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{{short description|Islamic leadership position}}{{distinguish|text=Iman}}{{other uses}}{{Usul al-fiqh}} File:Prayer in Cairo 1865.jpg|thumb|Prayer in Cairo, painting by Jean-Léon GérômeJean-Léon GérômeImam ({{IPAc-en|ɪ|ˈ|m|ɑː|m}}; {{transl|ar|ALA|imām}}; plural: {{transl|ar|ALA|aʼimmah}}) is an Islamic leadership position. 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. In Yemen, the title was formerly given to the king of the country.For Shi'a Muslims, the Imams are leaders of the Islamic community or ummah after the Prophet. The term is only applicable to the members of Ahl al-Bayt, the family of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, designated as infallibles.{{harvnb|Corbin|1993|p=30}}

Sunni imams

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 religion. 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.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|date=October 2012}}The Position of Imams In TurkeyImams are appointed by the state to work at mosques and they are required to be graduates of an Ä°mam Hatip high school or have a university degree in Theology. This is an official position regulated by the Presidency of Religious AffairsWEB,weblink Presidency of Religious Affairs,, in 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.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.

Shi'a imams

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.BOOK, Amir-Moezzi, Ali, Spirituality and Islam., 2008, Tauris, London, 9781845117382, 103, 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:{|class="wikitable" width="100%" style="background:#ffffff;" style="border-bottom:3px solid #CCCCFF"! Number !! Name(Full/Kunya) !! Title(Arabic/Turkish)The imam's Arabic titles are used by the majority of Twelver Shia who use Arabic as a liturgical language, including the Usooli, Akhbari, Shaykhi, and to a lesser extent Alawi. Turkish titles are generally used by Alevi, a fringe Twelver group, who make up around 10% of the world Shia population. The titles for each imam literally translate as "First Ali", "Second Ali", and so forth. ENCYCLOPEDIA, Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa, 2004, Gale Group, 978-0-02-865769-1, !! Birth–Death(CE/AH)The abbreviation CE refers to the Common Erasolar calendar, while AH refers to the Islamic Hijrilunar calendar.!! Importance !! Birthplace (present day country) !! Place of death and burial
Ali>Ali ibn Abu Talibعلي بن أبي طالبAbu al-Hassan or Abu al-Husayn أبو الحسین or أبو الحسنAmir al-Mu'minin(Commander of the Faithful)NASR AUTHORLINK=SEYYED HOSSEIN NASR ENCYCLOPEDIA=ENCYCLOPæDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE URL=HTTP://WWW.BRITANNICA.COM/EB/ARTICLE-9005712/ALI, Birinci AliENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA > LAST = YEAR = 2004 ISBN = 978-0-02-865769-1, |600–66123 BH–40Tabatabae (1979), pp.190-192imamah (Shi'a twelver doctrine)>imam and Succession to Muhammad in Shia Islam; however, the Sunnis acknowledge him as the Rashidun>fourth Caliph as well. He holds a high position in almost all Sufism Tariqah>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.Tabatabae (1979), p.192 Buried at the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, Iraq.
Hasan ibn Ali>Hassan ibn Aliالحسن بن عليAbu Muhammadأبو محمد|al-Mujtabaİkinci Ali ACCESSDATE=2007-11-08,weblink ----3–50Tabatabae (1979), pp.194–195Muhammad 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.MADELUNG AUTHORLINK=WILFERD MADELUNG ENCYCLOPEDIA=ENCYCLOPAEDIA IRANICA URL=HTTP://WWW.IRANICAONLINE.ORG/ARTICLES/HASAN-B-ALI, |Medina, Saudi Arabia|Poisoned by his wife in Medina, Saudi Arabia.Tabatabae (1979), p.195 Buried in Jannat al-Baqi.
