Is Your Faith the Greediest?

Find out what these major religions have to say about greed.

Continued from page 2

Hinduism

Hindu teachings about greed are similar to those of Buddhism. As in Buddhism, Hindus regard greed as dangerous and believe that it results in a cycle of rebirth. The law of karma, furthermore, says that greed is one of the primary causes of suffering in the world. Avoiding greed, therefore, is one of Hinduism's

yamas

, the restraints that Hindus observe in following Hindu dharma.

"A person is what his deep desire is. It is the deepest desire in this life that shapes the life to come," the Chandogya Upanishad says, warning that greed influences future rebirths. The Bhagavad Gita also warns against greed: "For the man who forsakes all desires and abandons all pride of possession and of self reaches the goal of peace supreme."

Avoiding greed helps a person lead a virtuous life in this lifetime. The Holy Kural, a first-century Hindu text, teaches that the virtuous shun greed, among other qualities. " Virtue is living in such a way that one does not fall into these four: Envy, anger, greed and unsavory speech (4:35)." The Kural also says, " Do not seek the fortune that greed gathers, for its fruit is bitter in the day of enjoyment. To protect his own prosperity from decline, one must not crave the property held by others (18:177-178)."

Islam

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Muslims are required to pay

zakat

, a mandatory donation to charity. Zakat, which is one of the five pillars of Islam, is meant to keep Muslims free of greed. Islam teaches that it's alright to have some possessions, but the payment of zakat helps keep one's wealth in check.

Greed is seen as a distraction from God. The Qur'an states, " The mutual rivalry for piling up (the good things of this world) diverts you (from the more serious things) (102:1)."

At the same time, Islam, like Catholicism and Judaism, understands that some material things are necessary-it is only when they mislead that they become harmful. One hadith, or saying of the prophet, states, "Eat what you want and dress up as you desire, as long as extravagance and pride do not mislead you (The Prophet Muhammad, as reported by Abd'Allah ibn Abbas)."

Judaism

There is no direct admonition in Judaism about being greedy, though the Torah includes many prohibitions against obtaining money wrongfully. Judaism does not encourage poverty or asceticism and instead understands that desire for money or material possessions is often necessary. The Midrash explains, "were it not for the yetzer hara (the evil urge), a man would not build a house, take a wife, beget children, or engage in commerce."

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