Islam and Christianity share a lot of similarities and differences. One of the most important similarities that they share is that they are both universal religions. Both Islam and Christianity are monotheistic religions, believing in only one god, which is also believed by some religions researchers to be the same god, but referred with different nominatives. In the Christian religion it is referred to as “Christ” and in the Islam religion it is referred to as “Allah”.
They do not only share these little similarities, but much more: like the beginning of the religions. In both holy books: the Bible for Christians and the Qur’an for Muslims, it is described the creation of the earth in the very first’s chapters. The Bible, as the Qur’an states that Christ created the world in six days; in the other hand the Qur’an states the same thing, but using the nominative of Allah instead than Christ. As time advanced many differences born between Christianity and Islam.
Christianity and Islam looked at merchants and trade form different points of views. With the years, the views of both religions of trade and merchants have altered in positive and negative ways.
During the early years of Christianity, trade was not viewed in a positive way, but it was more considered like an obstacle that would stand and block the bridge linking a person to heaven. In fact as we can see Document 1 states that being wealthy would place you further away from God and consequently, further away from God’s kingdom. “…a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, 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.” Being wealthy was thought of negatively by the New Testament, possibly meaning that earning a lower income would draw you nearer to God.
In Christianity trade was seen depending on how the merchant was going to use the profit, because there are two prospective to see trade. The negative way; which is the one stated in Document1 is when someone trades with the purpose not to benefits other people, but to benefit himself with the profit. The other way, which is different is the positive way, is much different because is the one where a merchant trades not only for benefit himself, but also to benefit others; donating part of the profit. Only in this way trade wouldn’t be an obstacle in the bridge linking the person to heaven; but instead it would be a sort of “shortcut”.
In fact Document 3, which describes the life of a twelfth-century British wealthy merchant named St. Godric, shows that there is a positive and negative way in which Christ looks at trade. Godric, after named St. Godric, was one of the firsts to understand the ways in which Christ looks at trade because even know that the Bible, or the word of Christ, stated that a wealthy man would hardly go to heaven, St. Godric proceeded trading. But he devoted himself to God, during his reteriment, using his wealth in charities, and aiding the poor people. “He sold all his possessions and distributed them among the poor. For above all things he coveted the life of a hermit.” This example shows that trade is not done only for personal benefits but that it is also done for the benefits of others, such as the poor and the sick people.
During the seventh century Islam viewed merchants and trade in a positive way in fact many Muslims were traders or merchants traveling around the known world selling or trading their home goods, and so spreading the Islam culture and religion. Islam supports trade, but until a certain level. In fact Document 2, which is a part of the Muslim’s holy book, the Qur’an, instructs merchants how to trade lawfully and truthfully. “If the two parties speak the truth and make it manifest, their transaction shall be blessed, and if they conceal and tell a lie, the blessing of their transaction shall be obliterated….
On the day of judgment, the honest, truthful Muslim merchant will take rank with the martyrs of the faith” This quote shows that merchants and traders were supported by the Qur’an, and so by the Islam religion, as long as they traded honestly between each other. In conclusion the Islam religion supported the Muslims merchants and allowed them to trade as long as they did not steal from each other and were honest.
Christianity has changed over the centuries. The radical changed is that Christians now accept trade in a positive way, but must be done accordingly. In Document 4, Thomas Aquinas, a leading Scholastic theologian of 1273, almost 1100 years after Document 1 was written, describes how to trade in the way that Christ will accept it. As we have seen in Document 1, Matthew states that a merchant should not sell something to another man for more than it is worth. “All things…whatsoever you would that men should do to you do you also to them.”
In the opposite hand, Thomas Aquinas is tring to interpret that message by saying that trade is allowed as long as the merchant doesn’t cheat its costumer or sells things that are not of his property. During that period people started thinking differently because at the early years of Christianity people so trade in a negative way; while during the thirteenth century people started thinking that Christ influenced people to trade and that with his presence their trading will go well; and so we can conclude that a new similarity between Islam and Christianity born, because according to Document 2 Muslims could trade as long as they were honest between each other.
Also Document 6 supports the fact that a radical changed occurred because, one of the merchants states in a letter: “With God always before us, we will carry out your bidding.” Christianity’s views on trade and merchants have changed from being condemned, to being used for daily life.
Also Islam’s views about trade and merchants got better with the years, because the Muslims like the Christians made it a daily occupation; and infact in document 5 Ibn Khaldun mainly writes about the importance of trade and making profit. This is a sign of change because in Document 2 it states that you shouldn’t sell something for more than it is worth. Islam, as Christianity, has not followed the writings of the Qur’an. This is another similarity between the two universal religions that shows that the two religions are very alike. Document 7, which describes a problem that had occurred during a trade transaction, shows that a negative change occurred in Muslims merchants: they started to think to much about the profit that hey were going to make, and so forgot the writings in the Qur’an.
Both Christianity and Islam have changed over time, due to scholars who thought openly to the New Testament and the Qur’an. Since trade in both of the religions had started off at different paces and different starting points, their views on trade and merchants turned out different. Overall, Christianity’s development was more righteous and more realistic than the development of Islam. Christianity and Islam have altered because of different perspectives of scholars of their religions and due to the requirement and changes of the market.
To better understand the development of trade according to Christianity, I would need an additional document that describes if the Christians merchants took advantage of the situations to cheat on their costumers or if they respected the new developments: trade was allowed as long as the merchants were honest between each other. If I would have the opportunity to have that document I could make a final affirmation about the developments of Christianity from the early years until 1500 C.E.