The Fourteen Infallibles

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See also: Twelve Imams

The Fourteen Infallibles (Arabic: معصومونMa‘sūmūn) in Twelver Shia Islam are Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam; his daughter Fatima Zahra; and the Twelve Imams, all of whom are considered to be infallible—that is, "divinely bestowed [with] freedom from error and sin".[1] In Shia theology, this quality of infallibility is called Ismah.[2][3] The literal meaning of Ismah is protection, and in theological application it refers to a special gift —lutf—bestowed by God which enables a person to abstain from sin by his or her own free will. Such a person is called Ma'sum.[4] Shias also believe that the Fourteen Infallibles are superior to the rest of creation, even the major prophets other than Muhammad.[5]

The Shia concept of infallibility or Ismah[edit]

Main article: Ismah

According to Shia Islam, members of society need to have a right understanding of the world and mankind, as taught by Islam, so that they may identify and fulfill their obligations. On the social level, fulfilment of these obligations is enabled by the implementation of Islamic rulings by a religious government, resulting in a society of believers who worship God only and enjoy justice and freedom on both the personal and social level. These ends can only be accomplished under the rule and guidance of a person who does not err and is protected by God from commission of fault.[6] This view is drawn from the Shia belief in divine succession from the Prophet. Shias argue that the rightful successors to the Prophet, in addition to ruling justly over the community, must correctly interpret divine law—which requires their freedom from error and sin[7][8]—lest they mislead their followers.[9] This need for a divinely guided and infallible leadership forms the basis of the doctrine of Imamah.[10] Infallibility and divine protection from commission of error among Imams is also deemed necessary for God's religion to remain intact.[11] On the socio-political level, only an infallible Imam whose actions are free from error may successfully arbitrate in conflicts between people and permanently resolve them.[8]

Wilferd Madelung claims that the purification of Ahl al-Bayt—the family of the Prophet Muhammad—is guaranteed by The verse of purification in the Quran.[12] According to another scholar Hamid Algar, this idea is encountered as early as the first half of the second century in the Islamic calendar. The Shia scholars of the fourth and the fifth centuries in the Islamic calendar defined the infallibility of the Prophet Muḥammad and the Twelve Imams in increasingly stringent form, until the doctrine came to exclude their commission of any sin or inadvertent error, either before or after their assumption of office. As for Fatimah, she is regarded as infallible because she is a link between the ProphethoodNubuwwah—and Imamah, both of which are infallible, and because of her association with the Twelve Imams and their attributes in numerous hadiths.[2]

Family tree[edit]

‘Alī Zaynul ‘Ābidīn
Muhammad al-Bāqir
Ja‘far as-Sādiq
Mūsā al-Kādhim
‘Alī ar-Ridhā
Muhammad al-Jawad
‘Alī al-Hadi
Hasan al-‘Askarī
Muhammad al-Mahdī

List of the Infallibles[edit]

No. Modern (Calligraphic) Depiction Name
Date of
Place of birth
Importance Cause & place of death
and place of burial[c]
1 تخطيط إسم محمد.png Muhammad ibn Abdullah[d][13]

Abu al-Qasim[e][13]

Rasul Allah[f][13] (the Messenger of God)

The Seal of of the Prophets[g][14] Habib[h][15] (The Beloved)

570–632[13] / 53 BCE[16]–10[17]
Saudi Arabia[13]
God revealed the Quran, considered by Muslims as God's word and the greatest miracle, to him.[13] Fell ill and died in Medina, Saudi Arabia.[13]

Buried in Medina, Saudi Arabia.[13]

2 Fatimah Calligraphy.png Fatimah[18]

Umm Abiha[i][19] (A Mother for Her Father)

Sayyidatu n-Nisā'il-‘alamīn[j][20] (The master of all women in this world and in Paradise)

al-Zahra[k][18][21] (The Shining)

Al-Siddiqah[l][22] (The Honest)

