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Guardians of Faith in Modern Times: 'Ulama' in the Middle by Meir Hatina

By Meir Hatina

This collective quantity offers an integrative ancient and modern dialogue of Sunni 'ulama' within the center East in either an city and a semi-tribal context. a few of the chapters toughen a renewed curiosity within the place of the 'ulama' nowa days and provide new insights as to their ideological power and contribution to the general public discourse on ethical and sociopolitical matters.

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Additional info for Guardians of Faith in Modern Times: 'Ulama' in the Middle East (Social, Economic and Political Studies of the Middle East and Asia, 105)

Sample text

Al-Shaʿrani claims that these sessions were not known before al-Shuni’s initiative; yet there is evidence that ʿulamaʾ had criticized it already in the fourteenth century. 20 The best-known innovation, and one that was accepted into the liturgical calendar through the ijmaʿ (consensus—actually, the quiet, retroactive acceptance of new things that have entered Islamic practice), was mawlid al-Nabi, the Prophet’s birthday, on 12 Rabiʿ al-Awwal. It probably first appeared in the twelfth century in northern Iraq.

These developments enhanced the importance of the ʿulamaʾ as the keepers and interpreters of the shariʿa, the basic law of the state. They were the teachers, judges, muftis and functionaries in schools and houses of worship. And it was the teachers who absorbed the Mamluks, the young foreign military slaves, into the Islamic religion and instructed them in its basic rules. When the slaves were manumitted and joined the ruling elite as sultans and emirs, they usually followed the guidance of the ʿulamaʾ in religious matters.

20 The best-known innovation, and one that was accepted into the liturgical calendar through the ijmaʿ (consensus—actually, the quiet, retroactive acceptance of new things that have entered Islamic practice), was mawlid al-Nabi, the Prophet’s birthday, on 12 Rabiʿ al-Awwal. It probably first appeared in the twelfth century in northern Iraq. Later, several important Muslim scholars referred to it as bidʿa hasana, a good innovation, which was almost a contradiction in terms (although the term was sometimes used by Muslim scholars).

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