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Imam (Sunni Islam)

Imam (Sunni Islam)

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In Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

, an imam khatib (or just imam ) is a leader, often the worship leader of a mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

 and the Muslim community. This compound title is merely a common combination of two elementary offices: leader (imam) of the congregational prayer, which in larger mosques is performed at the times of all daily prayers; and preacher (khatib) of the sermon or khutba at the required congregational prayer on Friday. Although either duty can be performed by anyone who is regarded as qualified by the congregation, at most well-established mosques imam khatib is a permanent (part-time or full-time) position. He may be elected by the local community, or appointed by an outside authority—e. g., the national government, or the waqf
Waqf
A waqf also spelled wakf formally known as wakf-alal-aulad is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, typically denoting a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. The donated assets are held by a charitable trust...

 which sustains the mosque. There is no ordination as such; the only requirement for appointment as an imam khatib is recognition as someone of sufficient learning and virtue to perform both duties on a regular basis, and to instruct the congregation in the basics of Islam.

Similar to spiritual leaders, the imam khatib is the one who leads Islamic worship services. More often, the community turns to the mosque imam if they have a religious question. In smaller communities, an imam could also be the community leader. The term is not to be confused with the use of Imam
Imamah (Shi'a doctrine)
Imāmah is the Shia doctrine of religious, spiritual and political leadership of the Ummah. The Shīa believe that the A'immah are the true Caliphs or rightful successors of Muḥammad, and further that Imams are possessed of divine knowledge and authority as well as being part of the Ahl al-Bayt,...

s of Shi'a Islam
Shi'a Islam
Shia Islam is the second largest denomination of Islam. The followers of Shia Islam are called Shi'ites or Shias. "Shia" is the short form of the historic phrase Shīʻatu ʻAlī , meaning "followers of Ali", "faction of Ali", or "party of Ali".Like other schools of thought in Islam, Shia Islam is...

, where it has a meaning more central to belief, referring to main leaders of the Shi'a community.

The Sunni branch of Islam does not have imams in the same sense as the Shi'a. In everyday terms, the imam khatib for Sunni Muslims is the one who leads congregational Islamic worship and prayers, and the Friday sermon is most often given by an appointed imam.

The term imam is also used for a recognized religious scholar or authority in Islam, often for the founding scholars of the four Sunni madhhab
Madhhab
is a Muslim school of law or fiqh . In the first 150 years of Islam, there were many such "schools". In fact, several of the Sahābah, or contemporary "companions" of Muhammad, are credited with founding their own...

s, or schools of jurisprudence (fiqh)
Fiqh
Fiqh is Islamic jurisprudence. Fiqh is an expansion of the code of conduct expounded in the Quran, often supplemented by tradition and implemented by the rulings and interpretations of Islamic jurists....

. It may also refer to the Muslim scholars who created the analytical sciences related to Hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

 or it may refer to the heads of the Prophet Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

's family in their generational times. In other words, Imam Ali, referring to Ali ibn Abi Talib, is a phrase commonly used by both Shi'a and Sunni Muslims, though with different connotations.

Those who are considered imams in the context of scholarly authority by Sunni Muslims, are listed below:
Madhhab
Madhhab
is a Muslim school of law or fiqh . In the first 150 years of Islam, there were many such "schools". In fact, several of the Sahābah, or contemporary "companions" of Muhammad, are credited with founding their own...

 (Schools of Jurisprudence)
Aqidah (Schools of Theology) Science of Hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

Imam Abu Hanifa Imam al-Ashari
Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari
Abū al-Hasan Alī ibn Ismā'īl al-Ash'arī was a Muslim Arab theologian and the founder of the Ash'ari school of early Islamic philosophy and Islamic theology.-Biography:...

Imam Bukhari
Imam Malik
Malik ibn Anas
Mālik ibn Anas ibn Mālik ibn Abī 'Āmir al-Asbahī is known as "Imam Malik," the "Sheikh of Islam", the "Proof of the Community," and "Imam of the Abode of Emigration." He was one of the most highly respected scholars of fiqh in Sunni Islam...

Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi Imam Abu Dawood
Imam Shafi'i Imam Wasil ibn Ata
Wasil ibn Ata
Wasil ibn Ata was an important Muslim theologian and jurist of his time, and by many accounts is considered to be the founder of the Mutazilite school of Islamic thought....

Imam Fakhr al-Razi
Fakhr al-Din al-Razi
Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Umar ibn al-Husayn al-Taymi al-Bakri al-Tabaristani Fakhr al-Din al-Razi , most commonly known as Fakhruddin Razi was a well-known Persian Sunni Muslim theologian and philosopher....

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal
Ahmad ibn Hanbal
Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal Abu `Abd Allah al-Shaybani was an important Muslim scholar and theologian. He is considered the founder of the Hanbali school of fiqh...

Imam Muslim
Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj
Abul Husayn Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj ibn Muslim ibn Warat al-Qushayri al-Nisaburi was the author of the second authentic sahih collection of hadith in Sunni Islam, Sahih Muslim.-Biography:...


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