Definitions

imam

imam

[ih-mahm]
imam [Arab.,=leader], in Islam, a recognized leader or a religious teacher. Among the Sunni the term refers to the leader in the Friday prayer at the mosque; any pious Muslim may function as imam. The term has also been used as a synonym for caliph (see caliphate), the vicegerent of God. The Shiites, with their numerous denominations throughout history, have developed specific meanings for the term. Zaydi Shiites recognize as Imam any pious descendant of Ali and Fatima who earns his recognition as a leader through struggle. Twelve-Imam Shiite dogma restricts the Imams to Ali, his sons Hasan and Husayn, and nine direct linear descendants of Husayn. Twelve-Imam Shiite doctrine presents the Imams as infallible intermediaries between the human and the divine. The continuous presence of the Imams being a prerequisite for human salvation, al-Mahdi, the last Imam, is considered in occultation (hidden from humanity) since 874 only to return near the end of creation as a messiahlike figure. For Ismaili Shiites, the succession of the Imams breaks off from the Twelve-Imams line with Ismail, the son of Jafar al-Sadiq (see Ismailis). At present the Nizari subgroup of the Ismailis is the only group whose members claim a living and visible Imam in the person of Shah Karim al-Husayn, Aga Khan IV. The use of the title "imam" by the Iranian revolutionary leader Ruhollah Khomeini and by the Lebanese Shiite leader Musa al-Sadr signaled a new development in Twelve-Imam Shiite doctrine, since neither could not claim to be the Hidden Imam returned, reflecting the desire to transcend the passive waiting for the reappearance of the Mahdi and promote the reincorporation of political activism into Shiite religious life.

Head of the Muslim community. In Sunnite Islam the imam was identical with the caliph, designating the political successor of Muhammad. The Sunnites held the imam to be a man capable of error but deserving obedience provided he maintained the ordinances of Islam. In Shīaynite Islam the imam became a figure of absolute religious authority, possessed of unique insights into the Qurhamzahān 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. The term imam is also given to Muslims who lead prayers in mosques and has been used as an honorary h1.

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An imam (إمام plural ائمة A'immah , امام) is an Islamic leader, often the leader of a mosque and/or community. Similarly to spiritual leaders, the imam is the man - an imam is always a man since female imams never have been recognized in Islam - who leads the prayer during Islamic gatherings. More often the community turn to the mosque imam, if they have an Islamic question. In smaller communities an imam could be the community leader based on the community setting.

Shi'a imams

In the Shi'a context, Imam has 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 and have a status directly parallel to those of a prophet, infallibility which is called ismah. These leaders must be followed since they are appointed by God.

Twelver

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 طالب
Abu al-Hassan
أبو الحسن
Amir al-Mu'minin
(Commander of the Faithful)
Birinci Ali
600–661
23–40
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
ألحسن بن علي
Abu Muhammad
أبو محمد
al-Mujtaba
Ikinci Ali
624–680 ----3–50 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
ألحسین بن علي
Abu Abdillah
أبو عبدالله
Sayed al-Shuhada
Ūçüncü Ali
626–680 ----4–61 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 and beheaded at the Battle of Karbala. Buried at the Imam Husayn Shrine in Karbala, Iraq.
4 Ali ibn al-Hussein
علي بن الحسین
Abu Muhammad
أبو محمد
al-Sajjad, Zain al-Abedin ----Dorduncu Ali 658-9 – 712 ----38–95 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 علي
Abu Ja'far
أبو جعفر
al-Baqir al-Ulum
(splitting open knowledge)

----Besinci Ali

677–732 ----57–114 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 محمد
Abu Abdillah
أبو عبدالله
al-Sadiq
(the Trustworthy) ----Altinci Ali
702–765 ----83–148 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 Geber 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 جعفر
Abu al-Hassan I
أبو الحسن الاول
al-Kazim ----Yedinci Ali 744–799 ----128–183 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
Abu al-Hassan II
أبو الحسن الثانی
al-Rida, Reza ----Sekizinci Ali 765–817 ----148–203 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 علي
Abu Ja'far
أبو جعفر
al-Taqi, al-Jawad ----Dokuzuncu Ali 810–835 ----195–220 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 محمد
Abu al-Hassan III
أبو الحسن الثالث
al-Hadi, al-Naqi ----Onuncu Ali 827–868 ----212–254 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
ألحسن بن علي
Abu Muhammad
أبو محمد
al-Askari ----Onbirinci Ali 846–874 ----232–260 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 الحسن
Abu al-Qasim
أبو القاسم
al-Mahdi, Hidden Imam, al-Hujjah ----Onikinci Ali 868–unknown ----255–unknown According to Twelver doctrine, he is the current Imam and the promised Mahdi, a messianic figure who will return with Christ. 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 (615632), is also considered infallible but not an Imam. Many Shi'a believe that the last Imam will one day return.

See Imamah (Shi'a Ismaili doctrine) for Ismaili list of Imams

Sunni imams

The term is also used for a recognized religious leader or teacher in Islam, often for the founding scholars of the four Sunni madhhabs, or schools of religious jurisprudence (fiqh). It may also refer to the imams of the sciences related to Hadith or to the heads of the Prophet's descendants in their times. In other words, Imam Ali is a phrase used by both Shi'a and Sunni Muslims, though with different connotations.

The Sunni sect does not have imams in the same sense as the Shi'a sect. The imam in the Sunni sect of Islam is the leader of prayers; the sermon is most often given by the Sheikh.

However, there are some people whom Sunnis call "Imams" who are not prayer leaders. They are not Imams in the Shi'a sense of the word, but they are those who started the four Sunni Madhabs. List:

Madhhab Aqidah Science of hadith
Imam Abu Hanifa Imam al-Ashari Imam Bukhari
Imam Malik Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi Imam Abu Dawood
Imam Shafi'i Imam Fakhr al-Razi
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal
Imam Abu Dawood

Zaidi imams as rulers of Yemen

In the Zaidi Shiite sect, Imams were temporal as well as spiritual leaders who held power in Yemen for more than a thousand years. In 897, a Zaidi ruler, Yahya al-Hadi ila'l Haqq, founded a line of such Imams, a theocratic form of government which survived until the second half of the 20th century. (See details under Zaidi, History of Yemen.)

See also

Foot notes

References

  • In Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.. .
  • In Encyclopædia Iranica Center for Iranian Studies, Columbia University. ISBN 1568590504. .
  • In Encyclopaedia of Islam and the Muslim world; vol.1 MacMillan. ISBN 0028656040. .
  • In Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa (2004). Gale Group. ISBN 9780028657691. .
  • Corbin, Henry (1993 (original French 1964)). History of Islamic Philosophy, Translated by Liadain Sherrard, Philip Sherrard. London; Kegan Paul International in association with Islamic Publications for The Institute of Ismaili Studies. ISBN 0710304161.
  • Momen, Moojan (1985). TAn Introduction to Shi`i Islam: The History and Doctrines of Twelve. Yale University Press. ISBN 0300035314.
  • Sachedina, Abdulaziz Abdulhussein (1988). The Just Ruler (al-sultān Al-ʻādil) in Shīʻite Islam: The Comprehensive Authority of the Jurist in Imamite Jurisprudence. Oxford University Press US. ISBN 0195119150.
  • Tabatabae, Sayyid Mohammad Hosayn; Seyyed Hossein Nasr (translator) (1979). Shi'ite Islam. SUNY press. ISBN 0-87395-272-3.

External links

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