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For other uses, see Ulama (disambiguation). Ulama_sentence_0

In Islam, the ulama (/ˈuːləˌmɑː/; Arabic: علماء‎ ʿUlamāʾ, singular عالِم ʿĀlim, "scholar", literally "the learned ones", also spelled ulema; feminine: alimah [singular] and uluma [plural]) are the guardians, transmitters, and interpreters of religious knowledge in Islam, including Islamic doctrine and law. Ulama_sentence_1

By longstanding tradition, ulama are educated in religious institutions (madrasas). Ulama_sentence_2

The Quran and sunnah (authentic hadith) are the scriptural sources of traditional Islamic law. Ulama_sentence_3

Traditional way of education Ulama_section_0

Students did not associate themselves with a specific educational institution, but rather sought to join renowned teachers. Ulama_sentence_4

By tradition, a scholar who had completed his studies was approved by his teacher. Ulama_sentence_5

At the teacher's individual discretion, the student was given the permission for teaching and for the issuing of legal opinions (fatwa). Ulama_sentence_6

The official approval was known as the ijazat at-tadris wa 'l-ifta ("license to teach and issue legal opinions"). Ulama_sentence_7

Through time, this practice established a chain of teachers and pupils who became teachers in their own time. Ulama_sentence_8

Places of learning Ulama_section_1

The traditional place of higher education was the madrasa. Ulama_sentence_9

The institution likely came up in Khurasan during the 10th century AD, and spread to other parts of the Islamic world from the late 11th century onwards. Ulama_sentence_10

The most famous early madrasas are the Sunni Niẓāmiyya, founded by the Seljuk vizir Nizam al-Mulk (1018–1092) in Iran and Iraq in the 11th century. Ulama_sentence_11

The Mustansiriya, established by the Abbasid caliph Al-Mustansir in Baghdad in 1234 AD, was the first to be founded by a caliph, and also the first known to host teachers of all four major madhhab known at that time. Ulama_sentence_12

From the time of the Persian Ilkhanate (1260–1335 AD) and the Timurid dynasty (1370–1507 AD) onwards, madrasas often became part of an architectural complex which also included a mosque, a Sufi ṭarīqa, and other buildings of socio-cultural function, like baths or a hospital. Ulama_sentence_13

Madrasas were merely (sacred) places of learning. Ulama_sentence_14

They provided boarding and salaries to a limited number of teachers, and boarding for a number of students out of the revenue from religious endowments (waqf), allocated to a specific institution by the donor. Ulama_sentence_15

In later times, the deeds of endowment were issued in elaborate Islamic calligraphy, as is the case for Ottoman endowment books (vakıf-name). Ulama_sentence_16

The donor could also specify the subjects to be taught, the qualification of the teachers, or which madhhab the teaching should follow. Ulama_sentence_17

However, the donor was free to specify in detail the curriculum, as was shown by Ahmed and Filipovic (2004) for the Ottoman imperial madrasas founded by Suleiman the Magnificent. Ulama_sentence_18

As Berkey (1992) has described in detail for the education in medieval Cairo, unlike medieval Western universities, in general madrasas had no distinct curriculum, and did not issue diplomas. Ulama_sentence_19

The educational activities of the madrasas focused on the law, but also included what Zaman (2010) called "Sharia sciences" (al-ʿulūm al-naqliyya) as well as the rational sciences like philosophy, astronomy, mathematics or medicine. Ulama_sentence_20

The inclusion of these sciences sometimes reflect the personal interests of their donors, but also indicate that scholars often studied various different sciences. Ulama_sentence_21

Branches of learning Ulama_section_2

Mysticism Ulama_section_3

Main article: Sufism Ulama_sentence_22

Early on in Islamic history, a line of thought developed around the idea of mysticism, striving for the perfection (Ihsan) of worship. Ulama_sentence_23

Originating out of Syria and Iraq rather than the Hijaz, the idea of Sufism was related to devotional practices of Eastern Christian monasticism, although monastic life in Islam is discouraged by the Quran. Ulama_sentence_24

During the first Islamic century, Ḥasan al-Baṣrī (642–728 AD) was one of the first Muslim scholars to describe, according to Albert Hourani (1991) "the sense of the distance and nearness of God ... in the language of love". Ulama_sentence_25

During the 7th century, the ritual of Dhikr evolved as a "way of freeing the soul from the distractions of the world". Ulama_sentence_26

Important early scholars who further elaborated on mysticism were Harith al-Muhasibi (781–857 AD) and Junayd al-Baghdadi (835–910 AD). Ulama_sentence_27

Philosophy and ethics Ulama_section_4

Main article: Islamic philosophy Ulama_sentence_28

The early Muslim conquests brought about Arab Muslim rule over large parts of the Hellenistic world. Ulama_sentence_29

During the time of the Umayyad Caliphate, at latest, the scholars of the emerging Islamic society had become familiar with the classical philosophical and scientific traditions of the world they had conquered. Ulama_sentence_30

The collection of classical works and their translation into the Arabian language initiated a period which is known today as the Islamic Golden Age. Ulama_sentence_31

According to Hourani (1991), the works of the classical scholars of antiquity were met with considerable intellectual curiosity by Islamic scholars. Ulama_sentence_32

Hourani quotes al-Kindi (c. 801–873 AD), "the father of Islamic philosophy", as follows: Ulama_sentence_33

The works of Aristotle, in particular his Nicomachean Ethics, had a profound influence on the Islamic scholars of the Golden Age like Al-Farabi (870–950 AD), Abu al-Hassan al-Amiri (d. 992 AD) and Ibn Sīnā (ca. 980–1037 AD). Ulama_sentence_34

In general, the Islamic philosophers saw no contradiction between philosophy and the religion of Islam. Ulama_sentence_35

However, according to Hourani, al-Farabi also wrote that philosophy in its pure form was reserved for an intellectual elite, and that ordinary people should rely for guidance on the sharia. Ulama_sentence_36

