The Fourteen Infallibles

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See also: Twelve Imams and Ismah

The Fourteen Infallibles (Arabic: معصومونMa‘sūmūn) in Twelver Shia Islam are the Islamic prophet Muhammad, his daughter Fatima Zahra; and the Twelve Imams. All are considered to be infallible under the theological concept of Ismah.[1][2] Accordingly, they have the power to commit sin but are able to avoid doing so by their nature, which is regarded as a miraculous gift from God.[3] The Infallibles are believed to follow only God's desire in their actions, because of their supreme righteousness, consciousness, and love for God.[4] They are also regarded as being immune to error: in practical matters, in calling people to religion, and in the perception of divine knowledge.[5] Shias believe that the Fourteen Infallibles are superior to the rest of creation, as well as to the other major prophets.[6]

Family tree[edit]

The fourteen infallibles.
‘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]

Modern (calligraphic) depiction Name
Date of birth and death Importance Cause and place of death
Place of burial[c]
تخطيط إسم محمد.png Muhammad ibn Abdullah[d]

Abu al-Qasim[e][7]

Rasul Allah[f][7]

Khatam al-Anbia[g][8]


Mecca, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[7]
Considered by Muslims as the last prophet sent by God to mankind. According to Muslims, God revealed to him the Quran, which is God's word and the greatest miracle.[7] Fell ill and died in Medina.[7]

Buried in Medina, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula.[7]

Fatimah Calligraphy.png Fatimah[i]

Umm Abiha[j][12]

Sayyidat al-Nisā[k][13]


Mecca, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[17]
Her father, Muhammad, called her "a part of me".[18] She is also the mother of the Twelve Imams.[16] According to most Shias, she suffered a fatal injury while defending Ali against the first Sunni caliph.[19]

The exact location of her grave was unknown but believed to be somewhere in Medina.[13]

Alī.png Ali ibn Abu Talib[m]

Abu al-Hasan[n][20]

Amir al-Mu'minin[o][21]

  • 600 – 661[21]
  • 22 or 16 BH – 40 AH [22]

Mecca, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[21]
For all Shia, the son-in-law of Muhammad is the first Shia Imam[23] and the rightful successor of Muhammad.[24] For Sunnis, he is the fourth successor.[16] He holds an important position in almost all Sufi orders, as these orders trace their lineage to Muhammad through him.[21] Assassinated in Kufa, Iraq, by Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljam, a Kharijite, who slashed his head with a poisoned sword while he was praying.[21]
Buried in Najaf, Iraq.[16]
Hassan ibn Ali.jpg Hasan ibn Ali[p]

Abu Muhammad[q][20]


Medina, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[26]
The eldest surviving grandson of Muhammad, through his mother Fatimah, Hasan succeeded his father, Ali, as the caliph in Kufa; but after a seven-month reign, he relinquished control of Iraq following a peace treaty with Muawiya I.[26] According to Twelver Shia belief, he was poisoned fatally by his wife in Medina, by order of Caliph Muawiya.[27]
Buried in Jannat al-Baqi, Medina.[26]
Hhussain ibn ali.jpg Husayn ibn Ali[s]

Abu Abdillah[t][28]

Sayyid ash-Shuhada[u][29]

Medina, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[31]
Grandson of Muhammad and younger brother of Hasan, Husayn rejected the legitimacy of Caliph Yazid I, the son of Muawiyah. As a result, he and his family were ultimately killed in the Battle of Karbala by Yazid's forces.[16] Ever since the battle, the commemoration of Husayn ibn Ali's martyrdom has been at the core of Shia rituals and identity.[31] Killed and beheaded at the Battle of Karbala[31]
Buried at the Imam Husayn Shrine, Karbala, Iraq.[31]
Imam sajjad.jpg Ali ibn Husayn[v]

Abu Muhammad[w][32]

Zayn al-'Abidin[y][34]

Medina, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[34]
The author of the prayers in Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya,[33] ("The Scripture of Al-Sajjad", "The Psalm of the Household of the Prophet").[35] According to most Shia scholars, he was fatally poisoned by order of Caliph al-Walid I in Medina.[35]
Buried in Jannat al-Baqi, Medina.[33]
Baqir ibn sajjad.jpg Muhammad ibn Ali[z]

Abu Ja'far[aa][28][36]
Baqir al-Ulum[ab][36]

Medina, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[36]
Sunni and Shia sources consider Al-Baqir an early and pre-eminent legal scholar, revered for having educated many students.[33][36] According to some Shia scholars, he was fatally poisoned by Ibrahim ibn Walid ibn 'Abdallah in Medina by order of Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik.
Buried in Jannat al-Baqi, Medina[33]
Jaffer-e-Sadiq.jpg Ja'far ibn Muhammad[ac]

