World English Dictionary
ulama or ulema1 (ˈuːlɪmə)
1.  a body of Muslim scholars or religious leaders
2.  a member of this body
[C17: from Arabic `ulamā scholars, from `alama to know]
ulema or ulema1
[C17: from Arabic `ulamā scholars, from `alama to know]

ulema (ˈuːlɪmə)
a variant of ulama

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

"scholars of Muslim religious law," 1688, from Arabic 'ulema "learned men, scholars," pl. of 'alim "learned," from 'alama "to know."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


the learned of Islam, those who possess the quality of 'ilm, "learning," in its widest sense. From the 'ulama', who are versed theoretically and practically in the Muslim sciences, come the religious teachers of the Islamic community-theologians (mutakallimun), canon lawyers (muftis), judges (qadis), professors-and high state religious officials like the shaikh al-Islam. In a narrower sense, 'ulama' may refer to a council of learned men holding government appointments in a Muslim state

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Of course, the king had a diplomatic problem of his own religious authorities, the ulema.
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