The distinction between a scholarly elite and the less educated masses "was to become a commonplace of Islamic thought". Ulama_sentence_37

As exemplified by the works of al-Razi (854–925 AD), during later times, philosophy "was carried on as a private activity, largely by medical men, pursued with discretion, and often met with suspicion". Ulama_sentence_38

The founder of Islamic philosophical ethics is Ibn Miskawayh (932–1030 AD) He combined Aristotelian and Islamic ethics, explicitly mentioning the Nicomachean Ethics and its interpretation by Porphyry of Gaza as the foundation of his philosophical thoughts. Ulama_sentence_39

In the 12th century, the early Islamic Neoplatonism which had developed out of Hellenistic philosophy was effectively criticised by al-Ghazali, one of the most influential scholars of Islam. Ulama_sentence_40

In his works Ahāfut al-Falāsifa (The Incoherence of the Philosophers), Mizan al-'amal (Criterion of Action) and Kimiya-yi sa'ādat (The Alchemy of Happiness), he refuted the Philosophy of Ibn Sīnā, and demonstrated that the Aristotelian ethics is incompatible with Islamic ethics: The latter is based on the belief in God and in life after death, which together provide the foundation of action in the pursuit of sa'āda (Happiness). Ulama_sentence_41

Law Ulama_section_5

Main article: Sharia Ulama_sentence_42

According to Shia Islam, the authority to interpret the messages of the Quran and the Hadith lies with the Imamah, a line of infallible interpreters of the truth. Ulama_sentence_43

The Sunni majority, however, reject this concept and maintain that God's will has been completely revealed in the Quran and sunnah of the Prophet. Ulama_sentence_44

The capacity of its interpretation lies with the ulama. Ulama_sentence_45

By the eleventh century, the major schools of Sunni and Shia law (madhhab) had emerged. Ulama_sentence_46

Whilst, historically, the schools were at times engaged in mutual conflicts, the differences became less controversial over time, and merely represent regional predominances today. Ulama_sentence_47

The four most important Sunni schools are: Ulama_sentence_48


Shia madhhab include the Ja'fari and Zaidi schools. Ulama_sentence_49

Minor madhhab also mentioned in the Amman message are the Ibadi and the Zahiri schools. Ulama_sentence_50

All Sunni madhhabs recognize four sources of sharia (divine law): the Quran, sunnah (authentic hadith), qiyas (analogical reasoning), and ijma (juridical consensus). Ulama_sentence_51

However, the madhhabs differ from each other in their conception of the Principles of Islamic jurisprudence, or uṣūl al-fiqh, as briefly summarised by Hourani (1991). Ulama_sentence_52

The Hanbalis only accepted the consensus of the Companions of the Prophet (aṣ-ṣaḥābah), which gave more leeway to independent reasoning (ijtihad) within the boundaries of the rules of qiyās. Ulama_sentence_53

The Hanafis hold that strict analogy may at times be supported by a limited use of juristic preference (istihsan), whereas the Maliki school also allows pragmatic considerations in the interest of public welfare (istislah) are also acceptable. Ulama_sentence_54

Instead of the Sunni concept of analogy (qiyās), Shia ulama prefer "dialectical reasoning" ('Aql) to deduce law. Ulama_sentence_55

The body of substantive jurisprudence (fiqh) defines the proper way of life through interpretation of sharia, which Muslims should follow if they want to live according to God's will. Ulama_sentence_56

Over time, the madhhabs established "codes of conduct", examining human actions in the light of the Quran and Hadith. Ulama_sentence_57

Supplementing the sharia were customs (ʿurf) within a given society. Ulama_sentence_58

Islamic law and regional customs were not opposed to each other: In 15th century Morocco, qadis were allowed to use a process called ʻamal in order to choose from different juridical opinions one which applied best to the local customs, even if they were not supported by the consensus of the majority. Ulama_sentence_59

More often, the use of sharia led to changes in local customs. Ulama_sentence_60

Theology Ulama_section_6

Main articles: Schools of Islamic theology and Kalam Ulama_sentence_61

ʿIlm al-Kalām, the "science of discourse", also termed "Islamic theology", serves to explain and defend the doctrine of the Quran and Hadith. Ulama_sentence_62

The concept of kalām was introduced during the first Islamic centuries by the Muʿtazila school. Ulama_sentence_63

One of the most prominent scholars of the Muʿtazila was Abd al-Jabbar ibn Ahmad (935–1025 AD). Ulama_sentence_64

From the 11th century on, the Muʿtazila was suppressed by the Sunni Abbasid Caliphate and the Seljuk Empire, but it continued playing an important role in the formation of Shia theology. Ulama_sentence_65

The Ash'ari school encouraged the use of Kalām as the basis of fiqh, and was followed in this approach by parts of the Shafi'i madhhab. Ulama_sentence_66

In contrast, the Hanbali and Maliki madhhabs discouraged theological speculation. Ulama_sentence_67

Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (853–944 AD) developed his own form of Kalām, differing from the Ash'ari view in the question of Man's free will and God's omnipotence. Ulama_sentence_68

Maturidi Kalām was often used in combination with Hanafi fiqh in the northwestern parts of the Islamic world. Ulama_sentence_69

A distinct school of theology often called traditionalist theology emerged under the leadership of Ahmad ibn Hanbal in the early centuries of Islam among hadith scholars who rejected rationalistic argumentation. Ulama_sentence_70

In the wake of the Ash'arite synthesis between Mu'tazilite rationalism and Hanbalite literalism, its original form survived among a minority of mostly Hanbalite scholars. Ulama_sentence_71

While Ash'arism and Maturidism are often called the Sunni "orthodoxy", traditionalist theology has thrived alongside it, laying rival claims to be the orthodox Sunni faith. Ulama_sentence_72