Abu Abdillah[ad][33]

Medina, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[38]
Established the Ja'fari school of jurisprudence and developed the theology of the Twelvers.[33] Taught many scholars in different fields, including Abu Hanifah[33] and Malik ibn Anas in fiqh, Wasil ibn Ata and Hisham ibn Hakam in Islamic theology, and Geber in science and alchemy.[38] According to Shia sources, he was fatally poisoned in Medina by order of Caliph Al-Mansur.[38]
Buried in Jannat al-Baqi, Medina[33]
Al-Kazim.jpg Musa ibn Ja'far[af]

Abu al-Hasan I[ag][39]


Medina, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[40]
Leader of the Shia community during the schism between the Ismaili and other branches of Islam after the death of the previous Imam, Jafar al-Sadiq.[41] He established the network of agents who collected the khums in the Shia community of the Middle East and the Greater Khorasan. Holds a high position in the Mahdavia, the members of which trace their lineage to Muhammad through him.[42] According to Shia belief, he was imprisoned and fatally poisoned in Baghdad, Iraq, by order of Caliph Harun al-Rashid.[43]
Buried in the Kazimayn shrine, Baghdad, Iraq[33][40]
Al redah.jpg Ali ibn Musa[ai]

Abu al-Hasan II[aj][39]

Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[44]
Made crown-prince by Caliph Al-Ma'mun; known for his discussions and debates with both Muslim and non-Muslim religious scholars.[45] According to Shia sources, he was fatally poisoned in Mashad, Iran, by order of Caliph Al-Ma'mun.[45]
Buried in the Imam Reza shrine, Mashad, Iran[45]
Imam Taqi.jpg Muhammad ibn Ali[al]

Abu Ja'far[am][28]



Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[46]
Known for his generosity and piety in the face of persecution by the Abbasid caliphate.[47] According to Shia sources, he was fatally poisoned by his wife, the daughter of Caliph Al-Ma'mun, in Baghdad, Iraq, by order of Caliph Al-Mu'tasim.[46]
Buried in the Kazmain shrine, Baghdad, Iraq.[45]
Imam naqi.jpg Ali ibn Muhammad[ap]

Abu al-Hasan III[aq][48]


Surayya, a village near Medina, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[48]
Taught religious sciences until 243/857.[45] Strengthened the network of deputies in the Shia community. He sent them instructions and in turn received financial contributions from the faithful, from the khums and religious vows.[48] According to Shia sources, he was fatally poisoned in Samarra, Iraq, by order of caliph Al-Mu'tazz.[46]
Buried in the Al Askari Mosque, Samarra, Iraq.[45]
Al-askari.svg Hasan ibn Ali[at]

Abu Muhammad[au] [50]

Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[51]
Al-Askari was placed under house arrest, as had been his father, by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mu'tamid, which would last most of his life.[52] During this time, repression of the Shia communities was great because of their growing size and power.[53] According to Shia belief, he was fatally poisoned by order of Caliph Al-Mu'tamid in Samarra, Iraq.[54]
Buried in the Al Askari Mosque, Samarra, Iraq.[45]
Al mehdi.jpg Muhammad ibn al-Hasan[aw]

Abu al-Qasim[ax][29]

Hidden Imam[ba][56]


Sahib al-Zaman[bc][50]



Baqiyyat Allah[bf][29]

