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Religious Studies

Sikhism: poverty and wealth

Sikh teaching

Sikhs believe that wealth is only acceptable if it is used for other people such as giving them work or food. It is the responsibility of the rich to look after the poor.

Blessed is the godly person and the riches they possess because they can be used for charitable purposes and to give happiness.

Guru Amar Das

A place in God’s court can only be attained if we do service to others in this world.

Guru Granth Sahib Ji 26

Charity is a very important part of Sikh teachings because equality and compassion [Compassion: A deep human emotion prompted by the pain and suffering of others. ] are essential for a spiritual life. All religions and all nations must be helped to live a good and peaceful life. Hard work is also essential for a Sikh - begging or not working is lazy and selfish.

Charity begins with caring for the family. Sikhs have followed this teaching in their social policies, building hospitals, care homes, special schools and hospices. Many Sikhs also take part in charity work all over the world; they are involved in Oxfam and Christian Aid.

Golden temple in Amritsar India

Golden temple in Amritsar India

Sewa or service to the community (sadhsangat) is essential to the life of a Sikh. They should be prepared to give up some of their time and energy to help others. For a Sikh it is a privilege and a duty to provide langar (food) in the gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) for the whole congregation after the weekly service of worship. The langar is part of the act of worship and a very fundamental aspect of Sikh life.

Guru Nanak (the first Guru) wanted everyone to be able to eat the same food in the langar, to share the tasks of preparation, cooking, serving and cleaning.

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