Islamic theology experienced further developments among Shia theologians. Ulama_sentence_73

Cosmopolitan scholarly tradition Ulama_section_7

The study of, and commentaries on Quran and hadith, debates about ijtihad and taqlid and the issuing of fatwa as well as the use of Arabic, and later also Persian as common languages of discourse constituted the religious authority of the ulama throughout the entire Islamic world. Ulama_sentence_74

Zaman (2010) has demonstrated that, as personal contacts were key to acquiring knowledge, Islamic scholars sometimes travelled far in search of knowledge (ṭalab al-ʿilm). Ulama_sentence_75

Due to their common training and language, any scholars travelling from one region of the Islamic world to another could easily integrate themselves into the local Muslim community and hold offices there: The traveller Ibn Baṭūṭah (1304–1368 or 1369), born in Tangiers, Morocco, to a family of ulema, was appointed qadi by Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq of Delhi. Ulama_sentence_76

Nuruddin ar-Raniri (d. 1658), born to a Gujarati Muslim family, travelled to, and worked as Shaykh ul-Islam in modern-day Indonesia under the protection of Iskandar Thani, Sultan of Aceh. Ulama_sentence_77

Both scholars were able to move freely in an "interconnected world of fellow scholars". Ulama_sentence_78

According to Zaman, their offices and positions as respected scholars were only questioned if they proved themselves unfamiliar with local customs (as happened to Ibn Baṭūṭah]), or met resistance from opponents with stronger local roots (ar-Raniri). Ulama_sentence_79

Through their travels and teachings, ulama were able to transmit new knowledge and ideas over considerable distances. Ulama_sentence_80

However, according to Zaman (2010), scholars were often required to rely on commonly known texts which could support their fatwas. Ulama_sentence_81

A text which might be widely known within the intellectual circles of one region could be unknown in another. Ulama_sentence_82

The ability of scholars from one region to support their argument in another might therefore be limited by the familiarity with the respective texts of the community they were working in. Ulama_sentence_83

Likewise, in an era without book print or mass communication media, a scholar's reputation might remain limited if he was unfamiliar with the local canon of texts. Ulama_sentence_84

As the ijazah, the scholar's approval by another master, was key to the scholar's reputation, the latter would be greater in regions where the approving masters were more widely known. Ulama_sentence_85

Political and cultural history Ulama_section_8

Early Muslim communities Ulama_section_9

The second caliph, ʻUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, funded a group of Muslims to study the revelations, stories of Muhammed's life, "and other pertinent data, so that when he needed expert advise" he could draw it from these "people of the bench". Ulama_sentence_86

According to Tamim Ansary, this group evolved into the Ulama Ulama_sentence_87

Fiqh Ulama_section_10

The formative period of Islamic jurisprudence stretches back to the time of the early Muslim communities. Ulama_sentence_88

In this period, jurists were more concerned with pragmatic issues of authority and teaching than with theory. Ulama_sentence_89

Progress in theory began to develop with the coming of the early Muslim jurist Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi'i (767–820), who codified the basic principles of Islamic jurisprudence in his book ar-Risālah. Ulama_sentence_90

The book details the four roots of law (Qur'an, Sunnah, ijma, and qiyas) while specifying that the primary Islamic texts (the Qur'an and the hadith) must be understood according to objective rules of interpretation derived from scientific study of the Arabic language. Ulama_sentence_91

According to Feldman (2008), under many Muslim caliphate states and later states ruled by sultans, the ulama were regarded as the guardians of Islamic law and prevented the Caliph from dictating legal results, with the ruler and ulama forming a sort of "separation of powers" in government. Ulama_sentence_92

Laws were decided based on the Ijma (consensus) of the Ummah (community), which was most often represented by the legal scholars. Ulama_sentence_93

Early modern Islamic empires Ulama_section_11

The Sunni Ottoman, and the Shi'a Safavid Persian dynasties, rulers of the two opponent early modern Islamic empires, both relied on ulama in order to legitimise their power. Ulama_sentence_94

In both empires, ulama patronised by the royal courts created "official" religious doctrines which supported the dynastic rule. Ulama_sentence_95

At the high points of their political power, respectively, the development took different paths: The Ottoman Sultan Süleyman I successfully integrated the imperial ulama into the imperial bureaucracy, and Ottoman secular law into Islamic law. Ulama_sentence_96

In contrast, Shah Abbas I of Persia was unable to gain similar support by the Shi'a ulama, who retained a more independent position. Ulama_sentence_97

During the late Safavid empire, the Shi'a ulama developed into one of the warrantors of continuity in a period of instability of the central government, thus securing a relative independency which they retained during the reign of subsequent dynasties. Ulama_sentence_98

Ottoman imperial Sunni ulama Ulama_section_12

After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the leaders and subjects of the Ottoman Empire became increasingly aware of its role as a great power of its time. Ulama_sentence_99

This new self-awareness was associated with the idea to legitimise the new political role by linking the religious scholarship to the political system: Ottoman historians of the 15th and 16th century like Ibn Zunbul or Eyyûbî, described the deeds of the Ottoman sultans in terms of idealised Islamic ghazi warriors. Ulama_sentence_100

According to Burak (2015), the Ottoman literature genres of the "rank order" (Turkish: tabaḳat and the "biografic lexicon" (Turkish: Eş-şakaiku'n) compiled the biographies of scholars in such ways as to create a concise and coherent tradition of the doctrine and structure of the Ottoman imperial scholarship. Ulama_sentence_101

During the 16th century, scholars like the Shaykh al-Islām Kemālpaşazade (d. 1534), Aḥmād b. Muṣṭafā Taşköprüzāde (1494–1561), Kınalızāde ʿAli Çelebi (d. 1572) and Ali ben Bali (1527–1584) established a seamless chain of tradition from Abu Hanifa to their own time. Ulama_sentence_102

