Posted by: fathersez | January 28, 2008

My personal motivation and guide on “charity”

All of us have our own reasons to contribute to charity.

How much should we give, how we should give and to whom we should give are matters which are quite personal to each and everyone of us.

In a world where spending less and less is become a mantra, charity is quite a misfit. What corresponding value do we see or get when we give to charity? How should we allocate scarce funds for charity?  When even paying down a punishing debt requires self discipline, what kind of motivation and self discipline does giving to charity need? 

I think my earliest introduction to charity was watching my eldest brother make donations to roadside beggars. My original motivations were, I suppose, also from the concept of “being good.” Being good means we should help people and one way is to make donations.  

As I grew older, my motivations changed. It changed from the vague concept of “just being good” to specific guidance from our Holy Book.

Though I am no religious expert, some verses from our Holy Book have really struck some chords in me.  My favorite guiding verses on charity are:- 

Verse 274 of Surah 2 

Those who (in charity),

Spend of their goods

By night and by day,

In secret and in public,

Have their reward

With their Lord:

On them shall be no fear,

Nor shall they grieve      

Verse 18 of Surah 57 

For those who give in charity,

men and women,

And loan to God,

a beautiful loan,

It shall be increased manifold,

(to their credit)

And they shall have (besides),

A generous reward.  

Verse 9 of Surah 76 

Saying, we feed you

For the sake of God alone

No reward do we desire

From you nor thanks. 

These 3 verses (I am sure there are many other verses extolling charity) are my favorites. They are my guiding lights and give me my strong motivation to give and to expect nothing in return from the recipient(s), not even a word of thanks.  

I am sure that all the great religions of the world, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, etc., have equally compelling messages on charity. 

For people with strong religious beliefs, the motivation for contributing to charity may probably come from religion.  

What about those without strong religious beliefs? Where does their motivation and discipline come from?

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Responses

  1. Perhaps the desire of the non-religious comes from their inborn compassion for those in need. I think we all share that compassion, though we might look at it different ways.

    I know that the Christian scriptures (and the Jewish ones) are very strong, like the Qu’ran, in encouraging charity to others. Jesus said, for instance, “Give to anyone who asks of you.” That’s very hard to live out.

    I believe that in Hindu and Buddhist cultures, it’s considered very important to do acts of good karma towards others. Some Buddhists I know say that we should consider our good fortune and our relation to all living beings (since if there’s infinite reincarnation, we must have been in relation with everyone at some time) and give generously to aid people and animals on their path.

  2. Mrs. M,

    People do have some inbuilt mechanism to do good, though so often they do things that make me feel that they have a default mechanism to self destruct.(like the sub prime causes).

    Christianity, Judaism and Islam have quite a lot of similarities I think. And the verse you have quoted on the message from Jesus to us is clear.

    What you say about Hindusim and Buddhism also corresponds with what I have understood. We must do good now, so that our reincarnated self gets to benefit.

    I must admit your comment is very incisive, thank you.


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