One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A scholar recognized as an expert in Islamic law and theology.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Edward Lane (1801–1876), orientalist. Partly from Arabic ʿālim scholar, (specifically) expert in Islamic law and theology, use as noun of the active participle of ʿalima to know, and partly from Arabic ʿalīm knowing, learned, also (as noun) scholar from ʿalima to know.
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