Beggar, A Lowly Profession

Beggar, A Lowly Profession [Part 1]

Beggar, A Lowly Profession [Part 1]

Lately, the news about beggar are booming. Beggars are everywhere, moreover in the cities. Many people don’t feel ashamed to be a beggar, while their bodies still look strong enough to work.

When beggars were asked about their monthly income, some of them would answer that their income were higher than the civil servant’s salary. Glorified and Exalted be Allah, just by a simple trick, raising their hands to beg in front of people, they were able to gain more money than those who worked hard.

How does Islam view this phenomenon? Is it lawful to work as a beggar? Is begging a sin? By Allah’s permission, we’ll discuss the answers of these questions in this article.

Is begging considered as disgraceful thing?

The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said,

(( إِنَّ الْمَسْأَلَةَ كَدٌّ يَكُدُّ بِهَا الرَّجُلُ وَجْهَهُ إِلاَّ أَنْ يَسْأَلَ الرَّجُلُ سُلْطَانًا أَوْ فِى أَمْرٍ لاَ بُدَّ مِنْهُ.))

“Indeed, begging is a scratch, of which a person will scratch his own face, except a person who asks from a leader, or in an affair that he must ask in it.” [1]

(( مَا يَزَالُ الرَّجُلُ يَسْأَلُ النَّاسَ حَتَّى يَأْتِيَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ لَيْسَ فِي وَجْهِهِ مُزْعَةُ لَحْمٍ.))

“A person who always beg to others, will come on the Hereafter without any flesh left on his face.” [2]

These 2 hadith explained to us that begging is allowed for certain people, and not all people. There are some people who are allowed to beg. As for those who are not rightful to beg, will be resurrected later in the Hereafter without any flesh left on his face, indicating how low and shameless was his condition.

Ruling of Wealth resulted from Begging

The basic ruling of begging is unlawful, except for a person who is forced to beg, such as a person who bore the debt for someone else, a person who was afflicted with calamity or plague in his source of income, thus he went bankrupt, and a poor man who was confirmed as a poor by three community leaders in his region.

The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- once said to Qabisha -may Allah be pleased with him-:

(( يَا قَبِيصَةُ! إِنَّ الْمَسْأَلَةَ لاَ تَحِلُّ إِلاَّ لأَحَدِ ثَلاَثَةٍ: رَجُلٍ تَحَمَّلَ حَمَالَةً فَحَلَّتْ لَهُ الْمَسْأَلَةُ حَتَّى يُصِيبَهَا ثُمَّ يُمْسِكُ, وَرَجُلٍ أَصَابَتْهُ جَائِحَةٌ اجْتَاحَتْ مَالَهُ فَحَلَّتْ لَهُ الْمَسْأَلَةُ حَتَّى يُصِيبَ قِوَامًا مِنْ عَيْشٍ -أَوْ قَالَ سِدَادًا مِنْ عَيْشٍ-, وَرَجُلٍ أَصَابَتْهُ فَاقَةٌ حَتَّى يَقُومَ ثَلاَثَةٌ مِنْ ذَوِى الْحِجَا مِنْ قَوْمِهِ لَقَدْ أَصَابَتْ فُلاَنًا فَاقَةٌ فَحَلَّتْ لَهُ الْمَسْأَلَةُ حَتَّى يُصِيبَ قِوَامًا مِنْ عَيْشٍ -أَوْ قَالَ سِدَادًا مِنْ عَيْشٍ-, فَمَا سِوَاهُنَّ مِنَ الْمَسْأَلَةِ يَا قَبِيصَةُ سُحْتًا يَأْكُلُهَا صَاحِبُهَا سُحْتًا.))

