Meaning of ulema in English:


Pronunciation /ˌuːlɪˈmɑː/


(also ulama)
treated as singular or plural
  • 1A body of Muslim scholars who are recognized as having specialist knowledge of Islamic sacred law and theology.

    ‘For example, Muslim scholars, or ulama, were hierarchically organized and sanctioned by the state, and Ottoman sultans often issued decrees with the force of law.’
    • ‘And these include the ulema, the religious scholars and clerics, who have a tremendous hold on the minds of the Muslim masses.’
    • ‘The ulema are the Muslim clerics who define the Wahhabi faith, a rigid form of Islam which predominates in Saudi Arabia.’
    • ‘The preachers and Muslim clerics / ulama are better equipped today for the true propagation of Islam.’
    • ‘Western colonial governments of old had to look out for rebellions fomented by the ulema (religious scholars).’
    • ‘He went against the ulema, the Muslim scholars who are experts in Muslim law and religion.’
    • ‘This stand enabled me to have frank and cordial dialogue with Muslim leaders and ulema and even evolve some broad consensus in many seminars I attended after the famous Shah Bano case.’
    • ‘On the issue of marriage, Amin again assailed the Muslim ulama for considering it as ‘a contract by which a man has the right to sleep with a woman.’’
    • ‘I had been actively involved in negotiations with sadhus, saints and Muslim ulama for an amicable and peaceful solution to the Ayodhya tangle.’
    • ‘The new generation does not know that Muslims and ulama had rendered the highest sacrifice for the country's freedom.’
    • ‘Muslim ulama should come forward with their frank opinions on this issue.’
    • ‘King Ibn Saud drew his authority by ruling in consult with the ulama (religious scholars), an indispensable aspect of public leadership in Wahhabi philosophy.’
    • ‘In Indonesia, there is no longer any debate about sharia in the national legislature, but some regions, Aceh and several regencies, have adopted sharia in response to demands from Islamist parties and ulema at regional level.’
    1. 1.1A member of an ulema.
      ‘Yet, his was a fringe point of view, an exception, among all the ulemas in Qom and Najaf alike.’
      • ‘Apart from these current issues, Muslim ulemas could in any case consult the passing dicta of Williams on Christian-Muslim relations and the Islamic conception of God, which are eclectic-cum-ecumenical only up to a point.’
      • ‘So the middle classes and those classes created by primitive capital accumulation and pauperization were ‘opened up’ for recruitment by the traditional intellectuals of political Islam, the ulemas.’
      • ‘Hasyim, who replaced Abdurrahman as NU chairman earlier this year, was interviewed by The Jakarta Post on Sunday over rumors of weakening support from respected elder ulemas known as ulema khos.’
      • ‘Imam made the remarks in response to a demand by 300 Muslim ulemas from Sampang, who agreed with the idea of repeating the election process.’
      • ‘Muslim ulemas should seriously look at this new development and assess the kind of Islam propagated and projected by him and bring pressure on him.’
      • ‘‘Several ulemas, who claimed to be NU members from West Java and have 500,000 supporters, were never recognized by the real NU members here,’ Nanang said in a statement as quoted by Antara.’
      • ‘The ulemas said they feared the unresolved conflict would confuse NU members, which make up the bulk of PKB supporters, about which camp, Alwi or Matori, they should follow.’
      • ‘Religious opinion on legal matters is given by a mufti or a council of ulemas.’
      • ‘Thus there is still semantic gap and misunderstanding between MUI ulemas on the one hand and Muslim and non - Muslim scholars and institutions which have promoted pluralism, liberalism and secularism on the other.’
      • ‘The ulemas issued their edict in reference to the work of scholars such as Murtadla Az Zabidi in the book Syarah Ihya and Taqiuddin Al Husaini in the book Kifayat Al Akhyar.’
      • ‘It's just a usual meeting between ulemas and candidates.’
      • ‘‘Some of the ulemas have stated that it would be OK to have a woman president in an ‘emergency’ situation.’
      • ‘‘The situation now is quite similar to what we faced at that time, which was marred by practical politics and dissatisfaction among most ulemas with Idham,’ said Yusuf.’
      • ‘The committee is a forum of Muslim intellectuals, ulama and scholars, some of whom were once very critical about BJP.’
      • ‘The result is that many of Indonesia's ulama, or religious scholars, turn out to become modern intellectuals.’


From Arabic ‘ulamā', plural of ‘ālim ‘learned’, from ‘alima ‘know’.