My question is in regards to the authority and leadership of Islam. It is a well known fact that Islam preaches that there are no more prophets on the Earth today. Therefore I would like to know with what authority anything is done in Islam. For example, I have read that there are Muslims who believe (Muslim) terrorists are justified in their actions according to Jihad and the Qur’an. However there are other Muslims who say according to the Qur’an the same terrorists are not justified and do not represent Islam.
How can one group assert superiority over the other? How is one person’s interpretation of the Qur’an “more correct” than another’s? Another example, I understand Muslims wish to restore the Caliphate. How will they choose the Caliph? With a democratic vote? That seems very contradictory to their non-secular belief. But they cannot expect inspiration or revelation from Allah because that would require a prophet. So how can anyone be selected, and once that person is selected where is that person’s authority to lead Allah’s religion? My view is it must come from man, because for in order for it to come from Allah that would require a prophet to receive such a message. Thank you for your time and consideration into this concern.
The best way to arrive at the correctness of an opinion is to gauge it by the meter of truth. Anyone, scholar or layman, with even the slightest bit of an honest approach towards understanding Islam will conclude a matter more accurately than those with agendas. Of course there are differences of opinions, however, rarely as polar opposite as in the case of the “terrorist” example you gave. It is clear in Islam that murder is forbidden and fighting to preserve one’s life and freedom of religion is allowable. However, even with these being accorded as a right they are still bound to conditions. Jihad is a long conversation that will not be dealt with in this reply but only the mention that the Prophet never committed an unjust act while in Jihad. This by itself should nullify any assertion of any person, scholar or otherwise, condoning or promoting injustice.
The rules of engagement in Islam are clear. Unfortunately, as it always is with people, there are those who wish to justify their means to attain an end. This seems to be the tragedy of human nature rather than a fault of Islam’s lack of hierarchal bureaucracy. No group has superiority over another. No one can claim some sort of divine correctness in their understandings. The fact of the matter is that Muslim scholars have a duty to the Muslim community to explain the religion in the truest manner they can attain. Those who falsify to fit understandings according to their agendas will have to deal with the consequences of their dishonesty and their diverting the followers onto the wrong path. Another thing to consider is that for the most part scholars agree on most moral issues. Hence, if indeed there are terrorists committing terror the scholars are generally in agreement about them. Those who oppose these scholars are usually not scholars but rather community leaders or the “terrorists” themselves putting out their own information. In the end whether it is the scholars or the followers each will be judged according to the truthfulness of what they followed. The lack of hierarchy negates the very concept of “superiority” that you have mentioned and lays the responsibility on those teaching the religion and those learning it. The authority is therefore with the individual, as no one speaks to God for the other because we all have direct access to the Almighty.
As it regards the Caliphate it should be appreciated that it was established based on democratic principles. The Muslims were allowed to choose who they wanted to lead them. Anyone who claims that democracy goes against Islam lacks a basic understanding of democracy and/or the system of the Caliphate. So in order for a caliph to take power the person must be elected via direct vote by the people or some other sort of representative election that is in accordance with the people’s wishes. Democracy and the Caliphate system may not be exactly alike but they do share the very core of the same principles of government through representation and consultation of the people.
I hope I have clarified the issue.
God knows best.