Explicitly, some authors stated that their work must not only be understood as the historiography of the Hanafi madhhab, but that it should be consulted in case of eventual disagreements within the school of law. Ulama_sentence_103

This exemplifies their purpose to establish a canon of Hanafi law within the Ottoman imperial scholarship. Ulama_sentence_104

which modern Ottomanists termed the "Ottoman Islam". Ulama_sentence_105

After 1453, Mehmed the Conqueror (1432–1481) had established eight madrasas in former Byzantine church buildings, and later founded the sahn-ı şeman or "Eight courtyards madrasa", adjacent to the Fatih mosque, where he brought together the most distinguished Islamic law scholars of his territory. Ulama_sentence_106

In his 2015 study on the "second formation of Islamic law", Burak has shown in detail how the Ottoman state gradually imposed upon the traditional ulama a hierarchy of "official imperial scholars", appointed and paid by the central government. Ulama_sentence_107

From the conquest of the Mamluk Sultanate of Cairo in 1517 onwards, the Ottoman ulama set up their own interpretation of the Sunni Hanafi doctrine which then served as the official religious doctrine of the empire. Ulama_sentence_108

The formal acknowledgment by decree of the sultan became a prerequisite to issue fatwas. Ulama_sentence_109

In the 17th century, the annalist al-Hamawi used the expression "sultanic mufti" (al-ifta' al-sultani) to delineate the difference between the officially appointed religious leaders and those who had followed the traditional way of education. Ulama_sentence_110

Other authors at that time called the Ottoman law scholars "Hanafi of Rūm [i.e., the Ottoman Empire]" (Rūmi ḫānāfi), "Scholars of Rūm" (ʿulamā'-ı rūm) or "Scholars of the Ottoman Empire" (ʿulamā' al-dawla al-ʿUthmaniyyā). Ulama_sentence_111

The Shaykh al-Islām (Turkish: Şeyhülislam) in Istanbul became the highest-ranking Islamic scholar within, and head of the ulama throughout the empire. Ulama_sentence_112

The ulama in the Ottoman Empire had a significant influence over politics because it was believed that secular institutions were all subordinate to Islamic law, the Sharia (Turkish: Şeriat). Ulama_sentence_113

The ulama were responsible for interpreting the religious law, therefore they claimed that their power superseded that of the government. Ulama_sentence_114

Within the Ottoman hierarchy of ulama, the Shaykh al-Islām held the highest rank. Ulama_sentence_115

He exerted his influence by issuing fatwas, his written interpretations of the sharia had authority over the entire Ottoman population. Ulama_sentence_116

In the 16th century, as the support by the ulama of the sultan and the central government was essential for shaping the still-growing empire, the importance of the office rose, and its power increased. Ulama_sentence_117

As members of the Ilmiye, the imperial scholars were part of the Ottoman elite class of the Askeri, and were exempt from any taxes. Ulama_sentence_118

However, by approving scholars and appointing them to offices, over time the sultan's influence increased over the religious scholars, although, as a Muslim, he still stood under the Islamic law. Ulama_sentence_119

Even the Shaykh al-Islām was subordinate to the sultan; his position, like the ranks of the muftis, was described as a "service" (Turkish: hizmet) or "rank" (Turkish: rütbe or paye-ı Sahn), to which a candidate was appointed or elevated. Ulama_sentence_120

Sometimes, the sultans made use of their power: In 1633, Murad IV gave order to execute the Shaykh al-Islām Ahīzāde Ḥüseyin Efendi. Ulama_sentence_121

In 1656, Shaykh al-Islām Ḥocazāde Mesʿud Efendi was sentenced to death by sultan Mehmed IV. Ulama_sentence_122

The use of the Sunni Islam as a legitimisation of the Ottoman dynastic rule is closely linked to Sultan Süleyman I and his kazasker and later Schaykh al-Islām Ebussuud Efendi. Ulama_sentence_123

Ebussuud compiled an imperial book of law (ḳānūn-nāme), which combined religious law (sharīʿah) with secular dynastic law (ḳānūn) in the person of the sultan. Ulama_sentence_124

For example, Ebussuud provided a reason why the government could own land, or could levy and increase taxes, as the government was responsible for the protection of the common good of all Muslims. Ulama_sentence_125

Shi'a state religion of Safavid Persia Ulama_section_13

Shaikh Ṣāfī ad-Dīn Isḥāq Ardabīlī (1252–1334) was the founder of the Safaviyya tariqa. Ulama_sentence_126

Safi ad-Din's great-great grandson Ismail, who from 1501 onwards ruled over the Persian Empire, was the founder of the Safavid dynasty. Ulama_sentence_127

Shah Ismail I proclaimed the Twelver Shi'a as the new Persian state religion. Ulama_sentence_128

To propagate the Safavid faith, he invited ulama from Qom, Jabal 'Āmil in southern Lebanon and Syria to travel around Iran and promote the Shi'a doctrine. Ulama_sentence_129

In 1533, Shah Tahmasp I commissioned a new edition of the Safvat as-safa, Shaikh Ṣāfī's genealogy. Ulama_sentence_130

It was rewritten in order to support the royal family's claim at descendency from Musa al-Kadhim, the Seventh Imam, and thus to legitimise the Safavid rule. Ulama_sentence_131

During the reign of Shah Abbas I (1571 – 1629 AD), the argument of the theocratic unity of religious and political power was no longer sufficient to legitimise the Shah's authority: Shi'a ulama renounced the monarch's claim to represent the hidden Imam by teaching that descendancy did not necessarily mean representation. Ulama_sentence_132

Likewise, as the influence of Sufi mysticism weakened, the Shah's role as the head of the Safaviyya lost its significance as a justification for his political role. Ulama_sentence_133

Abbas I thus sought to associate himself with eminent ulama like Shaykh Bahāʾi (1574–1621 AD), whom he made Shaykh al-Islām in his new capital, Isfahan. Ulama_sentence_134