Al-Mubarakah[m][23] (The Blessed)

At-Taherah[n][24] (The Virtuous)

Al-Batoul[o][25] (The Pure)

605/15 – 632/633 CE[18][26][27][28][29]

/ 17 or 7 BH[18] – 10 or 11 AH[30]
Saudi Arabia[26][27]
The Prophet called her "a part of me". She is also the mother of the Twelve Imams[30] According to most Shias, she suffered a fatal injury while defending Ali against the first Sunni caliph.[31]

The exact location of her grave is unknown.[32]

3 Alī.png Ali ibn Abu Talib[p][30]

Abu al-Hasan[q][33]

Amir al-Mu'minin[r][34]
(The Commander of the Faithful)

Birinci Ali[35]
600–661[34] / 23 BCE –40[36]
Saudi Arabia[34]
The first Shia Imam[30][37][38] and the rightful Successor of Muhammad[39] for all Shia; for Sunnis, he is the fourth successor to Muhammad.[30] He holds an important position in almost all Sufi orders: these orders trace their lineage to Muhammad through him.[34] Assassinated in Kufa, Iraq, by Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljam, a Kharijite, who slashed his head with a poisoned sword while he was praying.[34][40]
Buried in Najaf, Iraq,[30]
4 Hassan ibn Ali.jpg Hasan ibn Ali[s][30]

Abu Muhammad[t][33]

(The Chosen)

İkinci Ali[35]
625–670[42] / 3–50[30][43]
Saudi Arabia[42]
He was the eldest surviving grandson of Muhammad through his daughter, Fatimah az-Zahra. Hasan succeeded his father as the caliph in Kufa, but after a seven-month reign, he relinquished control of Iraq following a peace treaty with Muawiya I.[42] Poisoned fatally by his wife in Medina, Saudi Arabia on the order of Caliph Muawiya, according to Twelver Shia belief.[44]
Buried in Jannat al-Baqi, Medina, Saudi Arabia.[30][42]
5 Hhussain ibn ali.jpg Husayn ibn Ali[v][30]

Abu Abdillah[w][45]

Sayyid ash-Shuhada[x][46]
(Master of the Martyrs)

Üçüncü Ali[35]
626–680[47] / 4–61[30][48]
Saudi Arabia[49]
He was a grandson of Muhammad and brother of Hasan ibn Ali. Husayn rejected the legitimacy of Caliph Yazid I. As a result, he and his family were ultimately killed in the tragic Battle of Karbala by Yazid's forces.[30] Ever since the tragedy, the commemoration of Husayn ibn Ali's martyrdom has been at the core of Shia rituals and identity.[49] Killed and beheaded at the Battle of Karbala.[49]
Buried at the Imam Husayn Shrine, Karbala, Iraq.[49][30][47]
6 Imam sajjad.jpg Ali ibn Husayn[y][50]

Abu Muhammad[z][45][51]


Zayn al-'Abidin[ab][50][52]
(One who constantly Prostrates; the Ornament of the Worshipers)

Dördüncü Ali[35]
658/59[52] –712[53] / 38[50][52]–95 [50][53]
Saudi Arabia[52]
Author of prayers in Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya,[50] which is known as "The Psalm of the Household of the Prophet."[53] According to most Shia scholars, he was fatally poisoned on the order of Caliph al-Walid I in Medina, Saudi Arabia.[53]
Buried in Jannat al-Baqi, Medina, Saudi Arabia[50]
7 Baqir ibn sajjad.jpg Muhammad ibn Ali[ac][50]

Abu Ja'far[ad][45][54]

Baqir al-Ulum[ae][55]
(The Revealer of Knowledge)

Beşinci Ali[35]
677–732[55] / 57–114[50][55]
Saudi Arabia[55]
Sunni and Shia sources consider him as an early and pre-eminent legal scholars, revered for having educated many students.[50][55][56] According to some Shia scholars, he was fatally poisoned by Ibrahim ibn Walid ibn 'Abdallah in Medina, Saudi Arabia, on the order of Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik.[53]
Buried in Jannat al-Baqi, Medina, Saudi Arabia.[50]
8 Jaffer-e-Sadiq.jpg Ja'far ibn Muhammad[af][50]