|3|Husayn ibn Aliالحسین بن عليAbu Abdillahأبو عبدالله|Sayed al-ShuhadaÜçüncü Ali
ACCESSDATE=2007-11-08,weblink ----4–61Tabatabae (1979), pp.196–199Muhammad. 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.CALMARD AUTHORLINK= ENCYCLOPEDIA=ENCYCLOPAEDIA IRANICA URL=HTTP://WWW.IRANICAONLINE.ORG/ARTICLES/HOSAYN-B-ALI, |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.
Ali ibn Husayn>Ali ibn al-Husseinعلي بن الحسینAbu Muhammadأبو محمد AUTHORLINK=WILFERD MADELUNG weblink ----Beşinci Ali| 677–732----57–114Faqih>legal scholars, teaching many students during his tenure.Tabatabae (1979), p.203|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.
Jafar al-Sadiq>Ja'far ibn Muhammadجعفر بن محمدAbu Abdillahأبو عبدالله|al-SadiqTabatabae (1979), p.203-204(the Trustworthy)----Altıncı Ali| 702–765----83–148Ja'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 Kalam>Islamic theology, and Jābir ibn Hayyān in science and alchemy.WāṣIL IBN ʿAṭāʾ> ENCYCLOPEDIA=ENCYCLOPæDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE DATE = 1 JANUARY 2019,weblink |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.
Musa al-Kazim>Musa ibn Ja'farموسی بن جعفرAbu al-Hassan Iأبو الحسن الأولMADELUNG >FIRST=WILFERD TITLE='ALĪ AL-HĀDĪ ACCESSDATE=2007-11-09,weblink |al-KazimTabatabae (1979), p.205----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.Tabatabae (1979) p. 78 He established the network of agents who collected khums in the Shia community of the Middle East and the Greater Khorasan.Sachedina (1988), pp.53–54|Medina, Saudi ArabiaBaghdad, Iraq on the order of Caliph Harun al-Rashid. Buried in the Kazimayn>Kazimayn shrine in Baghdad.
Ali al-Rida>Ali ibn Musaعلي بن موسی|al-Rida, RezaTabatabae (1979), pp.205–207----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.
Muhammad al-Taqi>Muhammad ibn Aliمحمد بن عليAbu Ja'farأبو جعفر|al-Taqi, al-JawadTabatabae (1979), p. 207----Dokuzuncu Ali|810–835----195–220|Famous for his generosity and piety in the face of persecution by the Abbasid caliphate.|Medina, Saudi ArabiaBaghdad, Iraq on the order of Caliph Al-Mu'tasim. Buried in the Kazmain>Kazmain shrine in Baghdad.
Ali al-Hadi>Ali ibn Muhammadعلي بن محمدAbu al-Hassan IIIأبو الحسن الثالث AUTHORLINK=WILFERD MADELUNG Al-Mu'tazz.Tabatabae (1979), pp.208–209 Buried in the Al Askari Mosque in Samarra.
Hasan al-Askari>Hassan ibn Aliالحسن بن عليAbu Muhammadأبو محمد AUTHORLINK= 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.Tabatabae (1979) pp. 209–210|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.Tabatabae (1979), pp.209–210
Muhammad al-Mahdi>Muhammad ibn al-Hassanمحمد بن الحسنAbu al-Qasimأبو القاسمMahdi>al-Mahdi, Hidden Imam, al-HujjahMUHAMMAD AL-MAHDI AL-HUJJAH > ENCYCLOPEDIA=ENCYCLOPæDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE URL=HTTP://WWW.BRITANNICA.COM/EB/ARTICLE-9054165/MUHAMMAD-AL-MAHDI-AL-HUJJAH, ----Onikinci Ali|868–unknownTabatabae (1979), pp.210–211----255–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.Tabatabae (1979), pp. 211–214|Samarra, IraqMuhammad al-Mahdi#The Occultation>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.

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. 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.BOOK, 50, 437, Miles, Samuel Barrett, Samuel Barrett Miles, The Countries and Tribes of the Persian Gulf,weblink 2013-11-15, 1919, Garnet Pub., 978-1-873938-56-0, 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.BOOK, 365, Holt, P. M., Holt, Peter Malcolm, Lambton, Ann K. S., Bernard Lewis, The Cambridge History of Islam:,weblink 1977-04-21, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-29137-8, 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.