Samarra, Iraq[59]
According to Twelver Shia doctrine, he is an historical person, 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.[60] According to Shia doctrine, he has been living in the Occultation since 874 CE, and will continue living as long as God wills.[58]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ A kunya (Arabic: كنية‎, kunyah) is a teknonym in Arabic names, the name of an adult derived from his or her eldest child.
  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. ^ the Messenger of God (Persian: رسول الله‎)
  7. ^ The Seal of the Prophets (Persian: خاتم الانبیاء‎)
  8. ^ The Beloved (Persian: حبیب‎)
  9. ^ فاطمة
  10. ^ The Mother for Her Father (Persian: ام ابیها‎)
  11. ^ The master of all women (Persian: سیدة نساء‎)
  12. ^ The Shining (Persian: زهرا‎)
  13. ^ علي بن أبي طالب
  14. ^ أبو الحسن
  15. ^ The Commander of the Faithful (Persian: امیرالمؤمنین‎)
  16. ^ حسن بن علي
  17. ^ أبو محمد
  18. ^ The Chosen (Persian: مجتبی‎)
  19. ^ حسین بن علي
  20. ^ أبو عبدالله
  21. ^ Master of the Martyrs (Persian: سیّد الشهداء‎)
  22. ^ علي بن الحسین
  23. ^ أبو محمد
  24. ^ السجّاد
  25. ^ the Ornament of the Worshipers (Persian: زین العابدین‎)
  26. ^ محمد بن علي
  27. ^ أبو جعفر
  28. ^ The Revealer of Knowledge (Persian: باقرالعلوم‎)
  29. ^ جعفر بن محمد
  30. ^ أبو عبدالله
  31. ^ The Honest (Persian: صادق‎)
  32. ^ موسی بن جعفر
  33. ^ أبو الحسن الاول
  34. ^ The Calm One (Persian: کاظم‎)
  35. ^ علي بن موسی
  36. ^ أبو الحسن الثانی
  37. ^ The Pleasing One (Persian: رضا‎)
  38. ^ محمد بن علي
  39. ^ أبو جعفر
  40. ^ The God-Fearing (Persian: تقی‎)
  41. ^ الجواد
  42. ^ علي بن محمد
  43. ^ أبو الحسن الثالث
  44. ^ هادی
  45. ^ The Pure (Persian: نقی‎)
  46. ^ الحسن بن علي
  47. ^ أبو محمد
  48. ^ The Citizen of a Garrison Town (Persian: عسگری‎)
  49. ^ محمد بن الحسن
  50. ^ أبو القاسم
  51. ^ المهدی
  52. ^ The Guided One or The Guide (Persian: مهدی‎)
  53. ^ (Persian: امام غائب‎)
  54. ^ The Proof (Persian: حجت‎)
  55. ^ The Lord of Our Times (Persian: صاحب الزمان‎)
  56. ^ The one vested with Divine authority (Persian: صاحب الامر‎)
  57. ^ The Resurrector (Persian: قائم‎)
  58. ^ God's Remainder (Persian: بقیةالله‎)


  1. ^ Dabashi 2006, p. 463
  2. ^ Corbin 1993, p. 48
  3. ^ Nasr, Dabashi & Nasr 1989, p. 98
  4. ^ Donaldson 1933, p. 326
  5. ^ Ansariyan 2007, p. 89
  6. ^ Algar 1990
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Nasr 2006
  8. ^ Mir 1987, p. 171
  9. ^ Nasr 2013, p. 61
  10. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, p. 131
  11. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, p. 134
  12. ^ Walbridge 2001, p. 103
  13. ^ a b Klemm 2014
  14. ^ a b Chittick 1980, p. 136
  15. ^ Qurashī 2007, p. 38
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Chittick 1980, p. 137
  17. ^ Dungersi 1994, p. 4
  18. ^ Chittick 1980, p. 136
  19. ^ Lammens 2012
  20. ^ a b Rizvi 1988, p. 48
  21. ^ a b c d e Nasr 2007
  22. ^ Ahmed 2005, p. 234
  23. ^ Poonawala 1985
  24. ^ Mashita 2002, p. 69
  25. ^ Corbin 1993, p. 50
  26. ^ a b c d Madelung 2003
  27. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, p. 173
  28. ^ a b c Rizvi 1988, p. 49
  29. ^ a b c d e Amir-Moezzi 1994, p. 174
  30. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, pp. 198–199
  31. ^ a b c d Madelung 2004
  32. ^ Qurashī 2007, p. 17
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Chittick 1980, p. 138
  34. ^ a b c d Madelung 1985
  35. ^ a b c d Tabatabaei 1975, pp. 178–179
  36. ^ a b c d e f Madelung 1988
  37. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, p. 15
  38. ^ a b c Tabatabaei 1975, p. 180
  39. ^ a b Madelung 1985b
  40. ^ a b c d Tabatabaei 1975, p. 181
  41. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, p. 68
  42. ^ Sachedina 1988, pp. 53–54
  43. ^ Amir-Moezzi 2011, p. 207
  44. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, pp. 182–183
  45. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Chittick 1980, p. 139
  46. ^ a b c d e Tabatabaei 1975, p. 183
  47. ^ Qurashī 2005
  48. ^ a b c d e Madelung 1985a
  49. ^ Dungersi 2005, p. 16
  50. ^ a b c Rizvi 1988, p. 50
  51. ^ a b c d Halm 1987
  52. ^ Dungersi 2005, p. 188
  53. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, p. 184
  54. ^ Dungersi 2005, p. 196
  55. ^ Amir-Moezzi 2007
  56. ^ Amir-Moezzi 1994, p. 115
  57. ^ Nasr 2013, p. 161
  58. ^ a b c Tabatabaei 1975, p. 186
  59. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, p. 185
  60. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 211–214



External links[edit]