Abu Abdillah[ag][45][50]

(The Honest)

Altıncı Ali[35]
702–765[50][57] / 83–148[50][57]
Saudi Arabia[57]
Established the Ja'fari school of jurisprudence and developed the theology of the Twelvers.[50] He taught many scholars in different fields, including Abu Hanifah[50] and Malik ibn Anas in fiqh, Wasil ibn Ata and Hisham ibn Hakam in Islamic theology, and Geber in science and alchemy.[57] According to Shia sources, he was fatally poisoned in Medina, Saudi Arabia, on the order of Caliph Al-Mansur.[57]
Buried in Jannat al-Baqi, Medina, Saudi Arabia.[50]
9 Al-Kazim.jpg Musa ibn Ja'far[ai][50]

Abu al-Hasan I[aj][45][58]

al-Kazim[ak][59] (The Calm One)

Yedinci Ali[35]
744–799[50][59] / 128–183[50][59]
Saudi Arabia[59]
Leader of the Shia community during the schism of the Ismaili and other branches after the death of the previous Imam, Jafar al-Sadiq.[60] He established the network of agents who collected the khums in the Shia community of the Middle East and the Greater Khorasan. He holds a high position in the Mahdavia, the members of which trace their lineage to Muhammad through him.[61] Imprisoned and fatally poisoned in Baghdad, Iraq, on the order of Caliph Harun al-Rashid, according to Shia belief.[62]
Buried in the Kazimayn shrine, Baghdad, Iraq.[50][59]
10 Al redah.jpg Ali ibn Musa[al][50]

Abu al-Hasan II[am][45]

(The Pleasing One)

Sekizinci Ali[35]
765–817[50][63] / 148–203 [50][63]
Saudi Arabia[63]
Made crown-prince by Caliph Al-Ma'mun; famous for his discussions and debates with both Muslim and non-Muslim religious scholars.[63][64] According to Shia sources, he was fatally poisoned in Mashad, Iran, on the order of Caliph Al-Ma'mun.[64]
Buried in the Imam Reza shrine, Mashad, Iran.[63][64]
11 Imam Taqi.jpg Muhammad ibn Ali[ao][64]

Abu Ja'far[ap][45]


(The God-Fearing)

(The Generous)

Dokuzuncu Ali[35]
809[64] or 810 –835[64][65] / 195–220[65]
Saudi Arabia[65]
Famous for his generosity and piety in the face of persecution by the Abbasid caliphate.[66] Poisoned fatally by his wife, caliph Al-Ma'mun's daughter, in Baghdad, Iraq, on the order of caliph Al-Mu'tasim, according to Shia sources.[67]
Buried in the Kazmain shrine, Baghdad, Iraq.[64][65]
12 Imam naqi.jpg Ali ibn Muhammad[as][64]

Abu al-Hasan III[at] [45]


(The Guide)


(The Pure)

Onuncu Ali[35]
827–868 [64][68] / 212–254[68]
Surayya, a village near Medina,
Saudi Arabia[68]
He taught religious sciences until 243/857.[64] He strengthened the network of deputies in the Shia community. He sent them instructions and received in turn financial contributions of the faithful from the khums and religious vows.[68] According to Shia sources, he was fatally poisoned in Samarra, Iraq, on the order of caliph Al-Mu'tazz.[70]
Buried in the Al Askari Mosque, Samarra, Iraq.[64]
13 Alaskeri.jpg Hasan ibn Ali[aw][64]

Abu Muhammad[ax] [71][72]

(The Citizen of a Garrison Town)

