Definition of ulema in US English:


(also ulama)


  • 1treated as singular or plural A body of Muslim scholars recognized as having specialist knowledge of Islamic sacred law and theology.

    • ‘The new generation does not know that Muslims and ulama had rendered the highest sacrifice for the country's freedom.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The ones who did try were ostracized by the rigid body of ulema, the Muslim scholars whose business it was to interpret the law in accordance to the Koran and Hadith.’
    • ‘On the other hand, I would welcome any dialogue between Muslims, including the ulama, and sections of American civil society.’
    • ‘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.’’
    • ‘This problem in many Muslim societies today is compounded by the fact that most Muslims have traditionally been educated to believe that only the ulama, the religious scholars, have a right to talk about Islam.’
    • ‘I had been actively involved in negotiations with sadhus, saints and Muslim ulama for an amicable and peaceful solution to the Ayodhya tangle.’
    • ‘The preachers and Muslim clerics / ulama are better equipped today for the true propagation of Islam.’
    • ‘He was the most tolerant of all the potential candidates and because of this he also went afoul with the ulema (Muslim scholars trained in Islamic law).’
    • ‘And these include the ulema, the religious scholars and clerics, who have a tremendous hold on the minds of the Muslim masses.’
    • ‘Madrasa Jameatul Hidaya is a symbol of liberation from that dogmatic precept that the traditional ulema have always thrived on to present a lopsided view of the Islamic heritage.’
    • ‘Western colonial governments of old had to look out for rebellions fomented by the ulema (religious scholars).’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘King Ibn Saud drew his authority by ruling in consult with the ulama (religious scholars), an indispensable aspect of public leadership in Wahhabi philosophy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The ulema are the Muslim clerics who define the Wahhabi faith, a rigid form of Islam which predominates in Saudi Arabia.’
    • ‘In view of these facts, one may ask whether the call or fatwa of the ulama for boycott of Muslim MLAs of BSP is justified.’
    • ‘Muslim ulama should come forward with their frank opinions on this issue.’
    • ‘He went against the ulema, the Muslim scholars who are experts in Muslim law and religion.’
    1. 1.1 A member of an ulema.
      • ‘Concern was expressed by a body of ulema over the campaign by Qadiyanis to convert innocent Muslims to Qadiyani faith in rural areas of Karnataka.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Religious opinion on legal matters is given by a mufti or a council of ulemas.’
      • ‘‘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 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.’
      • ‘‘Some of the ulemas have stated that it would be OK to have a woman president in an ‘emergency’ situation.’
      • ‘America should empower moderate Muslims by supporting moderate ulamas - respected religious scholars who often give advice to Muslim leaders.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But now, Islam's religious ulemas should exert greater effort toward warding off extremism, thereby avoiding further polarization between Muslims and non-Muslims.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Similarly, copying a past Congress practice, the BJP is wooing maulanas and ulemas of all sorts on the one hand, and Muslim intellectuals on the other.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's just a usual meeting between ulemas and candidates.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’


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