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Pay Labour Day homage to those who fought injustice

Strong tradition: the Labour Day Parade (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Why celebrate Labour Day? What significance does celebrating Labour Day have? Whom do we celebrate and why?

For starters, without a labour force a country would suffer immensely; imagine if no one laboured or worked, what a disastrous state the world would be in or worse still, if workers were as a norm ill treated, overworked and underpaid.

Believe me, it was a time like this that did exist and had it not been for the bravery and determination of our forefathers it probably would still exist. Therefore, it’s only right that we who enjoy the fruits of our forefathers’ labour should honour and celebrate them and their efforts.

It was not easy to arrive where we are today. Workers were usually badly treated, exploited and overall disrespected. It took the insight, unity, bravery and courage of our forefathers to demand better working conditions, fair pay, realistic working hours and justice in the workforce for all.

Working conditions were mostly deplorable and unfair. I’m not quite sure which countries started to fight back against such atrocities (that can be your homework to research) but workers worldwide began to demand change from the appalling ethos that existed globally prior to the late 19th century.

The workers fought for better working conditions, fair wages and fewer working hours. Unions were formed to be the watchdog and voice of the working class people to protect them from exploitation and injustices.

Hence Labour Day is celebrated worldwide, although different countries celebrate at different times, to raise awareness of the rights of the working class people. The celebration is also a reminder of the value and significance of the role we play as working class men and women for the success of a respected and thriving society.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) always insisted upon working hard. He is reported to have said: “One who works is the friend of Allah, and one who does not work is considered by Allah, to be His enemy.”

A basic human right is for one to be able to sustain themselves and their families. In return for a good day’s work is a good day’s pay which in these times is money.

There was a time when bartering was the norm and to me that was a wonderful concept. If my neighbour had milking cows and I had vegetables and wheat, we could exchange and both of our needs would be supplied.

Have you ever wondered why the word “exchange” is used by the financial lords, for example the New York Stock Exchange and the Bermuda Stock Exchange? Indeed, bartering was good.

However, fast-track to the 21st century where money is the order of the day and where one has to work to earn their keep or livelihood. Therefore, working conditions need to be right and proper as we all need to work. And for our overall wellbeing, as well as our mental health, working conditions need to be fair and just.

Celebrating Labour Day is an important reminder of what we need to be grateful for.

The Koran instructs Muslims to persistently work whenever and wherever it is available: “disperse through the land and seek of the bounty of God” (Koran, 62:10) and “God hath permitted trade and forbidden usury” (2:275).

In Islam, labour is considered a virtuous deed and obligatory upon all able-bodied persons in society. Man has many needs to fulfil: food, water, clothing, shelter, medicine, education, etc. And since he is required to fulfil these needs for himself and his family through lawful means, he is obliged to work.

Islam holds labour in high esteem, honours workers and considers them producers of a good society. Islam considers labour an honour which deserves to be treated with appreciation, respect and dignity.

Bermuda have a blessed and peaceful Labour Day, paying homage to those who valiantly fought for the rights and protection from injustices that we enjoy today.

As salaam alaikum.

Linda Walia Ming is a member of the Bermuda Hijab Dawah Team, a group of Muslim women who reside in Bermuda and have a goal of educating the community about the religion of Islam

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Published September 02, 2023 at 7:58 am (Updated September 02, 2023 at 8:21 am)

Pay Labour Day homage to those who fought injustice

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