Imam ( Arabic إمام, DMG Imām , prayer leader, leader, master; Richtschnur, Richtblei ') is an Arabic term with different meanings. In the Koran it has the meaning of "chief, role model, guideline, leader". In the classical Islamic theory of the state, he describes the religious-political head (as the spiritual head) of the Islamic community in succession to the prophet and founder of religion Mohammed . In addition, the prayer leader in ritual prayer (as priest or head of the cult) is also called an imam. After all, the term is used as an honorary title for outstanding Muslim scholars and personalities.
Quranic use of the term
The term imām occurs twelve times in the Quran, seven times in its singular form, and five times in its plural form Aʾimma . In Sura 2 : 124 states that God Abraham after he had placed him with words to the test, made the Imam of the people. In sura 21 : 73 it says that God made Isaac and Jacob imams, "who lead (their followers) according to our command".
The term is also used for scriptures. In two places ( sura 11 : 17 and sura 46 : 12) it is stated that the book of Moses preceded the Koran as a guideline ( imam ) and as a demonstration of divine mercy. The term also appears in this usage in post-Quranic times. For example, the “Book of Postponement ” ( Kitāb al-Irǧāʾ ), which was probably created at the end of the 7th century and is considered the founding document of the religious-political movement of the Murji'a , says: Religion Islam, whose leader ( imām ) is the Koran and whose prophet Mohammed is. "
The imam as the religious and political head of the Muslims
In the period after the Prophet, some Umayyad caliphs used the title of imam for themselves, making it clear that they were claiming the right to lead the Islamic community. In the course of the 8th century, however, more and more groups emerged who contested this right or who raised the hope of an imam who does not belong to the Umayyads. This gave rise to the conflict over the Imamat, of which Muhammad al-Shahrastani wrote in the 12th century that it was the "most important point of contention" ( aʿẓam ḫilāf ) within the Islamic community. According to al-Shahrastani, there was no article of faith that had the sword drawn from its scabbard as often as the Imamate.
The imamate according to the classical Sunni teaching
According to the classical Sunni doctrine, as reflected, for example, in the treatise on constitutional law by al-Māwardī (972-1058), the imamate is identical to the caliphate as the successor to the prophet. The imam as caliph is responsible for the preservation of religion ( din ) and the organization of worldly affairs. In order to become an imam, a person must have seven qualities: (1) personal integrity ( ʿadāla ), (2) extensive knowledge that enables idschtihād , (3) hearing, eyesight and speech, (4) physical health and mobility, (5) Judgment ( ra'y ), which is necessary to regulate the affairs of the people, (6) Courage and valor, which enables the defense of the community and the fight against the enemy in the form of jihad , (7) Genealogical descent of the Quraish . The last point is justified by the fact that, after the death of Muhammad , Abū Bakr based the political leadership of the Quraish with reference to the prophetic word, according to which the imams must be of the Quraish tribe ( al-Aʾimma min Quraish ).
Not all Sunni scholars, however, assume that the Imam has a descent from the Quraish. The Shafiite scholar al-Juwainī (1028-1085), for example, said that it would be enough for the imam if he had the qualifications ( kifāya ) of a ruler and obtained the advice of a legal scholar in the event of legal problems . In reality, there weren't many political leaders in Sunni Islam who claimed the Imamate without being of Quraysh descent. Among the few exceptions were Ghazi Muhammad and Imam Shamil , who organized the Muslim resistance against the Russian conquest of the Northeast Caucasus in the early 19th century.
The Imamate among the Shiites
The imam among the imamites
The imamites have assigned ImIsma ("infallibility, sinlessness") to the imams since the 9th century . A more detailed doctrine of the Imamate was formulated around the turn of the 10th century by the imamite theologian Abū Jaʿfar Ibn Qiba ar-Rāzī. Accordingly, the imam must always be a member of the prophet's family and the most knowledgeable and pious of this group. Since people cannot determine for themselves which person best fulfills this qualification, the imam must be designated by a predecessor - the Prophet or a previous imam. The designation ( naṣṣ ) must exist in a broad tradition ( tawātur ). Ibn Qiba thought it possible that God could work miracles through the hand of the Imam, but rejected the idea that the Imam knew the hidden. He also rejected the ideas of the ghulāt and the so-called Mufauwida (“delegators”), who ascribed a supernatural being to the imams.
The Twelve Shia , the only imamite group that still exists today, assumes that there were twelve imams from the family of ʿAlī ibn Abī Tālib . The twelfth Imam, Imam Mahdi , is the hidden Imam for them . The twelve imams are considered to be the "fourteen infallible " for the twelve Shiites together with Mohammed and his daughter Fatima . Twelve Shiites consider the hidden twelfth Imam to be the Messiah who will lead the world to the true faith upon his return.
