Middle East Encyclopedia

Encyclopedia of the Middle East


MidEastWeb Middle East

Imam -  An imam (Arabic: إمام plural ائمة A'immah ‎) is a Muslim cleric or leader.  The imam leads prayers during Islamic gatherings, preaches the Friday sermons in the mosque and may function as judge and jurisprudent or theological authority in Sunni Islam. In Shia Islam, the Caliphs are also called Imams. Shia believe that the 12th or "hidden" Imam will return as the Mahdi.

In Sunni Islam, an Imam is either a prayer leader, which may be an official or unofficial post, or the term may refer to the founders of the four Madh'hab - schools of jurisprudence (fiqh), those who started Aqidah (creeds)  or those versed in the relation and interpretation of Hadiths:

The fathers of the schools of Jurisprudence (Madh'hab)

Imam Abu Hanifa

Imam Malik

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal

Imam Shafi'i


Aqidah (Creeds)

Imam al-Ashari

Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi



Imam Abu Dawood

Imam Fakhr al-Razi

Imam Bukhari

Synonyms and alternate spellings:

Further Information:

USA Credit Card - Donate On-Line - Help us live and grow

Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

Copyright 2007- 8,  MidEastWeb for Coexistence RA.

All original materials at MidEastWeb are copyright by MidEastWeb and/or by their authors unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy materials from this Web site to your Web site or to forums without permission. Please tell your friends about MidEastWeb. Please forward these materials in e-mails to friends with links to this URL - http://www.mideastweb.org and to the URL of the material. You can print out materials for your own use or classroom use, giving the URL of  MidEastWeb. For pages marked Copyright, printed material should bear this notice:

"Copyright by MidEastWeb for Coexistence R.A - Middle East Resources. - http://www.mideastweb.org. All rights reserved. "

and should give the URL of the original. Reproduction in any other form - by permission only. Consult detailed terms of use and copyright information

Mideastweb: Middle East Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Issues in a Nutshell Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Brief History Zionism Zionism: Definition & brief history