PROPHET Muhammad advised that if you are riding a camel or a donkey alone, offer someone a lift.
The act of sharing to ease the burden of others who are in dire need was highlighted at a recent wakaf conference.
As we reflect on the recent birthday of the prophet, there is no better message than the call to share.
Indeed, share the best -- not just as a token or for the sake of publicity.
The prophet also said: "He is not a believer who has a square meal while his neighbour starves."
In yet another instance, he recounted a traveller, who, after quenching his thirst at a well, offered water in his moccasin to a panting dog.
God appreciated the good deed so much that He granted him deliverance.
The prophet reaffirmed that there is divine reward for sharing with any living being.
Sharing is such an important gesture today when disparities are on the rise, as the socio-economic situation worldwide worsens because of not just the lack of sharing but also utter greed.
The act of sharing and performing charity are powerful ways of life to narrow gaps.
As the prophet attested, on the day of judgment, you will enjoy shade and comfort as a reward for your charitable deeds.
In the Quran, verse 273 of Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) states: "Charity is for those in need."
We are to help people in need regardless of religion.
The prophet further reminded us that charity does not diminish wealth. Nor does humility lower prestige. If you act humbly for God's sake, then He will certainly raise your rank.
In other words, it is best to perform charity with humility to the extent that the left hand knows not what the right hand is giving.
On another level, charity and justice are equally vital and linked.
The Islamic concept of charity, after all, is not merely limited to alleviation of grievances, but rather arriving at a form of social justice in the long run.
It implies, therefore, that every human being has the right to attain quality of life in an egalitarian way if charity is practised widely and honestly.
In some cases, as in zakah in Islam, it is obligatory and binding as a form of sharing between those who have and those who have not.
Sharing through charity, or otherwise, is also encouraged in many religions and beliefs.
For example, soon we will celebrate another day of kongsi, come Chinese New Year.
The word kongsi is now in the Malay vocabulary to emphasis just that -- sharing.
In fact, Kongsi is a name of a town in the Malay-dominated area of Balik Pulau, Penang, known for its diverse agricultural produce ranging from nutmeg, clove and pepper to vegetable.
The Analects, or Lunyu of Confucius remind us that "of neighbourhoods, benevolence is the most beautiful".
" How can the (wo)man be considered wise who, when (s)he had the choice, does not settle in benevolence?"
He noted, "The superior (wo)man thinks always of virtue; the common (wo)man thinks of comfort."
Confucius asserted that nurturing our hearts is the fountain head of benevolence, sharing and charity.
"The superior man will watch over himself when he is alone. He examines his heart that there may be nothing wrong there, and that he may have no cause of dissatisfaction with himself."
In similar ways, Prophet Muhammad talked about the heart (more accurately, qalbu) as a piece of flesh in the body -- if it is cleansed then the body becomes clean, otherwise the latter will "rot".
DZULKIFLI ABDUL RAZAK New Straits Times Learning Curve 27 January 2013