(Arab. leader). Muslim term for person or thing serving as model, leader, pattern, guide. The Koran* (II 118) applies it to Abraham. Muhammad* is an imam; by constitutional law a caliph* is supreme imam. The first 4 caliphs are imams of Sunnites.* Shi'ites* regard their imams as divinely appointed, illumined, and preserved from sin. The term also designates a leader in prayer or a religious functionary and is applied as honorary title to outstanding theologians. See also World Community of Al-Islam, The.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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