In the past, I might have thought of any scruffy but reasonably healthy looking person asking for change in the High Street as lazy and not bothered to work or find work. But now, with the lack of jobs and the continuing loss of jobs, I try to be careful not to dismiss those who genuinely deserve and require some help. At the same time, I also want to be careful not to be encouraging, along with many other kind people, a habit of begging and dependency.
But then what help is there for the millions of street dwellers who genuinely have no choice but to roam the cities of the world in search of scraps of food by day and shelter by night? The Qur’an says: “Woe be to the one who does not encourage or organise the feeding of the poor and needy and refuses even the smallest help.” I remember 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. The Messenger 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 employed and self sufficient and was able to look after his family. The Messenger Muhammad said, “It is more honourable for you to work than to beg and depend on others.”
Dear God, give us 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, secure people’s jobs and help the unemployed find work, amin.