Begging can be considered to be an ultimate form of helplessness. But, I have seen fit and healthy people sit on footpaths and on road signals just to beg. This is dependency. They are the individuals of working-class who have become fatalistic. Being fatalistic, is when such individuals believe that they are born poor and will always remain poor simply because it is written in their fate. Such people do not even abstain from interpreting the idea of tawakkul (putting one’s trust in God) according to themselves. They deem it tawakkul to sit back idly and expect some things from others.

This is the reason why it has become so challenging to climb up the ladder of social mobility from working-class to reach lower middle-class. And, giving training to children over how to beg and bargain makes it even more vulnerable. Seeing beggars on streets, road signals and on footpaths ruins the reputation of a country. This is not only a part of Pakistan but also other countries such as India and Bangladesh. No doubt begging has become a business in these nations. And even though, this business’s origin may seem to be people’s helplessness, if we look closer we are able to find out how corrupted this business is.

Begging has become an institution with a proper system. Beggars are given a drop by vehicles at their respective times of the day during which they are supposed to beg. For example one beggar from a group of beggars would beg from noon till evening and then the other beggar would beg from evening till night. I remember one encounter with a beggar and I asked him whether he has a shelter or not. To my surprise, he replied that he comes from his home in Korangi by rickshaw to Phase V 9th commercial Street, Defence to beg. It became hard for me to sympathise after I heard this and simply ignored him. This is unethical of them as they are deceiving people to show themselves as helpless and needy people. I have also seen people who go against their helplessness of a physical condition; such as single leg or arm and, try earning not through begging but, through labour work. This is called Will power. A permanent ban and a strict sanction upon begging will ultimately showcase better image of the country in the eyes of foreigners and will also help such people step out of their fatalistic mind-set. This will allow for such beggars to stop being dependent and instead labour from dusk till dawn to survive.

The Prophet (PBUH), regarded begging which is taken as an occupation as disgrace and said: ‘Some among you do not ever abandon begging. Finally, on the Day of Resurrection, that dishonourable person will meet Allah with no flesh left on his face.’ (Muslim, Zakat, 103) And, ‘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 (Muslim, Zakat, 107)

While The Prophet (PBUH) tried to keep Muslims away from such an evil as begging on the one hand, on the other hand, he advised them to work and he wanted no Muslim to prefer the ignominy of begging to the honour of working for one’s livelihood.

Coming to Child labour, well, it is a process followed after begging. Those who try not to beg and do labour often appoint young children to do the chores. Man’s working is an Islamic value in itself regardless of the character of the worker. The Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said, ‘He who gets to bed extremely tired because of his (manual) work (along the day) his sins will be forgiven that night.’ Hence, they should not be lazy and avoid labour for livelihood.

Childhood is principally a period when children are to enjoy their lives through playing and entertainment and to receive the education and skills that will enable them to lead a successful life in the future. There is no harm in assigning children some work that is appropriate to their age and physical capabilities. The point is that it is unlawful to employ children in exhausting fields that are beyond their physical abilities, or to make them work all the day without having any kind of fun. However, this cannot be seen in practical life as there are young children who are given hard tasks to perform and for continuous hours beyond their physical abilities.

May the Islamic viewpoint enlighten us all. This awareness must be spread locally to such people who are committing the evil that is begging by showing themselves as helpless. Not to forget that The Prophet stated that it is permitted to ask for something for only three categories of people. They are as follows: the people who are indebted because of acting as a guarantor for a person or a community and cannot pay their debts; people all of whose property was destroyed in a disaster; and people who became destitute and whose poverty is acknowledged by people who know them. It is not regarded permissible for people other than those who have a day’s food and the strength to work for livelihood to beg. (Muslim, Zakat, 109)

IMTIAZ ALI MIRANI,

Shikarpur, December 1.