Twelver Shi`ism/Holding area

Twelver Shi`ism/Holding area

Ithna-'Ashariyya ( _ar. اثنا عشرية "Ithnāˤashariyyah"), also known as Twelver Shi'ism, is the largest denomination within the Shi'ite sect of the Islamic faith. An adherent of Twelver Shi'ism is most commonly referred to as a "Twelver", which has been derived from their belief in twelve divinely ordained leaders, or Imams. Approximately 80% of Shi'a are Twelvers, representing the largest school of thought in Shi'a Islam.

Twelvers share many tenets of Shi'ism with relating sects, such as the belief in Imams, but is contrary to that of the Ismaili and Zaidi Shi'ite sects, who each believe in a different number of Imams, and for the most part, a different path of succession regarding the Imamate. They also differ in the role and overall definition of an Imam.

The "Ithna-'Ashariyya" faith is predominantly found in Azerbaijan (est. 75%), Iran (est. 90%) , Iraq (est. 63%), Lebanon (est. 35%), Kuwait (est. 35%), Saudi Arabia (est. 20%), Bahrain (est. 70%) and parts of Afghanistan (est. 15%) and Pakistan (est. 12%). They form an overwhelming majority in Iran and Azerbaijan with a majority in Iraq and Bahrain. [] []

Alternate names

The Twelvers are also known by other names, each connoting some aspect of the faith.

# "Shīa" normally used to refer to the Twelvers since they are the "orthodox" variant of Shiˤa. In any extended usage, "Shia" can refer to other groups as well.
# "Ja'farī" is always taken to refer to Twelvers to the exclusion of the Ismā'īlī and Zaydī ("Fivers"). The term Ja'farī is used for the Ja'farī Madhhab and Fiqh ("Jurisprudence"). It is attributed to Ja'far as-Sādiq, who the Shīa consider to be their Sixth Imam. The founders of the Sunni Hanafi and Maliki schools of thought narrated Hadith from Jaˤfar as-Sādiq.
# "Imāmī" is a reference to the Twelver belief in holy and infallible Imams after the time of Muhammad. Though the Ismaili (including the Seveners) also accept the concept of Imams, this term is also used for the Twelvers.


Twelvers believe that the descendants from Muhammad through his beloved daughter Fatima Zahra and his son-in-law Ali (the Imams) were the best source of knowledge about the Qur'an and Islam, the most trusted carriers and protectors of Muhammad's Sunnah (traditions), and the most worthy of emulation.

In particular, Twelvers recognize the succession of Ali (Muhammad's cousin, son-in-law, the first man to accept Islam — second only to Muhammad's wife Khadija — the male head of the Ahl al-Bayt or "people of the [Prophet's] house") and the father of Muhammad's only bloodline as opposed to that of the caliphate recognized by Sunni Muslims. Twelvers also believe that Ali was appointed successor by Muhammad's direct order on many occasions, and that he is therefore the rightful leader of the Muslim faith.

Ali was the third successor to Abu Bakr and, for the Shia, the first divinely sanctioned "imam," or male descendant of the Muhammad Muhammad. The seminal event in Shia history is the martyrdom in 680 CE of Ali's son Husayn, who led an uprising against the "illegitimate" caliph (72 of Husayn's followers were killed as well). For the Twelvers, as well as most Shi'a, Husayn came to symbolize resistance to tyranny.

Regardless of the dispute about the Caliphate, Twelvers recognize the religious authority of the Twelve Imams, also called "Khalifa Ilahi."


hari'ah: Religious Law

The Ja'farī derive their Sharia, or religious law, from the Qur'an and the Sunnah. The difference between Sunnī and Shīˤa Sharia results from a Shīˤa belief that Muhammad assigned ˤAlī to be the first ruler and the leader after him (the Khalifa). Moreover, according to Shīˤa, an Imam or a Caliph can not be democratically elected and has to be nominated by God. Sunnis believe that their Caliphs were popular and had greater vote so they were made caliphs. This difference resulted in the Shīˤa:
# Following hadith from Muħammad and his descendants the 12 Imāms. [cite book | author=Imam Muslim (translated by Aftab Shahryar) | title=Sahih Muslim Abridged | publisher=Islamic Book Service | year=2004 | id=ISBN 81-7231-592-9]
# Not accepting the "examples", verdicts, and ahādīth of Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman (who are considered by Sunnīs to be the first three Caliphs).
# Attributing the concept of the "masūm" "infallibility" to the Twelve Imāms or Fourteen Infallibles (including Muhammad and his daughter Fatima Zahra) and accepting the examples and verdicts of this special group.

