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ʿUlamaʾ between the state and the society in pre-modern Sunni Islam

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Chapter Summary

The majority of the Sunni ʿulamaʾ had similar political attitudes and mentality. The madrasas produced more graduates than the state needed. The diploma that the graduate received was issued not by the madrasa in which he studied but by his teachers, who granted him an ijaza, a license to teach the book or books that he had read under his teacher's guidance. The ʿulamaʾ were victorious against the Muʿtazilite rationalist dogma of the created Qurʾan that Caliph al-Maʾmun (ruled 813-833) and his two immediate successors forced on religious officeholders through the Mihna (inquisition). The central part of this chapter serves to introduce the changing roles of the 'ulama' in the modern era, but it is confined to Egypt, Syria and the center of the Ottoman Empire. In both empires the majority of the native Muslims were Arabic-speaking and were ruled by Turkish-speaking military elites.

Keywords: ʿulamaʾ; madrasas; Muslims; Ottoman Empire; Pre-modern Sunni Islam; Qurʾan; Sunni Islam



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