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Street Children: teachings of our religion

Human societies are in a constant state of change. There are many different ways in which this change is affecting human lives.

People migrate from rural to urban areas, urban areas get over populated, slums grow up every where, poverty and crime breed in these slums, families get uprooted, they lose their old values, and the ties of kinship are severed. Or a war erupts in a country, people migrate in millions to new lands, parents get killed, children are orphaned or they get separated from their parents. Or a natural disaster hits a region, thousands of people die, their houses are destroyed and their families and children become homeless.

You read such sad stories in the newspapers everyday. These are the circumstances which makes families and children homeless. The street children we see today are the products of such horrible and complex events and circumstances. If you listen to the story of a street child you will find similar reasons for losing their family, home or source of livelihood.

Although we cannot stop wars, natural disasters, urban to rural migration, or decay of ties of kinship and values, but we can help these children by giving them respect, sharing our love and some of our resources with them.

The purpose of this essay is to discuss our moral responsibility towards these children, and  how shall we fulfill this responsibility.

What is our responsibility?

Responsibility means a trust or a duty about which we will be questioned. Not fulfilling a responsibility makes us liable to punishment and fulfilling a responsibility qualifies us for a reward.

The Quran is extremely sympathetic towards the weaker and vulnerable sections of the society including, women, orphans, indigents, those who are under debt and those who have lost their sources of livelihood, and makes the resourceful members of the society responsible for the well being of such people.

The Quran tells us that poor have a definite and established right in our resources.[70:24]

.. and in whose possessions there is a due share, acknowledged [by them], for such as ask [for help] and such as are deprived [of what is good in life] [70/24-25]

How to fulfill our responsibility?

Compiled By: Tanveer Hussain, PhD, Aug 2006

Rights of Indigent: [1]

1. Do not be a spendthrift but feed the indigent, instead [17:26]

2. Allah commands you to give alms [sadaqa] to the indigent [9:60]

3. Do good to the indigent till their economic imbalance is no more [2:83, 2:215, 4:36]

4. Feed the indigent, without wishing any return from them, not even a word of thanks. If you do so, then you will be the true follower of Allah's commands with humility and submissiveness (abd-Allah) [76:6-9]

5. If you will not make provisions for the indigent, your abode will be in hell [74:42-44, 69:31-34]

6. Before you die, be mindful that there may be a share for the indigent in what you bequeath [4:8]

7. If you wish to be successful in the eyes of Allah and wish your good potentialities turn into actualities, feed the indigent [30:38]

8. If you committed any acts of disobedience to Allah, feed the indigent as an atonement [2:184, 58:3-4]

9. Urge others also to feed the indigent. if you do not do so, you will be the denier of Ad-deen [i.e. the way of life prescribed by Allah] [107:1-3, 89:18]

10. Remember, there is also a share for the indigent from the spoils of war [8:41]

Rights of Orphans [2]

1. Honor them and treat them with politeness, kindness, courtesy and generosity [89:16-17]

2. Do not oppress, abase, subjugate or subdue them [93:9]

3. Do not push, thrust or drive them way in a violent, harsh, rough, coarse or rude manner [107:2]. This is a contravention of Allah's Law [Ad-Deen] [107:1]

4. Supply them with the means of subsistence in their time of hunger and destitution [90:14-15]. Do it so in spite of your love for money, desiring not any recompense nor thanks from them [76:8-9]

5. If need be, marry from the orphan girls [4:3] when they come of age [4:6] or widows [4:127] whom you like and who are willing to marry you [4:19] and be their protector and maintainer [4:34]

6. Do IHSAAN (/good) to them till their economic or emotional imbalance is no more [2:83, 4:36]

7. Give them out of your wealth in spite of your love for keeping money [2:177, 2:215]

8. Stand firm for justice to them [4:127]

9. Give them share from what others leave after death if they are there at the time of distribution of the inheritance [4:8]. They also have a share from the war booty [4:41] or what you obtain without war without any hardship or inconvenience [59:7]

10. Set their affairs right and do what is good for them [2:220]

11. Give them their property, if it belongs to them. Do not exchange your bad things for their good ones and devour not their substance by adding it to your own substance [4:2]

12. Do not unjustly or corruptly eat up their property [4:10]

13. (As a caretaker,) Make trial of [minor] orphans until they reach the age of marriage; if then you find sound judgment in them, release their property to them; but consume it not wastefully, nor in haste against their growing up. If the guardian is well-off, Let him claim no remuneration, but if he is poor, let him have for himself what is just and reasonable. When you release their property to them, take witnesses in their presence [4:6]

14. And come not near to the their property, except to improve it, until they attain the age of full strength [6:152, 17:34]

Notes and References ______________________________________________________________

[1] Note: The above references of the verses are those regarding the rights of Masakeen. The Arabic word "miskeen" is very comprehensive and it includes the indigent, destitute, those whose running businesses have stalled, the ones who have lost their jobs, those whose life has stalled for any reason, the disabled and so on.

[2] Note: The above references of the verses are those regarding the rights of Yatama. The Arabic word "yateem" is very comprehensive and it means "orphans [having no parents], and also includes "widows [4:127], and "all those left alone in the society".



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