JUMAT SERMON: Islam Abhors Beggary

JUMAT SERMON: Islam Abhors Beggary
  • PublishedNovember 5, 2021


By Sheikh Imam Zakariyau Sarumi

I seek refuge in Allah from the devil the accursed and I start in the name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful. I testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah. I also testify that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is His Messenger. May the benediction be upon His soul, members of His household, his companions and those who follow his ways till the last day.   

This sermon is written to disabuse the minds of many people in various quarters, who erroneously believe that Islam encourages beggary as a profession. Islam, rather, holds dignity of labour in high esteem. The Qur’an which is the primary source of adherents of Islam and others, as well as the Hadith of the Prophet (SAW) are in a serious agreement with the dignity of labour provided the work is not forbidden (haram). No matter how petty the job may look like, it is still considered to be self-respectful for whoever is involved. 

The Prophet (SAW) in is usual manners to either approve an act or frown at it demonstrated various means to condemn the act under discussion. 

Allah enjoins his servants to earn by their efforts. At a particular place in the Qur’an, He told us how important we are on the earth because, according to this verse, He vested the authority of the earth on us as well as the free night to the provisions therein. He says; “And surely, We gave you authority on the earth and appointed for you therein provisions (for your life). Little thanks do you give.” Qur’an 7:10.

In another place He says; “He, it is, who has made the earth subservient to you (i.e easy for you to work, to live and to do agriculture on it), so walk on the paths thereof and eat of his provision and to Him will be the Resurrection.” Qur’an 67:15

In the two quoted verses above, Allah (SW) orientates his servants on the importance of the earth with a view at letting them know the exact place to look for the provisions of their nourishment and sustainability. In another place, He directs us to work hard and earn for our livelihood. He says; “then when the (salat) prayer is ended you may disperse through the land and seek the bounty of Allah (by working, etc.)….”

Islam teaches that any Muslim that is old enough and healthy should find work to support himself, because idleness is vehemently repugnant. The Prophet said; “Never has anyone eaten a better thing than what he eats from the work of his hand”. Bukhar. He was reported to have also said that “whoever has food for a day and a night, it is forbidden for him to beg.

For example in this popular tradition, Abu Abdullah, Zubair Bin Awwan (RAA) relates that the Prophet (SAW) said that “every one of you should catch hold of his rope, go to the mountain, collect, carry a load of fire wood on his back, sell it (for his living) and thereby make his face secure against the chastisement of Allah (on the day of judgment) This would be better for him than requesting people, whether they give him or refuse.

In another tradition, on the authority of Abu Hurairah (AAA) relates that the Holy Prophet (SAW) said that; “It is better for any one of you to carry a load of fire wood on his back than asking (begging) from someone whether he gives him refuse. Bukhar/Muslim.

Looking at the traditions above, selling of firewood is mentioned in the two. To an average Muslim in this part of the world, it may sound so ridiculous and petty but it adds more respect to whomever chooses it as his/her profession. 

To impress dignity of labour upon his followers furthermore, the Prophet (SAW) went empirical on the same matter in an Hadith from Abu Daud that a man of Madina came to the Prophet begging. The Prophet asked him; “Have you nothing in your house? He replied; yes, I have a woolen carpet; with part of which we cover ourselves and spread the rest. And I have a cup with which we drink water”. 

The Prophet (SAW) thereafter, asked him to bring the two. The man truly came to Him (SAW) with both; and the Prophet (SAW) took them in his hand and said; “who will buy these two? A man said I will take them for one silver coin. This he repeated several times.

Another man said; “I will take them for two silver coins. Then the Prophet (SAW) gave them to him and took two silver coins and gave them to the former owner and said; “Buy food with one of these for your family and buy an axe with the other and come to me with it.

When he did so, the Prophet (SAW) fixed a handle to the axe with his own hands and then said; “Go, cut wood, and sell it and do not let me see you for fifteen days”.

The man did as he was told. When he came back to the Prophet (SAW) he had already earned ten silver coins; and he bought some clothes with some of it, and also foods.

Then the Prophet said; “this is better for you than that you come on the day of resurrection with black marks on your face.

From the above Hadith, we are able to deduce that (i) the Prophet (SAW) did not approve begging as a way of life for anyone. (ii) He practically guided and helped the man on the best way to abandon begging and (iii) we were informed through the Hadith that signs of begging will appear like scars on the face of the beggar on the Day of Judgment.

Aside from the practical demonstration from the Prophet (SAW), reference was also made by him (SAW) to some Prophets (AS) who earned their living through their handwork. They are Daaud and Zakariayh.

On them He said; “Prophet Daaud (David) (earned his living and) ate only from his earnings through his labour and nothing else; He was a blacksmith by profession). “Prophet Zakariyah was a Carpenter by profession. (i.e he earned his living through carpentry; The two traditions were reported by Bukhar, and Muslim respectively.

The Prophet himself ever before his mission as a Prophet learned the work of the trading caravans from His uncle Abu Talib before he took the same job with the trading caravans of the rich and respected widow named Khadijah.

With the above analysis on the subject matter, one would be able to perceive clearly that beggary is not part of the teachings of Islam.

Though, Islam encourages kindness to the weak and the poor but when it comes to the level of turning beggary into profession as being done today, especially our brother/sisters from the North, whether physically challenged or not, Islam vehemently abhours it. We also see here and there able bodied people engaging in begging. It is branded with different names,such as decent, fine or alright sir. This act is condemned in Islam as it amounts to deceit and cheating on the part of the public. I therefore call on those charged with the administration of the country at all levels to tackle the menace of unemployment, do the needful by providing jobs for the idle hands and the miscreant in our society. The close of our prayer is al hamduliLlahiRabbil aalamiin.


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