Front page news today was a picture of five Muslim women arrested in Qatar for begging: CID Arrests Female Beggars. For me, a shocking picture and headline.
The story goes on to say that “The arrests were made as part of an ongoing campaign to eradicate this phenomenon alien to the Qatari society”. In hopes of understanding why begging is alien to this society and considered against the law I did a quick check to see what I could find out.
From the website Islamonline the eminent Muslim Scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, explains in detail How Islam Views Begging, but in summary:
The fundamental attitude of Islam towards man’s position in the world is that Allah the Almighty has made the earth for his benefit. He has given him control over it. Then it becomes man’s duty to profit from this favour and to exert himself to seek Allah’s bounties throughout the earth.
It is not permitted for a Muslim to stay idle doing nothing to make a living on the pretext of devoting his life to worship or putting trust in Allah. He should know that the sky never rains gold or silver. Also, it is not permissible for him to depend on charity while he is able to earn a sufficient subsistence for himself and his family through his own efforts. In this regard, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, says: “Charity is Halal (lawful) neither for the rich nor for the able bodied.
A person should not be idle or depend on charity from others as they lose honour and dignity in doing so. He goes one to say it was intended this way, so Muslims “safeguard their dignity, develop self-reliance, and steer clear of depending on others”. If their situation is of dire need they should go to the government or the mosque for assistance, but they should never go out in public begging .
Dignity, self-reliance, honor. All virtues worth striving for.
For expats like me who make up 75% of the population here, we are sponsored by employers to come into the country and work and therefore must provide for ourselves. I presume Qatari nationals should either be working and therefore providing for themselves and their families, or if they are not “able-bodied” they can apply for incapacity benefits (allowance from the government if their medical condition prevents them from working due to a chronic illness or incapacity proven by a report from a health institution on the condition that they do not have sufficient income).
We once looked to church and community in times of need when it was more strongly frowned upon to go begging for charity. Muslim’s beliefs seems to be similar in that they are to turn to their government or go to a mosque for this kind of support.
In present-day situations however, this is not always the case. Back home, our governments are now stretched to the limit providing financial and social assistance. Many people no longer have “church” as part of their lives anymore. Hence the reason food banks and charity organizations are so greatly depended on in our society. Here, in a land of such great wealth, I’m not sure why people would not be able to draw upon resources available to them.
But back to the headline. Should people be arrested for begging?
Where I’m from, police have to be able prove a beggar (or panhandler) is obstructing pedestrian traffic to issue them a ticket or fine. I suppose the person could then be imprisoned if they failed to pay the fine.
I cannot judge the women who’ve been arrested as I don’t know the particulars of their situation. I feel for people caught in these circumstances as I tend to believe they would not be begging, if they had another option. Call me naive, a bleeding heart, or whatever.
I cannot determine what the laws should or shouldn’t be in this regard. Living here, I accept the laws of the land and abide by them.
I can only say that today I learned a little more about others and their beliefs and once again, should not be so quick to judge. And that is always a good thing.
I just rememberd a funny story .. When I was 10 a woman came into our house and sat in the living room and asked for my mother .. from the way she dressed and behaved I thought she was one of my mother’s friends. So I greeted her the Qatari way (by kissing on the cheeks twice + offering tea and sweets) and went up to my mum and told her that there is a lady asking for her. My mother asked me to tell her that she was sleeping, which was true. but I didnt understand why my mum did not go down to great her, isnt that a shameful act towards a guest! we were taught that when we have guests we must treat them like kings and queens .. anyways, when I told the lady that my mother was sleeping, she asked me for money! I was so confused! is that they new style of begging! I told her I am just a child and dont have money! she then said salam and left. Then I thought ‘ew I kissed a begger’ (I know this sounds bad, but hey I was a child)
that was during the 90s, and I remember that people were complaining about beggers flying to the Gulf from neighbouring countries to beg especially during Ramadan. Maybe because people see it as a very distirbing phenomena that they decided that beggers should be arrested.
My uncle had a job as a social worker back in the days, so one time he was observing a begger who pretended to have a broken leg. He actually waited for hours just to see where this begger is going after. So he followed on foot for a long time until the begger reached his car that was parked in a different area. Then the begger drove off to his not so modest house.
Thanks for sharing your story. Yes, that Qataris are taught to treat their guests like kings and queens as you say, and how hospitable they are. The time they take, even in a business environment, for talking, having tea together, rather than getting straight on to the business at hand. It was something I was not used to when moving here.
I remember when we first went to look to buy a car when arriving here. I couldn’t understand why we had to sit and take time for tea,…rather than just go look at the vehicles and talk about prices! We move at such a fast pace all the time and that isn’t always the case here. As I said in one of my other posts, I needed to learn to slow down a little here. Which is a good thing, I think.
Yes, I’ve heard about people being flown in to beg during Ramadan.
It’s always hard to know what’s the right thing to do when people are on the street asking for hand-outs. I remember being in Europe and people say not to give money to the ‘gypsies’ in some places as it’s a real business for them. In some people’s opinion I would be called naive, but I’d always rather err on the side that is kind and giving, rather than suspicious and greedy.
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