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Number of Imams (Ithnà ‘Ashar)

The Shi’ah hold that the number of the Infallible Imams, who succeeded the Prophet (S), being twelve Imams, no more no less. They were mentioned by the Messenger of Allah (S) by name and number,223 as follows:

1. Al-’Imàm ‘Ali ibn Abi Tàlib.

2. Al-’Imàm al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali.

3. Al-’Imàm al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali.

4. Al-’Imàm ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (Zayn al-‘Abidin).

5. Al-’Imàm Muhammad ibn ‘Ali (al-Bàqir).

6. Al-’Imàm Ja’far ibn Muhammad (al-Sàdiq).

7. Al-’Imàm Musà ibn Ja‘far (al-KàZim)

8. Al-’Imàm ‘Ali ibn Musà (al-Ridà).

9. Al-’Imàm Muhammad ibn ‘Ali (al-Jawàd).

10. Al-’Imàm ‘Ali ibn Muhammad (al-Hàdi).

11. Al-’Imàm al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali (al-‘Askari).

12. Al-’Imàm Muhammad ibn al-Hasan (al-Mahdi al-MuntaZar).

These are the Twelve Imams believed to be infallible by the Shi’ah, so as Muslims not to be beguiled and deceived. The Shi’ah, long ago and recently, never acknowledge anyone to be infallible except these Imams, who were determined by the Messenger of Allah before being born.

Their names, as mentioned before, were reported by Ahl al-Sunnah ‘ulamà’, and al-Bukhàri and Muslim reported in their Sahihs, the hadith of the Imams in number, who being twelve ones all from Quraysh.

These traditions never be true and proper but only when taking it to mean Ahl al-Bayt Imams, as believed by the Imàmiyyah Shi’ah. And the Sunnis are required to solve this enigma, since the number of the Twelve Imams which they reported in their Sihàh remained yet an unsolvable riddle.


223. Yanàbi' al-mawaddah, of al-Qunduzi al-Hanafi, Vol. III, p. 99.

Adapted from the book: "To Be With the Truthful" by: "Muhammad al-Tijani al-Samawi"

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