Onbirinci Ali[35]
846–874[73] / 232–260 [64][73]
Saudi Arabia[73]
Following the death of al-Askari's father, the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mu'tamid placed restrictions on him which would last for most of his life.[74] Repression of the Shia communities was particularly high at the time due to their large size and growing power.[75] According to Shia belief, he was fatally poisoned on the order of caliph Al-Mu'tamid in Samarra, Iraq.[74]
Buried in the Al Askari Mosque, Samarra, Iraq.[64][74][75]
14 Al mehdi.jpg Muhammad ibn al-Hasan[az][64]

Abu al-Qasim[ba][46]

Mahdi[bb][64][76] (The Guided One or The Guide),

Hidden Imam[bc][77]

al-Hujjah[bd][46][78] (The Proof)

Sahib al-Zaman[be][71] (The Lord of Our Times)

Sahibu'l-Amr[bf][71] (The one vested with Divine authority)

al-Qa'im[bg][46] (The one who will rise and fill the universe with the Justice) Baqiyyat Allah[bh][46] (God's Remainder)

Onikinci Ali[35]
868–unknown[79] / 255 or 256[64] –unknown[79]
Samarra, Iraq[80]
According to Twelver Shia doctrine, he is an actual historical personality and is the current Imam and the promised Mahdi, a messianic figure who will return with Jesus Christ. He will reestablish the rightful governance of Islam, filling the earth with justice and peace.[81] According to Shia doctrine, he has been living in the Occultation since 872 AH and will continue as long as God wills.[79]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Imams' Arabic titles are used by the majority of Twelver Shia who use Arabic as a liturgical language, including the Usooli, Akhbari, Shaykhi, and, to a lesser extent, the Alawi. Turkish titles are generally used by the Alevi. The Turkish titles for each Imam literally translate as "First Ali", "Second Ali", and so forth. Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. Gale Group. 2004. ISBN 978-0-02-865769-1. 
  2. ^ The abbreviation CE refers to the Common Era solar calendar, while AH refers to the Islamic Hijri lunar calendar
  3. ^ Except the Twelfth Imam
  4. ^ محمد بن عبدالله
  5. ^ أبو القاسم
  6. ^ رسول الله
  7. ^ خاتم الاوصیاء
  8. ^ حبیب
  9. ^ ام ابیها
  10. ^ سيدة نساء العالمين
  11. ^ الزهرا
  12. ^ الصّدیقة
  13. ^ المبارکة
  14. ^ الطاهرة
  15. ^ البتول
  16. ^ علي بن أبي طالب
  17. ^ أبو الحسن
  18. ^ امیرالمؤمنین
  19. ^ حسن بن علي
  20. ^ أبو محمد
  21. ^ المجتبی
  22. ^ حسین بن علي
  23. ^ أبو عبدالله
  24. ^ سیّد الشهداء
  25. ^ علي بن الحسین
  26. ^ أبو محمد
  27. ^ السجّاد
  28. ^ زین العابدین
  29. ^ محمد بن علي
  30. ^ أبو جعفر
  31. ^ باقرالعلوم
  32. ^ جعفر بن محمد
  33. ^ أبو عبدالله
  34. ^ الصادق
  35. ^ موسی بن جعفر
  36. ^ أبو الحسن الاول
  37. ^ الکاظم
  38. ^ علي بن موسی
  39. ^ أبو الحسن الثانی
  40. ^ الرضا
  41. ^ محمد بن علي
  42. ^ أبو جعفر
  43. ^ التقی
  44. ^ الجواد
  45. ^ علي بن محمد
  46. ^ أبو الحسن الثالث
  47. ^ الهادی
  48. ^ النقی
  49. ^ الحسن بن علي
  50. ^ أبو محمد
  51. ^ العسگری
  52. ^ محمد بن الحسن
  53. ^ أبو القاسم
  54. ^ المهدی
  55. ^ الامام الغائب
  56. ^ الحجة
  57. ^ صاحب الزمان
  58. ^ صاحب الامر
  59. ^ القائم
  60. ^ بقیةالله