Main doctrines

Twelvers believe in the five pillars of Islam, as do Sunnis, but categorize them differently. Twelver beliefs include the following:

Theology of Shi'a ("Usūl al-Dīn")
* Tawhīd (Oneness): The Oneness of God
* Adalah (Justice): The Justice of God
* Nubuwwah (Prophethood): God has appointed perfect and infallible prophets and messengers to teach mankind the religion (that is, a perfect system of how to live in "peace"(("submission to God")).)
* Imamah (Leadership): God has appointed specific leaders to lead and guide mankind — a prophet appoints a custodian of the religion before his demise.
* Qiyamah (The Day of Judgment): God will raise mankind for Judgment - the Day of ResurrectionBranches of Religion ("Furū al-Dīn")
* Salat—meaning "connection", establish the five daily prayers, called "Namaaz" in Persian and Urdu (Prayer) –
* Sawm—fasting during the holy month of Ramadhan, called "Roozeh" in Persian (Fast) –
* Hajj (Pilgrimage) – performing the pilgrimage to Mecca.
* Zakat (Poor-rate) – charity Zakat means 'to purify'.
* Khums (One-fifth of savings) – tax
* Jihad (Struggle) – struggling to please God. The greater, internal Jihad is the struggle against the evil within one's soul in every aspect of life, called Jihad Akbar. The lesser, or external, Jihad is the struggle against the evil of one's environment in every aspect of life, called Jihad Asghar. This is not to be mistaken with the common modern misconception that this means "Holy War". Writing the truth (Jihad bil qalam) and speaking truth in front of an oppressor are also forms of Jihad.
* Amr-Bil-Ma'rūf – commanding what is good
* Nahi-Anil-Munkar – forbidding what is evil
* Tawalla – loving the Ahlul Bayt and their followers
* Tabarra – dissociating oneself from the enemies of the Ahlul Bayt

The concept of Imams

* Twelvers recognize the following Imams:
# Ali ibn Abu Talib (600661), also known as "Ali, Amir al-Mo'mineen" (commander of the faithful), also know as "Shah-e Mardan Ali" (King of men)
# Hasan ibn Ali (625669), also known as "Hasan al Mujtaba"
# Husayn ibn Ali (626680), also known as "Husayn al Shaheed", also known as "Sah Hüseyin"
# Ali ibn Husayn (658713), also known as "Ali Zainul Abideen"
# Muhammad ibn Ali (676743), also known as "Muhammad al Baqir"
# Jafar ibn Muhammad (703765), also known as "Jafar as Sadiq"
# Musa ibn Jafar (745799), also known as "Musa al Kazim"
# Ali ibn Musa (765818), also known as "Ali ar Ridha"
# Muhammad ibn Ali (810835), also known as "Muhammad al Jawad" (Muhammad at Taqi), also known as "Taki"
# Ali ibn Muhamad (827868), also known as "Ali al-Hadi", also known as "Naki"
# Hasan ibn Ali (846874), also known as "Hasan al Askari"
# Muhammad ibn Hasan (868–?), also known as "Hojjat ibn al Hasan", also known as "Mahdi"

The Shi'a Imams, the first of which is Ali ibn Abi Talib, are viewed to be infallible. It is an important aspect of Shia theology that they are, however, not prophets ("nabi") nor messengers ("rasul") but instead carry out Muhammad's message. They are considered less superior compared to all prophets and messengers including the last one. Shia Muslims view all religions and groups that accept prophets or messengers after Muhammad to be heathen or heretical.

The Role of Imam al-Mahdi

In Twelver eschatology, Muhammad ibn Hasan ibn Ali, or al-Mahdi (مهدي transliteration: Mahdī, also Mehdi; "Guided One"), is the twelfth Imam and the Mahdi, the ultimate savior of mankind and prophesied redeemer of Islam. According to authenticated hadith, al-Mahdi will change the world into a perfect and just Islamic society alongside Jesus before Yaum al-Qiyamah (literally "Day of the Resurrection" or "Day of the Standing").

Though other Shi'a schools adhere to different Imam successions and do not, along with Sunnis, consider Muhammad the Mahdi. Twelvers believe that Muhammad was born in 868 and has been hidden by God (referred to as occultation) to later emerge to fulfill his mission.

