Comparative Analysis Essay: Catholicism Vs Islam

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Classical antiquity spiraled down with the fall of ancient empires like Greece and Rome. Consequently, Christianity and Islam, along with their cultures, began to grow and even trade routes like the Silk Road and the Trans-Saharan developed, marking the start of the Post-Classical era. Although these trade routes were new and innovative, Muslims and Christians had opposing views on trade in general. At first, Muslims tolerated trade because of their religious laws while Christians were against it because of prophetic references from the Bible. As time went on, their views swapped with Muslims being against trade and Christians being for trade mainly because of the negative/positive characteristics that could be brought upon a person from trading.

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Document 1, which is an excerpt from Summa Theologica, has a prophetic reference from Matthew. That reference explains that a man shouldn’t do something to another man if they didn’t want that happening to them. This goes to Christianity’s backbone of honesty and fairness. The rich merchants were considered greedy and dishonest, leading Christians to believe those merchants would not enter eternal life in paradise. Since the Christians had the Bible, where the words were straight from God, their need to obey those words couldn’t be reasoned with. For example, porcelain was one of the many goods traded along the Silk Road and if a merchant were to cheat their way into receiving a higher price from it, they were looked down upon. The historical context of this document goes before the expansion of Catholicism. The Bible was the holy text of Christianity being that it was the direct words of God and his prophets. At this time, Christianity lured the poor and not the rich, which makes sense since this excerpt reprehended the rich. However, the general Christian attitude towards merchants became more positive due to the Roman Catholic Church rising in power. They considered them hard-working, they started to appreciate their skills, and showered merchants in a more positive light. Yet, they continued to have negative views towards dishonesty and cheating because of the negative way it was portrayed in the Bible.

Document 3, which are the words from Kitab al-ibar, explains commerce and the negative characteristics a merchant possesses. However the Prophet Muhammad was a trader, so Muslims believed that being a merchant was acceptable as long as they were truthful because of what was said in the hadiths. The hadiths mentioned on the subject of trading were: if a merchant was truthful, they would have a successful and blessed trade, but, if they were dishonest, their trade would be unsuccessful and they would lose blessings from it. This corresponds to what is said in the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, because those are the words from Allāh and his messengers so the Muslims would abide by them. The historical context of this document was that it was written by a Muslim scholar on the topic of universal history and not just in the Islamic world. It was written in Arabic and used religious and patriarchal points which showed the dominance of Islamic values at that time. The attitude towards merchants started to become bitter because of those negative characteristics sprouting out from the back of people’s minds once again. The Qur'an states the same thing as the Bible, where dishonesty and cheating will not get one a place in Jannah. They believed that dishonesty and cheating would affect one’s soul. However, since they knew the trade was a necessary practice, they accepted the merchants slowly but still continued their dislike of dishonesty and cheating like the Christians.

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Comparative Analysis Essay: Catholicism Vs Islam. (2024, February 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from
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