The Fourteen Infallibles

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The Fourteen Infallibles (Arabic: معصومون Ma‘sūmūn; Persian: چهارده معصوم Chahar'dah Ma‘sūm) 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 by their nature are able to avoid doing so, 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 the Fourteen Infallibles are superior to the rest of creation and 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 اسم 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 to be 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".[14] She is also regarded as "the mother of the Imams".[18][19] According to most Shias, Fatimah suffered a fatal injury while defending Ali against the first Sunni caliph.[20]

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

Alī.png Ali ibn Abi Talib[m]

Abu al-Hasan[n][21]

Amir al-Mu'minin[o][22]

  • 600 – 661[22]
  • 22 or 16 BH – 40 AH [23]

Mecca, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[22]
For all Shia, the son-in-law of Muhammad is the first Shia Imam[24] and the rightful successor to Muhammad.[25] For Sunnis, he is the fourth successor.[16] He holds an important position in almost all Sufi orders, which trace their lineage to Muhammad through him.[22] Assassinated in Kufa, Iraq, by Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljam, a Kharijite who slashed his head with a poisoned sword while he was praying.[22]
Buried in Najaf, Iraq.[16]
Hassan ibn Ali.jpg Hasan ibn Ali[p]

Abu Muhammad[q][21]


Medina, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[27]
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.[27] According to Twelver Shia belief, he was poisoned fatally by his wife in Medina by order of Caliph Muawiya.[28]
Buried in Jannat al-Baqi, Medina.[27]
Hhussain ibn ali.jpg Husayn ibn Ali[s]

Abu Abdillah[t][29]

Sayyid ash-Shuhada[u][30]

Medina, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[32]
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 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.[32] Killed and beheaded at the Battle of Karbala.[32]
Buried at the Imam Husayn Shrine, Karbala, Iraq.[32]
Imam sajjad.jpg Ali ibn Husayn[v]

Abu Muhammad[w][33]

Zayn al-'Abidin[y][35]

Medina, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[35]
The author of the prayers in Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya,[34] ("The Scripture of Al-Sajjad", "The Psalm of the Household of the Prophet").[36] According to most Shia scholars, Zayn al-'Abidin was fatally poisoned by order of Caliph al-Walid I in Medina.[36]
Buried in Jannat al-Baqi, Medina.[34]
Baqir ibn sajjad.jpg Muhammad ibn Ali[z]

Abu Ja'far[aa][29][37]
Baqir al-Ulum[ab][37]

Medina, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[37]
Sunni and Shia sources consider Al-Baqir an early and pre-eminent legal scholar who was revered for having educated many students.[34][37] 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[34]
Jaffer-e-Sadiq.jpg Ja'far ibn Muhammad[ac]

Abu Abdillah[ad][34]

Medina, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[39]
As-Sadiq established the Ja'fari school of jurisprudence and developed the theology of the Twelvers.[34] He taught many scholars in different fields, including Abu Hanifah[34] and Malik ibn Anas in fiqh, Wasil ibn Ata and Hisham ibn Hakam in Islamic theology, and Geber in science and alchemy.[39] According to Shia sources, he was fatally poisoned in Medina by order of Caliph Al-Mansur.[39]
Buried in Jannat al-Baqi, Medina[34]
Al-Kazim.jpg Musa ibn Ja'far[af]

Abu al-Hasan I[ag][40]


Medina, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[41]
Al-Kazim was 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.[42] He established a network of agents who collected the khums in the Shia community of the Middle East and the Greater Khorasan. He holds a high position in the Mahdavia, the members of which trace their lineage to Muhammad through him.[43] According to Shia belief, he was imprisoned and fatally poisoned in Baghdad, Iraq, by order of Caliph Harun al-Rashid.[44]
Buried in the Kazimayn shrine, Baghdad, Iraq[34][41]
Al redah.jpg Ali ibn Musa[ai]

Abu al-Hasan II[aj][40]

Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[45]
Made crown prince by Caliph Al-Ma'mun, Ar-Rida was known for his discussions and debates with both Muslim and non-Muslim religious scholars.[46] According to Shia sources, he was fatally poisoned in Mashad, Iran, by order of Caliph Al-Ma'mun.[46]
Buried in the Imam Reza shrine, Mashad, Iran[46]
Imam Taqi.jpg Muhammad ibn Ali[al]

