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Imāmiyya (Arabic: امامیّه) is a major sub-branch of Shi'ism, alongside Zaydiyya and Isma'iliyya, which is also called Ja'fari School or Ithna 'Ashari (Arabic: إثنی عشري, Twelver Shi'a). Its adherents believe in the Imamate of the Twelve Imams (a) after the Prophet (s). Imami Shi'a believe that the term "Shi'a", when used in a general sense, only refers to Imamiyya. However, in theological discussions, the term Shi'a may refer to all three branches.

The meaning of the term "Imamiyya" has undergone some changes in the course of history, therefore, its meaning must be investigated considering the historical context in which it has been used.


In Islamic theology the term "Imamiyya" refers to a major branch of Shi'ism, which is also called Twelver Shi'ism. Three main Imamiyya beliefs include the Imamate, the infallibility of the Imam (a), and the divine designation of the Imam (a).[1]

Abu l-Hasan al-Ash'ari considers the Imamiyya as a branch of Shi'ism that was given this name because they believe the imamate of 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) was by the designation of the Prophet (s).[2]

Al-Shahristani also regards the Imamiyya as a branch of Shi'ism that believes the Prophet (s) clearly designated 'Ali (a) as his successor, and maintains that there is nothing more important than Imamate in Islam .[3]


  1. see: al-Shaykh al-Mufid, Muhammad b. Muhammad. al-Fusul al-mukhtar. p, 296
  2. al-Ash'ari, Abu al-Hasan. Maqalat al-islamiyyin. p, 87-88
  3. Shahristani, Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-karim. al-Milal wa al-nihal. vol, 1. p, 162


  • The material for this article is mainly taken from امامیه in Farsi Wikishia.
  • Shaykh al-Mufid, Muhammad b. Muhammad al-. Al-Fusul al-mukhtar. Beirut: Dar al-Mufid li-l-Tiba'a, 1993.
  • Ash'ari, Abu al-Hasan al-. Maqalat al-islamiyyin. Cairo: Maktabat al-Nahda al-marsiyya, 1950.
  • Shahristani, Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-karim. Al-Milal wa al-nihal. Beirut: Dar al-Ma'rifa.