List of Twelve Imams

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One of the core beliefs of the Shias is that there is a divine system of leadership following the Prophet, known as Imamat. Further, it is believed that there are only twelve Imams who are successors of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) after his demise. The Imams are chosen directly by Allah (swt) and thus Imamat is seen as a divine form of leadership. All twelve Imams were chosen directly by God and therefore are free from all sins. The idea is not that Imamat is hereditary, but rather that God chose these specific individuals for the task of leadership. All of the Imams are from the direct progeny of Fatima, the daughter of the Holy Prophet, and Ali, her husband and the Prophet's cousin.

An artist's impression of a saying by the Prophet: My family is like Noah's Ark. Whoever embarked on it was saved, whoever missed it drowned.

It is also believed by the Shia, that a representative of God on earth must be present at all times. As the period of Prophethood was completed with Prophet Muhammad, it is now believed that this representation lies with the Imams. The current Imam is the twelfth Imam, who is considered alive, but in occultation, and will return near the end of time to establish a just and divine government on earth.

Narration

أبي جعفر الثاني عليه السلام قال أقبل أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام ومعه الحسن بن علي عليه السلام وهو متكئ على يد سلمان فدخل المسجد الحرام إذ أقبل رجل حسن الهيئة واللباس فسلم علي أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام فرد عليه السلام فجلس ثم قال يا أمير المؤمنين أسألك عن ثلاث مسائل إن أخبرتني بهن علمت أن القوم قد ركبوا من أمرك ما قضى عليهم وإن ليسوا بمأمونين في دنياهم وآخرتهم وإن تكن الأخرى علمت أنك وهم شرع سواء فقال له أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام سلني عما بدا لك قال أخبرني عن الرجل إذا نام أين تذهب روحه وعن الرجل كيف يذكر وينسى وعن الرجل يشبه ولده الأعمام والإخوان فالتفت أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام إلى الحسن عليه السلام فقال يا أبا محمد أجبه فأجابه الحسن عليه السلام فقال الرجل أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله ولم أزل أشهد بها وأشهد أن محمدا رسول الله ولم أزل أشهد بذلك وأشهد أنك وصي رسول الله والقائم بحجته وأشار إلى أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام ولم أزل أشهد بها وأشهد أنك وصيه والقائم بحجته وأشار إلى الحسن وأشهد أن الحسين بن علي وصي أبيه والقائم بحجته بعدك وأشهد على علي بن الحسين أنه القائم بأمر الحسين بعده وأشهد على محمد بن علي أنه القائم بأمر علي بن الحسين وأشهد على جعفر بن محمد أنه القائم بأمر محمد بن علي وأشهد على موسى أنه القائم بأمر جعفر بن محمد وأشهد على علي بن موسى أنه القائم بأمر موسى بن جعفر وأشهد على محمد بن علي أنه القائم بأمر علي بن موسى وأشهد على علي بن محمد بأنه القائم بأمر محمد بن علي وأشهد على الحسن بن علي بأنه القائم بأمر علي بن محمد وأشهد على رجل من ولد الحسن لا يكنى ولا يسمى حتى يظهر أمره فيملأها عدلا كما ملئت ظلما وجورا والسلام عليك يا أمير المؤمنين ورحمة الله وبركاته ثم قام فمضى فقال أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام يا أبا محمد اتبعه انظر أين يقصد فخرج الحسن عليه السلام فقال له ما كان إلا أن وضع رجله خارجا من المسجد فما دريت أين أخذ من أرض الله فرجعت إلى أمير المؤمنين فأعلمته فقال يا أبا محمد أ تعرفه فقلت الله ورسوله وأمير المؤمنين أعلم فقال عليه السلام هو الخضر عليه السلام

