The Fourteen Infallible

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See also: Twelve Imams

The Fourteen Infallible (Arabic: معصومونMa‘sūmūn) in Twelver Shia Islam include Mohammad, the Prophet of Islam; his daughter, Fatima Zahra; and the Twelve Imams, all of whom are considered to be infallible, i.e. "divinely bestowed [with] freedom from error and sin".[1] In Shiite Theology, this quality of infallibility is called Ismah.[2][3] Ismah literally means protection, and in the Theological application, it refers to a special grace (lutf) by God upon a person that enables the said person to abstain from sins by her his own free will. Such a person is called Ma'sum.[4] Shiites also believe that all the Fourteen Infallible are superior to the rest of creation, including even the major prophets.[5]

Concept of Ismah[edit]

Main article: Ismah

According to Shia, members of society should have the right understanding of the world and mankind (as taught by Islam) to identify and fulfill their obligations towards them. On the social level, fulfillment of these obligations are effected by implementation of Islamic rulings by a religious government resulting in a society of believers who worship only God and enjoy real justice and freedom on both personal and social level. These ends can only be accomplished under the guidance and rule of a person who is inerrant and protected by God against faults.[6] This view is drawn from Shiite belief in divine succession to the Prophet. Shias argue that the rightful successors to the Prophet, in addition to ruling over the community justly, must correctly interpret the divine law which requires freedom from error and sin,[7][8] lest misleading their followers.[9] This human need for a divinely guided infallible leadership is the basis for the doctrine of Imamate.[10] Infallibility and divine protection against error for Imams are also 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 also successfully arbitrate in conflicts between people and permanently resolve them.[8]

According to Hamid Algar, this ascription is encountered as early as the first half of the second century of Islamic calendar. The Shia scholars of the fourth and the fifth centuries of Islamic calendar defined the infallibility of the Prophet Moḥammad and the Twelve Imams in increasingly stringent form, until the doctrine came to exclude the commission on their part of any sin or inadvertence, either before or after their assumption of office. As for Fatimah, it has been derived from her being a link between Prophethood and Imamah, the two institutions characterized by infallibility, as well as by her association with the 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 Infallible[edit]

No. Modern (Calligraphic) Depiction Name
Date of
Place of birth
Importance Reason & place of death
and place of burial [c]
1 تخطيط إسم محمد.png Muhammad ibn Abdullah [d] [12]

Abu al-Qasim [e] [12]

Rasul Allah[f][12] (the Messenger of God)

The Seal of All Prophets[g][13] Habib [h][14] (The Beloved)

570–632[12] / 53 BCE [15]–10[16]
Saudi Arabia[12]
Quran, the Word of God, thought to be the highest miracle, was revealed to him.[12] Fell ill and died in Medina, Saudi Arabia.[12]

Buried in Medina, Saudi Arabia.[12]

2 Fatimah Calligraphy.png Fatimah[17]

Umm Abiha[i] [18] (A Mother for Her Father)

Sayyidatu n-Nisā'il-‘alamīn [j] [19] (The master of all women in this world and in Paradise)

al-Zahra [k][17][20] (The Shining One)

Al-Siddiqah [l][21] (The Honest)

Al-Mubarakah [m] [22] (The Blessed One)

At-Taherah [n][23] (The Virtuous)

Al-Batoul [o][24] (The Pure One)

605 or 615 – 632 or 633 [17][25][26][27][28]

/ 17 or 7 BCE [17] – 10 or 11 [29]
Saudi Arabia[25][26]
Prophet called her "a part of me". She is also the mother of Shia Imams[29] Fatal injury while defending Ali against the first Khalifa, according to most Shiites.[30]

The exact location of her grave is unknown.[31]

3 Alī.png Ali ibn Abu Talib [p] [29]

Abu al-Hasan [q] [32]

Amir al-Mu'minin[r][33]
(The Commander of the Faithful)

