|Part of a series on Islam|
Imam ( // ; Arabic : إمامimām; plural: أئمةaʼimmah) is an Islamic leadership position.
Islam is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God (Allah), and that Muhammad is the messenger of God. It is the world's second-largest religion with over 1.8 billion followers or 24% of the world's population, most commonly known as Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 50 countries. Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, unique and has guided humankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs. The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, viewed by Muslims as the verbatim word of God, and the teachings and normative example of Muhammad.
It is most commonly used as the title of a worship leader of a mosque and Muslim community among Sunni Muslims. In this context, imams may lead Islamic worship services, serve as community leaders, and provide religious guidance.
A mosque is a place of worship for Muslims. There are strict and detailed requirements in Sunni jurisprudence for a place of worship to be considered a mosque, with places that do not meet these requirements regarded as musallas. There are stringent restrictions on the uses of the area formally demarcated as the mosque, and in the Islamic Sharī‘ah, after an area is formally designated as a mosque, it remains so until the Last Day.
Sunni Islam is the largest denomination of Islam, followed by nearly 90% of the world's Muslims. Its name comes from the word sunnah, referring to the behaviour of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The differences between Sunni and Shia Muslims arose from a disagreement over the succession to Muhammad and subsequently acquired broader political significance, as well as theological and juridical dimensions.
For Shi'a Muslims, the imam has a more central meaning and role in Islam through the concept of imamah; the term is only applicable to those members of Ahl al-Bayt , the house of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, designated as infallibles.
Shia, also transliterated Shiah and Shiʿah, is a branch of Islam which holds that the Islamic prophet Muhammad designated Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor and the Imam (leader) after him, most notably at the event of Ghadir Khumm, but was prevented from the caliphate as a result of the incident at Saqifah. This view primarily contrasts with that of Sunni Islam, whose adherents believe that Muhammad did not appoint a successor and consider Abu Bakr, who they claim was appointed Caliph through a Shura, i.e. community consensus in Saqifa, to be the first rightful Caliph after the Prophet.
Ahl al-Bayt, also Āl al-Bayt or Ahlul Bayt, is a phrase meaning, literally, "People of the House" or "Family of the House". Within the Islamic tradition, the term refers to the family of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
Muhammad was the founder of Islam. According to Islamic doctrine, he was a prophet, sent to present and confirm the monotheistic teachings preached previously by Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. He is viewed as the final prophet of God in all the main branches of Islam, though some modern denominations diverge from this belief. Muhammad united Arabia into a single Muslim polity, with the Quran as well as his teachings and practices forming the basis of Islamic religious belief.
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 everyday 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. The position of women as imams is controversial. The person that should be chosen, according to Hadith, is one who has most knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah (prophetic tradition) and is of good character.
Farḍ or farīḍah (فريضة) in Islam is a religious duty commanded by Allah (God). The word is also used in Persian, Pashto, Turkish, and Urdu in the same meaning. Muslims who obey such commands or duties are said to receive hasanat, ajr or thawab each time for each good deed. Farz can also mean ‘the ruling means the thing which is so obligatory that one is not relieved of the obligation until he fulfills it, it is called farz. If this thing is a part of worship, the worship will be void without it, leaving it out is a major sin’.
Worship is an act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity. An act of worship may be performed individually, in an informal or formal group, or by a designated leader. Such acts may involve honoring.
There is a current controversy among Muslims regarding the circumstances in which women may act as imams, i.e. to lead a congregation in salat (prayer). A number of schools of Islamic thought do make exceptions for taraawih or for a congregation consisting only of close relatives.
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 Muhammad's family in their generational times.[ citation needed ]
A madhhab is a school of thought within fiqh. In the first 150 years of Islam, there were numerous madhahib, most of which have become extinct or merged with other schools. The Amman Message, which was endorsed in 2005 by prominent Islamic scholars around the world, recognized four Sunni schools, two Shia schools, the Ibadi school and the Zahiri school.
