This article discusses the features of “religious institutions” in the pre-modern Hanbali context. As we will see, the religious institutions were somewhat like the “imagined communities” that Benedict Anderson describes in his seminal work. Most religious movements and productions are not directly traceable to formally organized institutions and even when such institutions happened to exist, their function was usually unrelated to the religious work, or to religious intellectual activities as a whole, or in any case less relevant than the broader sphere of jurists. This sphere is discussed in the context of the clergy in the Sunni and Hanbali experience, where hierarchy and institutionalization were rarely operative. The article ends with the debate of whether ulama, namely the Hanbalis, represented a “corporate group.” Different studies adopt different approaches to determine whether ulama and jurists have established the type of solidarity that would qualify them as a corporate group. I argue that, although many jurists were members of such corporate groups, not all of them were. The general juristic sphere encompassed many who were members neither of a corporate group or even of a madhhab. This feature of free-floating jurisitc sphere allowed jurists to protect their domain from both internal and external controls.