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mnh78614

Working At Staples?

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Asalaamun Alaikum brothers and sisters,

So I recently started working at Staples (very large office supply store in the US and I believe Canada). I am hired as an easy tech associate, but I also help customers find office supplies and ring people up at the cash register. I recently found out that Soda Stream is being sold at Staples (their HQ is in Tel Aviv, Israel) and they sell this thing called "Bacon Bowl" in the As seen on TV section. I also found out that they sell Beef Jerky. Since I also do check out (which I must if it is needed which is pretty much everytime I work). Is it permissible for me to work here? 

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(salam)

 

Some rulings of Ayatullah Syed Sistani that might help you determine your responsibility in this situation as far as dealing with bacon or beef jerky is concerned. Pork and alcohol have specific rulings of their own and the general ruling is that it is not allowed to deal with them at all in any way whatsoever.

 

It is not permissible for a Muslim to sell pork to those who believe it is lawful for them among the Christians and others. Based on obligatory precaution, one should not even serve that meat to them.

 

Question: Is it permissible for a Muslim to sell pork to those who believe it is permissible for them like the Ahlul Kitãb?

Answer: It is not permissible to deal in pork at all.

 

Question: Is it permissible to work at a store that sells pork in the sense that the Muslim supervisor asks one of his employees to give pork to the customer?

Answer: It is not permissible to sell pork, even to those who consider it lawful, be it directly or through an intermediary. As for handling pork for those who consider it lawful, there is problem in it; however, based on obligatory precaution, one should refrain from it.

 

Question: A Muslim calligrapher is approached for preparing a billboard promoting intoxicanting drinks, or for an all-night dace party, or for a restaurant that serves pork. Is it permissible for him to accept these jobs?

Answer: It is not permissible because it involves advertising indecent acts and promoting immorality.

 

Question: A person works in a restaurant in which he might be required to serve meat that is not halãl or pork to non-Muslims. You have kindly answered the first situation; but the question remains with regard to the second situation that involves serving pork alongside the meat that is not halãl. Is this allowed? If he refuses to serve pork, he might lose his job and be fired.

Answer: Serving pork even to those who consider it lawful is a problem; and based on obligatory precaution, it must be avoided.

 

Question: A printer in the West prints the menus of restaurants. Such menus include pork. Is this allowed? Is he allowed to print the advertisements for pubs and establishments that provide forbidden entertainment knowing well that his business will be affected, if he does not print these kinds of materials?

Answer: It is not permissible for him to do that even if it affects his business.

 

Question: Is it permissible to work in a store or company that sells pork?

Answer: If you are not carrying, selling or delivering pork to customers, there would be no objection to your job.

 

Not sure about what the ruling on dealing with Soda Stream would be.

 

Wassalam

Edited by Ibn al-Hussain

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^So what's the ruling about residing in a country whose government provides direct subsidies to farmers, including those raising hogs? If you're living in the province of Ontario, that becomes even worse because the provincial government is directly involved in gambling (OLGC) and the selling of alcohol (LCBO, Beer Store)?

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^So what's the ruling about residing in a country whose government provides direct subsidies to farmers, including those raising hogs? If you're living in the province of Ontario, that becomes even worse because the provincial government is directly involved in gambling (OLGC) and the selling of alcohol (LCBO, Beer Store)?

really? o.0

couldn't they find something else?

what's next? prostitution?

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^So what's the ruling about residing in a country whose government provides direct subsidies to farmers, including those raising hogs? If you're living in the province of Ontario, that becomes even worse because the provincial government is directly involved in gambling (OLGC) and the selling of alcohol (LCBO, Beer Store)?

 

I don't think it really applies, because citizens are "not carrying, selling or delivering" it.  And governments unfortunately do far worse things anyway, but we don't get much choice in it.

 

 

re: directly involved in gambling

really? o.0

couldn't they find something else?

what's next? prostitution?

 

Well, it's direct in the sense that the province owns the lottery corporation and appoints its board of directors and overall mandate... but then I think the board would hire the CEO and other executives who then run it, so it's kind of indirect that way.