Birinci Ali[34]
600–661[33] / 23 BCE –40[35]
Saudi Arabia[33]
The First[36] Imam [29][37] and the rightful Successor of Muhammad[38] for all Shia, acknowledged by the Sunnis as the fourth Caliph.[29] He holds an important position in almost all Sufi Muslim orders (Turuq); the members of these orders trace their lineage to Muhammad through him.[33] Assassinated by Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljam, a Kharijite in Kufa, who slashed his head with a poisoned sword while he was praying.[33][39]
Buried in Najaf,[29] Iraq.
4 Hassan ibn Ali.jpg Hasan ibn Ali [s][29]

Abu Muhammad [t][32]

al-Mūjtabā [u][40]
(The Chosen)

İkinci Ali[34]
625–670[41] / 3–50 [29][42]
Saudi Arabia[41]
He was the eldest surviving grandson of Muhammad through Muhammad's daughter, Fatimah az-Zahra. Hasan succeeded his father as the caliph in Kufa, but after a seven-months reign, he relinquished control of Iraq following of a peace treaty with Muawiya I.[41] Poisoned fatally by his wife in Medina, Saudi Arabia on the orders of the Caliph Muawiya, according to Twelver Shiite belief.[43]
Buried in Jannat al-Baqi, Medina,[29] Saudi Arabia.[41]
5 Hhussain ibn ali.jpg Husayn ibn Ali [v][29]

Abu Abdillah[w][44]

Sayyid ash-Shuhada[x][45]
(Master of the Martyrs)

Üçüncü Ali[34]
626–680[46] / 4–61 [29][47]
Saudi Arabia[48]
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.[29] Even since the tragedy, the commemoration of Husayn ibn Ali's martyrdom has been at the core of Shia rituals and identity.[48] Killed and beheaded at the Battle of Karbala.[48]
Buried at Imam Husayn Shrine in Karbala,[29][46] Iraq.[48]
6 Imam sajjad.jpg Ali ibn Husayn[y] [49]

Abu Muhammad [z][44][50]

al-Sajjad [aa][49]

Zayn al-'Abidin [ab] [49][51]
(One who constantly Prostrates; the Ornament of the Worshipers)

Dördüncü Ali[34]
658 or 659[51] –712[52] / 38[49][51]–95 [49][52]
Saudi Arabia[51]
Author of prayers in Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya,[49] which is known as "The Psalm of the Household of the Prophet."[52] According to most Shia scholars, he was fatally poisoned on the order of Caliph al-Walid I in Medina, Saudi Arabia.[52]
Buried in Jannat al-Baqi, Medina, Saudi Arabia[49]
7 Baqir ibn sajjad.jpg Muhammad ibn Ali[ac][49]

Abu Ja'far [ad][44][53]

Baqir al-Ulum [ae][54]
(The Revealer of Knowledge)

Beşinci Ali[34]
677–732[54] / 57–114[49][54]
Saudi Arabia[54]
Sunni and Shia sources both describe him as one of the early and most eminent legal scholars, revered for having educating many seminary students during his tenure.[49][54][55] 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.[52]
Buried in Jannat al-Baqi, Medina,[49] Saudi Arabia.
8 Jaffer-e-Sadiq.jpg Ja'far ibn Muhammad[af] [49]

Abu Abdillah[ag][44][49]

as-Sadiq [ah][56]
(The Honest)

Altıncı Ali[34]
702–765 [49][56] / 83–148[49][56]
Saudi Arabia[56]
Established the Ja'fari jurisprudence and developed the theology of Twelvers.[49] He instructed many scholars in different fields, including Abu Hanifah[49] and Malik ibn Anas in fiqh, Wasil ibn Ata and Hisham ibn Hakam in Islamic theology, and Geber in science and alchemy.[56] According to Shia sources, he was fatally poisoned in Medina, Saudi Arabia, on the order of Caliph Al-Mansur.[56]
Buried in Jannat al-Baqi, Medina, Saudi Arabia.[49]
9 Al-Kazim.jpg Musa ibn Ja'far[ai][49]

