The term "charity" derives from Christian theology, in which charity is one of the three great moral virtues (it means loving kindness towards others). Though the term charity itself is from the Judeo-Christian tradition, this fraternal regard for a kindness toward others is inherent across traditions:
• The ancient Greeks used the term "agape" (or love) to describe a person's seemingly innate inclination to help others.
• In Islam, the term "hubb" or "mahabbah" denotes tenderness and affection, and often results in "sadaquah," or almsgiving.
• In Buddhism, there exist multiple kinds of charity, but pure charity is considered the best merit a person can possess.
This sense of charity translates into a moral duty to help others, often through self-sacrifice. In its most common incarnations, such self-sacrifice includes the giving of money or goods to those less fortunate, or the donation of time to help others in need.
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|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|