Is it the economic downturn or just plain laziness? The other day I was walking along the High street in Leicester when a scruffy but reasonably healthy man begged me for some money. I hesitated, not sure whether he was genuine or looking to fund his alcohol or drug habit. Was it any of my business how he spent my change? If he chose to slowly kill himself through alcohol and drug abuse should I interfere? What of his freedom of choice? What help is there for the millions of street dwellers who seem to have no choice but to roam the cities of the world in search of scraps of food by day and shelter by night? Perhaps I should do my bit to help. As my hand moved towards my pocket I remembered what the Qur’an says: “Woe be to the one who does not encourage or organize the feeding of the poor and needy and refuses even the smallest help.” By now my hand was darting towards my wallet and then I remembered how the Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) had helped a beggar. He had made him sell his last possessions and instructed him to purchase an axe with the money. Muhammad then sent him to the woods to collect firewood for sale. The man returned after a few days to thank him that he was now self sufficient and able to look after his family. Muhammad said, “It is more honourable for you to work than to beg.”
Dear God, give us both the strength and the opportunity to earn our daily bread by our hands in an honest way. We ask you to feed the poor, clothe the naked, grant shelter to the homeless and help the unemployed find work, amin.