Fiqh is Islamic jurisprudence. Fiqh is often described as the human understanding of the sharia, that is human understanding of the divine Islamic law as revealed in the Quran and the Sunnah. Fiqh expands and develops Shariah through interpretation (ijtihad) of the Quran and Sunnah by Islamic jurists (ulama) and is implemented by the rulings (fatwa) of jurists on questions presented to them. Thus, whereas sharia is considered immutable and infallible by Muslims, fiqh is considered fallible and changeable. Fiqh deals with the observance of rituals, morals and social legislation in Islam. In the modern era, there are four prominent schools (madh'hab) of fiqh within Sunni practice, plus two within Shi'a practice. A person trained in fiqh is known as a faqīh.
Ḥadīth in Islam are the record of the words, actions, and the silent approval, of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Within Islam the authority of Ḥadīth as a source for religious law and moral guidance ranks second only to that of the Qur'an. Quranic verses enjoin Muslims to emulate Muhammad and obey his judgements, providing scriptural authority for ahadith. While the number of verses pertaining to law in the Quran is relatively few, ahadith give direction on everything from details of religious obligations, to the correct forms of salutations and the importance of benevolence to slaves. Thus the "great bulk" of the rules of Sharia are derived from ahadith, rather than the Qur'an.
The Position of Imams In Turkey
Imams are appointed by the state to work at mosques and they are required to be graduates of an İmam Hatip high school or have a university degree in Theology. This is an official position regulated by the Presidency of Religious Affairsin Turkey and only males are appointed to this position while female officials under the same state organisation work as preachers and Qur'an course tutors, religious services experts. These officials are supposed to belong to the Hanafi school of the Sunni sect.
In Turkey, an İmam Hatip school is a secondary education institution. As the name suggests, they were founded in lieu of a vocational school to train government employed imams; after madrasas in Turkey were abolished by the Unification of Education Act as a part of "Atatürk's reforms".
A central figure in an Islamic movement is also called as an Imam like the Imam Nabhawi in Syria and Ahmad Raza Khan in India and Pakistan is also called as the Imam for Sunni Muslims.
In the Shi'a context, an 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:
|Importance||Birthplace (present day country)||Place of death and burial|
|1|| Ali ibn Abu Talib |
علي بن أبي طالب
Abu al-Hassan or Abu al-Husayn
أبو الحسین or أبو الحسن
| Amir al-Mu'minin |
(Commander of the Faithful)
|The first imam and successor of Muhammad in Shia Islam; 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 علي
|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. Buried in Jannat al-Baqi.|
|3|| Husayn ibn Ali |
الحسین بن علي
|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 الحسین
|al-Sajjad, Zain al-Abedin |
|658-9 – 712 |
|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
|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
|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 جعفر
Abu al-Hassan I
أبو الحسن الأول
|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, Reza |
|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
|al-Taqi, al-Jawad |
|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 |
|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 علي
|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
| al-Mahdi, Hidden Imam, al-Hujjah |
|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. The Shi'a believe that the last Imam, the 12th Imam Mahdi will one day emerge on Qiyamah.
See Imamah (Ismaili doctrine) and List of Ismaili imams for Ismaili imams.
See details under Zaidiyyah, Islamic history of Yemen and Imams of Yemen.
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. See List of rulers of Oman, the Rustamid dynasty: 776–909, Nabhani dynasty: 1154–1624, the Yaruba dynasty: 1624–1742, the Al Said: 1744–present for further information.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.)
Ruhollah Khomeini is officially referred to as Imam in Iran. Several Iranian places and institutions are named "Imam Khomeini", including a city, an international airport, a hospital, and a university.
Al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī ibn Abi Talib was a grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and a son of Ali ibn Abi Talib and Muhammad's daughter Fatimah. He is an important figure in Islam as he was a member of the Bayt (Household) of Muhammad and the Ahl al-Kisā', as well as the third Shia Imam.
In Shia Islam, the imamah is the doctrine that the figures known as imams are rightfully the central figures of the ummah; the entire Shi'ite system of doctrine focuses on the imamah. Shi'ites believe that the Imams are the true Caliphs or rightful successors of Muhammad, and further that Imams are possessed of divine knowledge and authority (Ismah) as well as being part of the Ahl al-Bayt, the family of Muhammad. These Imams have the role of providing commentary and interpretation of the Quran as well as guidance.
