On Thursday, July 10th, Peace Islands Institutes held an Abrahams table discussion on charity in Abrahamic religions.
The concept of charity from a broad perspective was discussed under the title: “So that others may live.” Dr. Ayse Kubra Coskun from Yale University moderated the panel and our distinguished speakers were: Rabbi Dana Bogatz, Rev. Nicolas Mumejian, and Aida Mansoor. Speakers provided very interesting details about how a charity is understood and practiced in each respective religious tradition.
Rabbi Dana Bogatz is the chaplain for Brownstein Jewish Family Service. She spoke about charity in Jewish tradition and said that charity was also called “Sadaqa” which came means ‘righteous’. She mentioned a ladder of righteousness with 8 steps. The first being a person who gives money with regret, and the eighth being a person who helps someone find a job, therefore, he/she can look after his/her own family. Rabbi Bogatz mentioned that the most important thing was giving the charity and helping somebody, even though you gave it with or without regret. Rabbi Bogatz concluded by saying that most Jews give charity by multiples of 18. The significance of being number 18 is that it is the symbol of life.
Rev. Nicolas Mumejian, Managing Editor of The Muslim World journal, described the charity as a virtue. Rev. Nicolas mentioned that charity should become a habit, it shouldn’t be thought of as an action that happens once. He said that a person having such a wonderful habit of giving charity would unconsciously have a sincere and pure heart.
Aida Mansoor, the President of Muslim Coalition Connecticut, said that charity is very important in Islam. Aida mentioned there are two types of charity in Islam: One is ‘Zakat’, which is mandatory for a Muslim and means giving a percentage of the wealth to the needy yearly (if the believer is financially capable); The second type is a volunteer charity which is mentioned several times in the Quran and Hadith in various forms: from good manners to effort and time spent for a good cause. Aida concluded by saying that giving charity is a way of purifying your wealth and heart.
At the end, there was a questions & answers part, which was followed by the iftar dinner.