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Aspects Of Islamic Faith 92: A Simple Way To Earn A Living

16 February 2011

Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals

Arab News & Information - By Adil Salahi

Islam stresses that its followers should always seek what maintains their dignity and self-respect. It is not acceptable that a Muslim willingly maneuvers himself into a position of humiliation. Hence, Islam wants every Muslim to be self-sufficient, earning his living and providing for his family. It does not accept that some people rely on help provided by others, unless they are totally unable to take care of themselves. Abu Hurayrah quotes the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as saying: "By Him who holds my soul in His hand, it is better for anyone of you to take his rope and tie up a bundle of firewood, carrying it on his back, than to go to someone and beg for help, whether that person gives him or refuses to do so." (Related by Al-Bukhari).

The Prophet stressed this concept in different ways, and on separate occasions, always emphasizing that earning one's living was the honorable choice a Muslim should always be keen to make. His companions once praised one of them who dedicated his time to worship. They said that he voluntarily fasted during the day and stayed up most of the night in worship. The Prophet asked them: "Who supports him?" They said that his brother looked after him. The Prophet commented: "His brother is the better person."

The two Hadiths, and others confirming the same concept, make clear that no trade, however humble, should be despised when it makes a person self-sufficient. It is much better than begging for help, regardless of the outcome of such begging. The Prophet pointed out the simplest of jobs, which requires no capital. A man can easily take an ax and rope and go into the open fields, or the woods, gathering firewood. In the Prophet's environment, this was easy, as one could go out into the desert and cut some firewood of its trees that do not belong to anyone. Another Hadith tells us that a man asked the Prophet for help out of zakat money. The Prophet asked him whether he had anything to sell. The man said: "I only have this overcoat I am wearing."

The Prophet took it from him and sold it for a few dirhams. He gave him a small amount to buy food for his family, and told him to buy with the rest an ax and rope. He told him to go and collect firewood and sell it. He was to report to him after two weeks. When the man reported to the Prophet, he had new clothes and was able to maintain his family. Needless to say, in every social environment, there are jobs that could earn a minimum living, without need for qualifications or capital.

How does Islam view begging, then? The answer is that the ruling differs according to circumstances. A person who is genuinely poor and unable to earn his living due to circumstances beyond his control may beg for help, provided that he is not too persistent. On the contrary, he should try hard to conceal his poverty and maintain himself and his family through his own means, however little they may be.

A poor person who is able to earn a living may not beg for assistance. To do so is forbidden. Moreover, if you are certain that such a person is able to work, and you help him when he begs from you, you are helping him to commit what is forbidden. This is also prohibited according to many scholars.

The other case of a beggar who has enough to live on, but finds begging an easy way to get rich, commits a sin by begging. This is unanimously agreed by all scholars. The Prophet warned against this. He said: "A person continues to beg until he is resurrected on the Day of Judgment without a piece of muscle on his face." (Related by Al-Bukhari). He also said: "A person who begs to increase his money is only requesting brands of fire." (Related by Muslim).

 

  EsinIslam.Com

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