The Quran approves of elitism at the social, political and spiritual levels, often promoting it. It approves of social inequality and rank (fadilah, preference, from fadl, grace; Quran 24:20, 32) in this world, differentiating slaves from masters, men from women, and parents from children (Quran 4:34; 24:22, 58; 43:32).
Moreover, God raises the righteous, including the apostles, to different grades (darajah, sing; daraajat, pl.) in both worlds (Quran 2:253; 4:96; 6:83, 132, 165; 17:21, 55; 43:32; 46;19; 57:10; 58:11). It tempers potential hubris among the pious and knowledgeable elite by reminding them that ‘over every one who has knowledge, there is one who is all-knowing’ (Quran 12:72).
Elitism is, in any event, inevitable where complex skills are to be acquired; and evidently it need not be objectionable if superiority and recognition are earned on the basis of excellence and expertise in a disciple.
The Quran and the Secular Mind, Shabbir Akhtar, p.79