Abu Jafar Al-Thaani (Imam Al-Taqi Al-Jawad) said: "Once Amir al-Mumineen Ali came with al-Hasan and al-Husain and he was holding the hand of Salman for support. He entered the sacred Mosque in Makkah and sat down. Then a good looking and well dressed man came. He offered the greeting of peace to Amir al-Mumineen Ali who answered his greetings likewise and he sat down. He then said, "I will ask you three questions. If you would answer them I will acknowledge that the people who have acted against you in the matters of leadership after the Holy Prophet they have acted against their own selves. Their actions have taken away peace from them in this world as well in the next life. If it would be otherwise, (you can't answer) then you and those people will be the same." Amir al-Mumineen Ali said, "Ask whatever you would like." He said, "Tell about the man who sleeps. Where does his spirit go?" Tell about the man, how he remembers and forgets? Tell me about the man how do his children become similar to the aunts and uncles?" Amir al-Mumineen Ali turned to al-Hassan and said, "O Abu Muhammad, answer him." The narrator has said that al-Hassan answered his questions. The man then said:

"I testify that there is no lord besides Allah and I continue to testify to this fact. I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and I continue to testify to this fact I testify that you are the executor of the will of the Messenger of Allah and that you are the in charge of this task with His authorization." He pointed out to Amir al-Mumineen with his hand. He then said, "I continue to testify to this fact." "I testify that you are the executor of his (Amir al-Mumineen’s) will and are in charge of this task (leadership with divine authority) by His authorization after him." He pointed out with his hand to al-Hassan. Then he said, "I continue to testify to this fact."

"I testify that al-Husain ibn Ali will be the executor of the will of his brother and the in charge of this task with His authorization after him.

I testify in support of Ali ibn al-Husain that he will be the in charge of the task of al-Husain after him.

I testify that Muhammad ibn Ali will be the in charge of the task of Ali ibn al-Husain after him.

I testify that Jafar ibn Muhammad will be the in charge of the task of Muhammad ibn Ali.

I testify that Musa will be the in charge of the task of Jafar ibn Muhammad after him.

I testify that Ali ibn Musa will be the in charge of the task of Musa ibn Jafar.

I testify that Muhammad ibn Ali will be the in charge of the task of Ali ibn Musa after him.

I testify that Ali ibn Muhammad will be the in charge of the task of Muhammad ibn Ali after him.

I testify that al-Hassan ibn Ali will be the in charge of the task of Ali ibn Muhammad after him.

I testify in support of a man from the children of al-Hassan who will not be mentioned by his Kunya (father or son of so and so) or his name until he will rise with Divine authority to fill the earth with justice after being filled with injustice."

"I offer you my greeting of peace O Amir al-Mumineen and pray to Allah to grant you blessings and holiness." He then stood up and left. Amir al-Mumineen said, "O Abu Muhammad follow him and see where went." Al-Hassan ibn Ali went out to find out (and came back) and said, "As soon as he stepped out of the Mosque I could not figure out in which direction of the earth of Allah did he disappear. I returned to Amir al-Mumineen and informed him." He said, "O Abu Muhammad, do you know him?" I said, Allah, the Messenger of Allah and Amir al-Mumineen know best." He said, "He was al-Khidr."[1]

Twelve Imams

Number Name
(Full/Title)
Title Date of
Birth
Death
CE/AH
Place of birth Place of death and burial
1 Ali ibn Abu Talib
علي بن أبي طالب
Abu al-Hasan
أبو الحسن
Ameer al-Mumineen


(Commander of the Faithful)

600–661 Makkah,
Saudi Arabia
Assassinated by Abdul Rahman ibn Muljim, a Khariji in Kufa, who struck him with a poisonous sword while he was praying.
Buried at the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, Iraq.
2 Hasan ibn Ali
حسن بن علي
Abu Muhammad
أبو محمد
al-Mujtaba


(The Chosen)

624–670
3–50
Medina,
Saudi Arabia
Poisoned by his wife in Medina, Saudi Arabia on the orders of the caliph Muawiya, according to Twelver Shi'ite belief.
Buried in Jannat ul Baqi, Medina, Saudi Arabia.
3 Husain ibn Ali
حسین بن علي
Abu Abdillah
أبو عبدالله
Sayyid ash-Shuhada