The Imam among the Ismailis
The Ismailis are divided into two groups, the Nizarites and the Mustaʿlī-Tayyibites . While the former worship an “imam who is present”, the latter, like the Twelve Shiites, assume that the imam has hidden himself. Today's Nizarites venerate Karim Aga Khan IV as the 49th imam in the succession of the Prophet. The Mustaʿlī-Tayyibites, on the other hand, believe that the last legitimate Imam At-Tayyib Abi l-Qasim was raptured in the 12th century. In the time of his absence he is represented by a head Dāʿī in the leadership of the community.
The Zaidite Imamate
The Zaidite Shiites have their own Imamate theory. According to this, the claim to the imamate is not only inherited in the line of the descendants of Husain , but in the entire house of the Alides ; all members of this family are qualified for the imamate. In principle, every alide has a claim to the imamate; the real imam is the one who actually asserts himself gun in hand. In 864 al-Hasan ibn Zaid founded his own Zaidite imamate in Tabaristan, northern Iran, south of the Caspian Sea. Almost thirty years later, in 893, a second Zaidi imamate was founded in the Yemeni city of Sa'da . Unlike the Caspian Zaidite imamate, which perished in the 12th century, the Yemeni Zaidite imamate survived into the 20th century with short interruptions. The dynasty of the Zaidite imams from the house of the Banū l-Qāsim was not overthrown until 1962 by a military coup.
The imamate among the Ibadites
The Ibadites , a group that emerged from the Kharijites , also have their own imamate. According to their political doctrine, there are four types of imamate, each corresponding to certain political behaviors of the Ibadite community:
- the imamate of secrecy ( imāmat al-kitmān ). Jabir ibn Zaid and Abū ʿUbaida Muslim ibn Abī Karīma , who secretly organized the Ibadite community of Basra in the first half of the 8th century , are said to have practiced this form of imamate.
- the imamate of self -selling ( imāmat aš-širāʾ ). The concept of self-sale in the sense of self-sacrifice is based on the Koran word in sura 9 : 111: “God bought their person and wealth from the believers in order that they should have paradise. Now they have to fight for God's sake . ”Ajar. The imamate of self-selling is accordingly a fighting imamate. As an example of this form of self-sacrifice, the Kharijit fighter Abū Bilāl Mirdās is considered, who died in 681 fighting against Umayyad troops.
- the imamate of defense ( imāmat ad-difāʿ ). This imamate is established when the Ibadite community is threatened. When the danger is over, he can be dropped again.
- the imamate of emergence ( imāmat aẓ-ẓuhūr ). This imamate will be established as soon as the Muslims, i.e. H. the Ibadis, having conquered their enemies and secured their power. As soon as such an imamat has been established, Islamic criminal law with the typical Hadd punishments must also be applied. Historical examples of such imamates of emergence are the two caliphs Abū Bakr and sowieUmar ibn al-Chattāb as well as Tālib al-Haqq, who established the first Ibadite imamate in Hadramaut in 746 , al-Dschulandā ibn Masʿūd, and in 750 the first state in Oman and Abū l-Chattāb al-Maʿāfirī , the founder of the first Ibadite imamate in North Africa.
The Ibadite Imamate of Oman survived with interruptions until the middle of the 20th century.
The imam as a prayer leader in the mosque
The “Imam of Prayer” according to Islamic law
In addition to the religious and political concept of the imam as the head of the Muslim community, the classical Islamic political doctrine knows the office of the imam as a prayer leader in the mosque . For disambiguation , it is referred to as the "imamate of prayers" ( imāmat aṣ-ṣalawāt ). The imam of the prayers leads the ritual prayer and stands in front of the other believers directly at the prayer niche ( mihrāb ). He recites verses from the Koran, and his gestures ( bowing , prostration) are followed by the other prayers.
With regard to the selection of the imams for the five prayers, the Islamic state doctrine differentiates between the “ruling mosques” ( al-masāǧid as-sulṭānīya ) and the “general mosques” ( al-masāǧid al-ʿāmma ). The ruler appoints the imams in the ruling mosques, which include the Friday mosques in particular . To be appointed, the person concerned must meet five requirements: they must (1) be male and (2) innocent ( ʿadl ), (3) have the ability to recite, (4) have a training in fiqh and (5) an impeccable qualification Have pronunciation. In the case of the general mosques that “the people of the streets and tribes” ( ahl aš-šawāriʿ wa-l-qabā errichtetil ) have built, they can choose their imam themselves. There is only disagreement about how to proceed if the people of such general mosques cannot agree on a person. While the Shafiit al-Māwardī thinks that in this case the Sultan would have to choose a suitable imam to end the dispute, the Hanbalit Ibn al-Farrā 'states that in such a situation the two candidates for imam must be drawn by lot.
Imams in Austria and Germany
There are around 1,250 full-time and around a thousand honorary imams in Germany . According to estimates by the Central Council of Muslims , more than 90 percent of them are from Turkey , and occasionally from Morocco , Iran and other countries.
