Attitudes of Christianity and Islam Toward Merchants and Trade.

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From their origins to 1500, the attitudes of both Christian and Muslims toward trade shifted as conditions in the Christian and Islamic worlds changed. In the beginning, Christian attitudes were more negative, while Muslims tended to encourage and respect trade and merchants. Over time, Muslims became more like early Christians in that they were suspicious of traders whereas the Christians became more like the early Muslims, equating merchants (at least honest ones) with doing God’s work, reflecting the changed importance of trade in the high Middle Ages in Europe. At their origins, Christians and Muslims had different views about merchants and traders. This can be seen in the first two documents which are excerpts from the holy books of the two faiths. “A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God“(Document 1, Christian Bible, New Testament.) This excerpt from the document can be clarified as bias because it means for a rich man to enter the presence of god, it is near to impossible—countless people may not believe so and disagree. The Christian bible uses a parable to compare riches to the kingdom of God. Wealth turns into greed and if one is obsessive to riches and has possession of greed, they may not be able to reach heaven. Reginald, monk of Durham and colleague of St. Godric, says not to follow the life if a husbandman, but rather to study, learn and exercise the rudiment of more subtle conceptions. Merchant’s trade is the way of life; learn how to gain in small bargains and thing of insignificant price and to gain from things of greater expense (Document 3, written before the death of St. Godric.) Becoming a merchant means to donate to charity. To be a merchant and to follow Christ more freely, sell possessions and distribute them among the poor, for above all things coveted the life of a hermit; is dedication to god. A Muslim scholar of the name Ibn Khaldum, discusses the concept of commerce is believed to be deceitful; therefore one is less of a human being. Commerce is the increasing of capital by buying goods and attempting to sell them at a price higher than their cost. Waiting for a rise in the market price or by transporting the goods to another place where they are more keenly demanded. It is necessary to have enough initial capital to pay in cash the sellers from whom one buys goods, to sell for cash as honesty. Dishonesty leads on the one hand to fraud and the adulteration of goods and on the other to delays on payment which diminish profits because capital remains idle during the interval. (Document 5, fourteen century—Universal History.) Evasiveness, litigation and disputation, all of which are characteristics of the profession and qualities lead to a decrease and weakening in virtue which can mistaken as bias because some may say this persona to commerce makes one a human being. This shows a much more respectful view towards merchants and may reflect the fact that Muhammad, the founder of Islam was a merchant himself. Since this question is about attitudes about trade it would be more complete with documents portraying the views of more groups. For example, letters from Muslim merchants would allow us to examine that group’s view about trade. Documents from Orthodox Christians would give a more complete picture of the attitudes of Christianity. Collection records from Muslim mosques or Christian churches would allow us to compare how each benefited from merchants and so be able to analyze why they might hold a particular view towards trade or merchants The Qur'an is the holy book of Islam. The Qur'an is considered by Muslims to be "The Word of Allah". This book is different from other religious texts in that it is believed to be written directly by God, through the prophet Muhammad. Cheaters who when they take measure of their dues from men take it fully; and give full measure...
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