Imperative of banning children from begging

The recent suggestion by Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, that begging, especially by children should be banned raised many interesting questions.

The former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), spoke in Dutse, at the National Conference on Alarammomi (Qur’anic teachers) organised by the Centre for Qur’anic Reciters in Nigeria.

The monarch told the over 1,000 Qur’anic teachers in attendance at the conference, that begging is unacceptable in Islam.

Sanusi based his assertion on the authority of Muwatta and other Islamic legal authorities.

Muwatta is the first written collection of Hadith, comprising the subjects of Muslim laws, compiled and edited by the Imam, Malik ibn Anas.

Malik’s best known work, Al-Muwatta, was the first legal work to incorporate and join Hadith and Fiqh together.

Sanusi quoted Hadith in the book of Muwatta, as saying: “La Tas Alan Ahdan Shai’an, Wa In Kunta Labudda Sa’ilan, Fas’al Indani Suldani ‘’(  Don’t go and beg anyone for anything. And if it is necessary you must ask, then go and ask those in power (Government).

The emir explained that this is why government is encouraged to give out social protection like the Conditional Cash Transfer and social welfare related programmes, in order to cater for the less-privileged members of the society.

He argued that though people are allowed to assist one another where necessary, but people are not allowed to beg.

The emir described begging as “Haram” (prohibited) in Islam, adding that: “asking someone not Allah for anything is prohibited.

“Therefore, stop telling people that begging is not prohibited in Islam because that encourages them to do it.

“For what reason would a father from Dutse send his only child to Kano to study without making adequate provisions for him.

“Are there no Qur’anic teachers or Qur’anic schools in Dutse?” the emir queried.

He said that parents were in the habit of sending their children out to study Qur’an elsewhere, to shy away from the responsibilities of taking care of their children.

“Such parents are just trying to avoid their responsibilities of taking care of their children by shifting such responsibilities to others.

“Sending your children to learn the Qur’an is not the only responsibility you have as a father.

“You are also responsible to feed him and train him, or have you forgotten about these as a father,” the emir asked.

Sanusi also quoted the views of the author of the ‘Tafsir al-Jalalayn,’ one of the most significant Tafsir for the study of the Qur’an, as saying: “Whoever has a child, must teach such child how to be self-reliant.”

The emir insisted that participants at the conference must tell themselves the truth.

“Children are roaming and begging on the streets in the name of studying Qur’an; we are not doing justice to the Qur’an.

“If a father is sincere that he wants his son to be learned by taking him away from his country-home to another, then such a father should ensure that he makes all the necessary provisions for the child’s wellbeing.

“If a father cannot make such provisions, then he should keep his children with him, where they eat and attend school from home.

“Also, teachers (Islamic) should stop accepting children without adequate and proper provisions for their wellbeing, unless the teacher has the ability and capability to cater for the children.

“Just like Khalifa Isyaka Rabi’u did in Kano, where he provided accommodation and other necessary requirements for the wellbeing of his students and teachers.

“This is the Islamic way of doing things since the time of Sulaiman Kanuni in the 16th century, where he established foundations in every mosque, with funds and teachers provided.

“And during this time, Kanuni directed that students learn the Qur’an, science and entrepreneurial education in order to ensure brighter future for Muslim children,” Sanusi said.

He, therefore, advised parents to keep their children with them, take good care of them and give them good education.

In the same vein, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, stressed that no father should send his child to Almajiri school without making proper and adequate provisions for the child’s wellbeing.

“We must change the system in order to ensure brighter future of our children”.

Sen. Sani Yeriman-Bakura, former governor of Zamfara, said that government should live up to its responsibilities.

He said that ordinarily, no father would be willing to send his child to other places in the name of Almajirchi system.

Yariman-Bakura pointed out that during his eight years in office as governor, begging was stopped in the state.

“Nobody begged during our eight years in office in Zamfara. This is because we ensured that these children were fed adequately and that’s what stopped them from begging.

“In fact, at the end of my tenure, we left 150 tonnes of food for such programme,” Yariman-Bakura said.

Jigawa, the host of the conference, said the state was doing its best to ensure the wellbeing of students of Tsangaya schools or Almajirchi system.

Deputy Governor Umar Namadi who spoke, said “Through SUBEB, the government is doing its best to ensure the wellbeing of students of Tsangaya school.’’

Namadi added that the state government had built 400 Islamiyya schools across the state and would continue to collaborate with relevant stakeholders on how to modernise the Almajiri system.

The objective of the National Conference on Alarammomi (Qur’anic Teachers), with the theme, “Sanitising Almajirchi In Tune With Today’s Realities,” was to find lasting solution to the problem associated with begging by children, who ought to be in school.

Opinion, is, however, divided about its legality and spirituality.

However, one thing is certain, the Child’s Rights Act 2003, guarantees the rights of the Nigerian child.

Section 9, sub-sections 1 and 2 of the Act state inter alia:”Every child is entitled to freedom of movement subject to parental control which is not harmful to the child.

“Nothing in sub-section 1 of this section shall affect the right of a parent, and where applicable, a legal guardian or other appropriate authority to exercise control over the movement of the child in the interest of the education, safety and welfare of the child.”

Section 10, sub-section 1 of the Act, also states that “A child shall not be subjected to any form of discrimination merely by reason of his belonging to a particular community or ethnic group or by reason of his place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion.”

It is expected that the views expressed by participants and critical stakeholders at the conference would help in addressing the challenge.

Abdullahi Mohammed writes for News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).  

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