ule·​ma | \ ˌü-lə-ˈmä How to pronounce ulema (audio) \
variants: or ulama

Definition of ulema

1 plural in construction : the body of mullahs
2 : mullah

Examples of ulema in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web 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 example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ulema.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of ulema

1688, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ulema

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

Learn More About ulema

Dictionary Entries Near ulema




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for ulema

Cite this Entry

“Ulema.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ulema. Accessed 29 Sep. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on ulema

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ulema


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!