Abu al-Hasan I [aj] [44][57]

al-Kazim [ak][58] (The Calm One)

Yedinci Ali[34]
744–799 [49][58] / 128–183 [49][58]
Saudi Arabia[58]
Leader of the Shia community during the schism of Ismaili and other branches after the death of the former Imam, Jafar al-Sadiq.[59] He established the network of agents who collected khums in the Shia community of the Middle East and the Greater Khorasan. He holds a high position in Mahdavia; the members of these orders trace their lineage to Muhammad through him.[60] Imprisoned and fatally poisoned in Baghdad, Iraq, on the order of Caliph Harun al-Rashid, according to Shiite belief.[61]
Buried in the now Kazimayn shrine in Baghdad, Iraq.[49][58]
10 Al redah.jpg Ali ibn Musa[al][49]

Abu al-Hasan II [am][44]

ar-Rida [an][62]
(The Pleasing One)

Sekizinci Ali[34]
765–817 [49][62] / 148–203 [49][62]
Saudi Arabia[62]
Made crown-prince by Caliph Al-Ma'mun,[63] and famous for his discussions and debates with both Muslim and non-Muslim religious scholars.[62] According to Shia sources, he was fatally poisoned in Mashad, Iran, on the order of Caliph Al-Ma'mun.[63]
Buried in the now Imam Reza shrine in Mashad, Iran.[62][63]
11 Imam Taqi.jpg Muhammad ibn Ali[ao][63]

Abu Ja'far[ap] [44]

al-Taqi [aq][63]

(The God-Fearing)

al-Jawad [ar][64]
(The Generous)

Dokuzuncu Ali[34]
809 [63] or 810 –835[63][64] / 195–220[64]
Saudi Arabia[64]
Famous for his generosity and piety in the face of persecution by the Abbasid caliphate.[65] Poisoned fatally by his wife, Al-Ma'mun's daughter, in Baghdad, Iraq, on the order of Caliph Al-Mu'tasim, according to Shiite sources.[66]
Buried in the now Kazmain shrine in Baghdad, Iraq.[63][64]
12 Imam naqi.jpg Ali ibn Muhammad[as][63]

Abu al-Hasan III [at] [44]

al-Hadi [au][68]

(The Guide)

al-Naqi [av][63]

(The Pure)

Onuncu Ali[34]
827–868 [63][67] / 212–254[67]
Surayya, a village near Medina,
Saudi Arabia[67]
He taught religious sciences until 243/857.[63] 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.[67] According to Shia sources, he was fatally poisoned in Samarra, Iraq, on the order of Caliph Al-Mu'tazz.[69]
Buried in the Al Askari Mosque in Samarra, Iraq.[63]
13 Alaskeri.jpg Hasan ibn Ali[aw][63]

Abu Muhammad[ax] [70][71]

al-Askari [ay][63][72]
(The Citizen of a Garrison Town)

Onbirinci Ali[34]
846–874[72] / 232–260 [63][72]
Saudi Arabia[72]
For most of his life, the Abbasid Caliph, Al-Mu'tamid, placed restrictions on him after the death of his father.[73] Repression of the Shiite communities was particularly high at the time due to their large size and growing power.[74] According to Shia, he was fatally poisoned on the order of Caliph Al-Mu'tamid in Samarra,[73] Iraq.
Buried in Al Askari Mosque in Samarra, Iraq.[63][73][74]
14 Al mehdi.jpg Muhammad ibn al-Hasan[az][63]

Abu al-Qasim [ba][45]

Mahdi[bb][63][75] (The Guided One or The Guide),

Hidden Imam[bc][76]

al-Hujjah [bd][45][77] (The Proof)

sahib al-Zaman[be][70] (The Lord of Our Times)

