Religious authority is a social structure that attempts to enforce its order and reach the people for
the intended good. The structure is characterized by the ability to have one’s ruling to be obeyed
without being coerced or forced by an external power. In all religion around the world, believers
have set of sources that legitimize their societal roles, beliefs, and norms. Therefore, the Islamic
religion have fundamental concepts that draws its authority such as the five pillars of Islam, the
Qur’an, Muhammad, Sharia, and Ijma.
The Islamic religion follow various sources as an assurance of authority. Firstly,
Muhammad—as a source of authority—is the founder of the Islam religion and people regard
him as Allah’s messenger and prophet (Kotelnikov). He was born in 570 CE in the city of Mecca
where he gained few followers but moved to Medina in the year 622, which also marks the
Islamic calendar. The prophet received revelations from Allah known as Ayats, which he would
spread to his followers.
Secondly, the Qur’an is also an important tool that signifies Islamic authority. The Holy
book is a source of all certainty that Muhammed received from Allah, which is a copy of the
original version inscribed in heaven (Kotelnikov). However, later revelations claim that the book
is a revision of the Christian Bible that had errors. Furthermore, Muhammad’s life is contained in
the sira, which describes his actions and teachings. Thirdly, Ijam is ‘the agreement of Islam’ that
shows authority in the religion. Ijma embodies a sense of past community in the present day,
which is also a crucial tool for resolving theological clashes.
Fourthly, Sharia is the sacred law of Islam that is a source of authority. For Muslims to
establish a new ruling, they follow the analogy of their religion, on the basis of coexisting with
each other in harmony (Kotelnikov). The laws are based on teachings and revelations in Qur’an
and sunna (traditions). Sharia guides the believers to embrace each aspect of their lives such as,
prayer and purification, family ties and relations, taxation, inheritance, as well as observe that
there lacks distinction between religious and secular ordinance.
In addition, the five pillars of Islam are another concept that shows authority in the
religion. The shahadah is their declaration of faith in which the believers state that they bear
witness in one omniscient God and that Muhammad is Allah’s prophet; by reciting the shahadah
one enters the Islamic faith (Kotelnikov). Salaah is a requirement for each Muslim to pray a
minimum of five times a day and further wash themselves before praying and face Mecca’s
direction during prayers. Zakat is a charitable act in the Islamic pillars that emphasizes the
followers to give a percentage of their income to the needy, regardless of the religious
backgrounds. Saum (fasting) is commemorated once a year during Ramadan, which runs for one
lunar month. During this period, the Muslims are encouraged to reflect on their actions and strive
to correct their thoughts (Kotelnikov). Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islamic faith in which they mark
their annual pilgrimage. Although it is not a compulsory undertaking, financially-capable
individuals are encouraged to visit Mecca at least once in their lifetime.
Just like other religions, Muslims have important concepts that show the authority. They
range from the Qur’an, Muhammad, the five pillars of Islam, Ijma, and Sharia. With such
sources of authority, Muslims can legitimize their beliefs and societal norms. Thus, assessing and
following the sources of authority, Muslims are able to live in accordance to their teachings.
Judaism is one of the three oldest monotheistic religions analogous to Christianity and Islam.
Each religion has scriptures of distinct groups of laws, prophets, and writings. Although Judaism
(Jews) emerged from the religion of Israel (Hebrews), the former shares similar concepts as the
latter while also incorporating discordant views on religion.
The religion of Israel and Judaism are ethical religions that have both parallel and
dissimilar teachings. One of the basic Judaism laws and tenets are derived from the first five
books of the old testament and defined as Torah (“About the Jewish Religion”). The most
important tenet of Judaism is the belief of one eternal God, who is merciful and just. Just like the
Hebrews, Jews believe that they are created in God’s image and should treat each other with
Besides the concept of monotheism, “the Covenant” is another distinct aspect of Judaism
and Israel religion. The Torah teaches the Jewish people to pray, study and observe God’s
commandments as a sign of the covenant. However, unlike other religions, Judaism do not have
to follow a set of beliefs to be seen as God’s people (“About the Jewish Religion”).
Consequently, they maintain that one’s actions is the determinant of their inclination to religion.
Thus, the Jewish people focus on personal self-identification.
In addition to the covenant, the sacred writings are other vital concepts in Judaism. The
Jewish religious scripture consists of the books of the Prophets, the Torah, and the Writings.
However, during the Temple’s destruction in the year 70 CE by the Roman authorities, religious
scholars compiled Mishnah and Gemara that were used to remind the people their customs and
laws for the five centuries (“About the Jewish Religion”). Furthermore, Brit Milah is the practice
of circumcising boys on the eight day after birth that both Hebrews and Jews share. Therefore,
together with the Talmud, the two manuscripts serve a source of religious teachings.
The Jewish religious life is another significant notion that shares its roots with the
Hebrews. All believers observe their religious prayers three times a day and most are centered in
their homes. Jewish people also visit synagogues, their house of study, to pray and listen to
reading in Hebrew from the Prophets and the Torah (“About the Jewish Religion”). In most
synagogues, there should be a knowledgeable member to conduct services mostly a rabbi or
ordained tutor. Furthermore, a rabbi can perform professional duties concerning application of
laws and traditions in people’s lives. Thus, besides centering the religious observance in homes,
Judaism also regards synagogues as their houses of prayer.
In addition to the religious life, dietary laws are vital aspects in both Judaism and Hebrew
religion. The book of Leviticus has laws that prohibits consumption of dairy products and meat
at the same meal, inhumane slaughtering of animals, and eating shell-fish, blood and pork.
However, modern trends in Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform) have varying degree of
observance of the dietary laws (“About the Jewish Religion”). Therefore, dietary laws from the
ancient Israelites’ religion may change in modern Jewish believers.
While Judaism arose from the religion of Israel (Hebrews), they have both similar and
discordant concept. From the belief of one God, the Covenanted people, dietary laws,
circumcision, to religious life, the two sects prove to have the same origin, although Judaism
incorporates other aspects that are not in accordance to the religion of Israel. All in all, although
Judaism and the religion of Israel have the same origin, the former incorporates other aspects to
distinguish itself from the latter.
Kotelnikov, Vadim. “Islam: Key Beliefs, the Five Pillars, and Key Concepts.” 1000 Ventures,
www.1000ventures.com/business_guide/crosscuttings/cultures_islam.html. Accessed 14
“About the Jewish Religion.” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1 Jan, 2014,