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I just had the oddest Friday prayer service ever, and I am so confused, I am not sure if I should to write this or if I should to just accept it and move on in life.
But I feel like I need to let this out…so excuse me for a moment while I have verbal diarrhea; and if your offended by what I am about to say, I am sorry that was not my intent…so once you get over yourself, give me some constructive criticism.
The service opened with a five to ten minute speech on the panhandlers that were hanging around outside in the parking lot, and how we should not give them money because we were only encouraging that type of life style; to add to that, the question was tossed around a few times as to if they were even Muslim.
So deep breath and here I go…
Do we really need a five to ten minute speech on not giving money to beggars? I mean really we are all adults who work and if we have the extra dollar to give to some one that seems to need to it, than that is our choice.
Please note I said “someone that seems to need it.” Comedian Christopher Titus tells a story about a 22-year-old Vietnam War veteran that was panhandling beside the free way wearing Ed Hardy and using a skateboard. That would be someone that does not need the money. Again, we are all adults and we can generally tell when someone is trying to scam us and when they are not; and a lamented multi language card is a bit of a tip off.
I also understand that extra people hanging around in an already overly busy parking lot is a safety hazard, especially with the way people drive around the D.C. area. I also understand that if they are trying to scam people and they get a few dollars and they might go tell some of their friends and than there might be a few extra people panhandling the following week. But this is not an episode of South Park (http://cart.mn/MD6Q6N) where we are going to be overrun with people begging us for spare change.
There are real people that need real help out there, since Monday is Memorial Day how about these number 67,000 veterans are homeless on any given night (http://bit.ly/MD9Ksf). Yes, I know there are social programs that can help veterans and non-veterans, but sometimes getting them into these programs or putting them on that path is not as simple as picking up a phone. Granted, giving them money might not be the right answer ether…but until someone gives me a better idea, it is all I got.
I am not sure that this is a “lifestyle choice” ether. I mean a lifestyle is the way a person lives to his or her own ability (http://bit.ly/MDbbHm), but a choice? I don’t image that any of us reading this would choice to leave their job and go panhandle to make a living, maybe you would…but I would not be able to wrap my head around that way of thinking at all.
The thing that bothered me most about this is the phrase “they might not even be Muslims.” So what!! Do you really think that the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) ever once said “That person is not a believer, so I do not care for them.”? NO! In fact the Quran tells us in Surah 5 verse 32 “if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind.”
That person on the street corner might be so depressed that you don’t know what is going on in their head. That little bit of extra change might be what turns their day around. I just had a thought…what is in my couch might make someone happy. That is heavy. What we are too busy with to clean up or chase after could just put a smile on someone’s face.
Where was I…oh ya non-Muslims…the Quran also teaches us in Surah 3 verse 199 “and there are, certainly, among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), those who believe in God and in that which has been revealed to you, and in that which has been revealed to them, humbling themselves before God…” There are other good people out there. Just because they are not Muslim does not mean we can’t help them.
Now, I am sure I am going to get some kickback from this…and I am also sure that what was being talked about were the people walking around the parking lot with laminated signs that have their story printed out in Arabic, English, and Spanish; and maybe they are not homeless and helpless. But what about the fact that someone just told a room full of people not to give panhandlers money, and you know that someone is going to take that to an extreme.
Look, I was once taught that you never know who is asking you for money. There have been urban legends where rich people go and panhandle, they will sit there for days and get nothing, not a penny. Than someone will happen by and drop a dollar in and the rich person turns around and does something nice for that person, because they showed that not all of humanity sucks! Ya, I said it some of humanity sucks. I have also been taught (this is for religious people) that some of the panhandlers might be tests sent from God, sent to test you directly. That is one test you do not want to screw up.
Now I don’t know who is who, I mean I don’t know who is running a scam and who truly is in need. I use my best judgment to determine if I should hand out money, sometimes I might be wrong…but than there are the times I might get it right, and I make someone’s day. Than there are those times where I truly do not have anything on me, thank you to the age of credit cards.
I think what I am driving at is do not be too quick to judge someone that is asking for help. It takes a lot to get to that point.
And my few closing thoughts on this are…do not tell a room a full of people to not give money to panhandlers, and follow that with “oh by the way, don’t forget to put money in the donation box.”
On my life I know it is different! I know that the money goes to help the masjid and the community, and the youth programs there in. But it sounds really bad, dude!
And finally if you are agreeing with what is being said about panhandling and praying Friday prayer, don’t go to Seven-Eleven and buy a slice of peperoni pizza to eat on the way back to your car.
Ok! I am done…let the abuse begin!