December 6, 2021
Sheikh, also spelled Shaikh, Sheik, Shaykh or Sheikh (Arabic: ), is an Arabic word meaning chief, leader, elder, or scholar of Islam. The wife or child of a Shaykh is often called Sheikh (Arabic: ). In the Middle East, the term Sheikh literally means an elderly person, which is the meaning used in the Arabic of the Qur'an. Later the meaning developed into a title meaning leader, elder or noble, especially in the Arabian Peninsula where Shaikh has become the traditional title of Bedouin leader in recent centuries. The usage as elder is also used by Christian Arabs, which shows that the usage is independent of any particular religion. In the Persian Gulf, this title is used by community leaders, who can be managers or high-ranking officials, owners of large companies, or local leaders. Members of the Kuwaiti royal family, the al-Sabah family, and the Bahraini and Qatari royal families also use the title Sheikh, as do most of the noble families of the Persian Gulf countries. In Africa, the title was used by some of the Muslim rulers of the Ethiopian royal family, the rulers of Bela Shangul, and the Muslim aristocrats of the Wollo, Tigray and Eritrean tribes. In particular, in Islam the title is also used to refer to Islamic religious experts in various fields, such as faqih, mufti, and muhaddith. In Sufi orders, Shaykh is an honorary title for someone who has obtained the permission of the tarekat leader to teach, guide and raise students from that tarekat. In Indonesia, the title Sheikh is usually used by preachers of Arab descent or great scholars and experts in Islam, both those who spread teachings based on Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama'ah understanding and those who spread Sufism. Some of the names of well-known Islamic religious figures in Indonesia, among others, are Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jaelani, Sheikh Datuk Kahfi, Sheikh Siti Jenar, Sheikh Yusuf Tajul Khalwati, and others.