Full Text

Imam


Subject Religion

Key-Topics leadership

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


Extract

[ xix ] Literally ‘exemplar, model’, hence ‘leader’; denotes, first, the leader of the Muslim worship ( see S alat ) in the M osque. He may be any adult male Muslim of good character and standing in the community, and is not in any sense an ordained priest or minister, though larger mosques may employ a salaried I mam. Second, it denotes the charismatic leaders of the Shi'a ( see S hi'ism ), who hold that God has designated a line of the immaculate members of the family of ‘A li to act as the sources of spiritual and secular guidance for the community; hence knowledge of the Imam of the time is a prerequisite of all true believers. Since the disappearance of the 12th of the line in the later 9th century, there has been a period of occultation of the Imams; but the Shi'is now await the return ( raj'a ) of the expected Imam, who will reestablish a reign of justice and peace on earth ( see M ahdi ). Third, it can refer to the secular head of the community as a virtual equivalent of C aliph. [20 s.v. ; 38 ‘imāma’; 69: xi ] ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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