“You cannot be truly religious and rich”

Do you agree? Give reasons for your answer, showing that you have considered other points of view.

The issue of wealth is renowned world-wide for being topical as half of the world’s population is living in unbelievable poverty, whilst the other half is living quite comfortably, the majority overly so. Furthermore, the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing rapidly, the poor are becoming poorer whilst the rich are becoming richer. As well as wealth being a major issue in the world today, religion is also a prominent and conflicting issue also on the same level of interest.

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The Christian belief about the factors of wealth and religion is that if you are true to Christianity, you should follow the Christian belief that wealth should be shared with others, especially the poor and others who are just as unfortunate. It is emphasised in the quote “God blesses those who come into the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them,” written in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This belief is held strongly by many Christians and is emphasised greatly throughout the Bible, running throughout many of Jesus’ parables. It is adhered to that those who yearn for wealth and good fortune are lusting for an unobtainable dream and this dream can quite easily lead them to overthrow and corruption, as highlighted in the quote “People who went to get rich fell into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction” taken from 1 Timothy, 6:9-10. Furtherly, it is also stressed that because lust for money can take over someone’s life, it is claimed that “money is a root of all kinds of evil”.

As explained in Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan, it was said that the commandment claiming that Christians should love God and their neighbour’s was silently accentuating that you should share things with those around you and to help anyone that may be in trouble. In Luke 16:15, it is said that “what is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight”, proving that he does not value money or possessions but good in which people do in their actions and thoughts.

To be truly religious in the Christian religion, it is recognised that you should follow the teaching of the Bible and hold the utmost trust in God. It is also accustomed in the Christian religion that if you are religious, you should follow the teaching of giving to the poor no matter what your circumstances and treating them with care and respect. If you happen to be fairly comfortable, this would not be such a difficult task, but it has been noted that the more wealthy a person, the more reluctant they are to give away their money to benefit others, whereas those who are not so well off, are happy to help others out. This statement proves that it is difficult to be truly religious and maintain your richness as wealth has been proven to be an obstacle on the road to becoming truly religious.

The true definition of the word ‘rich’ is “something that is rich in something contains a large amount, e.g. someone who is rich owns desirable possessions and has a lot of money”. This definition proves that just because you are rich does not mean that you are not truly religious, as you can be rich in character, money or happiness, still retaining your richness and remain truly religious. The definition of the word rich backs up the Christian belief that wealth can be used for good or evil and so is not something bad itself, it should be treated as a gift from God and that it should be shared with the poor and those who are less fortunate.

The main problem in the world today concerning wealth is that the word ‘rich’ is easily confused with the word ‘greed’ as it can easily be assumed that just because someone is rich they are greedy. The definition of the word greed is simply “a consuming desire to have more” which can definitely be applied to the majority of the world’s population, but many of the rich are assumed to be greedy simply because of they amount of money they possess. What is normally forgotten is that although rich people are greedy to a certain extent as they continue to maintain a certain height of wealth, they may well give generously to charities and to the poor, but maybe just not generously enough.

It is a known Christian belief that wealth itself is not a bad thing, it is just the wrong attitude adopted by greedy humans who give it a bad name. It is made clear in the Bible that Christians must share all that they can with others, especially the poor, if they are rich. Actions such as this prove that being rich should not be a factor, which prevents someone from being religious. Just because someone happens to be better off than another does not mean that they are any less religious, but may be less likely to be as willing as someone else when providing for the poor and charities working to benefit them, where the matter of greed is concerned. It is accepted within the Christian religion that it is not wealth itself that does the harm, but the disposition of the humans who possess it and maintain the stir or greed where religion is affected.

It is taught within the religion of Islam that wealth is a God-given gift, so should be shared with others and where wealth is concerned within Islam, sharing is not an option. Muslims have to pay money annually and its called Zakah, as the name is taken from the pillar of Zakah where God commanded that wealth be shared especially with the poor. The amount of money that Muslims are expected to contribute depends upon their annual income, in which 2.5% of their income is automatically donated. It is accepted within the religion of Islam that you should volunteer money to charities if ever asked in the street and it is known as Sadaqah.

Muslims are taught to treat the poor as equals and help them whenever possible. As quoted from the Surrah, “Those who in charity spend their goods by night and by day, in secret and in public, have their reward with the Lord” taken from 2:274. Also outlined in the Hadith is the teaching that even if it means that you go hungry, you should share your food with others. It is backed up with the quote “he who eats and drinks whilst his brother goes hungry is not one of us”, claimed by al’Bukhari.

Within the Islamic religion, it is recognised that to be truly religious, you must be willing to give up everything in order to serve Allah and do anything within your power to serve him and follow his teachings, as outlined in the various Muslim Holy Books, such as the Qur’an and the Surrah. The topic of wealth is understood that it is a gift and so should be appreciated so much so that you would be willing to share it with others, especially the poor.

Wealth can be recognised as an obstacle on the path to being truly religious as if you are rich, you are already better off than those around you and it is accepted within both Islam and Christianity that wealth is God-given and should be shared. If you are not willing to share your money it causes problems, as you would not be accepted as truly religious, no matter how often you went to church, prayed to God or did other good deeds. This would be because although you are willing to go to church etc, you are unwilling to sacrifice something of your own with which you were blessed with by God and so it is frowned upon within the Christian and Muslim religion.

Viewing from another perspective, wealth can aid someone on his or her individual path to becoming truly religious. They can experience reaching this height of religion by providing for the poor, giving money to charity and sacrificing what they desire the most in order to gain a greater feeling of religiousness. Wealth can cause a person to realise that money does not bring happiness and so they would be willing to give it up or sacrifice what they could in order to seek that happiness.

In conclusion to this question, I believe that the word rich can be defined in many ways and not just necessarily meaning that by being rich you are wealthy, as I have realised that someone can be rich in character and personality or rich in happiness. I believe that you cannot be truly religious and wealthy due to the fact that if you were truly religious to the highest possible degree, then you would be willing to give away the wealth that you possessed to aid those in need, and therefore you would not remain wealthy. So by coming to this conclusion, I agree that you can be truly religious and rich.

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