Sharing is deeply rooted in the teachings of the Abrahamic Faiths.
The Bible refers to the concepts of ‘gleaning,’ which is the practice of allowing the poor into the fields and gardens to collect what the harvesters leave behind. For example, the Deuteronomic Code of the Torah mentions that olive trees should not be beaten more than once during the harvest so that there will be fruit left for the poor, widows, strangers and orphans.
Sharing is one of the first lessons children must learn when they come into contact with other children, whether at home or in a nursery. It is one of the two most important ways to prevent conflict between children, the other being how to say ‘sorry’ and make friends again. Many adults have failed to learn these vital lessons and most of the world's injustice and conflicts can be attributed to this failure.
All the religions dissuade believers from following their desires, the 'I want' demon, without restraint or consideration for others. All the Abrahamic faiths teach restraint in enmity towards others: Jesus (peace to him) reiterated the Jewish law, quoting Deut. 6:5 and Lev.19:18:
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is reported to have said:
'Hate your enemy mildly, for one day he may become your friend.’
This is based on Qur'an 41:34:
Good and evil cannot be equal. [Prophet], repel evil with what is better and your enemy will become as close as an old and valued friend,
To counteract hostility arising from resource (or toy!) conflict, there are various strategies that can be employed: learning to share equitably is one of these, as exemplified by the water management regulations in Islamic law, based on ‘taking turns’ – another important principle.
Fair trade is another important concept, and Islamic directives on fair trade fill whole books of hadith and jurisprudence. Basically, for children, the rule is, ‘Don’t take anything from a person without giving something back that the person will accept in exchange.’ This also applies on the global scale to the planet that supports us. If we take without giving back, we upset the whole balance of justice and ecology that God created. So plant more trees! Use organic fertilizer!
We hope some of the wisdom of our religions will shine through from the teachings to the environmental tips for our daily lives. We hope that if we try to show people how to share the unique and beautiful garden of this world fairly, we may be better fitted to enjoy the rewards of that other, more lasting garden in the next.