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Muslim and Christan Attitiudes Towards

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 768
  • Category: Islam

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When comparing and contrasting the attitudes of Christianity and Islam toward merchants and trade from the religions’ origins until about 1500, we notice there is a change in attitude over time in Christianity, while the attitude of Islam maintains continuity.

The New Testament written by Matthew in 70 to 80 CE, makes it seem that wealthy men, merchants, or tradesmen, will have a much more difficult time entering the kingdom of heaven than a man who lives a humble, lowly life. Notice that it is stated that it is difficult for a wealthy man to enter the kingdom of heaven, not impossible. Now when approaching this topic from Islamic values, we notice that being wealthy is not frowned upon as it is in Christianity. Islam says that being wealthy is accepted, as long as the manner in which one has achieved their wealth is trustworthy, honest, and respectable. As long as a merchant holds these values in their work they will have their spot in the kingdom of heaven.

As time progresses to a second later period, the ideas remain very close to their original viewpoints. We receive a story of a man, Godric, who began his life yearning towards the goal of wealth and materialistic gratification. This does neglect the views of Christianity, however as Godric’s life continues he become conscious of the fact that what he is pursuing is not what he actually wants. He gravitates towards motions that advocate the original perspective of Christianity stated in the New Testament, he spends his wealth on charity and on God’s honor and service. He leads himself back to the life of a simple man, who appreciates his faith, more than his wealth. In addition, it is stated in 1273, by Thomas Aquinas that it is against God’s teaching to sell an item for anymore than it’s worth, this only further supports Christianity’s view on merchants. However, in complete opposition of what Thomas Aquinas has said, the Islamic position shows continuity again, when Ibn Khaldum states that selling things for more than they are worth is Commerce. He also says that this is ok, as long as it is done honestly, which again, contradicts the initial Christian belief, but Supports the original Islamic belief.

In the latest period, the continuity of the Christian belief on the topic of wealth has been broken while the Islam view upon wealth has maintained continuous. In letters from Italian merchants in the fourteenth century, a merchants mother exclaims that it is God’s blessing upon her son that has blessed him with his successful trading career. This statement completely contradicts what has been written by Matthew in the New Testament. The merchants mother said that God has been good to her merchant son, but according to Matthew, the wealthy merchants will be like a camel passing through the eye of a needle on their journey to the kingdom of heaven. Another Italian merchant letter said “…in the name of God and profit…” which again is a total contradiction of what Matthew has said only several hundred years earlier. It would be beneficial to see a document in which someone creditable in the hierarchy of the Christian faith has said something along the lines of “wealth is not bad, and you can still get into heaven just like any other man”. If something like that were included in the series of information given it would allow for a basis on which the start of Christian mindset has changed over the years.

The periods of continuity and then a change of Christian views differs from the Islamic views which have maintained continuous. The latest information given concerning this topic on the Islamic point of view has confirmed the continuity. It said that a merchant once would buy all of the supplies and leave none for the competitors in his field of work, granting him the monopoly and ability to inflate prices. This was then determined to be against the teachings of honesty and trustworthiness the Qur’an, so the merchant changed his ways and proceeded to purchase the supplies with the other merchant in a fair manner. As Illustrated, it is now clear to see that the mindset concerning attitude towards merchants and trade from the religions’ origins until about 1500, had indeed maintained the same in the Islamic faith, where as it has changed in Christian faith. The Christian view Changed from not accepting of wealthy merchants to advocating trade and wealth, while in a contradicting manner, Islam has maintained a continuity in its attitude towards merchants and trade.

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