 

 

But most (if not all) US states and Canadian provinces create independent corporations like that to run their lotteries.  I think the reasoning is that people are going to gamble anyway, so it's better handled through the government, such that it's done without corruption (otherwise people would probably gamble through organized crime gangs like the mafia) and with the profits flowing to cover government costs like healthcare.

 

A common joke is that lotteries are a tax on people who are bad at math  :P  ...because the odds are that you'll lose money.

Edited by Bright

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The rulings Ibn Al-Hussain looked-up are useful, but OP's situation has a lot of nuances:

 

 

1) I wouldn't have even thought that Staples sold items like beef jerky.  But I suppose it might be an impulse buy that people pick-up at the checkout.  Even so, I would guess that for every $100,000 in sales, the proportion of items like the "Bacon Bowl" would only be $1. 

 

So that's a lot different than say, working at a restaurant, where every third meal might have a pork product.

 

One could argue that a drop of blood in a bucket of water will contaminate it, but to me, the proportion of pork sales at Staples is more like a drop in a pond/lake.

 

 

 

2) It could be argued that a cashier is simply there to take the customer's money and give a receipt, especially at a huge company like Staples.  With products like the ones you cited, the customer would probably bring it up to the counter, you take their money & give them a receipt, and you could just give them a bag so they would bag it themselves.  So you wouldn't even touch the item.

 

In that sense, the cashier has less to do with the item than the stock-clerk who put in on the shelves.  Or the workers at Staples headquarters who put-in the order from the supplier, or who paid the invoice.

 

And the cashier only has slightly more to do with the item than the staffer who unlocked the entrance in the morning so the customer could walk in.

 

Basically, the customer experience is a team effort... at Staples, it's a pretty huge team, and the cashier is a small part of it.

 

 

 

3) mnh78614's regular job isn't as a cashier... s/he only fills-in when needed, although it apparently happens every shift (but maybe only for like 10% of the overall shift time?).

 

 

 

 

So with these nuances, it's just a lot different than the above rulings.  Like ruling #1 above, that make sense so that a meatshop owner doesn't decide to sell pork too, just for his non-Muslim customers.  

 

Personally, I would have more concern with a lot of other types of jobs, but that's just my opinion.

 

 

As for practical advice, with your Easy Tech experience, maybe you could get a job instead with a company like Best Buy?

Edited by Bright

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^Bright, may be it's just me that finds OP's question rather silly and the response to it even sillier. If you go with the logic of the answers provided, that basically rules out the OP from working at a grocery store, department store, convenience store, restaurant, etc.

 

May be we should use common sense a little bit more than we do? Not everything requires the sage advice of a marja. It's a basic job at Staples--an office supplies store--not a in narcotics running or a strip club.

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Yeah, I have a similar viewpoint... personally, I don't believe in the "usual type" of taqleed, because there are too many nuances in life that can't be answered with a one-sentence answer (and I think it also results in people doing stuff that "doesn't pass the smell test", just because it's not listed as haram within a marja's rulings... or they make weird extrapolations by twisting rulings, instead of remembering basic principles).

 

I prefer taqleed in a sense of seeing what marjas say, and then doing what I feel is best, considering the overall context of the situation.

 

But I know lots of people do taqleed in the traditional way (and I think on average, it may be better that way for most people as long as they still also try to include their own internal compass), so I did my reply in an academic way to make my points about the nuances of the issue.

Edited by Bright

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The list of fatwas that Ibn Al-Hussein posted are, I think, misleading. Though I'm sure he meant well in posting them. I think you have to look at the 'urf, the general perception of what sort of store Bureau en Gros / Staples is. You ask someone on the street, and they will say it sells office supplies, school supplies, computers, tablets, office furniture, and printing/scanning/fax service.

In one little corner of one aisle they sell some junk food items.

That doesn't mean you apply rulings about grocery markets or butcher shops.