Zaidiyyah or Zaidism is one of the Shia sects closest in terms of theology to the Ibadhi and Mutazila schools. Zaidiyyah emerged in the eighth century out of Shi'a Islam. Zaidis are named after Zayd ibn ʻAlī, the grandson of Husayn ibn ʻAlī and the son of their fourth Imam Ali ibn 'Husain. Followers of the Zaydi Islamic jurisprudence are called Zaydi and make up about 30% of Muslims in Yemen, with the vast majority of Shia Muslims in the country being Zaydi.
Muḥammad ibn Al-Ḥasan al-Mahdī, also known as Imām Zamān, is believed by Muslims to be the Mahdī, an eschatological redeemer of Islam and ultimate savior of humankind and the final Imām of the Twelve Imams who will emerge with Isa in order to fulfill their mission of bringing peace and justice to the world. Twelver Shī‘ites believe that al-Mahdī was born in 869 and assumed Imamate at 5 years of age following the killing of his father Hasan al-Askari. In the early years of his Imamate, he is believed to have had only contact his followers through The Four Deputies. After a 69-year period, known as Minor Occultation, a few days before the death of his fourth deputy Abul Hasan Ali ibn Muhammad al-Samarri in 941, he is believed to have sent his followers a letter. In that letter that was transmitted by al-Samarri he declared the beginning of Major Occultation during which Mahdi is not in contact with his followers.
The Ibāḍī movement, Ibadism, or Ibāḍiyya, also known as the Ibadis, is a school of Islam dominant in Oman. It is also found in parts of Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and East Africa. The movement is said to have been founded around the year 650 CE or about 20 years after the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, predating both the Sunni and Shia denominations. Modern historians trace back the origins of the denomination to a moderate current of the Khawarij movement; contemporary Ibāḍīs strongly object to being classified as Kharijites, although they recognize that their movement originated with the Kharijite secession of 657 CE.
The Qarmatians were a syncretic branch of Sevener Ismaili Shia Islam that combined elements of Zoroastrianism. They were centered in al-Hasa, where they worked to create a religious utopian republic in 899 CE. They are most known for their revolt against the Abbasid Caliphate. Mecca was sacked by the sect’s leader, Abu Tahir al-Jannabi, outraging the Muslim world, particularly with their theft of the Black Stone and desecration of the Zamzam Well with corpses during the Hajj season of 930 CE.
The Twelve Imams are the spiritual and political successors to the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Twelver or Athnā‘ashariyyah branch of Shia Islam, including that of the Alawite and the Alevi sects.
‘Iṣmah or ‘Isma is the concept of incorruptible innocence, immunity from sin, or moral infallibility in Islamic theology, and which is especially prominent in Shia Islam. In Shia theology, ismah is characteristic of prophets, imams, and angels. When attributed to human beings, ismah means "the ability of avoiding acts of disobedience, in spite of having the power to commit them". Along with a pure constitution, excellent qualities, firmness against opponents, and tranquility (as-Sakinah), ismah is a divine grace bestowed by God.
The Fourteen Infallibles in Twelver Shia Islam are the Islamic prophet Muhammad, his daughter Fatima Zahra, and the Twelve Imams. All are considered to be infallible under the theological concept of Ismah. Accordingly, they have the power to commit sin but by their nature are able to avoid doing so, which is regarded as a miraculous gift from God. The Infallibles are believed to follow only God's desire in their actions because of their supreme righteousness, consciousness, and love for God. They are also regarded as being immune to error in practical matters, in calling people to religion, and in the perception of divine knowledge. Shias believe the Fourteen Infallibles are superior to the rest of creation and to the other major prophets.
Shi‘a Islam, also known as Shi‘ite Islam or Shi‘ism, is the second largest branch of Islam after Sunni Islam. Shias adhere to the teachings of Muhammad and the religious guidance of his family or his descendants known as Shia Imams. Muhammad's bloodline continues only through his daughter Fatima Zahra and cousin Ali who alongside Muhammad's grandsons comprise the Ahl al-Bayt. Thus, Shias consider Muhammad's descendants as the true source of guidance. Shia Islam, like Sunni Islam, has at times been divided into many branches; however, only three of these currently have a significant number of followers, and each of them has a separate trajectory.
