Christianity And Islam

which he had formerly held and exercised unrighteously." The long struggle between Church and State in this matter is well known. In this struggle the rising power of Islam had adopted a similar attitude. The great abhorrence of a secular " monarchy " in opposition to a religious caliphate, as expressed both by the dicta of tradition and by the Abbassid historians, was inspired, in my opinion, by Christian dislike of a divorce between Church and State. The phenomenon might be explained without reference to external influence, but if the whole process be considered in connection, Christian influence seems more than probable.

A similar attitude was also assumed by either religion towards the facts of economic life. In either case the religious point of view is characteristic. The reaction against the tendency to condemn secular life is certainly stronger in Islam, but is also apparent in Christianity. Thomas


Aquinas directly stigmatises trade as a disgraceful means of gain, because the exchange of wares does not necessitate labour or the satisfaction of necessary wants : Muhammedan tradition says, " The t pious merchant is a pioneer on the road of God." " The first to enter Paradise is the honourable merchant,55 Here the solution given to the problem differs in either case, but in Christian practice, opposition was also obvious. Common to both religions is the condemnation of the exaction of interest and monetary speculation, which the middle ages regarded as usury. Islam, as usual, gives this Christian idea the form of a saying enounced by Muhammed : " He who speculates in grain for forty days, grinds and bakes it and gives it to the poor, makes an offering unacceptable to God." " He who raises prices to Muslims (by speculation) will be cast head downwards by God into the hottest fire of hell." Many similar traditions fulminate


against usury in the widest sense of the word. These prohibitions were circumvented in practice by deed of gift and exchange, but none the less the free development of commercial enterprise was hampered by these fetters which modern civilisation first broke. Enterprise was thus confined to agriculture under these circumstances both for Christianity and Islam, and economic life in either case became "mediaeval" in outward appearance.

Methods of making profit without a proportional expenditure of labour were the particular objects of this aversion. Manual labour was highly esteemed both in the East and West. A man's first duty was to support himself by the work of his own hands, a duty proclaimed, as we know, from the apostolic age onwards. So far as Islam is concerned, this view may be illustrated by the following utterances : " The best of deeds is the gain of that which is lawful " : " the best gain is made by sale within lawful


limits and by manual labour." " The most precious gain is that made by manual labour; that which a man thus earns and gives to himself, his people, his sons and his servants, is as meritorious as alms." Thus practical work is made incumbent upon the believer, and the extent to which manufacture flourished in East and West during the middle ages is well known.

A similar affinity is apparent as regards ideas upon social position and occupation. Before God man is but a slave : even the mighty Caliphs themselves, even those who were stigmatised by posterity as secular monarchs, included in their official titles the designation, " slave of God." This theory was carried out into the smallest details of life, even into those which modern observers would consider as unconcerned with religion. Thus at meals the Muslim was not allowed to recline at table, an ancient custom which the upper classes had followed for centuries : he must sit, "as a slave," according to the

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