Other famous ulama working under Abbas's patronage were Mir Damad (d. 1631 or 1632 AD), one of the founders of the School of Isfahan, and Ahmad ibn Muhammad Ardabili (d. 1585). Ulama_sentence_135

By their teachings, they further developed the Shi'a Islamic teachings and religious practice. Ulama_sentence_136

However, as religion did no longer suffice to support political power in Persia, Abbas I had to develop independent concepts to legitimise his rule. Ulama_sentence_137

He did so by creating a new "ghulam" army, thus evoking the Turco-Mongol tradition of Timur and his reign. Ulama_sentence_138

19th century Ulama_section_14

New Ottoman scholarly elite Ulama_section_15

By the beginning of the 19th century, the Ottoman ulama still retained their political influence. Ulama_sentence_139

When sultan Selim III tried to reform the Ottoman army, the ulama opposed his plans, which they rejected as an apostasy from Islam. Ulama_sentence_140

Consequently, his reform failed. Ulama_sentence_141

However, Selims successor Mahmud II (r. 1808–1839) was more successful: He called the new troops, organised according to European models, by the name "Victorious army of Muhammad" (Asâkir-i Mansure-i Muhammediye). Ulama_sentence_142

By doing so, he was able to overcome the accusation of apostasy and secure the ulama's support. Ulama_sentence_143

Mahmuds reforms created a new imperial elite class who spoke Western European languages and were knowledgeable of the Western European societies and their political systems. Ulama_sentence_144

As the political and economic pressure increased on the Ottoman Empire in the course of the 19th century, this new elite carried on the Sultan's reforms and helped initiating a new era of reform, the Tanzimat. Ulama_sentence_145

In parallel, the political influence of the ulama was circumvented and reduced step by step. Ulama_sentence_146

A ministry for religious endowments was created in order to control the finances of the vakıf. Ulama_sentence_147

Thus, the ulama lost direct control over their finances, which significantly reduced their capacity to exert political influence. Ulama_sentence_148

Orthodox Shi'a ulama in post-Safavid and Qajar Iran Ulama_section_16

In Iran, a period of political instability began with the collapse of the Safavid reign after shah Sultan Husayns death in 1722. Ulama_sentence_149

In the light of the discontinuity and fragmentation of the central government, two social groups maintained continuity and, consequently, rose in power: Tribal chieftains established, amongst others, the Khanates of the Caucasus, the Afsharid and Zand dynasties. Ulama_sentence_150

The second group who benefitted from the weakness of the central authority was the Shi'a ulama. Ulama_sentence_151

According to Garthwaite (2010), "the ulama constituted one institution that not only provided continuity, but gradually asserted its role over and against royal authority." Ulama_sentence_152

A process of change began which continued throughout the 19th century and into the present. Ulama_sentence_153

Already some of the last Safavids, Sulayman Shah (r. 1666–1694) and Tahmasp II (r. 1722–1732) had sought the ulama's support in an attempt to strengthen their authority. Ulama_sentence_154

Particularly, they associated themselves with a group of ulama who supported the "official" Twelver Shi'a doctrine, established by the Iranian Shaykh al-Islām Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi (1627–1699) during the later decades of Safavid rule. Ulama_sentence_155

The dispute between the Twelver Shi'a and Mir Damad's (d. 1631 or 1632) and Ṣadr ad-Dīn Muḥammad Shīrāzī's (c. 1571/2 – 1640) School of Isfahan, who promoted Sufi mysticism and Islamic philosophy, continued throughout the 18th century, and shaped the relationship between ulama and government during the reigns of the subsequent dynasties. Ulama_sentence_156

With the accession of Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar to the Iranian throne, the Qajar dynasty consolidated the central power. Ulama_sentence_157

However, the Qajar Shahs, in particular Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (r. 1848–1896), whose reign paralleled that of the Ottoman Sultans of the Tanzimat time, failed at obtaining central control over the ulama. Ulama_sentence_158

The Shiite scholars retained their political influence on the Persian society. Ulama_sentence_159

They also maintained unrestricted access to the financial resources from the religious endowments. Ulama_sentence_160

In addition, the Islamic Zakat tax was paid to individual imams and not to state-sponsored tax collectors. Ulama_sentence_161

Both their religious influence and their financial means allowed the Shiite ulama to act, at times, against the Shah. Ulama_sentence_162

Thus, under the Qajar dynasty, the ulama provided a source of religious legitimacy and served as interpreters of religious law in a dual legal system where the state administered law based on custom (ʻurf). Ulama_sentence_163

19th/20th century: Ulama and Muslim reform Ulama_section_17

Reformers and concepts Ulama_section_18

Starting in the first half of the 19th century, direct contacts began and gradually increased between members of the ulama and modern Western Europe. Ulama_sentence_164

The Egyptian alim Rifa'a al-Tahtawi (1801–1873) was amongst the first members of the ulama who travelled to Europe. Ulama_sentence_165

As a religious counsellor to a delegation by the Egyptian khedive Muhammad Ali Pasha he stayed in Paris from 1826 to 1831. Ulama_sentence_166

His report "The Extraction of Gold or an Overview of Paris" (Taḫlīṣ al-ibrīz fī talḫīṣ Bārīz) (1849) included some outlines of future reforms and potential improvements in his native country. Ulama_sentence_167

Although al-Tahtawi had gone through the traditional education of an alim, his interest focused on modern French concepts of administration and economy. Ulama_sentence_168

He only referred to Islam in order to emphasize that Muslims can adopt practical knowledge and insights from Europe. Ulama_sentence_169

As such, at-Tahtawis report reflects the political efforts of Muhammad Ali Pasha, who did not intend to reform al-Azhar university, but aimed at building an independent educational system sponsored by his government. Ulama_sentence_170

