Charity is one of the best ways to serve humanity. It helps the poor by providing them basic necessities such as food, shelter, and clothes, etc. Countries that follow religions such as Christianity and Islam are one of the most charitable sources in the world. People belonging to other religions also do charity but not at that level. Furthermore, in some religions, charity is one of the biggest pillars/foundations. For instance, Muslims are bound by their religion to do as much charity as possible throughout the year. Similarly, Christians as well believe that charity is a fundamental part of their religion, which cannot be ignored.
As a matter of fact, one could say that religion and charity in many countries go hand in hand. Let us take a look into how much people belonging to different religions donate and what it means to them.
Charity in Judaism
Apart from Christians and Muslims donating to charity, religions such as Judaism perceive donations to charity as a commandment. What this means is that people following the religion are ordered to donate to charity and do not have any other way around it. Furthermore, their religious books, in certain places have explicitly commanded their followers to donate generously to charity. Judaism religion follows the Torah, which happens to consist of several commandments. Charity amongst them stands at an equal level. The concept is followed by the fact that a king back in the day was the protector of the defenseless and poor. Moreover, no one should be treated as an alien just as one wouldn’t like to be treated as an alien as well.
Similarly in Jewish law, charity is known as a mitzvah that is also a commandment and not an option. It is one of the greatest ways to serve humanity without any strings attached. Moreover, it is said that ‘He who is generous to the poor makes a loan to the lord’. The similarity with Islam in this context is surprising.
Muslims pay zakat or zakah every year, which is also believed to be a loan given to GOD. In Islam, zakah is compulsory and it is the right of the poor and particularly GOD, which you cannot decline. Today, Judaism has given birth to many non-profit organizations around the world that raise and donate millions of dollars each year to be donated to charity. An average Jewish household donates $2,526 to charity each year, which is comparatively more than what Catholics donate.
Charity in Islam
Islam consists of five pillars and charity is one of them. In Islam, the charity could be given in different forms but the best is zakat or almsgiving. As already mentioned, it is the right of the poor and GOD, which Muslims are not allowed to ignore or refuse. Every Muslim, each year according to his/her assets is bound to give zakat. If one happens to possess diamonds, gold, land, livestock, or just cash, a certain percentage is enforced based on which zakat is given. Not only is it a way of helping the poor but giving back to the community as well. Today, in the modern world, we see charity as a personal act, however, in Islam, it goes way beyond just community duty.
Charity is also a way to purify oneself. By giving charity, one could purify his/her deeds and pay attention to serving God. This way while you are serving and helping humans, you are serving God as well. For instance, during the month of Ramadan, Muslims will donate comparatively more due to it being a divine month. This is also a way to donate and is considered charity. To put it briefly, charity in Islam is both very simple and basic. From meeting a brother with a cheerful face and fighting against evil within to helping the poor, each act is considered charity. Although most Muslims would like to donate in secrecy but the Muslim Charities Forum estimates that during Ramadan each year, Muslims donate around 100 million pounds to charities.
Charity in Christianity
Charity in Christianity is similar to zakat in Islam. Christians believe that God has blessed them with wealth for a reason and they are accountable for using it the right way. For this reason alone, you shall observe that Christians have developed non-profit organizations across the globe. It is one of the highest donating religions and rightfully so. In 2013 alone, Catholic charities of the USA had estimated that it had spent more than $4 billion to serve more than 10 million people.
These charities are spent on building schools, hospitals, and shelter homes for the needy. Moreover, the amount collected is also spent on education and providing basic necessities to the poor. One of the richest and known personalities in the world, Warren Buffet tops the list when it comes to donating to charity. In 2019, it was said that Warren Buffet had donated $3.6 billion to five charities, which included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well.
Charity in Buddhism
Buddhism religion functions on a principle that every human is interdependent. One should always be compassionate and come along to help others in need. Eliminating greed and overcoming selflessness is the biggest form of charity. Buddhists have come a long way in helping people. One way or the other, they have always made themselves available to serve humanity. Simple acts such as sharing the loss of someone or helping someone through tough times are also considered charity as it involves donating one’s time and effort to help someone in need.
Charity in Buddhism is directly related to generosity. If one manages to be as much generous as possible during his life, it would be the biggest charity known to mankind, according to Buddhism. Unlike Muslims and Christians who spend millions on charity each year, Buddhists believe in participating and getting themselves involved in activities and projects that directly help those suffering from poverty. While the numbers might not be there but extreme generosity and compassion make it up for the priceless donations, which in financial terms would otherwise be in billions of dollars.
Charity in Sikh Perspective
Founded by Guru Nanak, Sikh is one of the youngest religions. If there is anything that comes after religion, it is Guru Nanak for Sikhs. Known for his generous acts and compassion throughout his life, Guru Nanak had urged his followers and admirers to engage in charitable acts, necessary for salvation. He insisted that one should earn through honest means, help the oppressed and distribute a share of his earnings to the needy.
Since Guru Nanak is the center of Sikh religion, it is not surprising that Sikhs hold him as close as possible. Guru Nanak’s concept of langar (free kitchen) has motivated and kept alive the tradition of giving to the poor amongst Sikhs. It is estimated that Sikhs donate 125 million pounds to charity each year. Not only that they also engage in countless hours to help the community in need.
In the end, it could be said that religious people tend to donate comparatively more. Although non-religious people tend to donate as well but it is more like a personal act. However, in popular religions such as those mentioned above, it is about serving GOD. For years, Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs have topped the list for the most donations to charity. Commanded by religions, it is an act that directly relates to the prosperity of human beings.