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Imam ?

Imam Definition

Imam is the one who leads prayers in a Muslim mosque; Muslim religious leader or chief Imam is the head of the Muslim community.In Sunni Islam the imam was identical with the Caliph, designating the political successor of Prophet Mohammad. The Sunnis held the imam to be a man capable of error but deserving obedience provided he maintained the ordinances of Islam. In Shiite Islam the imam became a figure of absolute religious authority, possessed of unique insights into the Quran and divinely appointed and preserved from sin. With the historical disappearance of the last imam, there arose a belief in the hidden imam, who is identified with the mahdi. According to the Shiite belief, the 12th descendant of Mohammed, known as the 12th Imam or the Mahdi (Mehdi) went into hiding in 941The term Imam is also given to Muslims who lead prayers in mosques and has been used as an honorary title. (Wikipedia) - Imam Not to be confused with Iman. For other uses, see Imam (disambiguation). Usul al-fiqh Fiqh Ahkam Theological titles
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An imam (Arabic: إمام‎ imām, plural: أئمة aʼimmah; Persian: امام‎) is an Islamic leadership position. It is most commonly in the context of a worship leader of a mosque and Muslim community by Sunni Muslims. In this context, Imams may lead Islamic worship services, serve as community leaders, and provide religious guidance. For Shi''a Muslims, the Imam has a more central meaning and role in Islam through the concept of Imamah. Imam may also be used in the form of a title for renowned Muslim scholars.

  • 1 Sunni Imams
  • 2 Shi''a imams
  • 3 Imams as secular rulers
  • 4 Gallery
    • 4.1 Imams
    • 4.2 Muftis
    • 4.3 Shaykh
  • 5 See also
  • 6 Footnotes
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links

Sunni ImamsAn imam leading prayers in Cairo, Egypt, in 1865.Main article: Imam khatib (Sunni Islam)

The Sunni branch of Islam does not have imams in the same sense as the Shi''a, an important distinction often overlooked by those outside of the Islamic faith. In every day terms, the imam for Sunni Muslims is the one who leads Islamic formal (Fard) prayers, even in locations besides the mosque, whenever prayers are done in a group of two or more with one person leading (imam) and the others following by copying his ritual actions of worship. Friday sermon is most often given by an appointed imam. All mosques have an imam to lead the (congregational) prayers, even though it may sometimes just be a member from the gathered congregation rather than an officially appointed salaried person. Women can not lead prayers, except amongst female-only congregations; these are often the wives of imams (see Nusi)). The person that should be chosen according to Hadith is one who has most knowledge of the Qu''ran and is of good character, the age is immaterial.

The term is also used for a recognized religious scholar or authority in Islam, often for the founding scholars of the four Sunni madhhabs, or schools of jurisprudence (fiqh). It may also refer to the Muslim scholars who created the analytical sciences related to Hadith or it may refer to the heads of the Prophet Muhammad''s family in their generational times.

The following table shows the considered imams in the context of scholarly authority by Sunni Muslims:

Madhhab (Schools of Jurisprudence) Aqidah (Schools of Theology) Science of Hadith
Imam Abu Hanifa Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Athari) Imam Bukhari
Imam Malik Imam al-Ashari (Ash''ari) Imam Abu Dawood
Imam Shafi''i Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (Maturidi) Imam Muslim
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal Wasil ibn Ata (Mu''tazili) Imam Fakhr al-Razi
Shi''a imams Main article: Imamah (Shi''a doctrine)

In the Shi''a context, Imam is not only presented as the man of God par excellence but as participating fully in the names, attributes and acts that theology usually reserves for God alone. imams have a meaning more central to belief, referring to leaders of the community. Twelver and Ismaili Shi''a believe that these imams are chosen by God to be perfect examples for the faithful and to lead all humanity in all aspects of life. They also believe that all the imams chosen are free from committing any sin, impeccability which is called ismah. These leaders must be followed since they are appointed by God.