Hayreddin Pasha (1822/3–1890) was an Ottoman Tunisian alim and statesman who reformed the administration and jurisdiction of the province. Ulama_sentence_171

He was able to explain his ideas in French (Réformes nécessaires aux États musulmans – Necessary reforms of the Muslim states. Ulama_sentence_172

Paris, 1868), which he had learned whilst representing his sovereign Ahmad Bey at the court of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1855. Ulama_sentence_173

In contrast to al-Tahtawi, Hayreddin Pasha used the religious concept of the Muslim collective interest (maṣlaḥa) to make his point, thereby applying the idea of ijtihad to public affairs. Ulama_sentence_174

Positions comparable to the Western Islamic ulama were also taken in the Eastern parts of the Islamic world by Syed Ahmad Khan, the pioneering Muslim modernist in South Asia, and Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī. Ulama_sentence_175

The latter is regarded as the mentor of Pan-Islamism, but also as one of the founders of the political Islam and of the late 19th and 20th century Salafi movement. Ulama_sentence_176

The Egyptian Grand Mufti Muḥammad ʿAbduh (1849–1905), who was granted the degree of 'Alim by al-Azhar university in 1877, was the first who used the term Islāh in order to denote political and religious reforms. Ulama_sentence_177

Until 1887 he edited together with al-Afghānī the newspaper al-ʿUrwa al-Wuthqā ("The firm bond"). Ulama_sentence_178

The gazette widely spread the pan-islamistic concept of Islam representing a religious bond which was believed to be stronger than nationality or language. Ulama_sentence_179

From 1876 on, ʿAbduh edited the newspaper al-Ahrām. Ulama_sentence_180

Since 1898, he also edited, together with Rashīd Ridā (1865–1935), the newspaper al-Manār ("The Beacon"), in which he further developed his ideas. Ulama_sentence_181

al-Manār appeared in print for almost 40 years and was read throughout the Islamic world. Ulama_sentence_182

ʿAbduh understood Islah as a concept of "reform of mankind" (iṣlāḥ nauʿ al-insān). Ulama_sentence_183

In his works, he emphasized the special importance of a reform of the traditional madrasa system, which was taken to disadvantage by the parallel establishment of the secular, state-sponsored educational system in Egypt. Ulama_sentence_184

He strove at reconciling the traditional and modern educational systems, thereby justifying from the point of view of Islam the introduction of modern institutions by the national state. Ulama_sentence_185

He referred to the Islamic concept of the collective interest or common good of the Muslim community (maṣlaḥa), to which he accorded overarching importance (al-maṣlaḥa shar) in the interest of his fellow Muslims. Ulama_sentence_186

The concept of islāh gained special relevance for the future, as it strives at understanding and justifying all aspects of modern life from the Islamic doctrine. Ulama_sentence_187

After ʿAbduhs death in 1905, Rashīd Ridā continued editing "al-Manār" on his own. Ulama_sentence_188

In 1924, he published a collection of writings by some ulama of Najd: Maǧmūʿat al-ḥadiṭ an-naǧdīya. Ulama_sentence_189

Thus, the teachings of the Yemeni alim Muhammad ash-Shawkani (1759–1839), which had already been discussed since the 1880s, gained greater publicity. Ulama_sentence_190

Likewise, the writings of the Hanbali scholar Ibn Taymiyyah (1263–1328) came to attention again. Ulama_sentence_191

Ibn Taymiyyah's doctrine provided a link between the wahhabiyya and parts of the salafiyya movements. Ulama_sentence_192

The theological differences between the two movements were altogether too large for a complete union of the two doctrines. Ulama_sentence_193

However, the opening of the Salafi movement towards Wahhabism helped to reconcile the latter with the Islamic public after king Ibn Saud's invasion of the Hijaz in 1924. Ulama_sentence_194

Central Arabian militia (Iḫwān) had occupied and looted the holy towns of Mecca and Medina, thereby destroying monuments which they considered pagan ("shirk"). Ulama_sentence_195

Starting with the Pan-Islamic Congress in Mecca in 1926, the pro-Saudi movement developed into one of the most relevant currents of Islamic thought. Ulama_sentence_196

In his Egyptian exile, the Syrian alim ʿAbd ar-Rahmān al-Kawākibī (1854–1902) met al-Afghānī, ʿAbduh and Ridā. Ulama_sentence_197

In his books Ṭabāʾiʿ al-istibdād ("The nature of despotism") and Umm al-Qurā ("Mother of villages [i.e., Mecca]", 1899) he accused the Ottoman sultan Abdülhamid II of corrupting the Islamic community. Ulama_sentence_198

The Ottoman despotism "encroaches on the rights of its citizens, keeps them ignorant to keep them passive, [and] denies their right to take an active part in human life". Ulama_sentence_199

Therefore, the law must be reformed. Ulama_sentence_200

By the use of ijtihad, a "modern and unified system of law" must be created, and "proper religious education" must be provided. Ulama_sentence_201

Because of the central position of the Arabic peoples in the ummah and the Arabic language in the intellectual discourse, but also because "Arabian Islam is ... free from modern corruptions and the bedouin are free from the moral decay and passivity of despotism", the balance of power must shift from the Turks towards the Arabs. Ulama_sentence_202

The Ottoman dynasty must give up their claim to the caliphate, and a new caliph of Quraysh descent must be elected by representatives of the ummah. Ulama_sentence_203

His temporal authority would be set up in the Hejaz, whilst he would hold religious authority over the entire Muslim community, "assisted ... by a consultative council nominated by the Muslim rulers". Ulama_sentence_204

Al-Kawākibīs idea that the Arabian doctrine represented a more puristic form of the Islam, according to Cleveland and Bunton (2016), prepared the ground for the 20th century Arab nationalism as well as the Islamic renewal movement of the Nahda. Ulama_sentence_205

