Islamic Wisdom: The Role of Religious Leaders and Faith Communities

Photo by Mohd Danish Hussain on Unsplash
Photo by Shiza Nazir on Unsplash
  1. Motivate and educate followers to adopt other healthy behaviors that are compatible with religious teachings.
  2. To intentionally use the commonality of the religious Holy Texts of religious communities to impact change within political and religious systems and to actively distribute the work of The Common Word and the Charter of Compassion
  3. To affirm and speak out, sustain and support access to religious freedom of expression and practice everywhere in the world.
  4. Religious leaders equipped with courage and vision play a unique role in bringing people together around the universal values of our common humanity.
  5. They are influential in guiding cultural and social norms and practices.

Islamic Religious Leaders:

Islamic Religious leaders have become influential in many Muslim communities. Islam is a religion that governs all matters including leadership. Leadership is an important subject that had been used to disseminate the Islamic teaching or da’wah and is the most significant instrument for the realization of an ideal society that is based on justice and compassion.

“Indeed Allah commands you to deliver the trusts to their [rightful] owners, and, when you judge between people, to judge with fairness. Excellent indeed is what Allah advises you. Indeed Allah is all-hearing, all-seeing.” (An-Nisa’ 4:58)

1. Alim:

(ʿĀlim). Ulama (/ˈuːləˌmɑː/; Arabic: علماء ʿUlamāʾ, singular عالِم Scholar) religious sciences. The term ulama literally means those who possess knowledge (ilm ), particularly of Islam.

Book Recommended: The Ulama in Contemporary Islam: Custodians of Change

By Muhammad Qasim Zaman

2. Allamah:

Allamah is an honorary and prestigious title carried by only the very highest scholars of Islamic thought, jurisprudence, and philosophy. It is used as an honorific in Sunni Islam as well as in Shia Islam. Allamah is a leader of the Islamic faith.

3. Almami:

Almami (Arabic: المامي; Also: Almamy, Almani, Almany) is a title of West African Muslim rulers, used especially in the conquest states of the 19th century. Similar to Amir al-Mu’minin (Arabic أمير المؤمنين), usually translated “Commander of the Faithful” or “Emperor of the Believers”. In the Arabic world, Amir al-Mu’minin is similar to Caliphs and to other independent sovereign Muslim rulers that claim legitimacy from a community of Muslims. It has been claimed as the title of rulers in Muslim countries and empires and is still used for some Muslim leaders.

4. Caliph:

The term “caliph” (Khalifah in Arabic) is generally regarded to mean “successor of the prophet Muhammad,” while “caliphate” (Khilafah in Arabic) denotes the office of the political leader of the Muslim community (ummah) or state, particularly during the period from 632 to 1258.

5. Imam:

Imam is an Arabic word meaning “Leader”. The ruler of a country might be called the Imam, for example. The term, however, has important connotations in the Islamic tradition especially in Shia belief. In Sunni belief, the term is used for the founding scholars of the four Sunni madhhabs, or schools of religious jurisprudence (fiqh).

6. Grand Imam:

The “Grand Imam” or “Imam of imams” (Arabic: الإمام الأكبر) of the Al-Azhar Mosque and Al-Azhar University is a prestigious Sunni Islam title and a prominent official title in Egypt. It is considered by Muslims in some countries to indicate the highest authority in Sunni Islam for Islamic jurisprudence, The grand Imam holds a great influence on followers of the theological Ash’ari and Maturidi traditions worldwide, while the defenders of the Athari and Salafi ideologies find their leaders in the Arabian Peninsula. The concept of Imam has its origins in the Quran. Ibrahim was promoted as Imam after his successful sacrifice. Every person at the day of judgement will also be called by his Imam. And there is an Imam e Mubeen who encompasses the whole universe as per the teachings of the Quran. Noble Imperial Sheik is the title for the Grand Imam of Al Hakika Mizaan Mizaani Sufi Order.

7. Ghazi:

A ghazi (Arabic: غازي, Arabic pronunciation: [ɣaːziː], plural ġuzāt) was an individual who participated in ghazw (غزو, ġazw), meaning military expeditions or raiding. The latter term was applied in early Islamic literature to expeditions led by the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and later taken up by Turkic military leaders to describe their wars of conquest.

8. Grand Mufti:

The Grand Mufti (also called Chief Mufti, State Mufti and Supreme Mufti) is the head of regional muftis, Islamic jurisconsults, of a state. The office originated in the early modern era in the Ottoman empire and has been later adopted in a number of modern countries.

9. Muezzin:

Muezzin (the word is pronounced this way in Turkish, Urdu, etc.; in Arabic, it is muathi [mu-a-thin] مؤذن [mʊʔæðːɪn]) is any person at the mosque who makes the adhan, or athan (call to prayer) for the Friday prayer service and the five daily prayers, or salat. Some mosques have specific places for the adhan to be made from, such as a minaret or a designated area in the mosque. Major mosques usually have a person who is called the “servant of the mosque”. He usually is the person who performs the athan. In the case of small mosques, the imam of the mosque would perform the athan.

10. Mujtahid:

Mujtahids are interpreters of the Qur’an and Hadith, the Islamic scriptures. These were traditionally Muftis who used interpretation (ijtihad) to clarify Islamic law, but in many modern secular contexts, Islamic law is no longer the law of the land. In that case, the traditional Mufti may well be replaced by a university or madrasa professor who informally functions as adviser to the local Muslim community in religious matters such as inheritance, divorce, etc.

11. Kyai:

Kyai or Kiai is a title originally used in Javanese culture. Only a male person is called with this appellation. His wife is called “nyai”. In early modern times it is mainly used for the headmaster of an Islamic Boarding School (in Indonesia known as pondok pesantren). However, nowadays it is common in Indonesia to call any elderly preacher from any cultural background with this title.

Titles used only by Shia Muslims:

12. Ayatollah:

Ayatollah (Arabic: آية الله; Persian: آیت‌الله) is a prestigious title given to major Shia clergymen. Ayatollah means “sign of God”; those who carry it are considered experts in Islamic studies.

13. Grand Ayatollah:

Only a few of the most important ayatollah of one of the ayatollahs refer to him in many situations and ask him to publish his Juristic book in which he answers the vast majority of daily Muslim affairs. The book is called Resalah, which is usually a reinvention of the book Al-Urwatu l-Wuthqah, according to their knowledge of the most authentic Islamic sources and their application to current life.

Final Thoughts:

Faith plays a central role in shaping notions of gender and relationships. Faith-based organizations, faith leaders, and religious texts have often been a key factor in reinforcing damaging gendered social norms at the local, national and global levels. However, they have also shown that they can play a vital role in challenging and changing damaging, inequitable beliefs.

And all praise and thanks are due to Allah, without Whose help and guidance nothing can be accomplished. May Allah bless you with happiness, success, guidance, health, and knowledge. May Almighty Allah give us the strength to follow the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) and make us part of the group who is among the most righteous! Ameen.

Be patient with yourself. And Keep learning!!

Verily good deeds do away with evil deeds.

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Raja Muhammad Mustansar Javaid

Raja Muhammad Mustansar Javaid


Writer | network engineer | Traveler | Biker | Polyglot. I’m so deep even the ocean gets jealous