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(salam)

 
I have heard personally from at least one senior scholar, that if you are doing a cashier job and if a customer purchases alcohol or pork related products, it is not permissible for you to deal with it (i.e. even scanning them is not permissible, or telling a customer in which aisle the pork or alcohol product is located - you are supposed to literally have nothing to do with it). I don't know whose ruling he was giving and if any jurists differ on this or not and if so then how much, but assuming that they don't, it still makes good sense. Why would it be allowed (to deal with it in this scenario) and why would the ruling differ if the product is being sold at a grocery store or at Staples or at Future Shop or wherever or if you happen to scan one bacon product every three days versus working at a place where you have to scan such products every 5 minutes. After reading all the rulings, my personal observation is that I don't think they have anything to do with where one is working, but rather what work they are doing, so not sure if the argument of Urf will be valid.
 
Maybe a new - more specific to this scenario - question should be sent to the office of the jurists if one feels that this case might be any different.
 

May be we should use common sense a little bit more than we do? 

 
You have mentioned common sense a few times on this thread. Please enlighten us with what your common sense is suggesting you would do and why? No one said its not permissible to work at Staples in it of itself. The question is about dealing with the products the OP mentioned, that Staples just happens to sell.
 
If you go with the logic of the answers provided, that basically rules out the OP from working at a grocery store, department store, convenience store, restaurant, etc.
 
While I believe your statement is an exaggeration, but if it truly has to come down to that, then be it. 
 
[4:97] Surely (as for) those whom the angels cause to die while they are unjust to their souls, they shall say: In what state were you? They shall say: We were weak in the earth. They shall say: Was not Allah's earth spacious, so that you should have migrated therein? So these it is whose abode is hell, and it is an evil resort
 
Wassalam
Edited by Ibn al-Hussain

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:rolleyes:

Everyone knows Islam is all about making the life of Muslims difficult, right? No? Well then maybe common sense should apply.

Sometimes I design churches and Christian schools. Once I designed a Christian youth camp. It didn't damage my faith at all. As long as no Muslims are harmed by the store where you work selling "bacon bowls" and it doesn't damage the image of Islam, you're fine.

No offense intended to those who interpret things differently. I bet they all have so much money they never worry about a job, or people take care of them.

You have to do what must be done. Being a leech upon society is far worse than selling an occasional slab of processed pork to an unbeliever who wants it.

Edited by notme

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(salam) After reading all the rulings, my personal observation is that I don't think they have anything to do with where one is working, but rather what work they are doing, so not sure if the argument of Urf will be valid.

 
 

I don't believe that urf can be applied. best bet will be on necessity to live.

:rolleyes:

Everyone knows Islam is all about making the life of Muslims difficult, right? No? Well then maybe common sense should apply.

Sometimes I design churches and Christian schools. Once I designed a Christian youth camp. It didn't damage my faith at all. As long as no Muslims are harmed by the store where you work selling "bacon bowls" and it doesn't damage the image of Islam, you're fine.

No offense intended to those who interpret things differently. I bet they all have so much money they never worry about a job, or people take care of them.

You have to do what must be done. Being a leech upon society is far worse than selling an occasional slab of processed pork to an unbeliever who wants it.

building a church is one thing and building an xxxx related space is totally another thing. 

Wine and pork in Islam are as bad as XXX related things.

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:rolleyes:

Everyone knows Islam is all about making the life of Muslims difficult, right? No? Well then maybe common sense should apply.

Sometimes I design churches and Christian schools. Once I designed a Christian youth camp. It didn't damage my faith at all. As long as no Muslims are harmed by the store where you work selling "bacon bowls" and it doesn't damage the image of Islam, you're fine.

No offense intended to those who interpret things differently. I bet they all have so much money they never worry about a job, or people take care of them.

You have to do what must be done. Being a leech upon society is far worse than selling an occasional slab of processed pork to an unbeliever who wants it.

 

This is all nice and makes a lot of sense indeed but then what do you propose we would do with all the scholars and their free time if they are exempt from spending thousands of hours coming up with all these rulings?

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This is all nice and makes a lot of sense indeed but then what do you propose we would do with all the scholars and their free time if they are exempt from spending thousands of hours coming up with all these rulings?

We need scholars. I do not wish to disrespect any of them. Their rulings would be more relevant to our lives if they lived lives like ours. Which of our Shia scholars has ever been homeless? Had to go hungry because they couldn't afford food? Which one has had to make their family suffer in order to do what is right, and which has done what is not "halal" in order to preserve and protect their families?

The Quran specifically admonishes against blind following. We need leaders. We need scholars who study Hadith. We also need to think. Islam is not a religion for the mindless.

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We need scholars. I do not wish to disrespect any of them. Their rulings would be more relevant to our lives if they lived lives like ours. Which of our Shia scholars has ever been homeless? Had to go hungry because they couldn't afford food? Which one has had to make their family suffer in order to do what is right, and which has done what is not "halal" in order to preserve and protect their families?

The Quran specifically admonishes against blind following. We need leaders. We need scholars who study Hadith. We also need to think. Islam is not a religion for the mindless.

This is unfair.

In Islam, many things are pardoned when a person feels cornered to near death ( due to immanent three t or due to poverty). Poverty itself can pardon a boy who stole money to get his young sister a medicine or who stole food for him and his family.

In Islam, a fornicator woman who did it to earn some money because she was crushed by the need was pardoned.

It is though not the job of the scholars to judge. Their duty is to show the rulings. Often times you will read their verdict as : If the mukallaf ( the one who asked and is responsible for his actions) estimated one thing as level a or level b then he should act upon that level) meaning, it is often that the jurist will leave it upon the person to estimate and consider what's the correct way to go about their own lives.

But because some people may face very harsh situations, this dose not mean that the scholar should change the ruling. He simply states what's in Quran and Hadith. That's what he dose in his free time and that\s what we all expect from them to tell us: what dose Quran and Hadith say.

Otherwise, we can sit here and mock our  prophet as well, for bringing to us a silly religion.

 

Leaders! I can't disagree there. Your -community- in the west is hardly existing as one. It is hard to lead a phantom.

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^ agree wholeheartedly. As I said, I mean no disrespect to our scholars. My issue is with people who only see things in black and white, and usually those people have never been in a difficult situation. Obviously if the OP feels uncomfortable with the job, he should look for a different one. But if he needs a job - jobs are still very hard to find - who are any of us to tell him he must quit because the company he works for (not him personally) sells pork products?

Are we also not allowed to work where products containing gelatin (another pork product) are sold? That would rule out most of retail, the only jobs typically available to the young, inexperienced, or uneducated.

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(salam)

 

No offense intended to those who interpret things differently. I bet they all have so much money they never worry about a job, or people take care of them.

 

Their rulings would be more relevant to our lives if they lived lives like ours. Which of our Shia scholars has ever been homeless? Had to go hungry because they couldn't afford food? Which one has had to make their family suffer in order to do what is right, and which has done what is not "halal" in order to preserve and protect their families?

 

I'm sorry to say, but these two statements were highly ignorant and I can't believe you made such statements. Either you have no idea about the lives of many of the scholars and students and the hardships they have had to go through or go through even today or for some reason you think the difficulties aren't "hard enough". I can literally write paragraphs after paragraphs about the different types of hardships a lot of them have had to go through, through out history.

 

I have seen students with families personally who literally have to fast almost every last 10 days of every month because they run out of the monthly stipend that is received and so that they have enough food to feed their children. There are stories of scholars having to leave their homes in the darkness of the night in extreme desperate situations to find food and to eat the remains that people have thrown in the garbage such as the remains off the skin of watermelons. Or having duroos in a 1-room house which the scholar has to divide up by lifting his bed up, placing a curtain and having his wife and children behind them while he teaches a class to a few students of his. You try living with your newly married wife in a plastic tent placed in the living room of a friend's house for a few months. The stories (and they aren't made up stories - we have the names of many of these individuals available to us) are endless to be honest. 

 

Homelessness (i.e. literally living on the streets) is an extreme example, and I highly doubt that this brother's situation is tantamount to that. I highly doubt that if he has to leave his job at Staples, it will render him homeless while he looks for another job. People, at least young people, generally have families to support them. Just because a scholar hasn't had to go through that specifically, because there are people who might be able to help them out or they have families who can support them, doesn't mean they don't have to go through hardship of any other kind. 

 

Are we also not allowed to work where products containing gelatin (another pork product) are sold? That would rule out most of retail, the only jobs typically available to the young, inexperienced, or uneducated.

 

It can be argued (and is argued) that gelatin is fine to sell and even eat, since it goes through a process of istihala. From one famous example that is usually cited after an individual did some research almost 2 decades ago, he discovered that at least in the USA gelatin is not even managed under the Meat department, rather under the Federal Food and Drug Administration department.

 

That being said, like in any other situation, when the principle of extreme hardship is applied it is possible that such a job may become allowed (where you are allowed to deal with alcohol or pork) - but I haven't read a ruling on this, I'm simply assuming it would be the case like in almost every other situation. The rulings that are provided by the jurists are not relying on that principle. They are giving the general ruling and the individual has to decide where his or her situation is that of an "extreme hardship". If one is true to themselves, most of the times it isn't.

 

Wassalam

Edited by Ibn al-Hussain

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(salam)

Another thing I want to mention is that, while I personally know individuals who quit their jobs (such as at Tim Hortons or NoFrills) after learning this ruling, they were able to find other entry-level jobs such as working at clothing, electronic stores, paid internships etc. with a little bit of struggle and effort. The malls are also filled with stores and one can always try their luck there. While I understand jobs are hard to come by today, we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the Help of Allah [swt] and become so hopeless. Also, maybe this may not be a feasible thing to do at a retail or grocery store, but in higher positions in professional companies you are (or should be) able to influence your work tasks. My job was one where I had to deal and manage literally dozens of clients and businesses, but anytime a client that was purely an alcoholic business was given to me I adamantly rejected working on it and informed my manager(s) of my reservations. Also restaurants or cafes that I would work with, if there were any alcoholic or pork related products, I would explicitly refuse to do any work (advertising related) for those specific products. My company seniors would clearly be annoyed, but why should we feel embarrassed to explain ourselves or be compelled to do such work. Work in any profession in such a way that the company begins to depend on you, and then you can make your demands met. Firing and re-hiring is a costly and time consuming process for many large professional companies and even many smaller companies (especially start-ups). It isn't something they are willing to do so easily especially if the person who is working for them is talented. They will make exceptions for you, and this has been my personal experience while working in multiple companies - from start ups to large organizations (my last official full-time job was at the headquarters of CAA in Thornhill, GTA). At my first ever job in Downtown Toronto - an internship - I was asked to do some very trivial work on the side for a pornography client (as one of the few clients I would have to deal with and would have actually required me to watch or see nothing obscene). Despite being a fresh graduate and relatively desperate for a little money, while the interest on the OSAP kept piling on and after spending months looking for something that paid anything, I respectfully refused to work on it citing very clear religious reasons. They were a bit taken back and even laughed a bit (because who practices religion or who doesn't watch porn now a days?), but were fine with it at the end. Of course my personal experience doesn't mean everyone has it this straight-forward, but the point here is that many of us don't even try to speak up and get scared at the mere thought of having to do something that the religion says, yet is contradictory to what our work expects us to do. I have seen Muslims in the work industry belittle themselves like this too many times. If someone wants to sell their iman for a few bacon strips under no real hardship, then be it, but don't try to justify it with arguments that have no backbone.

