) reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
“..he (Prophet Muhammad SAW) never hit a woman nor a servant…” (Muslim)
9. Not to be Abused
Any abusive behavior toward a servant (say it physical, verbal, or sexual) is considered as violating the right of them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself never abuse his servants. See also Rights Of Parents in Islam
Anas (RA) who acted as the servant to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said;
” I served the Prophet for 10 years and he never rebuked me for once.” (Abu Dawud)
10. To be Treated with Respect
Being a subordinate doesn’t mean a servant could be treated all the way we would like to. They are still human and we have to pay respect to them no matter what. Fulfilling their right is also a way to respect them. See also Rights of Stepfather in Islam
Obligations of Servants
Above all their rights, servants also has their own obligation to do. Here are some of their obligations:
- To be Loyal and Faithful
A servants must be loyal and faithful to their masters. Then it will become their blessing.
As related by Abdullah ibn Umar (RA), the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ”
When a slave or servant is faithful to his master and also worships his Creator, he is deserving of a double reward (in the hereafter).”
- Receiving the Kindness from the Master
Receiving a kindness is included in the obligations of a servants. In order for their master to treat them with kindness, a servant should be loyal to their master as mentioned above.
- Doing Their Best in Serving Their Master
Once a servant is committed to serve a master, they should give their best in working for them. Through their hard working, they will be able to gain blessing from Allah SWT and receiving kindness from their masters.
It has made clear what are the rights of servants in Islam. Servants could bring a master many blessing from Allah SWT if they are treated in a right way and their rights are fulfilled. Let us all trying to become a good Muslim by following every command from Allah SWT and sunnah from the Prophet (peace be upon him).