Sahibu'l-Amr [bf][70] (The one vested with Divine authority)

al-Qa'im [bg][45] (The one who will rise and fill the universe with the Justice) Baqiyyat Allah [bh][45] (God's Remainder)

Onikinci Ali[34]
868–unknown[78] / 255 or 256 [63] –unknown[78]
Samarra, Iraq[79]
According to Twelver Shiite doctrine, he is an actual historical personality and is the current Imam and the promised Mahdi, a messianic figure who will return with Christ. He will reestablish the rightful governance of Islam, filling the earth with justice and peace.[80] According to Shia doctrine, he has been living in the Occultation since 872, and will continue as long as God wills.[78]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Imam's 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 Alawi. Turkish titles are generally used by Alevi, a fringe Twelver group, who make up around 10% of the world Shia population. The 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 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. ^ a b c d e f g h Nasr 2006
  13. ^ Ibn al-ʻArabī 1980, p. 38
  14. ^ Nasr 2013, p. 61
  15. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, pp. 131
  16. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, pp. 134
  17. ^ a b c d Chittick 1980, p. 136
  18. ^ Walbridge 2001, p. 103
  19. ^ Ordoni & Qazwini 1992, p. 117
  20. ^ Calmard 1999
  21. ^ Ordoni 2013, p. 56
  22. ^ Ordoni 2013, p. 59
  23. ^ Ordoni 2013, p. 70
  24. ^ Ordoni 2013, p. 94
  25. ^ a b Dungersi 1994, p. 4
  26. ^ a b Qurashī 2006, pp. 37–41
  27. ^ Ordoni & Qazwini 1992, pp. 42–45
  28. ^ Amin 1968–73, p. 103
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Chittick 1980, p. 137
  30. ^ Lammens 2012
  31. ^ Qurashī 2006, p. 248
  32. ^ a b Rizvi 1988, p. 48
  33. ^ a b c d e Nasr 2007
  34. ^ 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. 
  35. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 190–192
  36. ^ Poonawala 1985
  37. ^ Amir-Moezzi 2005
  38. ^ Mashita 2002, p. 69
  39. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, p. 192
  40. ^ Corbin 1993, p. 50
  41. ^ a b c d Madelung 2003
  42. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 194–195
  43. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, p. 195
  44. ^ a b c d e f g h Rizvi 1988, p. 49
  45. ^ a b c d e Amir-Moezzi 1994, p. 174
  46. ^ a b Tabatabaei 1975, pp. 198–199
  47. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 196–199
  48. ^ a b c d Madelung 2004
  49. ^ 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
  50. ^ Qurashi 2007, p. 17
  51. ^ a b c d Madelung 1985
  52. ^ a b c d e Tabatabaei 1979, p. 202
  53. ^ Qurashi 1999
  54. ^ a b c d e Madelung 1988
  55. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, p. 203
  56. ^ a b c d e f Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 203–204
  57. ^ a b Madelung 1985c
  58. ^ a b c d e Tabatabaei 1979, p. 205
  59. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, p. 78
  60. ^ Sachedina 1988, pp. 53–54
  61. ^ Amir-Moezzi 2011, p. 207
  62. ^ a b c d e f Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 205–207
  63. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Chittick 1980, p. 139
  64. ^ a b c d e Tabatabaei 1979, p. 207
  65. ^ Qurashi 2005
  66. ^ Tabatabaei 1977, p. 207
  67. ^ a b c d e Madelung 1985a
  68. ^ Dungersi, p. 2
  69. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 208–209
  70. ^ a b c Rizvi 1988, p. 50
  71. ^ Qurashi 2005, p. 18
  72. ^ a b c d Halm 1987
  73. ^ a b c Dungersi, p. 28
  74. ^ a b Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 209–210
  75. ^ Amir-Moezzi 2007
  76. ^ Amir-Moezzi 1994, p. 115
  77. ^ Nasr 2013, p. 161
  78. ^ a b c Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 210–211
  79. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, p. 185
  80. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 211–214



External links[edit]