Here follows a list of the Twelvers imams:

Number Name (Full/Kunya) Title (Arabic/Turkish) Birth–Death (CE/AH) Importance Birthplace (present day country) Place of death and burial
1 Ali ibn Abu Talib علي بن أبي طالبAbu al-Hassan or Abu al-Husayn أبو الحسین or أبو الحسن Amir al-Mu''minin (Commander of the Faithful)Birinci Ali 600–66123–40 The first imam and the rightful successor of the Prophet of all Shia; however, the Sunnis acknowledge him as the fourth Caliph as well. He holds a high position in almost all Sufi Muslim orders (Turuq); the members of these orders trace their lineage to Muhammad through him. Mecca, Saudi Arabia Assassinated by Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljam, a Kharijite in Kufa, who slashed him with a poisoned sword. Buried at the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, Iraq.
2 Hassan ibn Ali الحسن بن عليAbu Muhammad أبو محمد al-Mujtabaİkinci Ali 624–6803–50 He was the eldest surviving grandson of Muhammad through Muhammad''s daughter, Fatimah Zahra. Hasan succeeded his father as the caliph in Kufa, and on the basis of peace treaty with Muawiya I, he relinquished control of Iraq following a reign of seven months. Medina, Saudi Arabia Poisoned by his wife in Medina, Saudi Arabia on the orders of the Caliph Muawiya. Buried in Jannat al-Baqi.
3 Husayn ibn Ali الحسین بن عليAbu Abdillah أبو عبدالله Sayed al-ShuhadaÜçüncü Ali 626–6804–61 He was a grandson of Muhammad. Husayn opposed the validity of Caliph Yazid I. As a result, he and his family were later killed in the Battle of Karbala by Yazid''s forces. After this incident, the commemoration of Husayn ibn Ali has become a central ritual in Shia identity. Medina, Saudi Arabia Killed on Day of Ashura (10 Muharram) and beheaded at the Battle of Karbala. Buried at the Imam Husayn Shrine in Karbala, Iraq.
4 Ali ibn al-Hussein علي بن الحسینAbu Muhammad أبو محمد al-Sajjad, Zain al-AbedinDördüncü Ali 658-9 – 71238–95 Author of prayers in Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya, which is known as "The Psalm of the Household of the Prophet." Medina, Saudi Arabia According to most Shia scholars, he was poisoned on the order of Caliph al-Walid I in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Buried in Jannat al-Baqi.
5 Muhammad ibn Ali محمد بن عليAbu Ja''far أبو جعفر al-Baqir al-Ulum

(splitting open knowledge)

Beşinci Ali
677–73257–114 Sunni and Shia sources both describe him as one of the early and most eminent legal scholars, teaching many students during his tenure. Medina, Saudi Arabia According to some Shia scholars, he was poisoned by Ibrahim ibn Walid ibn ''Abdallah in Medina, Saudi Arabia on the order of Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik. Buried in Jannat al-Baqi.
6 Ja''far ibn Muhammad جعفر بن محمدAbu Abdillah أبو عبدالله al-Sadiq

(the Trustworthy)

