Rich and loyal? Here’s what the 5 major religions say about money

“For the love of money is the root of all evil.” – Timothy 6:10

Whether it’s numbers on a bank screen or a fabulous bag of gold, the need for wealth is as old as human society itself. According to our best archaeological evidence, “money” is at least 5,000 years old. And given that the oldest sacred book we have, a cross between the Hindu Rig Veda and the Jewish Tanakh, was written around 1300 B.C. e., it is quite logical that the major world religions have a lot to say about money.

But, as you can imagine, the messages are not always clear. While Timothy 6:10 is a well-known biblical passage, it is obvious to anyone who has even a cursory glance at the Catholic Church or Christians around the world that there is much greed in them. Similarly, although the Quran, Dhammapada, Bhagavad Gita, and Tanakh contain explicit prohibitions against excessive wealth, the world is teeming with very wealthy Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Jews.

So, are all these people two-faced hypocrites? Well, before we throw the first stone, perhaps we should study what these religions actually say.

Path of Artha

One thing needs to be made clear from the outset: none of the major sacred texts today service unbridled greed, obscene wealth or vile methods of earning. But this does not mean that they teach that money is always bad.

Probably the most actively endorsing wealth is Hinduism. In Hinduism, there are four goals in life (known as Purusharthas), but perhaps they are better understood as three paths to one destination. The ultimate goal of life, the goal of all goals (parama-purusartha) moksha, which means liberation from the cycle of rebirth. road to mokshathen three things are required: Kama (pleasure and enjoyment) Dharma (righteousness, good works and duty), and Artha (material wealth and prosperity).

What Hinduism makes clear is that without wealth or money it is much more difficult to both enjoy life and be fully Dharmic. Those who are very poor have few resources left to satisfy Kama. Perhaps it is the voice of condescending privilege that says, “Money can’t buy happiness.” It certainly helps. According to Hinduism, only when we have money can we fully enjoy life and fully help other people.

Possession without desire

In Buddhism, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with money in itself, but there is something wrong with wanting or striving for it. One of the central tenets of Buddhism is, as far as possible, to separate oneself from the world of material things. We should strive to transcend our mundane reality (which is probably illusory anyway) and strive for enlightenment. As the Dhammapada advises us: “There is no fire like lust, no chain like hatred, no trap like delusion, no flow like craving.” Attachment to family, friends, possessions and, yes, money is a sure way to never leave Samsara (the cycle of rebirth).

But there is another branch of Buddhism, a rather subtle one. Although you should not be attached to money, you can also recognize the huge potential for good in money. Just like Hindus believe Artha necessary DharmaSome Buddhists argue that the accumulation of wealth is good if it is redistributed and used virtuously.

The one who gives you your wealth

As in Jewish science, so in the Tanakh there is nothing wrong with wealth. Money and wealth, like everything else, must be given and taken by God. As Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “But remember the Lord your God, for he enables you to produce wealth.” Unlike Christianity and Islam, Jews were never banned from usury, so historically they took on the role of bankers and creditors.

But nowhere in Judaism is greed or selfishness encouraged. While Leviticus 19 allows land ownership and the production of wine, it also tells Jews to leave some of their possessions to “poor and foreigners.” While Exodus 22 allows usury, it also says, “If you lend money to any of my people who are with you, who are poor… take no interest from him.” Charity, kindness, and the use of wealth for good emerge again and again, from the scholar Maimonides to contemporary rabbis. Central to many Jewish practitioners of life is the idea of ​​tzedakah. Tzedaka is not just charity (and this too), but also public consciousness and justice – awareness and desire to make the world a better place.

Easier for the camel

Because Christianity is one of the world’s most visible and well-known religions, much has been written about the sheer hypocrisy of money. Jesus was the poor son of a poor carpenter in a poor province of the Roman Empire. In the Gospel of Matthew, he said quite clearly: “You cannot serve God and money at the same time” and “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” One of the greatest church fathers – Augustine – even compared the love of money with idolatry (which was then punishable by death).

Yet the Catholic Church today has $3 billion in financial assets and immeasurable wealth when you consider the sales value of its church property, art, relics and artifacts. Bill Gates, Beyonce and Chris Pratt are practicing Christians. Everyone has an extra penny or two. How do Christians reconcile this? Well, as with Judaism, much of Christian theology is centered on the idea of ​​”governance.” God gives wealth and (in some Protestant movements) even rewarded those who work hard. We must use this money properly and for good deeds. Timothy (known as “the root of all evil”) even implies that being rich is good, as long as it doesn’t involve arrogance and disgust with God. Wealth and money are not bad, but they must be used properly. They may even let you do good.

Don’t Consume Each Other’s Wealth Unfairly

Given that it is the last of the three Abrahamic religions, it is not surprising that Islam is similar to Judaism and Christianity in regards to money. Like them, wealth in itself is not bad (haram), but can be obtained dishonestly (mal-haram), wasted (tabdhir), or squandered on meaningless things (israf). The Qur’an says: “Wealth and children are the adornment of life in this world”, and advises: “Let your wealth or your children do not distract you from the remembrance of Allah.”

One of the “five pillars of Islam” (which are the founding beliefs and behaviors of Muslims) is known as zakat. This is obligatory alms where all Muslims are required to give away part of their wealth (traditionally 2.5% of their wealth) to charity or to the poor. Fools are those who do not give their zakatbecause, as the hadeeth (Bukhari) reports: “He who has become rich thanks to Allah and does not pay zakat his wealth, then on the Day of Resurrection his wealth will be likened to a bald, poisonous male snake with two black spots above his eyes. The snake will wrap around his neck, bite him on the cheeks and say: “I am your wealth, I am your treasure.”

What is the essence of nightmares.

Johnny Thomson is our resident philosopher and contributor to The Well, a weekly newsletter that explores the most important issues on the world’s brightest minds. Click here to subscribe.

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