|What religions say about money
One thinker, Ali bin Abi Talib, a cousin of the prophet
Mohammed, said, "If poverty were a human being, I could have
He said that, Imam Ali explains, because "sometimes
poverty pushes someone to behave like a disbeliever. It can push
someone to kill, steal or be depressed."
Pastor Kummer has spent a lot of time thinking about
the effects of poverty. "One of the places that really got
my attention years ago was the Book of Proverbs," he says.
"What struck me is that God takes the treatment of the poor
personally. The person who mocks the poor insults his neighbor,
and oppression is condemned.
"A ruler, we're told, is judged on how he treats
the poor. The idea is that God has concern for the poor and that
generosity is important."
Kummer quotes Proverbs 31:9, which says rulers are
judged by whether they "defend the rights of the poor and
The Quran offers many guidelines on how to invest," says
Imam Ali. "We have an investment system, Mudarabah, which
is very important."
The idea is basically paying someone for his investment
savvy -- the concept behind paying mutual fund fees or financial
"Say I have money and I don't have skill. I
go to Sam, who has business skill, and I give him $250,000 to
invest for the business. Sixty percent is mine, and 40 percent
Jewish law includes a hefty amount of business law.
Honesty in weights and measures is strictly enforced.
As for walking around the mall and not buying anything,
that's not something Jewish law approves of. Misleading a merchant
intothinking you are going to buy when you have absolutely no
intention of spending a cent is forbidden.
If you're wondering how major religions feel about credit cards,
the answers are right in the texts.
In the Bible, all interest is forbidden, according
to Rabbi Blesofsky. "However, there are certain halachic
rulings -- halacha is Jewish law -- that allow interest. There
is a halachic exception to allow that."
The whole question of interest is a "controversial
topic and an ongoing debate" among Islamic leaders, Imam
Ali says. Islam
doesn't allow interest either, but that doesn't always work
in the modern business world.
"If someone comes to you for a loan, he comes
out of need," Imam Ali says. "If I loan you money and
I find that you have difficulty paying me back, Islam encourages
me to forgive the debt. God will reimburse me."
Pastor Kummer notes that being enslaved -- perhaps
by excessive debt -- is frowned upon in Christianity.
But all three clerics have bank accounts at financial
institutions that, naturally, charge interest.