Eminent spiritual leaders / scholars representing Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and the Zoroastrian faiths presented Papers. These papers can be obtained on request, according to a press release.
Addressing the gathering, Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani said that charity is not a moral act but a legal obligation to help the poor. Zakat is primarily a congregational welfare system to uplift the destitute by various means, helping in kind and also by means of a good education. Islam brought about a structuring of charity by making it legally binding on Muslims to give a percentage of their wealth to the needy.
Sardar Nanak Singh Nishter, director International Sikh Centre for Interfaith Relations noted that the Gurus made use of the grants given to them for creating employment for the masses. They encouraged artisans and merchants for transacting businesses from locals and far off places by extending financial assistance. There is no concept of charity in Sikhism since the receiver becomes inferior and the giver superior which brings about inequality. Sikhism asks to share one's earning for bridging the gap between the rich and poor.
While Dr Anthoniraj Thumma, executive secretary, AP Federation of Churches, noted that crores were spent for treatment and rehabilitation of AIDS and tuberculosis patients by various charities, this was not enough. "There must be empowerment by education. Social and economic equality must go hand in hand. We must nip poverty in the bud. Charity must be given so that the poor stand up on their own feet and become employable or self sufficient. Unfortunately the government has taken thousands of acres from the poor in the name of setting up special economic zones, Thumma said.
Among other speakers were Sangarakshit Mahatera, chairman, Budhha Vihar, Kastur Chanji Jhabak, president, Shri Jain Swetamber Sangh, Vital Rao Arya, president, Arya Prathividhi Sabha and Brahma Kumari Anjali and O M Debara from the Parsi community.
The event was attended by religious leaders from different faiths, social activists, politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen and journalists.
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