Read a nice entry on OutSyed The Box [here] which reminds me of my previous entry concerning words [here]
Will edit this entry later but wish to highlight few points I found interesting.
There has never been a priest hierarchy in Islam, there have never been "head of Islam" allowed in Islam. There is no equivalent to a Pope, Vatican, installation rituals for religious clergy etc. There is no headquarters for Islam anywhere in the world, comparable to the Vatican for Christianity, the Pope for Catholics or other such beliefs in other religions. There is nothing comparable in Islam. There is no Chief High Priest in Islam.
There is not one single institution anywhere in the Islamic world that can certify anyone as an ulamak. There is no such thing. The only exception to this rule is the Persatuan Ulamak Malaysia, where by paying a few Ringgit registration fee, one is deemed an 'ulamak'. That is a joke not understood by those with impaired oxygen intake into the grey matter.
In Islam there is a direct relationship between man and his Creator. The Quran says "Allah is nearer to you than the veins in your neck". We do not need intermediaries.
Here is some info about the word 'ulama' from the Quran.
"Do you not see that GOD sends down from the sky water, whereby we produce fruits of various colors? Even the mountains have different colors; the peaks are white, or red, or some other color. And the ravens are black. Also, the people, the animals, and the livestock come in various colors. This is why the people who truly reverence GOD are those who are knowledgeable (al ulama). GOD is Almighty, Forgiving." Surah 35: 27-28
The Quran says the people who see all this Nature and observe all this Creation and appreciate all this handiwork of the Creator are called the 'ulama'. Clearly then this is a description of scientists. An ulama is therefore a scientist.
The word science of course comes from the Latin word 'scientia' which means knowledge. And the arab word Ulama is the plural of the arab word alim. Alim comes from the arabic word "Ilmu" which ALSO means knowledge or science.
An alim is therefore a knowledgeable person and ulama is plural meaning 'many knowledgeable people'. Ulama are therefore scientists who study everything around them and appreciate all the things that the Creator has created in this universe. Those are the ulama.
But will a Book such as the Quran fail to provide a proper name for the priests of religion, those guys who wear beards and robes, who dress funny, talk funny and behave funny who are part and parcel of every "religion"? Not at all. Here is the Quran again :
Surah 9:31 "They have set up their religious leaders (habar) and rabbis as lords, instead of GOD. . . "
The Quran refers to 'religious leaders' and the priests as HABAR. They are not referred to as ulama.
Habar are the religious priests who wear strange clothes, wear beards, speak strange and say that they are "closer to God". They can promise things like the keys to paradise. They are best given doodle pads to draw on and be locked up in asylums. If allowed to roam free, they can become "mursyidul am", ayatollah, pak sheikh and so on (in extreme cases).