ule·​ma ˌü-lə-ˈmä How to pronounce ulema (audio)
variants or ulama
plural in construction : the body of mullahs
: mullah

Examples of ulema in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The ulema’s aim in doing so was to prevent chaos in the yet fledgling Arab Muslim community. Mohammed Ayoob, Foreign Affairs, 3 Apr. 2016 Head scarves were banned in public buildings; the state selected the country’s clergy, or ulema, and closely monitored their sermons for the slightest expression of religiosity; prayer beads or facial hair were viewed with suspicion. New York Times, 12 May 2022 The conservative ulema felt that these philosophers were inappropriately influenced by Greek philosophy and Shia Islam against Sunni beliefs. Ahmet T. Kuru, The Conversation, 20 Feb. 2020 Jokowi said the conference was part of Indonesia's efforts to encourage the role of Islamic clerics, or ulema, in promoting peace in Afghanistan. Fox News, 11 May 2018 But there has been a definite uptick in the targeted killing of scholars — widely known as ulema — as the Taliban have intensified their offensives in the past two years, officials say. Mujib Mashal and Jawad Sukhanyar, New York Times, 28 May 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ulema.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Arabic, Turkish, & Persian; Turkish & Persian ʽulemā, from Arabic ʽulamā

First Known Use

1688, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ulema was in 1688

Dictionary Entries Near ulema

Cite this Entry

“Ulema.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ulema. Accessed 30 May. 2024.

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