Muslim diaries -2- : Charity: Needy or professional beggar?

Assalamu Alaykum. Muslim diaries in its second episode talks about charity and fake beggars. The lines you're going to read narrate a real life experience lived by a sister.


She was there on one of the bridge ends asking for charity "I am hungry, give me 5 coins brother,...... Sister, I am hungry, give me 5 coins please..." The way she dresses, the way she used to ask and insist... nothing about her made me comfortable enough to give her money, or at least the small amount she was asking for. The other beggars on the bridge looked more needy than her.

The first time I met her, I couldn't stop my thoughts though I tried to do Istighfar: "She doesn't look hungry at all, the few hairs she lets appear from her Hijab are dyed. And even if I suppose she is hungry, why to precise the amount? What would she buy with just 5 coins? A candy?.. Astaghfiru Allah (May Allah forgive me) I shouldn't prejudge people, it is a sin." And I walked my way to job blaming myself for the thoughts I had.

After two or three times of meeting her, she became a part of the landscape. I stopped blaming myself for not giving her charity. I stopped hesitating and thinking everytime if she really deserves charity or was just acting. But deep inside, there was a feeling of discontentment toward myself.


One day, I finished work at 12 pm. As I was hungry, I bought a crescent bread and a roll in my way to the bus station. I could hear her voice before reaching the bridge and decided to do peace with myself and give her, better than 5 coins, some food to calm her hunger. I took the sachet containing crescent bread and gave it to her. When my hand reached her, the only talk turning inside me was "Oh you selfish! you chose to keep the expensive roll to yourself and gave her crescent." I was full of shame because my choice was selfish but it was too late to change the sachet.1 second, 2 seconds, 3s, 4... passed and my hand wasn't freed of the weight it carried. She refused to take food. I was shocked. I don't remember what was the pretext she gave exactly. Maybe "I eat only in restaurants" or something like this. I remember the word restaurant and I remember that she wanted money instead of food. Maybe she had her reasons.

I can't forget that feeling that started to disappear to see people smiling "Oh yes! The mistake wasn't mine. there is no need to feel guilty for her refusal. O Allah forgive me!"I am not sure I met her after that. Her presence didn't count for me anymore. I didn't want her to exist even as a souvenir.

Right now, as we're talking about a real person, though what happened, I don't want to be judgmental by confirming or denying that she was cheating. But cases of people cheating and acting as beggars to gain their life easily exist in our society. There is even what is called a professional beggars network. It is sorrowful. I am sure they have what they see more important in life than reading my article. But I am in the obligation of talking about the damage they cause.


Many brothers and sisters refrained from giving charity under the pretext of not being able to distinguish the needy from the cheater. Many poor people struggle with poverty without receiving any kind of help and this also is consecutive to fake beggars problem.


I would say dear brothers and sisters that the way that you or I act when facing poverty differs depending on the way we think and the responsibilities we have. Except those cheaters who want an easy life, none likes to ask for charity. However some people, may Allah ease their affairs, can't help it. None bears to see his child suffering, or maybe dying while not being able to help. The most of handicapped can't work to gain their life. Children whose one or both parents passed away are obliged to do something to stay alive and maybe to help their family live. Children who are obliged by their parents to gain money are better in charity than in stealing or committing crimes. This can't be ideal of course because for these helpless people charity can never be considered a permanent solution. If you can give them money that will be great, but if you can help them live in dignity that will be greater.

The other way we may act when being poor is to accept the fate, live in silence, try our maximum to help those who are under our responsibility and search constantly for a job, today a porter, tomorrow helping the farmers pick fruits and some other day selling forgotten and used objects, eating old bread and drinking water. This kind of people never ask you for help or charity. They never look after you, you have to look for them and to be careful about the way you propose your help and the kind of help to propose.


I know restoring trust between people takes time, especially that the problem of professional beggars is still existent. But why to let those in need pay for the others' mistakes. Without meaning to restrict the categories, the list is of course open... Give to handicapped, to those who look in need, search for those who don't ask for help and give them from what Allah blessed you with. Help and charity don't mean necessarily money. So if trusting is hard for you, don't give money, give something else. Give them what they need if you can, food, clothes, job, protection,... Or give them something you like. Do like Omar Ibn Alkhattab may Allah be pleased with him, he used to give sugar in charity. When asked for the reason he said:

"Allah swt said in Quran {By no means shall you attain piety, unless you spend (in God’s Cause) of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, God knows it well.} Quran 3:92 , and I love sugar"

So if you like oranges, give oranges, if you like potatoes, give potatoes, if you like salt, give salt. This will help because our preferences are different and poor people can find their need through the variety that our differences create.

Some lines can never be sufficient to solve a problem that has his history in our society and modern life. I am not waiting that a person who used to play the beggar falls under the charm of my words and decide to let those who deserve charity benefit of it, my words were not destined to them. I just hope that you don't deprive the needy what might be vital for them, and that you don't deprive yourself the rewards of giving charity, little or big, only Allah knows which of them is better rewarded than the other.


If you can give them money that will be great, but if you can help them live in dignity that will be greater.


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