Comparative Jurisprudence: Twelver - Sunni

"(This list is not exhaustive nor representative of the Sunni/Shia dispute on religious jurisprudence)"

hahada: Declaration of faith

*Arabic text::* _ar. أشهد أن] لا إله إلاَّ الله و [أشهد أن ] محمد رسول الله ]
*Romanization::*"ArabDIN| [ʾašhadu ʾan] lā ilāha illā-llāh, wa [ʾašhadu ʾanna] muḥammadan rasūlu-llāh"
*English rendering::* [I testify that] there is no god (ilah) but Allah, and [I testify that] Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.

Another rendering current amongst some English-speaking Muslims, but without a historical tradition, is::* [ I testify that ] there is none worthy of worship except God, and [I testify that] Muhammad is the messenger of God. [cite web|url=|title=USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts|accessdate=2006-09-12] This version constitutes an interpretation rather than translation, as the words "worthy of worship" are not present in the Arabic.

Twelvers, along with Sunnis, agree that a single honest recitation of the Shahadah in Arabic is all that is required for a person to become a Muslim according to most traditional schools.

In usage the two occurrences of " 'ašhadu 'an" (or similar) = "I testify that" are very often omitted.

A vast majority of Twelvers often add "Alīyun wali Allah" (علي ولي الله("Ali is the friend of God") at the end of the Shahadah. This testifies that Ali is also the Leader of the Believers, along with Allah and Muhammad as seen in Qur'an 5:55. Though this form of the Shahadah is recited daily by other Shi'a sects, such as the Nizari Ismailis, Twelvers view it as Mustahab (recommended), but not Wajib (obligatory).

Taqlid: Accepting a Scholar's Verdict

alat / Namaz: Prayer

There are minor differences in how the prayer ritual is performed among Sunnis and Shīˤa. During the purification ritual in preparation of prayer (which consists of washing the face, arms, feet, etc. and saying of some prayers), the Shīˤa view wiping the feet with wet hands as sufficient as opposed to some of the Sunnis, who consider complete washing of the feet necessary. Also, Shīˤa do not use their fingers to clean inside the ears during the ablution ritual, As prerequisite for purification is that one has to be clean before he perform the purification ritual.

*Sunni often pray 2 Raka'ah Nafl after Dhuhr, Maghrib and Isha'a.

"1According to Shia Muslims, these are to be performed in sets of two raka'ah each.
²Prayed daily by Muhammad (Sunnis)
³Mustahab (praiseworthy) to do everyday. (Shias)
4Replaced by Jumu'ah on Fridays, which consists of two raka'ah.
5According to Imam Abu Hanifa, "Asr starts when the shadow of an object becomes twice its height (plus the length of its shadow at the start time of Dhuhr)." For the rest of Imams, "Asr starts when the shadow of an object becomes equal to its length (plus the length of its shadow at the start time of Dhuhr)." Asr ends as the sun begins to set.
6According to Shia Muslims, 'Asr prayer and 'Ishaa prayer have no set times but are performed from mid-day. Zuhr and 'Asr prayers must be performed before sunset, and the time for 'Asr prayer starts after Zuhr has been performed. Maghrib and 'Ishaa prayers must be performed before midnight, and the time for 'Ishaa prayer can start after Maghrib has been performed, as long as no more light remains in the western sky signifying the arrival of the true night.
7According to Shia Muslims, this prayer is termed nawafil."

During prayer, it is the Jaˤfarī view that it is preferable to prostrate on earth, leaves that are not edible, and/or wood, as these three things are considered purest by Muhammad in Hadith specifically mentioning Tayammum. Hence many Shīˤa use a small tablet of soil (a mixture of earth and water, and often taken from the ground of a holy site) or wood during their daily prayers upon which they prostrate.

In Jaˤfarī view, the hands are to be left hanging straight down the side during the standing position of the prayer, while the Sunni schools of thought (except for the majority of Malikis) hold that they should be folded. Similar to the Sunni view, the Jaˤfarī consider the five daily prayers to be compulsory, though the Jaˤfarī consider it acceptable to pray the second and third prayer, and the fourth and fifth prayer, one after the other during the parts of the day where they believe the timings for these prayers to overlap. The other three Sunni schools allow this consolidation of daily prayers only while travelling or under some other constraint.

