IthnāʿAsharīy(y)a (Arab., ithnaʿashar, ‘twelve’). The Twelvers, majority Shiʿa Islam, the official Shiʿa religion of modern Iran. This Shiʿa sect follows the cult of Twelve Imāms, in distinction from the smaller Sabʿīyya sect (Seveners, see also ISMĀʿĪLIYYA). The series of Twelve Imāms is: ʿAlī, al-Hasan, al-Ḥusain, ʿAlī Zayn, al-ʿAbidīn, Muḥammad al-Bāqir, Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq, Mūsā al-Kāz̳im ʿAlī al-Ridā, Muḥammad al-Taqī, ʿAlī al-Naqī, al-Ḥasan al-ʿAskarī, and Muhammad al-Mahdī. The Imāms are the chosen of God, who direct the destiny of humanity, and preserve and guide the world. Special prayers are reserved for each of the Imāms during weekdays, and it is believed that pilgrimage to their tombs brings special rewards, especially at Karbalāʾ and Mashhad.
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