Charity is often a core value in religious teachings. The Hindu, Muslim and Sikh religions share this principle, with charity being an intrinsic part of the faiths. Charity extends beyond donating money to giving your time, food and support selflessly.
The 1st of October 2017 was Sewa Day. Sewa is a Sanskrit word and is embedded in the Dharmic traditions of ancient India. It means to sacrifice your time and resources for the benefit of others without wanting anything in return.
For Hindus, the Bhagavadgita describes a type giving as a ‘gift that is given without any expectation of appreciation or reward is beneficial to both giver and recipient’.
The story of King Rantideva, known for his generous nature, teaches Hindus to give to those in need. During a time of famine, the King fasted until everyone was fed. When breaking his fast of 48 days with food and a glass water, he stopped and shared this with a thirsty man and hungry guest on his doorstep.
“Strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world; by devotion to selfless work one attains to the supreme goal in life. Do your work with the welfare of others in mind”
– Bhagavadgita 3.19-26
Zakaat is one of the five pillars of Islam, which dicates that a Muslim is to put a portion of their wealth aside for the poor and needy. This material sacrifice, compulsory on anyone earning excess wealth, is a reminder that those who give generously with pure intentions will be rewarded. “By no means shall you attain righteousness, unless you give of that which you love.” (Chapter 3: verse 92).
“Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He may multiply it for him many times over? And it is Allah who withholds and grants abundance, and to Him you will be returned.”
– The Holy Qur’an, 2:245
Charity in Sikhism is encompassed with the words of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, to “Recognise the whole human race as one”. They believe that their wealth is only acceptable when used to benefit others. The responsibility falls on the rich to look after the poor, this can be through giving them money or work. Wealth is only acceptable if it is used for other people such as giving them work or food. It is the responsibility of the rich to look after the poor.
“A place in God’s court can only be attained if we do service to others in this world.”
– Guru Granth Sahib Ji
Faith based charities work tirelessly around the world, following the path laid out by their religion. These charities are supported by volunteers and donations from those giving in the name of their God, as taught by their scriptures.