“”O Qabisha! Indeed, begging is not allowed except for three persons: (1) a person who bore a debt for someone else, then he is allowed to beg until he could pay for it, then he should stop to beg, (2) a person who was afflicted with calamity that destroy his wealth, then he is allowed to beg until he earned enough to live modestly, (3) a poor man whom three intellectual persons from his people stated that he has been stricken with poverty, then he is allowed to beg until he could live modestly. As for other than these, O Qabisha, they are not allowed (to beg). A person who begs have devoured other people’s wealth wrongly.” [3]

The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- also said:

(( مَنْ سَأَلَ مِنْ غَيْرِ فَقْرٍ ، فَكَأَنَّمَا يَأْكُلُ الْجَمْرَ.))

“Whoever begs not due to poverty reason, then it seems like he has consumed live coals.” [4]

The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- also said,

(( مَنْ سَأَلَ النَّاسَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ تَكَثُّرًا فَإِنَّمَا يَسْأَلُ جَمْرًا فَلْيَسْتَقِلَّ أَوْ لِيَسْتَكْثِرْ.))

“Whoever begs to other people of their wealth to gain more wealth, then verily, he in fact is begging for live coals. Thus, it is up to him to lessen or enlarge the coals.” [5]

It is explained in this hadith that a person who begs others not because of a necessity or emergency need, he has indeed committed a sin. If he wishes to add the number of his live coals, then keep begging to others. But if he wishes to lessen it, then ask for just a little of their wealth. But the best one is a person who doesn’t ask for any coals, means that he never want to ask or beg to others.

Is begging other people’s wealth among the major sins?

A person who begs others without any legitimate reason, has committed a major sin, as stated by Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Shalih Al Uthaymeen [6].

And we know that one of the characteristics of the major sin is that the one who committed it would get severe threat later in the Hereafter.

Allah’s praises for the poor who prevent themselves from begging

Allah the Glorified and Exalted praised those who didn’t ask for anything even though they are poor. Allah the Glorified and Exalted decreed:

{ لِلْفُقَرَاءِ الَّذِينَ أُحْصِرُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ لَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ ضَرْبًا فِي الْأَرْضِ يَحْسَبُهُمُ الْجَاهِلُ أَغْنِيَاءَ مِنَ التَّعَفُّفِ تَعْرِفُهُمْ بِسِيمَاهُمْ لَا يَسْأَلُونَ النَّاسَ إِلْحَافًا وَمَا تُنْفِقُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ بِهِ عَلِيمٌ }

“Those needy ones who are wholly wrapped up in the cause of Allah, and who are hindered from moving about the earth in search of their livelihood, especially deserve help. He who is unaware of their circumstances supposes them to be wealthy because of their dignified bearing, but you will know them by their countenance, although they do not go about begging of people with importunity. Whatever wealth you spend on helping them, Allah will know of it.” (QS Al-Baqarah: 273)

To be continued, insha Allah….

Written by: Ustadz Said Yai Ardiansyah, Lc., M.A. (An alumnae of Islamic University of Medina, majoring in hadith. And magistrate alumnae of Mediu of Malaysia,  majoring in fiqhussunnah. Headmaster of  SDIT Al-Istiqomah Prabumulih, Indonesia)


[1] Narrated by. Abu Dawud no. 1639, An-Nasa-i no. 2600 and in “As-Sunan Al-Kubra” (III/80) no. 2392, At-Tirmidzi no. 681. At Tirmidhi in his Sunan book said, “Hasan Shahih.”, Sheikh Al-Albani in Shahih Al-Jami’ no. 1947 and Sheikh Syu’aib Al-Arnauth in his footnotes for “Musnad Ahmad”.
[2] Narrated by Al-Bukhari no 1474 and Muslim no. 1040/2398.
[3] Narrated by Muslim no. 1044/2404.
[4] Narrated by Ahmad no. 17508. Sheikh Syu’aib said, “Shahih lighairihi.”
[5] Narrated by Muslim no. 1041/2400.
[6] Sharh (Explanation of) Riyadhush-shalihin. (I/817) Hadits no. 532.

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