Question : Can I give to street beggars? What if they might be “professional beggars”?
Answer : Beggars have a right upon us. Allah Most High says in the Qur’an about the righteous believers: “And those in whose wealth is a recognized right for the beggar and the one who is denied his due share.” [Sûrah al-Ma`ârij: 24-25] And Allah reminds us: “So as for the orphans, do not oppress them, and as for beggars, do not berate them,” (93:9-10) and the Almighty says, “Have you seen him who denies the deen? He is the one who harshly rebuffs the orphan and does not urge the feeding of the poor.” (107:1-3)
Abu’d-Darda’ said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Help me in seeking out the weak. They are supported. You are provided for on account of the weak among you.” [Abu Dawud]
In general, the sunna is to give to those who ask, if one can–even if only a little. However, it is also from the sunna to give generously to those who are most needy.
Thus, a balanced approach is to give a small amount to beggars on the street, and to give the bulk of one’s charity (directly or through charities) to those who are most needy or most deserving.
And Allah alone gives success.