Altıncı Ali
702–76583–148 Established the Ja''fari jurisprudence and developed the Theology of Shia. He instructed many scholars in different fields, including Abu Hanifah and Malik ibn Anas in fiqh, Wasil ibn Ata and Hisham ibn Hakam in Islamic theology, and Jābir ibn Hayyān in science and alchemy. Medina, Saudi Arabia According to Shia sources, he was poisoned in Medina, Saudi Arabia on the order of Caliph Al-Mansur. Buried in Jannat al-Baqi.
7 Musa ibn Ja''far موسی بن جعفرAbu al-Hassan I أبو الحسن الأول al-KazimYedinci Ali 744–799128–183 Leader of the Shia community during the schism of Ismaili and other branches after the death of the former imam, Jafar al-Sadiq. He established the network of agents who collected khums in the Shia community of the Middle East and the Greater Khorasan. Medina, Saudi Arabia Imprisoned and poisoned in Baghdad, Iraq on the order of Caliph Harun al-Rashid. Buried in the Kazimayn shrine in Baghdad.
8 Ali ibn Musa علي بن موسی al-Rida, RezaSekizinci Ali 765–817148–203 Made crown-prince by Caliph Al-Ma''mun, and famous for his discussions with both Muslim and non-Muslim religious scholars. Medina, Saudi Arabia According to Shia sources, he was poisoned in Mashad, Iran on the order of Caliph Al-Ma''mun. Buried in the Imam Reza shrine in Mashad.
9 Muhammad ibn Ali محمد بن عليAbu Ja''far أبو جعفر al-Taqi, al-JawadDokuzuncu Ali 810–835195–220 Famous for his generosity and piety in the face of persecution by the Abbasid caliphate. Medina, Saudi Arabia Poisoned by his wife, Al-Ma''mun''s daughter, in Baghdad, Iraq on the order of Caliph Al-Mu''tasim. Buried in the Kazmain shrine in Baghdad.
10 Ali ibn Muhammad علي بن محمدAbu al-Hassan III أبو الحسن الثالث al-Hadi, al-NaqiOnuncu Ali 827–868212–254 Strengthened the network of deputies in the Shia community. He sent them instructions, and received in turn financial contributions of the faithful from the khums and religious vows. Surayya, a village near Medina, Saudi Arabia According to Shia sources, he was poisoned in Samarra, Iraq on the order of Caliph Al-Mu''tazz. Buried in the Al Askari Mosque in Samarra.
11 Hassan ibn Ali الحسن بن عليAbu Muhammad أبو محمد al-AskariOnbirinci Ali 846–874232–260 For most of his life, the Abbasid Caliph, Al-Mu''tamid, placed restrictions on him after the death of his father. Repression of the Shi''ite population was particularly high at the time due to their large size and growing power. Medina, Saudi Arabia According to Shia, he was poisoned on the order of Caliph Al-Mu''tamid in Samarra, Iraq. Buried in Al Askari Mosque in Samarra.
12 Muhammad ibn al-Hassan محمد بن الحسنAbu al-Qasim أبو القاسم al-Mahdi, Hidden Imam, al-HujjahOnikinci Ali 868–unknown255–unknown According to Twelver doctrine, he is the current imam and the promised Mahdi, a messianic figure who will return with Jesus. He will reestablish the rightful governance of Islam and replete the earth with justice and peace. Samarra, Iraq According to Shia doctrine, he has been living in the Occultation since 872, and will continue as long as God wills it.

Fatimah, also Fatimah al-Zahraa, daughter of Muhammed (615–632), is also considered infallible but not an imam. Shi''a believe that the last imam will one day return.


See Imamah (Ismaili doctrine) and List of Ismaili imams for Ismaili imams.

Imams as secular rulers

At times imams have held both secular and religious authority. This was the case in Oman among the Kharijite or Ibadi sects. At times the imams were elected. At other times the position was inherited, as with the Yaruba dynasty from 1624 and 1742. The Imamate of Futa Jallon (1727-1896) was a Fulani state in West Africa where secular power alternated between two lines of hereditary Imams, or almami. In the Zaidi Shiite sect, imams were secular as well as spiritual leaders who held power in Yemen for more than a thousand years. In 897, a Zaidi ruler, al-Hadi ila''l-Haqq Yahya, founded a line of such imams, a theocratic form of government which survived until the second half of the 20th century. (See details under Zaidiyyah, History of Yemen, Imams of Yemen.)

Gallery Imams
  • An Imam reads verses from the Quran after Isha'' (night prayers) in the Mughal Empire.

  • Discourse between Islamic Imams in the Mughal Empire.

  • Crimean Tatar Imam''s teach the Quran.

  • Imam presiding over prayer, North Africa

  • Imam Shamil, Caucasus

  • Imam in Bosnia, c. 1906

  • Imam Khomeini, leader of Islamic revolution

  • An Imam in Omdurman, Sudan.

  • An Ottoman Imam in Constantinople.

  • A Bosniak Military Imam in the Austro-Hungarian Army.

  • Imam Thierno Ibrahima Thiello

  • A Georgian Muslim Imam from Tbilisi.

  • Grand Mufti, Mirza Huseyn Qayibzade of Tbilisi

  • Travelling Mufti''s of the Ottoman Empire

  • Mufti, Jakub Szynkiewicz

  • Grand Mufti, Absattar Derbisali of Kazakhstan

  • Ottoman Grand Mufti

  • Ottoman Grnad Mufti

  • Tomb of Mufti in Indonesia

  • Grand Mufti, Talgat Tadzhuddin

  • Mufti delivering a sermon

  • Grand Mufti, Ebrahim Desai

  • Portrait of Shaykh ul-Islam by Ali bey Huseynzade

  • Shaykh, Hamza Yusuf

  • Kurdish Sheikhs, 1895.

  • Sheykh of the Rufai Sufi Order

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