Answered by Ustadh Faraz A. Khan
Question: I was being paid to work at a boat launch to educate people about invasive species in the lakes by going through a survey with them. Some days, I did not work there, and my mother filled in for me as a substitute. She put the hours that she worked onto my time sheet. Is it permissible for me to take money for the hours that my mom worked? She informed one of the directors that she would be filling in for me. However, she did not explicitly tell them that she would put the hours that she worked onto my time sheet.
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I pray this reaches you in the best of health and faith.
You should inform the director of what happened and leave the matter to him. It seems that his approval of her filling in for you was implicit approval of counting those hours as your work, yet you should confirm nevertheless, as clarity is best in financial transactions.
Being Honest in One’s Financial Transactions
It is rigorously-authenticated (sahih) that our Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) stated the following when describing sales, “So if the two parties are honest and clear, then they will find blessing in their sale; yet if they conceal [aspects of the sale item or payment] and are dishonest, the blessing of their sale will be effaced.” [Bukhari, Muslim]
This prophetic narration, although dealing specifically with the sale contract, serves as a general principle for all types of financial transactions, including the lease or hiring contract between employer and employee. Transactions should be clear and transparent, and both parties should be fully honest therein. As the hadith states, such conduct is the key to open the door of Allah’s blessing (baraka) in the transaction, while dishonesty and concealment lead to its absence. Hence, one should exercise caution in making sure there is clarity, yet do so in a balanced manner without being excessive. With respect to your question specifically, this is why the director’s approval should be sought.
Excellence in One’s Dealings
Another general principle of financial transactions is maintaining excellence in one’s dealings. Our entire religion is based on excellence (ihsan or itqan), a virtue which informs the believer’s behavior in private and public, both with His Creator and with all of creation. Allah Most High repeatedly praises the people of excellence (muhsinin) in the Qur’an, and our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “Verily Allah loves, when one of you engages in a task, that he do so with excellence and perfection” [Tabarani/Awsat, Bayhaqi/Shuab] as well as “Indeed, Allah has enjoined excellence in all matters” [Muslim, Tirmidhi].
Contracts are binding obligations that deal with the financial rights of others, and therefore one should strive not merely to fulfill those rights, but to do so with excellence. If one keeps this virtue in mind when engaging in financial transactions, one will find much blessing therein, whereby one’s dealings serve not only as a means of fulfilling needs, but also as a means for attaining unto Allah’s good pleasure.
And Allah alone gives success.
Faraz A. Khan
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani
Faraz A. Khan has lived in Amman, Jordan, for several years studying and teaching traditional Islamic sciences, with a focus on Hanafi jurisprudence, hadith studies, theology, logic, and Arabic grammar. He translated and annotated the classical Hanafi primer “Ascent to Felicity” (Maraqi ‘l-Sa`adat) by Imam Shurunbulali, recently published by White Thread Press.