File:Asif muharram 1795 1.jpg|An Imam reads verses from the Quran after Isha' (night prayers) in the Mughal Empire.File:Govardhan. A Discourse Between Muslim Sages ca. 1630 LACMA.jpg|Discourse between Islamic Imams in the Mughal Empire.File:Карло Боссоли. Татарская школа для детей.jpg|Crimean Tatar imams teach the Quran. Lithograph by Carlo Bossoli.File:Imam presidant la priere.jpg|Imam presiding over prayer, North AfricaFile:Pirosmani. Shamil with a Bodyguard. Oil on oil-cloth, 112x90 cm. The State Museum of Fine Arts of Georgia, Tbilisi.jpg|Imam Shamil, CaucasusFile:Bruner-Dvorak, Rudolf - Bosna, imam (ca 1906).jpg|Imam in Bosnia, c. 1906File:Roollah-khomeini.jpg|Imam Khomeini, leader of the Iranian revolution.File:Mahdist in the Khalifa's house, Omdurman, Sudan.png|An Imam in Omdurman, Sudan.File:Constantinople(1878)-begging dervis.png|An Ottoman imam in Constantinople.File:Bosniak imam.jpg|A Bosniak military imam in the Austro-Hungarian Army.File:Imam ndiawar.JPG|Imam Thierno Ibrahima ThielloFile:Muslim sheikh, Tbilisi (de Baye).JPG|A Georgian Muslim imam from Tbilisi.File:Portret van Tuanku Imam Bonjol.jpg|Tuanku Imam Bonjol (of South East Asia)


File:Mirza Huseyn Qayibzade.jpg|Grand Mufti Mirza Huseyn Qayibzade of TbilisiFile:Moeurs et costumes des Orientaux (recueil).f024.jpg|Travelling muftis of the Ottoman EmpireFile:Jakub Szynkiewicz.png|Mufti, Jakub SzynkiewiczFile:Absattar Derbisali.png|Grand Mufti Absattar Derbisali of KazakhstanFile:Muftí.jpg|Ottoman Grand MuftiFile:Türkischer Mufti.jpg|Ottoman Grand MuftiFile:Makam Surgi Mufti (2).jpg|Tomb of mufti in IndonesiaFile:Supreme Mufti of Russia Talgat Tadzhuddin.jpeg|Grand Mufti Talgat TadzhuddinFile:Gérôme - Mufti Reading in His Prayer Stool.jpg|Mufti delivering a sermonFile:Grand Mufti Of South Africa Lecturing During His Cape Town Tour 2013.jpg|Grand Mufti Ebrahim Desai


File:Portrait of Sheikhulislam by Huseinzade.jpg|Portrait of Shaykh ul-Islam by Ali bey HuseynzadeFile:Hamza Yusuf.png|Shaykh Hamza YusufFile:G1895 pg006 KURDISH SHEIKHS.jpg|Kurdish sheikhs, 1895.File:Sheykh of the Rufai Dervishes.jpg|Sheykh of the Rufai Sufi Order

See also




  • ENCYCLOPEDIA, Encyclopædia Britannica Online, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,
  • ENCYCLOPEDIA, Encyclopædia Iranica, Center for Iranian Studies, Columbia University, 1-56859-050-4,
  • ENCYCLOPEDIA, Encyclopaedia of Islam and the Muslim world; vol.1, Martin, Richard C., MacMillan, 0-02-865604-0,
  • ENCYCLOPEDIA, Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa, 2004, Gale Group, 978-0-02-865769-1,
  • BOOK, Corbin, Henry, Henry Corbin, History of Islamic Philosophy, Liadain, Sherrard, Philip, Sherrard, Philip Sherrard, London; Kegan Paul International in association with Islamic Publications for The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 1993, 1964, French, 0-7103-0416-1,
  • BOOK, Momen, Moojan, TAn Introduction to Shi`i Islam: The History and Doctrines of Twelve, Yale University Press, 1985, 0-300-03531-4,
  • BOOK, Sachedina, Abdulaziz Abdulhussein, Abdulaziz Sachedina, The Just Ruler (al-sultān Al-ʻādil) in ShÄ«Ê»ite Islam: The Comprehensive Authority of the Jurist in Imamite Jurisprudence, Oxford University Press US, 1988, 0-19-511915-0,
  • BOOK, Tabatabae, Sayyid Mohammad Hosayn, Seyyed Hossein, Nasr, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Allameh Tabatabaei, Shi'ite Islam year=1979, 0-87395-272-3,
  • BOOK, harv, Corbin, Henry, History of Islamic philosophy, 1993, Kegan Paul International, London, 9780710304162, Reprinted.,

External links

{{Wiktionary|imam}}{{Commons category|Imams}}{{NIE Poster|year=1905|Imam}}

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