Monday, March 12, 2012

Begging in the mosque

Have you ever went to a mosque and seen a young child, old man or woman, or a disabled person sitting in a corner holding out a cup? Have you ever had a kid knocking on your car window asking for money after the Friday prayer?

Of course, if you feel no empathy towards these scenarios people might label you as a monster but for me, it got me thinking. No matter how hard life gets should we resort to begging random strangers in a mosque? The mosque being the house of God and Islam being the one and only true religion, isn’t there some way to help these people? Or perhaps, the question most people would probably ask, are they lying and making begging their occupation?

Begging is forbidden in principle; it is only in case of necessity or a dire need that it becomes permissible to do so as stated by Abu Haamid Al-Ghazali may Allah have Mercy upon him.

Personally, I think the act of shoving a cup to complete strangers is just wrong. We are no longer living in war times and Malaysia isn’t exactly a poor country. In fact there are even a lot of non-profit organizations out there that one can turn to. These organizations can even give you a halal work so that you can earn halal money. Here, I cite Shaikh al-Islam Ibn Taimiyah who said:

"Begging is forbidden whether it is in the mosque or outside it, unless there is a real need for it. If necessary, one may beg in the mosque as long as one does not harm anyone and does not lie in begging, or disturb the people by stepping over them or with one's loudness, for instance, when the people are listening to the Friday khutbah, and one distracts them by one's voice.”

Moreover, some scholars, like As-Suyooti may Allah have Mercy upon him stated that it is disliked to beg in the mosque for the general saying of the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam (may Allah exalt his mention): “The mosques are not built for this.” [Muslim]

In case someone raises his voice in the mosque, he should be told not to do so, whether he was a beggar or else, but in principle, in rebuking the beggar, one should be soft and gentle and not harsh or severe.

The prophet also said:

"A person begs and begs..eventually, he appears on the Day of Judgment with no flesh on his face.", "A person who begs money when he does not need, collects fire." (al-Hindi, VI/495; Ibn Hajar, Bulugh`1-Maram, (Exp) N/144).

It is also  written in the Quran:

“alms are only for the poor and the needy, and the officials (appointed) over them, and those whose hearts are made to incline (to truth) and the (ransoming of) captives and those in debts and in the way of Allah and the wayfarer; an ordinance from Allah; and Allah is knowing, Wise." [At-Taubah, verse 60].

This is the hard proof that if the beggars are really in predicament, the mosque can use the zakat to help them. Therefore there should not be an issue of begging especially in the mosque. Even the Prophet has already mentioned how the beggar would pay on the Day of judgement.

However, our Prophet always gave something to people who asked him, kindly or rudely. In view of this, Imam al-Qurtubi said:

“Give something (even if it is very little) to the beggar or send him away with nice words; because he may be an angel who visits you to see how you use the blessings and bounties that Allah granted you.”

Therefore, we do not lose anything in giving something to the beggars, no matter whether they are lying or not. In fact we get more pahala in return.

However, begging is still a bad practice in Islam. So the next time you meet beggars at the mosque or anywhere else, muslim or not muslim, we should tell him in a suitable way that what he is doing is wrong. Of course, by doing so most of the time we would be scorned by the beggars who would probably say “If you don’t want to give anything then go away”. But at least we would have done something and played our part. The rest is up to him to correct his ways. 

MSOC Committee 2011/12


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