Hazrat Moulana Muhammad Ilyaas (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) once mentioned the following hadeeth:
للسائل حق وإن جاء على فرس
The beggar (who comes to you with a need) has a right (over you) – even if he comes (to you) riding on a horse. (Sunan Abi Dawood #1665)
Hazrat Moulana Muhammad Ilyaas (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) then said:
In regard to the meaning of this hadeeth, generally people have the misconception that when a beggar presents his need to you, then regardless of his state or his condition, his need should be fulfilled. However, this notion is incorrect.
Rather, the meaning of the hadeeth is that the beggar has a right over us. The right he has over us demands that we should conduct with him in an appropriate manner. Conducting with him in an appropriate manner means that we should wish well for him and show him sympathy. We should not respond to him with arrogance nor should we belittle and humiliate him.
This is also understood from the verse:
وَ اَمَّا السَّآئِلَ فَلَا تَنۡهَرۡ
and as for the beggar, then do not rebuke him – Surah Dhuha v10).
It should be borne in mind that at times, wishing well for the beggar will entail giving him what he asks for (if he is in dire need). However, at times, wishing well for the beggar and showing him sympathy demands that we should advise him to save himself from the disgrace of begging, and we should guide him towards some suitable means of earning a livelihood.
In this manner, he should be assisted according to his situation (and condition). This was the manner in which Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) had dealt with a certain beggar who came to him for assistance.
(Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) asked him whether he possessed anything, and he replied that he possessed a utensil.) Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) had then auctioned his utensil among the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum), thereafter giving him the money earned from the sale and instructing him to buy an axe with the money. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) then said to him, “Go to the jungle, cut wood and sell it, thereby earning a livelihood in this way.”
Thus (we understand that), if a beggar is not handicapped or unable to fend for himself, rather he has the ability to do something to earn a living, then his right upon you is that with wisdom, you should advise him to stop begging and look for some (halaal) occupation.
After mentioning the above, Hazrat Moulana Muhammad Ilyaas (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) said, “If we try to understand the meaning of the Quraan and ahaadeeth in the light of the way in which Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) conducted (with the Sahaabah [radhiyallahu ‘anhum]), then insha-Allah, we will never be faced with misconceptions and nor will we understand Deen incorrectly.
(Malfoozaat Hazrat Moulana Muhammad Ilyaas [rahmatullahi ‘alaih] pg. 70)