Khums: One-Fifth Tax

Khums (خمس) is the Arabic word for One Fifth (1/5). In Islamic legal terminology, it means "one-fifth of certain items which a person acquires as wealth, and which must be paid as an Islamic tax". [ Khums (The Islamic Tax)]

The Items eligible for khums are referred to as Ghanima →"الْغَنيمَة" in the Quran. The Arabic word Ghanima has two meanings

1. "spoils of war" or "war booty"
2. gain or profit

The Sunni translate this word exclusively as "war booty" or "spoils of war" [] . The Twelvers hold the view that the word Ghanima has two meanings as mentioned above, the second meaning is illustrated by the common use of the Islamic banking term "al-ghunm bil-ghurm" meaning "gains accompany liability for loss or risk". [ Glossary of Islamic Banking Terms] [ ...Challenges Facing Islamic Banking]

Also, in a famous supplication, the supplication after the noon prayer, the person asks God to bestow on him His favors, one of those favors which the person asks is the benefit or gain from every act of righteousness, the word used here is "al-ghanima" →"وَالْغَنيمَةَ مِنْ كُلِّ بِر" [ The Keys to Paradise, chapter 1, section 2 title "special prayers"] this is in accordance with the second meaning of the word.

Mut'ah: Temporary Marriage

Nikāhu’l-Mut‘ah, Nikah el Mut'a (ArB|نكاح المتعة, also "Nikah Mut‘ah" literally, "marriage [نكاح/ALEXMN/] for pleasure [متعة/ALEXMN/] "), or sigheh, is a fixed-time marriage which, according to the Usuli Shia schools of Shari‘a (Islamic law), is a marriage with a preset duration, after which the marriage is automatically dissolved. It has many conditions that can be considered as pre-requisite, similar to that of permanent marriage. It is the second form of Islamic marriage (Nikah), described in the Qur'an (4:24). However, it is regarded as "haram" (prohibited) by Sunnis. This is a highly controversial "fiqh" topic; Sunnis and Shi‘a hold diametrically opposed views on its permissibility.


All Muslims, Sunni or Twelver Shi'a, celebrate the following annual holidays:
* Eid ul-Fitr (عيد الفطر), which marks the end of fasting during the month of Ramadan and falls on the first day of Shawwal.
* Eid ul-Adha, which marks the end of the Hajj or pilgrimage to Makkah, starts on the 10th day of Dhul Hijja.

The following holidays are observed by Twelvers Shi'as, unless otherwise noted:
* The Remembrance of Muharram and Ashurah (عاشوراء) for Shia commemorates Imam Husayn ibn Ali's martyrdom. Imam Husayn was grandson of Muhammad, who was killed by Yazid ibn Muawiyah, the Sunnis' 6th Khalif. Ashurah is a day of deep mourning which occurs on the 10th of Muharram. Sunnis also celebrate Ashurah, but give it a different meaning (see Ashurah).
* Arba'een commemorates the suffering of the women and children of Imam Husayn's household. After Husayn was killed, they were marched over the desert, from Karbala (central Iraq) to Shaam (Damascus, Syria). Many children (some of whom were direct descendants of Muhammad) died of thirst and exposure along the route. Arba'een occurs on the 20th of Safar, 40 days after Ashurah.
* Milad al-Nabi, Muhammad's birth date, is celebrated by the Shia on the 17th of Rabbi al-Awwal, which coincides with the birth date of the sixth imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq.
* Mid of Shaban is the birth date of the 12th and final imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi. It is celebrated by Twelvers on the 15th of Shaban. Many Shia fast on this day to show gratitude.
* Eid al-Ghadeer celebrates Ghadir Khum, the occasion when Muhammad announced Ali's imamate before a multitude of Muslims. Eid al-Ghadeer is held on the 18th of Dhil-Hijjah.
* Al-Mubahila celebrates a meeting between the household of Muhammad and a Christian deputation from Najran. Al-Mubahila is held on the 24th of Dhil-Hijjah.

Revered Twelver Shrines

The following is a list of shrines revered by the Twelver Shi'as:

Martyrdom of Imam Husayn

The death of the grandson of Muhammad and the son of Ali Husayn ibn Ali on the Tenth of Muharram - known as Ashura - plays a significant role in Twelver theology. This day is annually commemorated with grief and sorrow; some participate in ritual beating of their chests, as some believe this is a form of expressing the helplessness that comes from a practical inability to have helped Husayn and his small troop of 72 family and supporters. Some hit themselves as a form of emotional and love for the ahlulbayt and their sacrifice and martyrdom. In most nations with significant Shia populations, one can observe large crowds in processions grieving over Husayn's death.


ee also

*Ja'fari Fiqh
*Shi'a Islam
*World Federation of KSI Muslim Communities
*The Fourteen Infallibles

External links

* [ Ithna 'Ashariyah] An article by encyclopedia Britannica online
* [ - Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project]
* [ Twelver Media Source ]
* [ The Shia Islamic Guide / Imam Stories] (

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