Muslim mass organizations Ulama_section_19

In 1912, the Muhammadiyah organization was founded in Yogyakarta, which, together with Nahdlatul Ulama ("Reawakening of the ulama"), founded in 1926, form the two largest Muslim organizations in the world. Ulama_sentence_206

Since the 1930s, their religious boarding schools ("pesantren") also taught mathematics, natural sciences, English and history. Ulama_sentence_207

Since the 1980, the Nahdlatul Ulama schools also offered degrees in economy, jurisdiction, paedagogical and medical sciences. Ulama_sentence_208

In the 1990s, under their leader Abdurrahman Wahid, the organization adopted an anti-fundamentalistic doctrine, teaching democracy and pluralism. Ulama_sentence_209

Darul Uloom Deoband, next to al-Azhar one of the most influential madrasas, was founded in the city of Deoband, Uttar Pradesh, in 1867. Ulama_sentence_210

Initially, the intention of the school was to help Indian Muslims, who had become subjects of the British Empire after 1857, to lead their lives according to Islamic law. Ulama_sentence_211

The Deobandi propagate a Sunni Islam of the Hanafi school, which was the most prevalent madhhab in South Asia. Ulama_sentence_212

Still today, they aim at a revival of the Islamic society and education. Ulama_sentence_213

Following the example of Deoband, thousands of madrasas were founded during the late 19th century which adopted the Deobandi way of studying fundamental texts of Islam and commenting on Quran and Hadith. Ulama_sentence_214

By referring back to traditional Islamic scholars, the Deobandi School aims at defending the traditional Islamic madhhab, especially the Hanafi, against criticism which arose from other Islamic schools like the Ahl-i Hadith. Ulama_sentence_215

During the 1990s, the Afghan taliban also referred to the Deoband School. Ulama_sentence_216

Ashraf Ali Thanwi (1863–1943) is one of the most prominent teachers of Darul Uloom Deoband. Ulama_sentence_217

Thanwi initiated and edited multi-volume encyclopedic commentaries on the Quran. Ulama_sentence_218

However, he was also able to reach out to a larger audience: His book Bahishti Zewar, which is still widely read in South Asia, as it details, amongst other topics, the proper conduct and beliefs for Muslim women. Ulama_sentence_219

Ahl-i Hadith is a movement which emerged in North India in the mid-19th century. Ulama_sentence_220

By rejecting taqlid (following legal precedent) and favoring ijtihad (independent legal reasoning) based on the foundational scriptures of Islam, they oppose the traditional madhhab and criticize their reliance on legal authorities other than the traditional texts. Ulama_sentence_221

The Ahl-i Hadith was the first organization which printed and spread the works of Muhammad ash-Shawkani, whose writings did also influence the doctrine of the Salafi movement in the Arab Middle East and worldwide. Ulama_sentence_222

Muslim World League is an international non-governmental Islamic organization based in Mecca, Saudi Arabia that is a member of UNICEF, UNESCO and OIC. Ulama_sentence_223

It aims to resolve the issues faced by the Islamic community by organizing scholarly conferences with the Ulama around the world in order to form public Islamic opinions based on principles of moderation, peace and harmony. Ulama_sentence_224

Ulama in the secular national states of the 20th century Ulama_section_20

In most countries, the classical institution of the madrasa as a place of teaching remained largely intact until the beginning of the 20th century. Ulama_sentence_225

In the Western parts of the Islamic world, national states arose from the disintegration and partition of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War. Ulama_sentence_226

The government of Kemalist Turkey sought to distance the nation from the religious traditions and institutions of the Ottoman past. Ulama_sentence_227

In Egypt, the establishment of a state-controlled educational system had already begun in the 1820s. Ulama_sentence_228

From 1961 onwards, Gamal Abdel Nasser tried to increase the state control over ancient Islamic institutions like al-Azhar university. Ulama_sentence_229

The head of al-Azhar was – and still is – appointed directly by the president, and new faculties were created in this ancient Islamic institution. Ulama_sentence_230

Initially giving rise to modernist reforms, up to a certain degree the state-sponsored faculties were able to retain their independence from government control. Ulama_sentence_231

However, as Pierret has pointed out in detail for Syria, in some countries the orthodox madrasa system remained largely intact, its decentralised organisation protecting it from state control. Ulama_sentence_232

In fact, the government's attempt at controlling the religious education focussed largely on the academic institutions and neglected the traditional madrasas. Ulama_sentence_233

By their continuing ability to provide social support and access to an educational alternative which was propagated as being more orthodox according to Islamic faith, the traditional ulama not only maintained their influence on large parts of the population, but actually increased their political influence and power. Ulama_sentence_234

Republic of Turkey Ulama_section_21

In the Kemalist Republic of Turkey, traditional Ottoman religious institutions were abolished like the Ottoman Caliphate, the office of the Shaykh ul-Islam, as well as the dervish brotherhoods. Ulama_sentence_235

The Presidency of Religious Affairs (Turkish: Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı, or Diyanet) was created in 1924 by article 136 of the Constitution of Turkey by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey as a successor to the office of the Shaykh ul-Islam. Ulama_sentence_236

From 1925 onwards, the traditional dervish tekkes and Islamic schools were dissolved. Ulama_sentence_237

Famous convents like the Tekke of the Mevlevi order in Konya were secularized and turned into museums. Ulama_sentence_238

Iran Ulama_section_22

In Iran, contrary to many other Islamic countries, the Shi'a ulama had maintained their religious authority together with considerable sources of income by waqf endowments and the zakat tax. Ulama_sentence_239

Thus, they maintained their ability to exert political pressure. Ulama_sentence_240

Between 1905 and 1911, a coalition of ulama, bazaari, and some radical reformers incited the Persian Constitutional Revolution, which led to the establishment of the parliament (majlis) of Iran during the Qajar Dynasty. Ulama_sentence_241

