Ulema are plural of Aalim. By definition Aalim is a learned person in any discipline. True scholars strive for pristine knowledge and understanding of the Creator and the universe.
20:116 .... “MyLord! Advance me in knowledge”.
On the other hand, to an average Muslim, Ulema are supposed to be fat bearded men, cloaked in robes and a turban on head. Professionally, Ulema insist that their ideas of right and wrong must be the guide for others. They make Muslims surrender to their brand of faith rather than their competitors. On average, Ulema play a mundane role in society whereever they live. Most Ulema are ignorant of true Islam, some are also a social nuisance that threatens the well-being of others. In India and Pakistan there are many Ulema, but how little is the Muslim reform. The overall assessments of Ulema raises some critical questions as under:
1. Who are Ulema? Is it a profession or appearance? What do they do and what can we expect from them?
2. Are they capable mentors for others? Do they have a wider knowledge of the world that they live in?
3. Can we blame Ulema for messing up with their narrowly conceptualized Islam that creates more peril than harmony?
4. Can they empower Muslims with the vision of an enlightened concept of Islam?
5. Despite the increasing numbers of Ulema, why do Muslim societies decline in creativity, dynamism and vitality?
6. Can Ulema become an object of intellectual leadership for other religions and societies?
7. Can they enlighten and inspire Muslims to become a social asset to world community?
8. Most importantly, can they assist mankind in fulfilling their mandate as God’s vicegerent on earth?