Opinions on Ulama

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For other uses, see Ulama (disambiguation).

Ulama (/ˈləˌmɑː/; Arabic: علماءʿUlamāʾ, singular عالِم ʿĀlim, "scholar"), also spelled ulema, alimah (female) and "uluma", in contemporary usage by Muslims refers to the religious elite of scholars at the top of the sectarian hierarchy. They mainly specialize in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and are considered the arbiters of sharia law by mainstream sects; nevertheless, their authority is not universally accepted.

Islamic jurisprudence in the contemporary world is mainly composed of:

  • Hadith: reports of statements or actions of Muhammad and
  • Tafseer: explanation and interpretations of the Qur'an.

Some Muslims use the term ulama to describe only the body of Muslim scholars who have completed several years of training and study of Islamic disciplines, such as a mufti, allamah qadi, faqih, or muhaddith. For them, the status of ulama requires higher standards. Under this definition, ulama are Islamic scholars trained in the whole body of Islamic law. However, other Muslims also include clerics in this category, who may be village mullahs and imams who have attained only the lowest rungs on the ladder of Islamic scholarship.


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