Abu Ja'far[am][29]



Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[47]
Al-Jawad was known for his generosity and piety in the face of persecution by the Abbasid caliphate.[48] 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.[47]
Buried in the Kazmain shrine, Baghdad, Iraq.[46]
Imam naqi.jpg Ali ibn Muhammad[ap]

Abu al-Hasan III[aq][49]


Surayya, a village near Medina, Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[49]
Al-Naqi taught religious sciences until 243/857.[46] He 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.[49] According to Shia sources, he was fatally poisoned in Samarra, Iraq, by order of caliph Al-Mu'tazz.[47]
Buried in the Al Askari Mosque, Samarra, Iraq.[46]
Al-askari.svg Hasan ibn Ali[at]

Abu Muhammad[au] [51]

Hijaz, Arabian peninsula[52]
Like his father, Al-Askari was placed under house arrest, which would last most of his life, by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mu'tamid, .[53] During this time, repression of the Shia communities was great because of their growing size and power.[54] According to Shia belief, Al-Askari was fatally poisoned by order of Caliph Al-Mu'tamid in Samarra, Iraq.[55]
Buried in the Al Askari Mosque, Samarra, Iraq.[46]
Al mehdi.jpg Muhammad ibn al-Hasan[aw]

Abu al-Qasim[ax][30]

Hidden Imam[ba][57]


Sahib al-Zaman[bc][51]



Baqiyyat Allah[bf][30]

Samarra, Iraq[60]
According to Twelver Shia doctrine, Baqiyyat Allah is a historical person, the current Imam, and the promised Mahdi—a messianic figure who will return with Jesus Christ. He will re-establish the rightful governance of Islam, filling the earth with justice and peace.[61] According to Shia doctrine, Baqiyyat Allah has been living in the Occultation since 874 CE, and will continue living as long as God wills.[59]

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 c Chittick 1980, p. 136
  15. ^ Qurashī 2007, p. 38
  16. ^ a b c d e f Chittick 1980, p. 137
  17. ^ Dungersi 1994, p. 4
  18. ^ Hughes 2013, p. 258
  19. ^ Rayshahri 2008, p. 68
  20. ^ Lammens 2012
  21. ^ a b Rizvi 1988, p. 48
  22. ^ a b c d e Nasr 2007
  23. ^ Ahmed 2005, p. 234
  24. ^ Poonawala 1985
  25. ^ Mashita 2002, p. 69
  26. ^ Corbin 1993, p. 50
  27. ^ a b c d Madelung 2003
  28. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, p. 173
  29. ^ a b c Rizvi 1988, p. 49
  30. ^ a b c d e Amir-Moezzi 1994, p. 174
  31. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, pp. 198–199
  32. ^ a b c d Madelung 2004
  33. ^ Qurashī 2007, p. 17
  34. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Chittick 1980, p. 138
  35. ^ a b c d Madelung 1985
  36. ^ a b c d Tabatabaei 1975, pp. 178–179
  37. ^ a b c d e f Madelung 1988
  38. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, p. 15
  39. ^ a b c Tabatabaei 1975, p. 180
  40. ^ a b Madelung 1985b
  41. ^ a b c d Tabatabaei 1975, p. 181
  42. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, p. 68
  43. ^ Sachedina 1988, pp. 53–54
  44. ^ Amir-Moezzi 2011, p. 207
  45. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, pp. 182–183
  46. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Chittick 1980, p. 139
  47. ^ a b c d e Tabatabaei 1975, p. 183
  48. ^ Qurashī 2005
  49. ^ a b c d e Madelung 1985a
  50. ^ Dungersi 2005, p. 16
  51. ^ a b c Rizvi 1988, p. 50
  52. ^ a b c d Halm 1987
  53. ^ Dungersi 2005, p. 188
  54. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, p. 184
  55. ^ Dungersi 2005, p. 196
  56. ^ Amir-Moezzi 2007
  57. ^ Amir-Moezzi 1994, p. 115
  58. ^ Nasr 2013, p. 161
  59. ^ a b c Tabatabaei 1975, p. 186
  60. ^ Tabatabaei 1975, p. 185
  61. ^ Tabatabaei 1979, pp. 211–214


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External links[edit]