An Account of the Clergy and Priests of Islam,
the Personnel of the Mosque and “Holy Men”



Samuel M. Zwemer, F.R.G.S.

Professor Emeritus of the History of Religion and Christian Missions
Princeton Theological Seminary


Copyright © 1946


The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago

edited for 3BSB by Baptist Bible Believer in the spirit of the Colportage Ministry of a century ago


~ out-of-print and in the public domain ~

This book was originally

published prior to 1924,
it is therefore in the public domain and free to be posted
in its entirety despite recent publication

Please note: If you wish to read (which is absolutely free), simply click on the chapter title. You will have the option to either open it or to save it to your computer. To create a folder, right click and choose new - Folder, and name it the title of the book.

GOD bless you from the Baptist Bible Believers website!

Please tell everyone you know about this website, pray for this ministry - and that will be payment enough!

Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23)


my friends

Bishop John A. Subhan,
Sheikh Kamil Mansur,
Marcus Adb-ul-Messih,
and many others, formerly
Sufis, Shiekhs and Ulema
who have found salvation in
Jesus Christ, our Lord



This brief study introduces the reader to the most important and most influential class in the world of Islam. There are nearly 300,000,000 Moslems between Morocco and China and from Warsaw to Capetown. In India alone they number ninety millions, and in Africa over fifty millions.

On the occasion of the dedication of a new site for a cathedral mosque, the London Times (Nov. 22, 1944) wrote:

“His Majesty indeed has more Moslems than Christians among his subjects; and his capital, appropriately enough, holds a larger Moslem community than any other western metropolis. But while there are already two small mosques in London and a larger institution in Woking, as well as other mosques in those British cities where Moslems mainly congregate, there is nowhere in Britain a 'cathedral mosque' worthy of the heart of an Empire within whose bounds the culture and traditions of Islam flourish so mightily.”

There is also a proposal on foot to build a mosque in Washington.

The post-war world will bring America and Europe in closer touch with Islam than ever before. Men of the consular service, orientalists, merchants, tourists, and missionaries will find that it is supremely important to understand the soul of a people and their popular religion and folk-traditions.

To achieve this, we must know their spiritual leaders. My conviction, after forty years of experience in Arabia and Egypt (including visits to North Africa, India, China, Iran, and Java) is that the key to understanding of the masses lies in personal friendship with their clergy, the so-called imams, mullahs, and sheikhs.

Since the abolition of the caliphate, the political power of Islam has waned. But the soul of Islam lives on in the village school-teacher, the clergy, the professors of canon-law, and the popular saints of the darwish-orders.

The following pages are an introduction to these “clergy”; their origin, organization, functions, faith, zeal, and present-day influence and power.

If the words of Mohammed himself, “the learned of my people are as the prophets of Israel,” can be taken as prophetic, then these 'ulema (learned) are the one spiritual factor in Islam which we must try to understand if we desire to know and help the common people, and this is supremely important to those who preach the gospel.


New York City

Samuel M. Zwemer.




The 'ULEMA are the heirs of the prophets” — thus Mohammed is supposed to have spoken. To them falls the mission of binding and loosing . . . They are regarded as the authorized interpreters of the consensus. It is to them that the Faithful turn when in doubt, for the solution of cases of conscience or points of doctrine . . . The quadi is chosen from among the 'ulema. His Tribunal admits oral testimony alone; that of a non-Muslim is excluded. The supreme council of 'ulema is at the University of Al Azhar, Cairo.

 — H. Lammens S. J. in Islam, pp. 101,102, 110.



by Samuel M. Zwemer


A Study of the Spiritual Leaders of the Moslem World


This is a scholarly and informative survey of the most important and influential class in the world of Islam. It will prove invaluable to all who come in contact with the great mass of people under Moslem domination. There are nearly 300 million Moslems between Morocco and China and from Warsaw to Cape Town. In India alone, they number 90 million and in Africa more than 50 million (1946).

Dr. Zwemer traces the history of this class of spiritual leaders, showing how Mohammed came to be regarded as divine, and outlining the development of his successors’ hold over the masses. He characterizes Islam as an inflexible theocracy, and points out the elements which this religion borrowed from Judaism and Christianity.

The book gives in detail conditions prevailing today . . . the decline of Islam's political power, but the continuance of her moral domination through the priesthood. It describes the conversion of distinguished members of this leader group, in spite of persecution and martyrdom.

While not primarily intended as a missionary study, HEIRS OF THE PROPHETS will help greatly in a more intelligent approach to the great task of bringing the gospel to the Moslem world.


Dr. Samuel M. Zwemer is a well-known writer on missionary and evangelical subjects.

As a missionary he spent 22 years in Arabia, 1890-1912, and 16 years in Egypt, 1913-1929. He writes from a rich background of personal experience that gives his work the mark of reality and authority.

Dr. Zwemer is professor-emeritus of Missions and History of Religion at Princeton Theological Seminary and it is indicative of his reputation as an authority on Moslem affairs that he is editor of the Moslem World and president of the American Christian Literature Society for Moslems.

Web Counters
HTML Hit Counters

To report a broken link or for other assistance please email us at: vwbutts@att.net



Please Note

You Need the Following to Read PDF Files. Simply click on the link below for the free download

Get Adobe Reader