Authority in Islam

February 19, 2018


Islam is the youngest of the world’s major religions originated in the seventh century with the life and mission of Muhammad.  It was not a totally new religion.  Its conceptual roots are in Judaism and Christianity.  Muslims see their religion as a continuation and rectification of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Born in Mecca 570 A.D, Muhammad was an illiterate, orphan slave of a wealthy widow, whom he eventually married.  By his marriage, he became a person of importance and was able to find time for uninterrupted meditation on religious matters.  He was concerned about the idolatry and polytheism of his countrymen.  Forced out of Mecca because of his teachings, he and his followers moved to Medina, where he developed his teaching more fully.  Muhammad used his teachings of Islam to unite many Arab tribes in warfare against enemies.  Islam won much of the Middle East by force.

Jewish and Christian Scriptures

Muslims believe that Allah has revealed his commands to men through his prophets and through 104 sacred books.  Of these books, only four now remain that where written by the “prophets”.

Moses – the Taurah, the Pentateuch

David – the Zabur, the Psalms

Jesus – the Injil, the Gospels or the N.T. in general

Muhammad – the Qur’an


Although Islam claims credit to David for the Psalms and Jesus for the Gospels or the New Testament, David did not write all of the Psalms and Jesus did not write any part of the New Testament, whereas the others writers did write or dictate their works.  Muslims claim that the Old and New Testaments have been distorted, however, somehow the Qur’an could not have been distorted, nor does it state what is corrupted in them.  If only 4 of 104 books remain of the sacred writings of God then He does not have a good track record of ensuring that His Word will be preserved.  Therefore, how can we trust the Qur’an? 

Muhammad did not claim to bring a completely new revelation, or to establish a new religion.  His concern was to bring his people back to the original religion professed and preached by all the prophets from Adam onwards. 

Say ye: ‘We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord: we make no difference between one and another of them: and we bow to Allah (in Islam).’ (Q 2:136)

We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: we sent inspiration to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms. (Q 4:163)

If thou wert in doubt as to what We have revealed unto thee, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee: the Truth hath indeed come to thee from thy Lord: so be in no wise of those in doubt. (Q 10:94)

There are over 120 references in the Qur’an to the Scriptures of the Jews and Christians, testifying to their being genuine revelations from Allah.  The Jews and Christians are referred to as ‘the people of the Book’.


It was We who revealed the law (to Moses): therein was guidance and light. By its standard have been judged the Jews, by the prophets who bowed (as in Islam) to Allah’s will, by the rabbis and the doctors of law: for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah’s book, and they were witnesses thereto: therefore fear not men, but fear me, and sell not my signs for a miserable price. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) Unbelievers. … And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah.  … To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah. it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute;  (Q 5:44, 46, 48)

Muslims claim that Jews and Christians changed and distorted their own Scriptures, so Allah sent the Qur’an as the final revelation to humanity.  The previous scriptures (everything prior to the Qur’an) were meant for a limited period. Their use ended with the revelation of the Qur’an, which abrogated them and exposed their distortions and changes. That is why they were not protected from corruption. They underwent distortion, addition, and omission.

People of the Book! Our Messenger has come to you, making clear to you many things you have been concealing of the Book and forgiving you of much. A light has come to you from Allah and a glorious Book, with which He will guide whoever follows His pleasure in the way of peace, and brings them forth from darkness into the light by His will. (Q 5:15-16) 

And there is a group among them who twist their tongues with the Book, that you may think it is a part of the Book but it is not part of the Book. And they say ‘It is from Allah,’ yet it is not from Allah, and they tell a lie against Allah and they know it. It is not for any human being to whom Allah has given the Book, the Wisdom and the Prophet hood to say to men ‘Worship me instead of Allah”. (Q 3:79)

So woe to those who write the Book with their hands, and then say: ‘This is from Allah,’ that they may sell it for a little price. So woe to them for what their hands have written, and woe to them for their earnings. (Q 2:79)

Say, who sent down the Book that Moses brought as a light and a guidance to people? You put it into sheets of paper showing some of them and concealing much. (Q 6:91)

The Qur’an was to be permanent and not to be questioned as the other Scriptures.  “Do they not consider the Qur’an (with care)? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy.”  (Q 4:82)


The word ‘Qur’an’ is derived from the Arabic word qara meaning ‘to read’ or ‘to recite’.


The Qur’an is fifty seven percent length as the New Testament and is divided into 114 surahs (chapters).  The surahs are not arranged in chronological order but roughly in order of length.  With the exception of surah 1, which is a prayer addressed to Allah, it is Allah himself and not the prophet who is the speaker.

The Qur’an, the sacred book of Islam, is believed to have been revealed to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel ‘piecemeal’ as occasion required during the last twenty-three years of his life.  Muslims take a fundamentalist attitude to God’s Word and the Qur’an holds a place of exalted reverence in their hearts.  The Qur’an is said to have existed eternally in heaven engraved on a stone tablet.  The language of this archetype is Arabic.  Therefore, that language is inherently of a stature unattainable by any other.  Speakers of Arabic have a special prestige in the eyes of the Muslim world. 

Muhammad claimed the Qur’an was revealed to him when he was under the control of the spirits.  He testified that he himself was not always certain whether the visions were divine or demonic.  However, his wife urged him to submit to the revelations, because she was convinced they were from Gabriel.  Therefore, for twenty-two years, from A.D. 610 until his death in A.D. 632, he received revelations from the spirit that controlled him.  These were collected, memorized and passed down orally at first.  Soon his followers, from memory, compiled them, forming the Qur’an. 

Muhammad passed on the revelations orally to his companions, some of whom wrote them down while others memorized them.  Muslim orthodoxy holds that the angel Gabriel helped Muhammad to collate the revelations periodically so that at his death there was an exact transcript of what was written on the heavenly tablet. 

Modern scholarship, however, has shown that there was no complete set of collated and arranged revelations at Muhammad’s death.  Some time after his death the revelations were assembled by Muslim leaders from records written on leaves, stones, camel’s shoulder-blades, etc. and from the memories of those who had stored the revelations in their minds.  The resulting collections of revelation made in different places varied somewhat from each other.  Caliph Uthman decided to bring order to the situation and had scholars create an official standard text between 650 and 656, which he circulated widely while ordering all other versions to be destroyed. 

Muhammad built his whole system of religion on these demonic revelations, adapting and merging various forms and features from the idol worship that had always existed in Mecca.  His stress on monotheism was the novelty that ultimately unified Islam. 


The Sunnah are the writings of what the prophet Muhammad said, did or approved of, comprised of hadeeths, which are reliably transmitted reports by the prophet Muhammad’s companions.

Shrariah – Islamic Law

Where the Qur’an and traditions are silent on a particular subject, rules are derived by consensus of the religious leaders [ijma] and by analogous reasoning [qiyas].  The combination of Qur’an, hadith, ijma and qiyas have been used by Islamic scholars to create the immensely detailed body of rules and regulations known as the Shariah, that is, Islamic law

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