The Imam reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Imam

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The Imam is a recognized religious leader or teacher in Islam. The term includes the leader of Muslim congregational prayers.

According to the Twelve-Imam Shiite dogma, imam refers only to one of twelve early leaders of Islam - Ali, Hasan, Husayn, and nine of Husayn's descendants. See: Shia Imam

The Ismailis trace a different line of Imams, branching at one of Husayn's descendants, Ismail bin Jafar.

The Zayidis trade a different line, branching at Husayn's grandson.

Sunnis accord the title to the greatest Islamic scholars.


External links

For a slightly more detailed description of the Shiite belief (and for the other names and titles of the twelve Imáms, see, for example, http://www.bahai-library.org/books/dawnbreakers/preface/prefislam.html .