Imamate (Arabic: إمامة /Persian: امامت) is the leadership of the Islamic society in all religious and worldly affairs. It is among the principles of Shi'a school and one of the points of difference between Shi'a and Sunnis. The importance of this principle among shi'a led them to be titled as Imamiyya. According to Shi'a teachings, the noble Prophet (s) made a lot of efforts to introduce his caliph and the leader of Muslims after himself since the beginning of his mission. His efforts towards this aim began since his first public invitation by introducing Imam 'Ali (a) as his caliph and successor and continued until the last days of his life on the way back from Hajjat al-wida' on Dhu l-Hijja 18 in Ghadir.
During history, shi'a have found different opinions about the number of Imams (a); thus, some became Zaydi, some Isma'ili and some Waqifi who stopped after Imam al-Kazim (a) [and did not follow Imam al-Rida (a)].
According to Islamic references, the number of shi'a Imams (a) is twelve; the first of whom was Imam 'Ali (a) and the last one of them will be Imam al-Mahdi (a). After Imam 'Ali (a), Imam al-Hasan (a) and then his brother Imam al-Husayn (a) became Imam and after these three, nine sons among every generation of the children of Imam al-Huasyn (a) became Imam.
The existence of Imam is for preserving and religion and correctly explaining religious teachings; therefore, to do his duties better, it is necessary for Imam to have the power to abandon sins, God-given knowledge and Wilaya (guardianship) from God. Read more...