Throughout history the most violent wars were fought over religion. Even today it seems the world is divided by religious faiths, however there is one aspect that is practiced in all the major religions, altruism, giving to the poor and taking care of the world around us.
The most widely practiced religions are Christianity (2.3 billion people), Islam (1.8 billion people), Hinduism (1.1 billion people), Buddhism (.5 billion people) and Judaism (10 million people). All of which teach its followers from a very young age to give to the poor through material wealth and volunteering.
The fundamental believe to give assistance to the poor practiced in all major religions gives hope that we are not so different after all from each other no matter what faith we practice.
One of the most important texts of Christianity, the Sermon on the Mount says If you help the destitute, you comfort the suffering ones - you do good not only for them, but for Jesus Christ, as well. Followers must give wisely and cheerfully rather than for praise and admiration from others. Giving should be for an act of glory of God and the good of His people. Christians believe money and possessions are irrelevant as there is something beyond this world that is better and they put their faith to provide in God.
In Islam it is mandatory to provide charitable contribution, as it is the right of the poor to find relief from the rich and is considered to be a tax, or obligatory alms. Typically charity is given around the month of Ramadan but can be made at any time, to anyone. Giving, also called sadaqah, can take various forms: money, clothing, knowledge and shelter. In Islam, it is compulsory for Muslims who can afford it to give a minimum 2.5 per cent of their savings.
Buddha Shakyamuni more than two and a half thousand years ago recommended charity, as one of the paths to enlightenment. Charity involves material giving, giving of fearlessness and giving of dharma. Material giving involves giving food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless and money to the poor. Giving fearlessness means saving beings' lives, while giving of dharma means sharing Buddhist teachings with others.
Hinduism, states that a good person has three character traits: damah (self-restraint), daya (compassion or love for all life) and dāna (charity). Where charity is more than just giving; it involves the sharing of resources with others, be it wealth, food or other things. Dāna has been defined in traditional texts as any action of surrendering the ownership of what one considered or identified as one's own, and investing the same in a recipient without expecting anything in return.
In Judaism, tzedakah (charity) is a fundamental part of the Jewish way of life. Tzedakah is used interchangeably for charity, tzedakah is seen as a form of social justice provided by the donor as well as those who utilize the support to do their work and those who allow the support into their lives. As is the case with justice, this critical social responsibility cannot be done to someone – rather, it must be done with someone. In Judaism, a percentage of income is given to charity, however, it is not only about giving money but also to show compassion and empathy along with the donation. Traditional Jewish homes commonly have a pushke, a box for collecting coins for the poor.