Abu Musa (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "The example of Muslims, Jews, and Christians is like the example of a man who employed laborers to work for him from morning till night for specific wages. They worked till midday and then said: We do not need your money which you have fixed for us and let whatever we have done be annulled. The man said to them: Do not quit the work, but complete the rest of it and take your full wages. But they refused and went away. The man employed another batch after them and said to them: Complete the rest of the day and yours will be the wages I had fixed for the first batch. So, they worked till the time of `Asr Salah. Then they said: Let what we have done be annulled and keep the wages you have promised us for yourself. The man said to them: Complete the rest of the work, as only a little of the day remains, but they refused. Thereafter, he employed another batch to work for the rest of the day and they worked for the rest of the day till the sunset, and they received the wages of the two former batches. So, that was the example of those people (Muslims) and the example of this light (guidance) which they have accepted willingly." (1) In another narration: Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Your example and the example of the people of the two Scriptures (i.e. Jews and Christians) is like the example of a man who employed some laborers and asked them: Who will work for me from morning till midday for one Qirat? The Jews accepted and carried out the work. He then asked, Who will work for me from midday up to the `Asr Salah for one Qirat? The Christians accepted and fulfilled the work. He then said: Who will work for me from the `Asr till sunset for two Qirats? You, Muslims have accepted the offer. The Jews and the Christians got angry and said: Why should we work more and get lesser wages? (Allah) said: Have I with-held part of your right? They replied in the negative. He said: It is My Blessing, I bestow upon whomever I wish."(2)
Explanation of vocabulary (3):
(is like the example of a man) It means your example with your Prophet and example of the People of the Scriptures with their Prophets is like a man who hired some labors.
(and they received the wages of the two former batches) because when their work was null and void, they [the People of the Scriptures] did not deserve their wages, and Muslims worked for the rest of the day for two Qirats, it is as if they had usurped the two Qirats from them and should have been paid for their work, but they were not. Therefore, Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "O you who believe [in Mûsâ (Moses) (i.e. Jews) and 'Isâ (Jesus) (i.e. Christians)]! Fear Allâh, and believe in His Messenger (Muhammad peace be upon him), He will give you a double portion of His Mercy, and He will give you a light by which you shall walk (straight). And He will forgive you. And Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. * So that the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) may know that they have no power whatsoever over the Grace of Allâh, and that (His) Grace is (entirely) in His Hand to bestow it on whomsoever He wills. And Allâh is the Owner of Great Bounty." [Surat Al Hadid: 28 - 29].
Thus, the People of the Scriptures admitted that Muslims did not usurp their wages.
(Qirat) is a coin that is part of Dinar.
Explanation of the Hadith:
The author of `Umdat Al Qary said: The meaning of the Hadith is: This is an example for those to whom Moses (peace be upon him). They had to work their entire life according to his commands and prohibitions, but Allah sent Jesus (peace be upon him) and they had to follow his commands, but they refused and freed themselves from the obligations he imposed on them, whereas others acted according to what Jesus (Peace be upon him) came with. Thereupon, he commanded them to act according to his commands and prohibition for the rest of their life, so they acted until the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was sent and called them to follow him, but they refused and disobeyed. Accordingly, Allah granted Muslims the opportunity to act according to what the Prophet came with and shall continue to do that until the establish of the Hour, so they shall have the reward of those who have worshiped Allah their entire life, so it is like completing the entire work for which the first group was hired. It was reported in the Hadith of Ibn `Umar that Allah fixed for Jews the period for their actions and they should have their reward until Allah abrogated their legislation with the legislation of Jesus (peace be upon him) and when He sent Jesus, He said: Who will abide by his legislation until the end of its period for a Qirat? Christians believed until their legislation was abrogated by the mission of Muhammad (peace be upon him). Then out of His Bounty He said: Who shall work for the rest of the day until the night (the time of Muhammad's mission until the establish of the Hour) for two Qirats? Thereupon, Muslims said: We shall work to the end of time. So, whoever worked from the Jews who believed in Jesus (peace be upon him) and acted according to his legislation shall have a double reward. Likewise the Christians if they believe in Muhammad (peace be upon him) as was reported in the Hadith, a person believed in his Prophet then believed in me; such people shall have a double reward. (4)
You may say that the Hadith of Abu Musa indicated that both groups had not taken anything, but as for the Hadith of Ibn `Umar, it indicated that both groups took a Qirat. I say: This ruling was applied to the people who died before abrogation, but this ruling is for those who distorted or disbelieved in the Prophet who was sent after their own Prophet. (5)
Lessons gained from the Hadith:
1- The Hadith is a proof for Ahl As-Sunnah (people who adhere to the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him)) that the reward of Allah is out of His Bounty and Benevolence.
2- The excellence of this nation over other nations by giving it much reward despite their few actions. Moreover, it is the best and the perfect nation because of its belief in the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Prophets who were before him. Allah (Glory be to Him) gave this nation preference because of its Prophet, the perfection of its legislation, and it shall witness over other nations.
3- A Muslim should feel the great bounty of Allah upon the entire nation and the great favors He has bestowed upon us; we work little but are rewarded much, thanks to Allah.
4- The Hadith is a proof that the person who is hired to do a job but does not complete it deserves no wage.
5- The Hadith contains a proof for the short period of Muslims in compare to the periods of other nations.
6- The permissibility of hiring someone for a fixed period to do a certain work.
(1) Sahih Al Bukhari No. (2271).
(2) Sahih Al Bukhari No. (2268).
(3) See: Fathul-Bary of Ibn Hajar 4/ 446.
(4) Reported by At-Tirmidhy 4/ 420, and Al Albany graded it as authentic in Sahih Sunan At-Tirmidhy 3/116.
(5) See: `Umdat Al Qary 5/ 54.