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Introduction: Conflicting Synergy of Patterns of Religious Authority in Islam

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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of this book. The central idea of the book can be most generally expressed by these questions: What are the concrete mechanisms of change and adaptation of religious authority in Islam, and how do they work? How did they manage to maintain Muslim civilization as a living organism through the innumerable hazards, divisions and devastations of time? The book attempts to frame these questions within a reflection on the construction of religious authority in Islam and on the relationships between its various conceptions, or "patterns". It argues that the complexity and diversity of these patterns strongly contributed to the efficient adaptation and survival of Islam as a whole. The original impulse that founded Islam as a religion was the revelation received by the Prophet Muḥammad. This revelation constitutes, ultimately, the only source of religious authority in Islam.

Keywords: Islam; Muslim civilization; Prophet Muḥammad; religious authority



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