Views of Christianity and Islam Towards Trade.
Christianity and Islam are two of the most practiced religions in the world, and have been for centuries. These two faiths are both monotheistic, which means they worship one God, or Allah. Started over 2000 years ago, Christianity is based on the teachings and life of Jesus Christ and was spread throughout the Roman Empire. The religion of Islam began early in 600 C. E. by the prophet Muhammad, and he spread the word of Allah. These religions spread quickly in Europe and the Middle East. As they progressed, new trading routes came about in these areas.
Overtime, Christianity and Islam developed opinions about the trading and businesses activity and the people who pursued it. According to the religion’s holy books, the Bible and Qur’an, their views on trade were different at first. Christians believed that people should not trade; for it was not the pursuit of man. Muslims were much more tolerant of trade, as long as merchants were honest in their bargaining. By 1000 C. E, both the religions’ attitudes towards trade had changed completely. Christian scholars began to teach that honest trade was acceptable, while Muslim scholars saw the danger that trade brought to a man’s soul.
By the 15th century, attitudes towards trade had even more drastic change once again. Christianity espoused that trade was encouraged and worthy, while Muslims believed merchants were corrupt. When the two religions first began, Christianity and Islam differed at first on their views concerning trade. As stated in the Christian Bible, it is almost impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (document 1). For Christians, at first they had to live a humble life without making any profits.
Its said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. As for Muslims this differed because in the Qur’an, men were allowed to trade as long as they were honest; said in document 2. “If the two parties speak the truth and make it manifest, their transaction shall be blessed, and if they conceal and tell and lie, the blessing of their transaction shall be obliterated. ” This means that if two people trade fairly amongst each other without cheating, then nothing is wrong according to the Islam beliefs.
If one of the men are cheated, then their business will be wiped out. The point of document 1 was that Jesus was a poor man, therefore his followers lived up to being poor as well. When Christianity started, Christians believed that in order to go to heaven, they must live a poor and humble life, like Jesus did. The same logic applies for Muslims in document 2, who’s founder Muhammed was a wealthy merchant. In document two, the author is supporting merchants and saying that they will be accepted by Allah as long as they are truthful.
Muslims strongly believed that it was okay to be a wealthy merchant as long you are honest, like Muhammed. Therefore, the two religions were at first different because Christianity had negative views toward trade while Islam was for it; and they were alike because the reason for their views both traced back to their founders. In documents four and five, the view points of Christians and Muslims toward trade began to change. Christians, who were at first against trade and becoming wealthy from it, now say that it is okay to trade as long as you are honest.
Stated in document four, “No man should sell a thing to another man for more than its worth. ” This is saying that for men to do business with one another, they must not sell things for more than they are worth, or in other words scam each other. While Christian scholars are becoming more lenient towards trade than they were when the religion started, Islamic scholars are becoming more strict. Muslims now believe that selling things for a profit, even if it is honest, is inevitably affecting the soul. “These qualities lead to a decrease and weakening in virtue and manliness,” (document five).
The Islam look on trade now sees that the methods that trade employs are tricks aimed at making a profit by securing the difference between buying and selling prices. The two religions, however, are still somewhat similar because they both believe that trading for large profits can eventually lead to corruption of the soul. Views of trade by Christians and Muslims yet continued to change even further in documents six and seven. It seems in document six as if Christians were being encouraged to trade as long as it involved God.
Religious paintings of Our Lady were being asked for, therefore Christians now want people to trade. Also in document six it is stated that, “You know God has granted you to acquire great riches in this world, may He be praised. ” It is now expected for Christian merchants to trade and use God while doing so. Overtime you can see the change on the views of trade, because at first Christians did not want anyone making a large profit. As for Muslims, merchants are loosing money from trading. In document seven, Sakaoglu Nasuh is an example of how over time the commerce activity has affected his ethical customs. The aforementioned has now acted contrary to the old custom. ” This is because he is buying all the cotton yarn and selling them for higher prices. Hence, not giving the other merchants a fair opportunity to buy and sell the cotton as well. This is going against what the Islam religion believed, which is business activities are acceptable as long as you are not taking advantage of others. The Islamic Court probably said this is document seven because they wanted to please the people and let them know that merchants must obey.
The two religions continue to differ in these documents because Christians are now persuading people to trade, while Islam trading is becoming monopolized. However, Christianity and Islam are still alike in which they both use religion as an example. The attitudes of Christianity and Islam towards trade and merchants differed. When the two religions first began, they had opposite views from each other. Christians saw trade and wealth as being far from God and it was not approved. Muslims, on the other hand, tolerated trade as long as the two parties were honest and no one was taken advantage of.
Later on, these views changed when Christians became more lenient and also accepted honest trade. Muslims then saw trade as inevitably affecting the soul when merchants became corrupt by outbidding other merchants. However, we would need additional documents such as documents from the common people in order to asses the consequences of the merchant activities. We do not know how the Christians’ or Muslims’ commoners viewed the trading business, therefore, we cannot fully understand all aspects of the religions towards it.
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