  1. ^ Khomeini & Algar 2002, p. 48
  2. ^ a b Algar 1990
  3. ^ Dabashi 2006, p. 463
  4. ^ Akhtar Rizvi 1987, p. 14
  5. ^ Algar 1990
  6. ^ Tabatabaei 1977, p. 42-43
  7. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, p. 10-11
  8. ^ a b Nasr, Dabashi & Nasr 1989, p. 102
  9. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, p. 156
  10. ^ Nasr, Dabashi & Nasr 1989, p. 98
  11. ^ Tabatabaei 1977, p. 160
  12. ^ Madelung 1998, p. 15 and 51
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h Nasr 2006
  14. ^ Ibn al-ʻArabī 1980, p. 38
  15. ^ Nasr 2013, p. 61
  16. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, pp. 131
  17. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, pp. 134
  18. ^ a b c d Chittick 1980, p. 136
  19. ^ Walbridge 2001, p. 103
  20. ^ Ordoni & Qazwini 1992, p. 117
  21. ^ Calmard 1999
  22. ^ Ordoni 2013, p. 56
  23. ^ Ordoni 2013, p. 59
  24. ^ Ordoni 2013, p. 70
  25. ^ Ordoni 2013, p. 94
  26. ^ a b Dungersi 1994, p. 4
  27. ^ a b Qurashī 2006, pp. 37–41
  28. ^ Ordoni & Qazwini 1992, pp. 42–45
  29. ^ Amin 1968–73, p. 103
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Chittick 1980, p. 137
  31. ^ Lammens 2012
  32. ^ Qurashī 2006, p. 248
  33. ^ a b Rizvi 1988, p. 48
  34. ^ a b c d e Nasr 2007
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. Gale Group. 2004. ISBN 978-0-02-865769-1. 
  36. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 190–192
  37. ^ Poonawala 1985
  38. ^ Amir-Moezzi 2005
  39. ^ Mashita 2002, p. 69
  40. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, p. 192
  41. ^ Corbin 1993, p. 50
  42. ^ a b c d Madelung 2003
  43. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 194–195
  44. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, p. 195
  45. ^ a b c d e f g h Rizvi 1988, p. 49
  46. ^ a b c d e Amir-Moezzi 1994, p. 174
  47. ^ a b Tabatabaei 1975, pp. 198–199
  48. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 196–199
  49. ^ a b c d Madelung 2004
  50. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Chittick 1980, p. 138
  51. ^ Qurashi 2007, p. 17
  52. ^ a b c d Madelung 1985
  53. ^ a b c d e Tabatabaei 1979, p. 202
  54. ^ Qurashi 1999
  55. ^ a b c d e Madelung 1988
  56. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, p. 203
  57. ^ a b c d e f Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 203–204
  58. ^ a b Madelung 1985c
  59. ^ a b c d e Tabatabaei 1979, p. 205
  60. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, p. 78
  61. ^ Sachedina 1988, pp. 53–54
  62. ^ Amir-Moezzi 2011, p. 207
  63. ^ a b c d e f Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 205–207
  64. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Chittick 1980, p. 139
  65. ^ a b c d e Tabatabaei 1979, p. 207
  66. ^ Qurashi 2005
  67. ^ Tabatabaei 1977, p. 207
  68. ^ a b c d e Madelung 1985a
  69. ^ Dungersi, p. 2
  70. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 208–209
  71. ^ a b c Rizvi 1988, p. 50
  72. ^ Qurashi 2005, p. 18
  73. ^ a b c d Halm 1987
  74. ^ a b c Dungersi, p. 28
  75. ^ a b Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 209–210
  76. ^ Amir-Moezzi 2007
  77. ^ Amir-Moezzi 1994, p. 115
  78. ^ Nasr 2013, p. 161
  79. ^ a b c Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 210–211
  80. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, p. 185
  81. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 211–214



External links[edit]