In the communities of the DITIB , the umbrella organization of Turkish Muslims in Germany, there are only Turkish-speaking imams, so-called religious commissioners, who work without exception. They are selected in their home country by the “Common Cultural Mission”, in which representatives from various ministries sit. These imams are trained in Turkey at state-recognized Islamic-theological institutes, where they graduate with a diploma. If they are sent abroad, they are subordinate - as quasi-diplomats - to the attachés for religious services of the Turkish consulates general. Its main task is to help secure the "Turkish state Islam" in Germany.
In Germany, no vocational training or studies are currently required to exercise the profession of preacher in general and of imam in particular. The choice of the profession of imam is therefore free to everyone. The designation imam is not subject to any protection. The integration commissioner of the federal government under Gerhard Schröder , Marieluise Beck , spoke out in favor of transferring the imam training to German universities. In Austria, however, the Islamic Religious Education Academy in Vienna has been training imams in a three-year diploma course with financial support from the state since 1998. In Austria (unlike in Germany) Islam is recognized as a public body. The aim is that only imams trained in the country preach in the mosques, thus enabling better control over the content of the sermons.
Women as Imam: Mourchida
There is currently a controversy among Muslims as to whether and under what circumstances women are allowed to work as imams ( mourchida ). In Turkey and Morocco in particular there are said to be a number of female imams. In several western countries in Europe and America, women are increasingly assuming the duties of imams. Amina Wadud led the Friday prayer in New York City .
Three out of four Sunni law schools , but also many Shiite law schools, are of the opinion that women are allowed to lead women's groups in prayer; the Malikite law school alone has not yet allowed this.
At present, all of the existing traditional schools of law in Islam hold the view that a woman should not lead prayer in a male and female community meeting. This is based on the idea that according to the Shari'a no woman can be a female imam for men or lead the Friday prayer. However, women can be prayer leaders for other women.
Imam as an honorary title
In addition, the term imam is often used as an honorary title for particularly pious or learned personalities. In Sunni Islam, for example, the founders of the four directions of normative theory are referred to as imams, and the theologian and legal scholar al-Juwainī was nicknamed Imām al-Haramain ("Imam of the two holy places "). Hasan al-Bannā , the founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood , is dubbed by his followers as "the martyr imam" ( al-Imām aš-šahīd ). In the Twelve Shia the title “Imam” has also been used for Khomeini since the 1980s .
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- Imam as religious-political head
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- Imam as prayer leader
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- Ludwig Hagemann & Oliver Lellek (ed.): Lexicon of Islamic culture. Scientific Book Society , Darmstadt 1999, ISBN 978-3-937872-05-6 , p. 148f.
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- See the German translation in Josef van Ess : Theology and Society in the 2nd and 3rd Century Hijra. A History of Religious Thought in Early Islam. Volume V. Berlin-New York 1993. pp. 6-12. Here p. 8.
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- Lapidus, pp. 95-98
- See Heinz Halm: The Schia. Darmstadt 1988. p. 244.
- Cf. C. van Arendonk: Les debuts de l'imāmat Zaidite au Yemen. Leiden 1960.
- See Adam Gaiser: Muslims, scholars, soldiers: the origin and elaboration of the Ibāḍī imāmate traditions. Oxford 2010.
- Cf. al-Māwardī : al-Aḥkām as-sulṭānīya. 1989. p. 130 and the engl. Translated by Asadullah Yate p. 150 and Abū Yaʿlā Ibn al-Farrāʾ: Al-Aḥkām as-Sulṭānīya . Ed. Muḥammad Ḥāmid al-Faqī. 2nd ed. Maktab al-Iʿlām al-Islāmī, Cairo, 1985. p. 94.
- Cf. al-Māwardī: al-Aḥkām as-sulṭānīya. 1989. p. 132 and the engl. Translated by Asadullah Yate p. 152 and Ibn al-Farrāʾ : Al-Aḥkām as-Sulṭānīya . Ed. Muḥammad Ḥāmid al-Faqī. 2nd ed. Maktab al-Iʿlām al-Islāmī, Cairo, 1985. p. 96.
- Cf. al-Māwardī: al-Aḥkām as-sulṭānīya. 1989. p. 133 and the engl. Translated by Asadullah Yate p. 153f.
- Cf. Ibn al-Farrāʾ: Al-Aḥkām as-Sulṭānīya . Ed. Muḥammad Ḥāmid al-Faqī. 2nd ed. Maktab al-Iʿlām al-Islāmī, Cairo, 1985. pp. 98f.
- Ferda Ataman : Imams in Deutschland: Null Aüte von Almanya , Spiegel online , accessed on February 17, 2015.
- Imams in Germany: Who are they and what do they stand for? at religionen-im-gespraech.de, accessed on February 17, 2015.
- Federal government promotes Islam training in Osnabrück , Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, October 14, 2010.