By Kouser Fathima
11 October 2016
According to data released in June, one in every four beggars is a Muslim. This is a worrying sign; given that Muslims already have the lowest living standards due to educational deprivation and economic backwardness in the country.
But beyond the raw numbers, it is also clear that a visit to mosque, a Dargah or a Muslim-dominated area is enough to substantiate this claim. People of all age groups are seen begging and the same people are seen in a particular spot regularly. This shows how begging has become an accepted profession, easy way of earning money with no need for hard work.
Muslims generously donate when they visit mosques, Dargahs and during Ramzan but sadly many from the community misuse this charity and have made begging their profession. In some areas begging is a well organised business thriving near the mosques. Jokes about how the begging spots are passed on from parent to their children are quite common and reflect how lucrative the business can be for some. This makes it difficult to pass on the charity to the real needy people who can't work due to ill health or other issues. These professional beggars take a big slice of charity depriving the needy.
Interestingly most beggars are women, well in their prime age and are capable of working but opt the easy way out. Ask them about why they had to resort to begging, and while some ignore your questions, others even fight and start abusing you. Ironically the mosque management also doesn't make efforts to curb the practice.
For example, Sikh Gurudwaras provide Langars for all & shelter to poor hence it is impossible to see a Sikh begging anywhere.
Fact to be noted is that there are many needy and destitute who resort to begging as last option. Also there are many who really need help but hesitate to ask help let alone beg. They continue to suffer in silence while others take away a bulk of charity. Islam emphasises a lot on charity but also teaches one to work hard & earn a living if you can. Charity should be given to the needy and poor who have no other option of earning their livelihoods not misused by lazy.
According to Bukhari Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is reported to have said "It is better for you to take your rope, go to the mountain (cut some foreword) carry it on your back, sell it and thereby save your face than begging from people whether they give or refuse you"
This shows that though charity is encouraged in Islam, begging should be the last option if one can work to earn a livelihood.
Kouser Fathima is a Bengaluru-based writer