Monday, July 12, 2010

South Asian workers--mostly Muslims--face severe hardships while working in Saudi Arabia. Their Arab employers not only mistreat them, but also make them toil under extremely harsh conditions. While implemeting their strict interpretation of Wahabi Islam, the religious establishment in Saudi Arabia has forgotten about the basic humanity inherent in the religion. Islam being a religion in which a Muslim invokes a 'merciful' God many times each day. So, it’s hardly surprising that a thorough reading of Islamic scriptures should throw up this basic fact.

Forcing workers to toil in heat is anti-Islamic: Saudi scholar

Dubai, Jul 12 (PTI) A top Saudi cleric has said that forcing labourers to work in the hot summer sun is forbidden in Islam and contradicts the basic objectives of the Sharia law.
Ali bin Abbas Al Hakami, member of the Board of Senior Ulema and member of the Supreme Judicial Council in Saudi Arabia, denounced those who give scant respect to this basic philosophy of Islamic Sharia and force labourers to toil in oppressive heat.
Thousands of foreign workers, including a large number of Indians, work in Saudi Arabia and neighbouring countries and have been the key component of the construction boom in the region.
Al Hakami said Islam orders everyone to be kind and considerate to labourers who are in the lowest strata of society.
"If a worker is not strong enough to carry out a given task, he should be provided with another worker to help him rather than forcing him to do the work alone," he said in a statement.
According to Al Hakami, the state has issued a regulation banning labourers from being forced to work outdoors in extreme summer temperatures and the law will be implemented next year.
He stressed the necessity for individuals, companies and establishments and all sectors to comply with the directives and implement them.
He said if a worker suffers harm due to working in unsuitable conditions, then he has the right to take his case to a court of law.
If it is proven that the employer had forced the worker to work beyond his capacity or in very high temperatures, then the judge can issue a verdict to compensate the worker. "If a worker's death is due to sunstroke as a result of being forced to work in the hot sun and there is proof of this, then the dead worker’s family can demand blood-money," he said.
Al Hakami said being considerate of labourers and the conditions in which they are forced to work is not restricted to a specific season; it should continue throughout the year.

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