The Islamic Revolution in Iran was led by a senior Shia cleric—the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini—who established an Islamic Republic whose constitution calls for a cleric as the country's Supreme Ruler. Ulama_sentence_242

Syria Ulama_section_23

In his study on "Religion and state in Syria" (2013), Pierret pointed out how the training of Syria's ulama gradually became more institutionalised, based upon the traditional madrasa system: In 1920, the madrasa of the Khusruwiyah Mosque complex (which was to be destroyed in 2014 during the Syrian Civil War) introduced an entrance exam and a stable curriculum for its Islamic seminary. Ulama_sentence_243

Graduates were issued a diploma carrying the name of the institution, which bore the signatures of all teachers, signifying individual ijazah. Ulama_sentence_244

In 1947, courses also included natural sciences and foreign languages. Ulama_sentence_245

In 1947, the state-run "Faculty of Sharia" was initiated in Damascus by Kamal al-Qassab (1853–1954), a former student of Muḥammad ʿAbduh (1849–1905) in Cairo. Ulama_sentence_246

Until 1954, all Syrian ulama aiming at higher degrees had to join Al-Azhar University in Cairo. Ulama_sentence_247

In 1954, however, Syria's first higher faculty of sharia was founded by members of the modernist wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ulama_sentence_248

Its curriculum, which included economy and the "current situation of the Muslim world", according to Pierret, "anticipated the 1961 modernist reform of al-Azhar by Nasser". Ulama_sentence_249

In 1972, the curriculum of the state-run "Sharia high schools" was reformed again, thus providing access for their students to all faculties of Syrian high schools. Ulama_sentence_250

According to Pierret (2015), the Ba'ath Party coup of 1963 brought about a weakening of the state-controlled sharia high schools by the secular government. Ulama_sentence_251

Many teachers of the Damascus faculty of sharia were forced into exile during the 1960s. Ulama_sentence_252

Attempts of the regime during the 1980s at changing the curricula of the faculty and create a new "Ba'athist ulama" failed. Ulama_sentence_253

The faculty, maintaining their ability to recruit competent teachers, was able to resist the political pressure. Ulama_sentence_254

Consequently, the Syrian government prohibited the faculty to grant doctorates until 1998, and delayed the establishment of another faculty in Aleppo until 2006. Ulama_sentence_255

Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq Ulama_section_24

In 1961, Gamal Abdel Nasser put the Al-Azhar University under the direct control of the state. Ulama_sentence_256

"Azharis were given military uniforms and found themselves marching in step under the orders of army officers." Ulama_sentence_257

After the independence of Algeria, President Ahmed Ben Bella also deprived the Algerian ulama of their power. Ulama_sentence_258

Baathist repression in Iraq led to a drop of enrollment in the Shia holy cities of Iraq from 12,000 students in the early 1900s to only 600 scholars and students in 1977. Ulama_sentence_259

Pakistan Ulama_section_25

When in the 1980s and 1990s the inner-Islamic conflict escalated in Pakistan between Sunnite and Shiite sectarians, Islamic organizations represented the religious and political frontiers, and spread their ideas in the madrasas which they sponsored. Ulama_sentence_260

Graduates (talib) from North Pakistani madrasas like "Mullah" Mohammed Omar played a role in the establishment of the Afghan Taliban regime as well as in the development of the radical Islamic terrorism. Ulama_sentence_261

Under the pressure of Islamic terrorism, the traditional Islamic educational system together with their ulama came into general disregard within the Western world. Ulama_sentence_262

Islamic revival and the origin of extremism Ulama_section_26

Islam, unlike Christianity, does not know a centralised process of ordination of its clergy. Ulama_sentence_263

The traditional way of education and training relied largely on personal relationships between a teacher and his students. Ulama_sentence_264

Whenever Islamic national governments tried to influence their regional ulama, they did so by controlling their income, or by establishing state-controlled schools and high schools. Ulama_sentence_265

Traditional madrasas, representing merely decentralised "places of learning" and not institutions comparable to Western universities, often remained beyond state control. Ulama_sentence_266

Whenever the state failed to control the resources of the madrasas, e.g., by controlling the income from religious endowments, or collecting Muslim taxes on behalf of the clergy, the ulama also retained the independence of their teaching. Ulama_sentence_267

In particular, this held to be true in the Arabian provinces of the Ottoman Empire and the Arabian national states which arose out of the empire after the First World War. Ulama_sentence_268

For many people living in the poorer Islamic countries of today, especially those without natural resources like petroleum, the madrasa system, privately sponsored by foreign aid and not or insufficiently controlled by the state, often constitutes their only access to some form of education and social rise. Ulama_sentence_269

Saudi Arabian humanitarian organizations use the madrasas they sponsor to spread their wahhabitic doctrine, whilst Shiite madrasas are frequently influenced by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ulama_sentence_270

The Islamic revival originated largely from institutions which were financially independent from the state, and beyond its control. Ulama_sentence_271

This led to a resurgence of the social and political influence of the traditional ulama in at least some countries. Ulama_sentence_272

Insufficient state control over the educational institutions and the frequently insufficient qualification of the teachers remain an issue, as does the ideologic indoctrination and the future professional perspectives of the graduates. Ulama_sentence_273

Modern challenges Ulama_section_27

Some opinions from within the Muslim world have criticized the lack of scientific training of the ulama, and argued that those proficient in the sciences should qualify for this title. Ulama_sentence_274

In Egypt, the Al-Azhar University has begun to introduce scientific and practical subjects in its traditional theological colleges to help the ulama face the challenges of the modern world. Ulama_sentence_275

N. Hanif states: Ulama_sentence_276

Sudanese politician Hassan Al-Turabi argued, in his work The Islamic State, that the Ulama should not be limited to those versed in religious affairs but include experts in fields such as engineering, science, politics, and education because all knowledge is divine and God-given. Ulama_sentence_277

See also Ulama_section_28


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulama.