In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Grantor of Mercy
All praise is for Allah. We praise Him, we seek His aid and we ask for His forgiveness. We seek Allah’s refuge from the evils of ourselves and from our evil actions. Whosoever Allah guides, there is no one who can misguide him; and whosoever Allah misguides, there is no one who can guide him.
I testify that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, alone, who has no partner; and I testify that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is His slave and Messenger.
Dear brothers and sisters! Begging in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and in our country, Nigeria has become a lucrative pastime and even the least entrepreneurial can rake in a monthly income of about $15,000 and N50,000 respectively.
Beggars can be seen all over oil-rich Saudi Arabia, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.
A recent study revealed that many beggars are either Umrah or Hajj visa over-stayers or undocumented workers who illegally cross into the Kingdom.
Begging is strictly banned in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf oil producers. A large number of beggars, mostly foreigners, have been arrested and deported by these countries.
It is forbidden to beg in any form and for whatever reasons. Violators will be arrested and legal action will be taken against them according to the law. The regulations state that if the beggar happens to be a citizen of the Kingdom and arrested for the first time, he will be handed over to the competent authorities for medical and psychological examination, checks on his marital status, and taking the necessary measures to remedy his case and handing him over to his family if he is a minor. If the beggar is a foreigner, he will be arrested immediately and will undergo investigation in order to take necessary measures to deport him from the Kingdom.
Dear brothers and sisters! The Religion of Islam puts great emphasis on making effort and earning one’s own living rather than going out to ask others for it for no reason. It also devises a well balanced Muslim society for all where everyone gets its due share. Those who are rich are directed to help out others in need through an obligatory action of Zakah (Charity). Allah the Almighty says in the Noble Qur’an:
“And from their properties was [given] the right of the [needy] petitioner and the deprived.”
The above mentioned Qur’anic verse tells us about the great standing of believers who have enough wealth in the worldly life and those who take care of the disadvantaged people through it. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has described the condition of actual poor people in the following words.
Narrated Abu Hurairah (RA) that:
“The poor person is not the one who goes round the people (begging them) and is dismissed with one or two morsels, and one or two dates. The poor is that who has not enough (money) to satisfy his needs; his condition is not known to others that they may give him something in charity, nor does he beg of people.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
This Saying of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) clearly explains the true state of a poor person. The concept of poverty in the Religion of Islam depends upon the fact that how much less one owns in order to suit its daily life necessities. A deprived individual is the one who does not make his current situation of scarcity public in front of others and avoids pleading for fulfillment of his requirement from others.
Respected brothers and sisters! In order to further elaborate this delicate matter of begging in Islam, let us explain it further in the light of Qur’an and Sunnah:
* Self-Contentment Defying the Act of Imploring
Among many signs of a true believer is that he never complains in front of the Almighty Lord, he remains thankful to Him and always maintains a state of self-satisfaction with whatever he has got. This is because a rightful disciple of Islam knows about the temporariness of life on earth which leads to its contentment with everything Allah has bestowed upon it throughout its existence. The Gracious Allah says in His Sacred Scripture:
“[Charity is] for the poor who have been restricted for the cause of Allah, unable to move about in the land. An ignorant [person] would think them self-sufficient because of their restraint, but you will know them by their [characteristic] sign. They do not ask people persistently [or at all]. And whatever you spend of good – indeed, Allah is Knowing of it.” [Qur’an, 2: 273]
One can obviously observe from the previously stated Qur’anic lines in which the Creator of the universe appreciates those of His servants who do not go out and ask others for their needs because of their self-restraint and being gratified with all they have. For these kinds of people, Allah the Most High has instructed the prosperous ones to help them with Zakah as they will conceal their misery through patience but they are the ones who actually in need of Charity.
* Accepting Goods Given As A Gift
It is clear from the earlier discussion that the believers do not publicly announce about their position of despair in front of others so that they could get aided; instead they keep it between them and their Creator. But it is also not advisable to refuse any offer from someone else who gives it as a present to them. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) once advised His Rightful Companion, Khalifah Umar (RA) on this matter as discussed in the Hadith below:
“The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) gave Umar Ibn Al-Khattab some gift. Umar said to him: ‘Messenger of Allah! Give it to one who needs it more than I.’ Upon this the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said: He who begs the riches of others to increase his own is asking only for live coals (fire), so let him ask a little or much ‘‘Take it; either keep it with you or give it as a charity, and whatever comes to you in the form of this type of wealth, without your being avaricious or begging for it, accept it, but in other circumstances do not let your heart hanker after it.’’ [Muslim]
Thus, the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) permitted with the approval of the Almighty Lord to accept anything beneficial that is being given voluntarily without one having to ask for it. One is also not allowed to crave for something that is not being awarded to it as it will be considered as an act of begging under normal circumstances.
* Correct Way of Treating Beggars
Islam has strictly forbidden from asking others for money or any other riches rather one has to earn its income by its own effort. According to a Prophetic Saying narrated by Abu Hurairah (RA):
“It is better for one among you to bring a load of firewood on his back and give charity out of it (and satisfy his own need) and be independent of people, than that he should beg from people, whether they give him anything or refuse him. Verily the upper hand is better than the lower hand, and begin (charity) with your dependants.” [Muslim]
Therefore, anyone who has enough capacity that he can take care of his own issues should never ask others for affluence rather he should go out, become self-determining and make a living on his own so that he might even be able to aid others. In the end, the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) has regarded the charitable person being superior to the one that is being contributed. It means one should continue the good work of making donations to the poor for the sake of pleasing the Almighty Lord. Allah the Most High says in the Noble Qur’an:
“So as for the orphan, do not oppress [him]. And as for the petitioner, do not repel [him].” [Qur’an, 93: 9-10]
It shows that a believer is not allowed to keep away someone just because that person is asking for a favour. This is because one does not actually know about the actual reason of the beggar behind his request. Thus, one should treat them in a pleasant manner, give them charity and avoid from offending them.
* Permissibility Of Begging Under Special Conditions
Asking for material goods from the rich is not allowable if this act is being done just for the sake of accumulating wealth for personal gains. This kind of deed is strictly prohibited by the Noble Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) for it is only a source of collecting money for quenching one’s thirst of greed.
“He who begs the riches of others to increase his own is asking only for live coals (fire), so let him ask a little or much.” [Muslim]
The above mentioned Hadith eloquently explains about the serious consequences of asking for one’s self-indulgence in materialistic increase. But not every person is asking for something deliberately without having much reason behind doing so. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) has prescribed the act of requesting other’s help under three particular circumstances which are described in the following Hadith:
One who has undertaken a Hamalah (pledged money for reconciliation between two persons), for him begging is permissible till he pays that off, after which he must stop it; A man whose property has been destroyed by a calamity which has smitten him, for him begging is permissible till he gets what will support his life; And a person who has been smitten by poverty the genuineness of which is confirmed by three intelligent members of his people. For him begging is permissible till he gets what will support him.
From Qabisah Ibn Mukhariq al-Hilali (May Allah be pleased with him) who said: It was narrated that Qabisah Ibn Mukhariq al-Hilali said: I incurred a debt (in order to reconcile between two parties) and I came to the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) to ask him (for help) with it. He said: “Stay with us until the Zakah comes, and we will order that something be given to you.” Then he said: “O Qabisah, asking for help (begging) is not permissible except in one of three cases: a man who has incurred a debt (in order to reconcile between two parties), for whom it is permissible to ask for help until he has paid it off, then he should refrain; a man who has been stricken by a calamity that has destroyed all his wealth, for whom it is permissible to ask for help until he gets enough to get by – or he gets enough to meet his basic needs; and a man who is stricken by poverty and three men of wisdom among his people acknowledge that so and so has been stricken by poverty, then it becomes permissible for him to ask for help until he gets enough to get by – or to meet his basic needs. Apart from these cases asking for help, O Qabisah, is haram and the one who begs is consuming something haram.” [Narrated by Ahmad, Muslim, an-Nasa’i and Abu Dawud]
Thus, there are three conditions under which the act of asking others is permissible beyond which it is forbidden: having promised a portion of money for the sake of settlement between two parties till it has been paid off; a miserable state of a person because he has lost all his capital and assets due to a natural disaster till he can sustain his life; and a person who’s dearth of wealth has been confirmed by three trust worthy individuals till that someone is able to make his situation better. It shows that Islam is not a rigid religion on the matter of asking others rather it gives enough room for it when there is no other way of survival.
In short, begging is not a desirable action according to the Religion of Islam, but only allowed in severe form of need. The rich also have the responsibility to search for such deprived people in the society to help them through charity in order to relieve them from their misery.
Praise be to Allah, the Ever-Living, Who does not die, and Peace and Blessings upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his family and Companions.
Written by your Brother:
Imam Murtada Muhammad Gusau, from Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached through: firstname.lastname@example.org or +2348038289761.