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imam

imam (Ĭmäm´) [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 Husein, and nine direct linear descendants of Husein. 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 Prince Karim al-Hussayni, Aga Khan IV (see Aga Khan). 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.

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Imām

Imām, (Arab., in the Qurʾān ‘sign’, ‘pattern’, ‘leader’). The leader of the Muslim congregational ṣalāt, who can be any man of good standing in the community, but is often a theologically educated man who is engaged by the mosque. There is no ordination, nor is the imām like the Christian priest: he is only imām while acting as such.

2. Among Shiʿites, the Imām has an incomparably higher status. Initially, it is almost synonymous with ‘rightful caliph’ (khalīfa), i.e. ʿAlī and his descendants. The stress on succession led to the elaboration of the Imām as one who has received secret knowledge (jafr), and who still receives (or may receive) direct divine guidance. There is dispute among Shiʿites whether the line ended with the seventh (Seveners) or twelfth (Twelvers or ʾIthna ʿAshariyya) successor, complicated further by those who believe there is a Hidden Imām (see AL-MAHDĪ) whom the initiate can recognize, who may still give guidance, and who will become manifest at the End (see also ISMĀʿĪLIYA).

3. Among Sūfīs (not always in distinction from (2)), the imām is the guide to true knowledge, and is thus equivalent to pīr (in Persian) or murshid.

4. The two larger beads in the subḥa (rosary)
.

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imam

i·mam / iˈmäm/ • n. the person who leads prayers in a mosque. ∎  (Imam) a title of various Muslim leaders, esp. of one succeeding Muhammad as leader of Shiite Islam: Imam Khomeini. DERIVATIVES: i·mam·ate / -ˌmāt/ n.

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"imam." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"imam." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved June 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/imam-1

Imam

Imam a title of various Muslim leaders, especially of one succeeding Muhammad as leader of Shiite Islam. The word comes from Arabic 'imām ‘leader’, from 'amma ‘lead the way’.

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imam

imam XVII. — Arab. 'imām leader, f. 'amma lead.

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imam

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