Fatimah bint Muhammad was the youngest daughter and, according to Shia Muslims, the only child of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and Khadijah who lived to adulthood, and therefore part of Muhammad's household. Her husband was Ali, the last of the Rightly Guided Caliphs, and her children include Hasan and Husayn, the second and third Shia Imams, respectively. She is the object of love and respect of Muslims, as she was the child closest to her father and supported him in his difficulties, was the supporter and loving caretaker of her own husband and children, and was the only child of Muhammad to have male children live beyond childhood, whose descendants are spread throughout the Islamic world and are known as Sayyids.
The Major Occultation, according to Shia, is Mahdi's second occultation. According to Twelvers the Major Occultation which came around 329/941 is still in effect, and will not end until the End of Time when the Mahdi returns to reestablish Justice on earth.
Twelver or Imamiyyah is the largest branch of Shia Islam. The term Twelver refers to its adherents' belief in twelve divinely ordained leaders, known as the Twelve Imams, and their belief that the last Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, lives in occultation and will reappear as the promised Mahdi. According to Shia tradition, the Mahdi's tenure will coincide with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Isa), who is to assist the Mahdi against the Masih ad-Dajjal.
Criticism of Twelver Shia Islam dates from the initial rift between the two primary denominations of Islam, the Sunni and the Shia. The question of succession to Muhammad, the nature of the Imamate, the status of the twelfth Shia Imam, and other areas in which Shia Islam differ from Sunni Islam have been criticized by Sunni scholars, even though there is no disagreement between the two regarding the centrality of the Quran, Muhammad, and many other doctrinal, theological and ritual matters. Shiite commentators such as Musa al-Musawi and Ali Shariati have themselves, in their attempts to reform the faith, criticized practices and beliefs which have become prevalent in the Shiite community.
The Imamate in Nizārī Ismā'īlī doctrine is a concept in Nizari Isma'ilism which defines the political, religious and spiritual dimensions of authority concerning Islamic leadership over the nation of believers. The primary function of the Imamate is to establish an institution between an Imam who is present and living in the world and his following whereby each are granted rights and responsibilities.
Minhaj al-karamah fi ma`rifat al-imamah, also known as Minhâjû’l-Istikâmah fî Isbâtû’l-Imamah, is a theological treatise written by a prominent Shia scholar Allameh Al-Hilli. Al-Hilli wrote his book for the sake of defending the Imamah, and created one of the most important pillars of Shia Islam. The book also served as a refutation of the Sunni doctrine of the caliphate.
The majority of Islamic commentators do not believe that Ali ibn Abu Talib is mentioned explicitly in the Quran. However, Shi'ite scholars and some Sunni scholars interpret many Quranic verses as referring to Ali. Shi'ite scholars also believe other Imams have been referred in the Quran. They believe Imams are referred to as "the signs of Allah, the way, the straight path, the light of Allah, the inheritors of the Book, the people of knowledge, the holders of authority and other such designations," Shi'ite sources state, Muhammad al-Baqir answers: "Allah revealed Salat to his Prophet but never said of three or four Rakats, revealed Zakat but did not mention to its details, revealed Hajj but did not count its Tawaf and the Prophet interpreted their details. Allah revealed this verse and Prophet said this verse is about Ali, Hasan, Husayn and the other Twelve Imams." Shi'ite scholars, thus, have argued that a quarter of Qur'anic verses are stating the station of imams. Such a view is rejected by Sunni scholars, who argue that some of these verses instead refer to the Quraysh or Muhammad's wives.
Hamdan Qarmat ibn al-Ash'ath was the eponymous founder of the Qarmatian sect of Isma'ilism. Originally the chief Isma'ili missionary (dā'ī) in lower Iraq, in 899 he quarrelled with the movement's leadership at Salamiya after it was taken over by Abdallah, and with his followers broke off from them. Hamdan then disappeared, but his followers continued in existence in the Syrian Desert and al-Bahrayn for several decades.
|Look up imam in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
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|Wikisource has the text of the 1905 New International Encyclopedia article Imam .|