 

Wassalam

Edited by Ibn al-Hussain

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Christians ask for exemptions all the time - and they get it... Jehovah Witnesses, and other Christian groups can ask (and are more often than not granted) exemption from taking the oath of allegiance ... in sates where that may be require for state/public employment.  Muslims have not bothered to assert ourselves, and in fact, groups like CAIR/MPAC and other such American Muslim types encourage assimilation, so they are not into rocking the boat, unless something totally egregious. 

 

Our Shi'a marjayya are not living in some stately mansions, they are not like Catholic bishops etc, the Shi'a marja  are fully in touch with the reality of the people, however, they may not be directly in touch with people outside of their region. 

Edited by skylight2

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Look, I'm not eloquent - I'm an engineer, I'm not supposed to be. I am not arguing against the ruling of any scholar. I am arguing against people like us, people like me, making judgements about the OP's situation without full knowledge. Sure, he might only want not need the job, but it seems arrogant to make that assumption. Most people work because they must, not because they like to. The least we can do is state the full ruling: quote the fatwas, and add that, as always, in cases of extreme hardship exceptions can be made and each situation is up to the individual to judge for himself. As I have said many times, Islam is a religion for thinkers, not mindless followers.

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(salam)

 

I am arguing against people like us, people like me, making judgements about the OP's situation without full knowledge. Sure, he might only want not need the job, but it seems arrogant to make that assumption.

 

Fair enough, but as far as I can see, no one made any assumptions or judgement about the OP on this thread (about him wanting the job and not needing it). Which is why I'm not sure why some people were going off on a tangent implying that he doesn't have any common sense or that he isn't using it - which is down right insulting especially for someone who was making their first ever post, a great welcome to the forum.

 

Alhamdolillah that he at least had some conscious (and common sense) to realize that there may be an issue at work (what some might be passing it off as trivial on this thread, but he was good and sincere enough to notice it regardless), and so he asked for the rulings. I think the relevant rulings were given. It is up to him now what he wants to do with it or what he understood from the rulings. My reactionary response was regarding - what seemed to me like - the justification of an act that the rulings were considering to be prohibited, without even bringing it under the pretext of extreme hardship or difficulty and just passing it off permissible because it is trivial.

 

Wassalam

Edited by Ibn al-Hussain

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To the OP:

By "Bacon Bowl," are you talking about this thing? http://www.perfectbacon.ca/

 

Facepalm.

It obviously doesn't even contain bacon. It's a plastic mold. 

 

Awesome. We were getting trolled all along.

 

Ibn Hussein - that still doesn't let you off the hook for trying to get someone to quit a job with blatantly out of context fatwas. 

Thumbs down, man.

Edited by kadhim

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(salam)

I wholeheartedly agree with Ibn al-Hussain on this. Just because an issue seems to be trivial doesn't give us the right to pass it off as justifiable.

One's sincerity to follow Allah's (s.w.t) should not be swept under the "lack of common sense" rug.

Jazakallah brother Ibn al-Hussain for taking the effort to post the rulings for our guidance and the explanations that followed them.

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Lmao, I sell non halal groceries, pork items, and sell lots of lotto/lottery. I'm in trouble! But so are the other, perhaps hundreds, of brothers that work at gas stations...mmmm quite the dilemma, pay rent or go to hell? I'll go to hell.

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Guest silasun

Brother... do not do this. It is haraam. Allah says in the quran he will provide for u if u trust him. And that he never makes anythig wajib but that u can fulfill it. If u love god then stop selling these haraam products. Never listen to satan- if u really are truthful to self, u will know that can find a job elsewhere. So have tawakkul in Allah, seek Allahd forgiveness and learn how to purify the wealth u earned by consulting those learned in fiqh.

ws

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Brother... do not do this. It is haraam. Allah says in the quran he will provide for u if u trust him. And that he never makes anythig wajib but that u can fulfill it. If u love god then stop selling these haraam products. Never listen to satan- if u really are truthful to self, u will know that can find a job elsewhere. So have tawakkul in Allah, seek Allahd forgiveness and learn how to purify the wealth u earned by consulting those learned in fiqh.

ws

Thanks for the heads up but you don't understand. Edited by kbsquare

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