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2002 DBQ Essay

By: Jesse Burkett Period 5

Christian and Islamic attitudes differed in their approaches towards trade in their early stages, throughout time, however, their attitudes changed, and eventually they were basically reversed. There are three aspects of commerce approached by these religions, the merchant, the buyer, and the idea of profit, or simply the business of trade. Christianity and Islam had disagreeing views in the early stages of their development. Document 1, a passage from the Christian Bible has a negative outlook on the business of trade. It was written by Matthew, who claimed that Jesus believed that the rich would be so consumed with their selfish desires that they will have difficulty entering the kingdom of God. Document 2, however, written by Muhammad, expresses a more condoning view to merchants. Muhammad, however, likely favored merchants, seeing as he used to deal with them all the time. From his dealings with merchants he understood that trade could be a successful and efficient process if done honestly and properly. These primitive views express the mindset of early theologians of these developing religions. A document from a merchant would be helpful in determining the credibility of these beliefs. Throughout their development Christianity and Islams opinions concerning merchants and trade changed. Christianitys opinion lessened in severity, while Islams changed due to the death of a biased leader. Yet, Ibn Khaldun, author of Document 5, was biased as well. Being a religious scholar, he saw the flaws in all that are not very faithful. Those who were merchants or participated in trade were distrustful and cheating in his eyes. Although Christianity still possessed a negative attitude toward merchants and trade they were beginning to become more accepting by the twelfth century. Document 3 tells of the life of a successful merchant, but the ending expresses the authors true opinion about merchants, eventually they will regret their decision to spend their life making money and should turn to religion. I would like to see a document from a merchant to see if the religious scholars were accurate. By the end of this era, near the fifteenth century, Christian and Islamic views were nearly inverted. In Document 4 Christianity has nearly the same accepting attitude towards trade as Islam did in Document 2. Islam, on the other hand, developed a negative attitude towards the buyers participating in trade because they would easily take advantage of the merchants, according to Document 7. Document 6 shows the

perspective of the actual consumers involved in trade. This supports Document 4 because it demonstrates how Christian merchants and their buyers interacted and how they both attempted to get as much as possible for as little as possible. A religious document written from an Islamic viewpoint would be helpful in determining their attitudes in this time period more precisely. Christian and Islamic views changed significantly from their origins to the beginning of the modern world. These religions opinions about trade and merchants throughout this time period changed in response to their societies interactions with these businesses.