The Egyptian ulama enjoyed a high social, economic and professional status under the Mamluks. As already pointed out by contemporary writers, especially Ibn Iyas, but even Sha‛rani, the Ottoman occupation deprived the ulama of many of their privileges. This judgment was justified at the outset of the occupation, but in time the ulama regained their influence and by the end of the Ottoman period had even increased it. Apart from the top judicial posts of which the Egyptian ulama were deprived for the next three centuries by the Turkish ulama, the Egyptians carried on almost undisturbed by the Ottoman government, which respected the prestige of Egyptian Islamic learning.1 The ulama fulfilled their customary functions in a Muslim society: guardianship of religious norms, values, and traditions; maintenance of social stability and unity; bridging over many gaps and differences, which could tear the society apart, and providing a literate elite who served as spokesmen for the people and as intermediaries between them and their rulers.2 None of this was new; ulama had fulfilled these roles in other times and places, but in the harsh and often chaotic circumstances of Ottoman Egypt, the role fulfilled by the ulama was particularly necessary, even though most of them were rigid conservatives, with only a few being endowed with the charisma that was characteristic of many Sufis.