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Attitudes of Christianity and Islam Toward Merchants and Trade.

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Attitudes of Christianity and Islam Toward Merchants and Trade.

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  • April 26, 2011
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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...