Karachi Boycotts Professional Beggars

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Aliya Anjum

Beggars have arrived in Karachi in droves to make windfall gains in Ramadan. This prevents the genuinely needy from receiving help in these hard times.
Karachiites have had it with scammers and professional beggars. Karachiites are increasingly pledging to help only the hard-working people on low-paying jobs struggling to make ends meet. The meme of not giving money to beggars is going viral on social media.
Karachi is a city of diversity, enterprise, assimilation, generosity and opportunity. Karachi’s Abdus Sattar Edhi created a nationwide charity network that stepped in when the state failed to provide social services. Karachi’s Moulana Bashir Farooq Qadri of the Saylani Welfare Trust established, funded and maintained the famed Panahgahs on his initiative – while Imran Khan and the PTI took the credit for it.
Moulana Bashir Farooq Qadri of the Saylani Welfare Trust rightly said that we have not witnessed hungry rioters creating civil unrest, due to communal kitchens feeding quality meals. It would be wise to recall that the French Queen Marie Antoinette had her head chopped off by the guillotine after she infamously said, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” or “Let them eat cake,” when told that the peasants had no bread due to a poor harvest. Hungry peasants caused the French revolution in 1789.
There are innumerable private charity initiatives in Karachi spending several hundred billion Rupees yearly. In the tradition of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) whose charity reached its peak in Ramadan, Karachi also sees its generosity peak in Ramadan. You cannot go hungry in Karachi, no matter where you are in the city at Iftar time. Everyone is welcome – fasting or not, Muslim or not. A Hindu from Karachi now living in the USA, mentioned that the thing he missed most about Pakistan was Ramadan communal Iftars. I am proud of the spirit of my city.
There is a downside to this generous spirit. Professional beggars are a huge menace in Karachi, being persistent, in-your-face and rude.
When one is comfortably sitting in one’s car, we all feel some level of guilt seeing a beggar on the road and they encash this guilt to mint money.
When it comes to tipping a waiter or a service worker, people normally pay only a miserable ten Rupees, even if their total bill exceeds a thousand. They do not reward the self-respecting workers who toil all day long to feed their families. They reward the evil of laziness and shameless begging when the same people give a minimum of twenty rupees to beggars who harass and pester every approaching car. A beggar makes way more money than a hard-working day labourer, on any given day.
Hundreds of thousands of additional beggars arriving in Karachi will beg during the day and feast on communal Iftars in the evening. Ramadan in Karachi is a month-long picnic for them. This is an alarming trend as it showcases the lack of pride in our nation.
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) strictly forbade professional begging. As Islam is a pragmatic religion, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) showed us a way out.
“Whoever begs people for wealth in order to accumulate more riches, he is only asking for a hot coal from Hellfire. Let him ask for a little or a lot.”
(Sahih Muslim 1041)
A man from the Ansar came to the Prophet (PBUH) and begged him. The Prophet said, “Have you nothing in your house?” The man said, “Yes, a piece of cloth, a part of which we wear and a part of which we spread on the ground, and a wooden bowl from which we drink water.” The Prophet said, “Bring them to me.” The man brought these articles to him and the Prophet took them in his hands and he said, “Who will buy these?” Someone said, “I will buy them for one coin.” The Prophet said twice or thrice, “Who will offer more than one coin?” Someone said, “I will buy them for two coins.” He sold them for two coins and the Prophet said, “Buy food with one of them and give it to your family. Buy an axe and bring it to me.” The man brought it to him. The Prophet fixed a handle on it with his own hands and he said, “Go gather firewood and sell it, and do not let me see you for a fortnight.” The man went away and gathered firewood and sold it. When he had earned ten coins, he came and bought a garment and food. The Prophet said, “This is better for you than for begging to come as a blemish on your face on the Day of Resurrection. Begging is only appropriate for three people: one in grinding poverty, one in serious debt, and one who must pay a difficult compensation.”
(Sunan Ab? D?w?d : 1641)
Our moulvis and muftis fail to convey these teachings to the people in their Friday sermons and their Eid sermons when beggars throng mosques on both occasions. They are criminally negligent in teaching Islamic social conduct.
Digital beggars are now the new rage. Smartphone ownership and access to the internet are table stakes for social media usage. Since digital beggars possess both, they cannot be extremely poor. None of these digital beggars ever offer to work in exchange. They straight up ask for cash or some items of use.
Men usually ask for money to buy monthly groceries and kid’s formula milk – sometimes naming an imported milk brand – stating unemployment as an excuse. Females ask for all kinds of help on Facebook groups. Educated women feel no shame in asking for fancy clothing for their whole family to wear at a family wedding. A kitchen appliance or a fancy children’s toy is presented as a need. Females commonly ask for Eid outfits or even pricey dowry items for their maids. They seek big-ticket items from others for free. This allows them to appear generous and kind, without spending any money.
Keeping up with the Joneses by begging requires compromising self-respect. The anonymity of Facebook posts gives the illusion that their dignity was maintained when that is not the case.
I despair my nation when I see greed coupled with a lack of pride. Such people cannot expect a Naya Pakistan to arise, as the Quran states:”…….Surely, Allah does not change the condition of a people unless they change their inner selves.” (Quran 13:11)