Lit. “those who know” or “knowledgeable persons.” Pl. of Alim. Usually used to refer to the community of traditionally trained Islamic scholars who study and teach in a seminary. This term sometimes refers exclusively to the top and most influential scholars, other times it refers to all seminarians. In the spiritual sense, however, ulema are those with true knowledge which is possessed by the heart and causes humility before God. In this sense, even a layman can be an alim.

« Back to Glossary Index