In Islam, the Ulama are ”the guardians, transmitters and interpreters of religious knowledge in Islam, including Islamic doctrine and law”. By longstanding tradition, Ulama are educated in religious institutions.
The chairman of the council, Ibrahim Khalil, expressed this in an interview with journalists on Wednesday. He said the action ”is not feasible and the government is not serious”.
According to Mr Khalil, ”necessary steps towards curtailing the practice have not been taken or put in place before taking the decision”.
“To us at the Council of Ulama, the government cannot do it and is not serious about it. They are just doing it to appease their ‘masters’ abroad, or get their money or some kind of noise making.
“Or they might have been accused of something from somewhere for which they simply organise a ceremony and that is all. That is our opinion,” he stated.
The official, who is also an advocate against street begging, outlined efforts made in the past to curtail the menace.
He also insisted that ‘stakeholders’ must be involved before the decision, ”and the real street beggars should be identified”.
“The right steps to follow in banning street begging include the Quranic clerics involved, (who) have to be identified because there are street beggars who are Quranic students.
“And there are beggars who were sent by their parents from the rural areas to come and be begging in the urban areas. There is also begging engaged in by some physically challenged individuals.
“All these forms of street beggars need to be identified and each one be addressed accordingly. But they (government) have not done that.
“So, for the ban to work, there has to be a cooperation between the government and the Quranic clerics. You have to sit with them and understand why they engage in begging, get some statistics, know the total number of those engaging in street begging among them.
”If you identify all these, it is then that you will come to know exactly beggars that are not almajiris (but) Quranic students. More so, you can not stop begging in the state without joining hands with the neighbouring states,” he stated.
He added: “If you recall, there was the case of a man who sent three of his children to the city to be begging for sustenance because he wanted to place his new wife in the room they were occupying. You can see that these kids are not necessarily almajiris or Quranic pupils.
“Therefore, you need statistics of the real situation, know the total number of the Quranic teachers, the total number of the Quranic schools and their pupils, know exactly who the real Almajiris are first.
”You will then know their needs, understand their problems and then proffer the right solutions.”