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Arabic: 'al-mawlā
Other spellings: Moulay

Muslim title, indicating "lord". It is commonly used for a male person with a formal background in Islamic studies.
It is sometimes claimed that "mullah" is used in the Koran to indicate humans of special knowledge and position.
A mullah is usually equated with an "alim", a singular member of the Ulama, the community of Muslim scholars.
As with other Muslim titles, there is no clear distinction as to when and how "mullah" may be used. This varies from country to country, Islamic orientation to another. It even varies within very small regions, reflecting that Islam never unanimously have defined which titles shall be used when and how.
It may well be used in small illiterate communities indicating the one person among them with formal learning. In some cases, like in Morocco, it became the highest title, used by sultans through centuries. This began with the holy man, Moulay Idriss.
Mullah has been a popular title with Shi'is, and in Muslim regions east of Iran. In the Arab-speaking countries, "mullah" is rarely used.

By Tore Kjeilen