Thursday, August 1, 2019

Compare and contrast the human condition as it relates to Muslims and Christians

The author of this paper will endeavor to compare and contrast the human condition as it relates to Muslims and Christians. The author will examine the teachings of these religions as it relates to the improvement of the human condition and will look at the public stance of both of these great religions. One of the five basic pillars of Islam is the Zakaat or spiritual tithing or almsgiving. In its simplest terms it is a command by Muslims to give 2.5% of their accumulated wealth on an annual basis to other Muslims. According to www.islam.tc there is much more to the Zakaat than the simple annual giving. According to this website the Zakaat is â€Å"the most important act of worship which has to be performed monetarily.† The website further lists the many benefits of giving Zakaat as follows: â€Å"It reminds Muslims of the fact that whatever wealth they may possess is due to the blessings of Allah and as such is to be spent according to His commands.† â€Å"Zakaat functions as a social security for all. Those who have enough money today pay for what they have. If they need money tomorrow they will get what is necessary to help them live decently.† â€Å"Zakaat payer pays his dues to Allah as an act of worship, a token of submission and an acknowledgement of gratitude. The receiver of Zakaat receives it as a grant from Allah out of His bounty, a favor for which he is thankful to Allah.† Thus the Muslim by accepting the 5 pillars agrees that he is to help support the less well off from him. As this is a command from Allah, the benefits of the Zakaat are then seen as blessings directly from Allah. Allah says in the Qur'an â€Å"The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn. It grows seven ears and each ear has hundred grains. Allah increases manifold to whom he pleases.† (Qur'an 2:261) Further research indicates that the Hadith indicates the following benefits are derived from the Zakaat as follows: 1. Gain the pleasure of Allah 2. Increase in wealth and protection from losses 3. Allah's forgiveness and blessings 4. Protection from the wrath of Allah and from a bad death 5. A shelter on the Day of Judgment 6. Security from seventy misfortunes Benefit is sometimes looked upon as the avoidance of pain, and the Hadith certainly points out not only some benefits such as forgiveness and blessings, but additionally the avoidance of pain such as shelter on Judgment day and the security from seventy misfortunes. Allah also indicates punishment for not giving Zakaat as follows: â€Å"And there are those who hoard gold and silver and do not spend it in the way of Allah, announce to them a most grievous penalty (when) on the Day of Judgment heat will be produced out of that wealth in the fire of Hell. Then with it they will be branded on their forehead and their flanks and backs. (It will be said to them) This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves, taste then the treasure that you have been hoarding.† (Qur'an 9:34-35) Christians on the other hand are certainly not as public and seem to be by the author's experience somewhat bashful or ashamed to speak about money, tithing and almsgiving. From the author's own experience as a member of the Stewardship committee of his Church, we only speak of money three Sundays per year and only in the context that it is a member of the trilogy of time, talents, and treasures to be given for the glory of God. Further, Christians are of two minds as to the amount of money they should give. The old testament of the Bible in Leviticus 27:31 states the following: A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord. The word â€Å"tithe† means one tenth. In the new testament of the Bible, Jesus teaches us in Luke 6:38 â€Å"Give, it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.† Also in Luke, Jesus says in Luke 11:41 â€Å"But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.† The passages from the old and new testaments seem to be mutually exclusive, but do indicate that giving must be done, but not how much. Muslims, it seems are definitely more clear on the amount of giving. Also different between the Christian and the Muslim is who are we giving to? The Zakaat clearly indicates that Muslims are giving to other Muslims as a command from Allah which then gives benefit to both the giver and the receiver. Christians on the other hand clearly give to the Church. The Christian Church according to their doctrines then gives to help support the Church and also humankind as a whole. Christians routinely support other belief systems through their outreach and missions. Look as an example of the enormous support for Muslims by Christians after the Tsunami. The author is a member of an ELCA Lutheran Church and as part of the mission of this Church; the congregation took a mission trip in part to support a Catholic Orphanage in Peru. Muslims routinely praise or do not disparage the terrorist Osama Bin Laden. Why is this so? The reason is that Osama routinely supports other Muslims through generous giving to Muslims. Since there has been no outward vocal opposition to this generosity by Muslims it must therefore be an accepted practice. The author cannot recall or through research find any Christian terrorist let alone one who is exalted because of his giving. Both great religions certainly promote giving. The Muslim Zakaat clearly supports other Muslims which may just be the single biggest reason for the explosive growth of the Islam faithful in the world. Muslims believe the Zakaat should support all things Muslim such as education and cite Muhammad's exhortations regarding education as follows: â€Å"If you educate a man, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation.† Certainly the Zakaat helps support education amongst the Muslims which further adds to their burgeoning populations. Christianity on the other hand is more quiet and somewhat bashful in their attempts at Christian education amongst the world's non-Christian people which may account for the slower growth of Christianity. Certainly both religions are painfully aware of the decline in the overall human condition, but Muslims, because of their adherence to the Five Pillars are doing a better and more public job of showing humankind (not necessarily in the United States) the kind, peace-loving, nurturing side of their faith.

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