And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided…(3:103)

The Right of the Beggar

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Apparently, in the verse appearing above, the addressee was the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), but in reality, this address is not confined only to him, rather through him, the each and every individual is addressed. Hence, all and sundry, is under the obligation of Sharia’h to observe this commandment as he alone was addressed as a representative only.

Here, the word ‘Sail’, literally means ‘beggar’ without any explanation as what he is supposed to ask. Thus, it does indicate that it may what he begs. However, the beggar or needy one begs only when is in need of something necessary. In this way, we can guess that he is needy and he aspires for anything unknown be it is financial, educational or physical ones. Therefore, according to the commentators of the Holy Qura’n, beggar refers to one who is in need of any kind of thing. Some of them translate it as a beggar who stands in need of financial support, while some take it in the meaning of a seeker of knowledge i.e. who wants the thirst of knowledge to be quenched. Some take it in the meaning of the disabled ones like a lame and blind who wants some support to fulfill their needs and requirements. As for example, a lame might be in need of physical support, while a blind in need of some guidance on the road and help him reach his destination. Thus, the people of such kinds also include the category of beggars, so to speak, they are in need of any kind of support and regarded to the beggars as they want their needs be fulfilled.

Different words have been mentioned in the Holy Qura’n for the needy ones like ‘Faquir, Miskeen, Aail, Mahroom’ etc. These are the words which refer to the different kinds and conditions of the needy ones, but, as a whole, all of them are in need of some support. Briefly, commonly, the beggar is considered to be one who is no way able to earn livelihood such as a disabled person. As for the ‘Miskeen’, it is one who though has ability to earn livelihood but not to the extent which can suffice for fulfilling all his needs or does not find an opportunity due to a certain reason like being unemployed. As for the ‘Aail’, it is one who, for meeting his needs, is dependent upon others owing to various reasons such as children and slave. Similarly, the word ‘Mahroom’ refers to those ones who though possess much ability and capacity to earn livelihood but became subject to poverty due to being deprived of the means and sources to do so due to some calamity like being victim to earthquake and flood etc. Thus, in a way, all the people mentioned above are needy ones and come under the category of ‘Saeel’ i.e. beggars; and the fact is that they must be helped as it appears at another place in the Holy Qura’n, says Allah, the Almighty:


“And in their wealth, there is a right for the one who asks and the one who is deprived.”

The word ‘Haqq’ means that it is their right to be helped. However, it is incumbent upon others to help the concerned people, or else, they might be regarded sinful. Here, the importance of Islam can be clearly apprehended. As for those who believe in partnership thy think that he who can earn nothing also owes nothing in other’s property. Those who possessing the capitalism mentality, they think that though such kinds of people should be helped out of sympathy but it is not at all incumbent upon the capitalists – so to speak – to intend to give an impression that it is optional for them either to help others or not.

Most surprisingly, in some religions like Jainism and Buddhism, the practice of fulfilling one’s needs by begging has been declared as a religiously sacred practice. Thus, according to their religion, it does mean that fulfilling one’s needs by begging despite being able to earn livelihood is better. But, the fact is that it is only the teachings of Islam which are based on moderation, and that is that, one must so his level best to earn livelihood by on his own. As it comes in a Hadith:

عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّی اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ مَا أَکَلَ أَحَدٌ طَعَامًا قَطُّ خَيْرًا مِنْ أَنْ يَأْکُلَ مِنْ عَمَلِ يَدِهِ

The Prophet said, “Nobody has ever eaten a better meal than that which one has earned by working with one’s own hands.  (Bukhari)

When a person came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) asking him for charity, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) refused to help him seeing him physically in sound condition and said:

وَلَا حَظَّ فِيهَا لِغَنِيٍّ وَلَا لِقَوِيٍّ  (احمد، داود، نسائي)

“No rich man or one who is strong and able to earn has a share of it.”

Similarly, when a companion came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) seeking help from him, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) advised him to sell his household items and purchase an axe and, thereafter, suggested him to cut woods, make his sustenance with the help of it and, thus, support his family. However, who is really a disabled and unable to meet his needs, it is the kind of such people who are declared to have their right in Zakat and paying Zakat has been made obligatory to them in all circumstances. Therefore, the one not paying Zakah,  will be committing a grave sin.

Through the blessed practice of Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique (R.T.A) we come to know that a war will be waged against one who refuses paying of Zakat. Thus, it does indicate that paying of Zakat is invariably compulsory in order to fulfill the needs of such people.

Here, a question arises as why it has been forbidden to scold the disabled instead of commanding the fulfillment of their needs as it can’t, at all, serve to meet their needs? The answer to this question is that, in reality, with the words ‘فلا تنهر’, we have been commanded to treat them with the lowest degree of our behavior whereas the fact is that we are required to help them as they deserve also evident from other injunctions. However, in case one is not able to help them, he should at least recommend and motivate others who can do so, as we get clear guidelines from the verses like:


“And does not persuade (others) to feed the needy.”


“And whoever makes a good recommendation, there shall be for him a share from it (in the Hereafter).”

But, in case does not find himself capable of even such thing, it is better for them to refuse to give the needy and disabled with kindness as no one has the right to scold them. The reason is that they did not choose to beg with their will but, in fact, they were put into trial by Allah, the Almighty. Thus, scolding them does indicate that we mocking at their situation of trial and adding to their trouble.

Another point of wisdom lying in this instruction is that since rich and wealthy people are commonly found arrogant and proud of their wealth, and hence, in such condition, they are supposed to scold the needy which cause to hurt their self-respect and conscience. Therefore, the rich and affluent people are forbidden to treat them in such a way. Such an emphasis had been laid on considering one’s self-respect that the giver is commanded to give in such a way that his left hand does not take notice of what he gave with the right one. On the top of it, we should take utmost care of even the self-respect of one who wants to repent and purify himself, as it is quite obvious from the injunctions mentioned in ‘Surah Abas’.

In the present era, we find more than one third of the population living under poverty line and every fifth person of the world comes under the category of poor and needy. The reason of it is not that they are not provided with any means or sources by Allah, the Almighty for such people, rather the main cause is that of self-interest and lacking in equal distribution. According to the experts, even now only if the wealth of the richest people of the world is distributed among the poor and needy, there will remain no kind of poverty. On the top of it, each and every poor and needy will get extra amount of 20000.

It is recorded in the annals of history that when, in the era of Hazrat Umar bin Abdul Azeez’s caliphate, the practice of self-interest was downtrodden and the way towards equal distribution was paved, the people would come out with their charity to be given to some needy or poor if any found, but, there was none in need of it found. If we the same circumstance are made these days too, the not only country’s but those of the whole world’s needy and poors’ necessities will be fulfilled, and, as a result, there will exist no need of begging or asking for anything. May Allah grant us ability to act upon this commandment! (Ameen!)

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