Assalaamu alaikum. I have several questions regarding employing non-Muslims in my business. Let us say that I have a little software company in Canada and that most of my employees are Christians. Do they have to follow Islamic rules given that I own the company?
1. Do I have to force my employees to wear the hijab even though they are not Muslim? What if they come to my office with tight clothing, which their religion allowes them to do? Do I have to force Islamic clothing to them?
2. What should I do if they ask to eat (lunch) during Ramadan in my office?
3. I put a television set and a video games console in my office; are we allowed to play video games together? (note: a man and a woman are in the same room)
4. They usually listen to music on our computer, and since music is allowed for Christians but not in Islam, do I have to forbid them from doing this?
5. Let us say that I want to have a customer service; should I tell them not to shake hands with our non-Mahram (permanently unmarriageable) customers? (note: both my employees and customers are Christians)
Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
We have already stated in several previous fatwas that the non-Muslims are addressed by the branches of the Shariah. An-Nawawi said, “The correct view of most scholars is that the non-Muslims are addressed by the branches of the Shariah, so silk is forbidden for the males amongst them in the same manner that it is forbidden for the Muslim males.”
What is meant by “the non-Muslims are addressed by the branches of the Shariah” is that they will be punished in the Hereafter for contravening them (branches of the Shariah), and not that they are asked to perform them in this worldly life.
Zakariyya Al-Ansaari said in Asna Al-Mataalib, “The original disbeliever (Al-Kaafir Al-Asli, i.e. the one who is originally non Muslim and not the one who is apostate from Islam) is addressed by the branches of the Shariah with an address of punishment in the Hereafter, as he is able to perform them in Islam, and not an address requiring him to perform them in this worldly life, because they are invalid from him.”
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said, “The meaning that they are addressed by them is not that they are obliged to do them while they are still disbelievers (non-Muslims), because we first call them to Islam, and then (only once they accept Islam) we oblige them with its rulings.”
Al-Kawkab Al-Muneer reads, “The conclusion of saying that the non-Muslims are addressed by the branches of Islam is their abundant punishment in the Hereafter, and not that they are required to perform the branches of the religion in this worldly life, and not that they are required to make up for what they had missed of it in the past.”
Therefore, you should know that it is not permissible for you to help them in doing any act of disobedience to Allah; neither by offering them food during Ramadan, nor by enabling them to use the company's equipment to listen to music or by putting anything in the company for them that will help them in disobedience, such as the T.V. and the games where the men and women mix freely, because you are the owner of the company and you are forbidden from helping them with what you possess in sin.
As for eating in Ramadan, then you do not have the right to prevent them from eating, so leave them alone. But you have the right to prevent them from eating openly because this may tempt some of the impious Muslims to eat openly as well.
You are also Islamically obliged to separate between the men's section and the women’s section in the company in order to avoid temptation and prevent mixing. Also, you should prevent the female employees from coming to the company dressed in a way that incites desires as this constitutes harming others. You should oblige them to cover their ‘Awrah (parts of the body that must be covered) as a way of preventing men from being tempted by them.
The scholars stated that the Thimmi women [i.e. the non-Muslim women living under the care of the Muslim state] are ordered to cover their ‘Awrah and not expose their body.
The Fiqh Encyclopedia reads, “The Thimmi woman must cover her ‘Awrah and refrain from being dressed in an indecent manner that could incite temptation, as a way of warding off evil and preserving public morals...”
Allah knows best.
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