(Master of the Marytrs)

626–680
4–61
Medina,
Saudi Arabia
Killed and beheaded at the Battle of Karbala.
Buried at the Imam Husain Shrine in Karbala, Iraq.
4 Ali ibn Husain
علي بن الحسین
Abu Muhammad
أبو محمد
al-Sajjad, Zayn al-Abideen


(One who constantly Prostrates, Ornament of the Worshippers)

658/9–712
38–95
Medina,
Saudi Arabia
He was poisoned on the order of Ummayad caliph al-Walid I in Medina, Saudi Arabia.
Buried in Jannat ul Baqi, Medina, Saudi Arabia.
5 Muhammad ibn Ali
محمد بن علي
Abu Ja'far
أبو جعفر
Baqir al-Ulum


(The Revealer of Knowledge)

677–732
57–114
Medina,
Saudi Arabia
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 ul Baqi, Medina, Saudi Arabia.
6 Ja'far ibn Muhammad
جعفر بن محمد
Abu Abdillah
أبو عبدالله
as-Sadiq


(The Honest)

702–765
83–148
Medina,
Saudi Arabia
He was poisoned in Medina, Saudi Arabia on the order of caliph Al-Mansur.
Buried in Jannat ul Baqi, Medina, Saudi Arabia.
7 Musa ibn Ja'far
موسی بن جعفر
Abu al-Hasan I
أبو الحسن الاول
al-Kadhim


(The Calm One)

744–799
128–183
Medina,
Saudi Arabia
Imprisoned and poisoned in Baghdad, Iraq on the order of caliph Haroon al-Rashid, according to Shi'ite belief.
Buried in the Kadhimayn shrine in Baghdad, Iraq.
8 Ali ibn Musa
علي بن موسی
Abu al-Hasan II
أبو الحسن الثانی
ar-Rida, Reza


(The Pleasing One)

765–817
148–203
Medina,
Saudi Arabia
He was poisoned in Mashad, Iran on the order of caliph Al-Ma'mun.
Buried in the Imam Reza shrine in Mashad, Iran.
9 Muhammad ibn Ali
محمد بن علي
Abu Ja'far
أبو جعفر
al-Taqi, al-Jawad


(The God-Fearing, The Generous)

810–835
195–220
Medina,
Saudi Arabia
Poisoned by his wife, Al-Ma'mun's daughter, in Baghdad, Iraq on the order of caliph Al-Mu'tasim, according to Shi'ite sources.
Buried in the Kadhimayn shrine in Baghdad, Iraq.
10 Ali ibn Muhammad
علي بن محمد
Abu al-Hasan III
أبو الحسن الثالث
al-Hadi, al-Naqi


(The Guide, The Pure One)

827–868
212–254
Surayya, a village near Medina,
Saudi Arabia
He was poisoned in Samarra, Iraq on the order of caliph Al-Mu'tazz.
Buried in the Al Askari Mosque in Samarra, Iraq.
11 Hasan ibn Ali
حسن بن علي
Abu Muhammad
أبو محمد
al-Askari


(The Citizen of a Garrison Town)

846–874
232–260
Medina,
Saudi Arabia
According to Shi'a, he was poisoned on the order of caliph Al-Mu'tamid in Samarra, Iraq.
Buried in Al Askari Mosque in Samarra, Iraq.
12 Muhammad ibn Hasan
محمد بن الحسن
Abu al-Qasim
أبو القاسم
al-Mahdi, al-Hujjah


(The Guided One, The Proof)

868–unknown
255–unknown
Samarra,
Iraq
He has been living in the Occultation since 872, and will continue as long as God wills it.

References

  1. Usool al-Kafi by Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni; Volume 1, Page 525 - 526, Hadith #1
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