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Revelations are the way in which we receive knowledge of God and this is done through the Holy Books. In the Christian tradition there is an understanding that the Bible is a medium of revelation (Prepositional view), this is where the truths recorded by God are recorded, there is also an understanding that revelation is the way in which God acts with human experience through history (non-prepositional view)
In Islam religious authority comes from God via the Qur’an through the process of tanzil. The Qur’an tells them about God and gives them guidance ‘this is the book in its guidance is sure without doubt’.
The Sunnah and the Hadith are also sources of authority. The Sunnah, which is the life example of the Prophet Mohammad, is a source of authority because he was a wise and trustworthy man who settled tribal disputes.
The Hadith is also a source of authority because Muslims look to Mohammad because he showed true obedience to Allah’s commands.
The Imam also has authority, the Shi’ites believe the Imam possess spiritual ability and divine light but the Sunnis simply see the Imam as a leader of prayer who has no superior status.
The Shariah is also part of religious authority because this is the Islamic law for Muslims and it gives all the basic rules and regulations as to how human beings should live and act in a political, economic, social and collective individual spheres. The Shariah looks at family life, inheritance, marriage, food regulations and divorce for example Muslims must eat halal foods, those that have been slaughtered by the neck vein being slit and blood drained whilst the name of Allah is invoked.
Muslims follow the Shariah so that they are doing what is good and right according to God and removing evil from society, which works through the process of Greater and Lesser Jihad.
Greater Jihad is about establishing maruf (right) and removing munkar (evil) from yourself ‘A Muslim learns to control his own bad desires and actions’.
Lesser Jihad is the struggle of the Muslim community to remove haram from society. Evil will always exist in society and a Muslim must resist this by showing true dedication to Allah’s commands.
In Islam Allah is the main source of religious authority and to help Muslims to show they are showing their authority towards God, Muslims believe that Allah allows evil and suffering in the world to see if they do what is right. Muslims have free will and believe that everything is pre-determined and that Allah knows the present, the past and the future of every creature but this does not mean that man has and freedom of will, its just that they have the choice to obey or disobey Allah and that this will show on the day of judgement whether they will go to Heaven/ Hell because all their actions are judged.
Religious authority from the Qur’an is seen to govern every aspect of life for example women in Islam are seen as the most important in the family. She is the one who should keep a halal home and to make sure food and dress laws are kept. The teachings of Islam is that women should have total equality in religion and education but they can never be fully equal, for example the husband has more power but with that comes a lot of responsibilities to perform ‘ The man has full responsibility for the maintenance of his family’ therefore a man has more inheritance than a women’s because his need is seen to be greater.
Through the 5 Pillars Muslims are seen to be showing obedience to Allah’s commands this is because they are a very intense and personal struggle to abide by and through reading the Qur’an Muslims believe that it enhances there spiritual development because it is the word of God. They believe it is the pure word of God because it is seen to be a perfect copy of a timeless document. In Islam the Qur’an is more important than the Bile/Torah because they where seen to be distorted to suit their believing communities and the revelations in the Qur’an are believed to be recorded when Mohammad received them.
The other basic beliefs of Islam such as Tawhid are also seen as authority. Tawhid implies that everything is created by Allah; it is the belief in Allah with all his powers. It is a source of authority because this is one way a Muslim fulfils Allah’s commands as it reveals Gods loving and caring nature.
From a non-religious perspective a philosopher would look to reasoning to emphasise human freedom to make moral choices. They would argue that all of humanity relies upon their conscience to decide what is right and wrong, and for many this authority does not come from God.
However from a Christian perspective this higher level of consciousness comes from God. In Islamic terms we gain our conscious awareness from Quranic teachings about Akirah which gives us focus for this temporary life on earth, from taw hid which reveals the qualities of God that we should aim to develop in our own hearts (such as love and compassion), and Al Qadr which ultimately points to a pre-determined path which only God knows about he does not dictate.