i·mam also I·mam (ĭ-mäm)
a. In law and theology, the caliph who is successor to Muhammad as the lawful temporal leader of the Islamic community.
b. The male prayer leader in a mosque.
c. The Muslim worshiper who leads the recitation of prayer when two or more worshipers are present.
2. In Twelver Shia belief, any of 12 descendants of Muhammad regarded as divinely appointed spiritual and temporal leaders.
3. A ruler claiming descent from Muhammad and exercising authority in an Islamic state.
a. Any of the founders of the four schools of law and theology.
b. An authoritative scholar who founds a school of law or theology.
5. Used as a title for an imam.
[Arabic 'imām, leader, imam, from 'amma, to go before, lead; see ʾmm in the Appendix of Semitic roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
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