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The Shi'a Islamic faith is vast and inclusive of many different groups. There are various Shi'a theological beliefs, schools of jurisprudence, philosophical beliefs, and spiritual movements. Shi'a Islam embodies a completely independent system of religious interpretation and political authority in the Muslim world. The Shi'a identity emerged soon after the death of Muhammad, and Shi'a theology was formulated in the second century and the first Shi'a governments and societies were established by the end of the third century.
Shi'a Islam is divided into three branches. The largest and best known are the Twelver (اثنا عشرية iṯnāʿašariyya) which forms a majority of the population in Iran, Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Iraq. The term Shi'a often refers to Twelver Shi'a only. Other smaller branches include the Ismaili and Zaidi, who dispute the Twelver lineage of Imams and beliefs.
The Twelve Imams
The Twelve Imams are the spiritual and political successors to Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, in the Twelver or Ithna Ashariya branch of Shia Islam. According to the theology of Twelvers, the successor of Muhammad is an infallible human individual who not only rules over the community with justice, but also is able to keep and interpret the Divine Law and its esoteric meaning. The Prophet and Imams' words and deeds are a guide and model for the community to follow; as a result, they must be free from error and sin, and must be chosen by divine decree, or nass, through the Prophet.HYPERLINK \l "cite_note-19"
It is believed in Shi'ism that Aql, a divine wisdom, was the source of the souls of the Prophets and Imams and gave them esoteric knowledge, called Hikmah, and that their sufferings were a means of divine grace to their devotees.HYPERLINK \l "cite_note-21"HYPERLINK \l "cite_note-Britannica-17" Although the Imam was not the recipient of a divine revelation, but has close relationship with God, through which God guides him, and the imam in turn guides the people. Because God would not leave the world without some sort of divine guidance for humanity.
There is always an Imam of the Age, who is the divinely appointed authority on all matters of faith and law in the Muslim community. Ali was the first Imam of this line, and in the Twelvers' view, the rightful successor to the Prophet of Islam, followed by male descendants of Muhammad through his daughter Fatimah Zahra. Each Imam was the son of the previous Imam, with the exception of Husayn ibn Ali, who was the brother of Hasan ibn Ali. The twelfth and final Imam is Muhammad al-Mahdi, who is believed by the Twelvers to be currently alive, and in hiding.
Ali ibn Abu Talib (600–661), also known as Ali, Amir ul-Mu'mineen (commander of the faithful), also known as Shah-e Mardan Ali (King of men)
Hasan ibn Ali (625–669), also known as Hasan al Mujtaba
Husayn ibn Ali (626–680), also known as Husayn al Shaheed, also known as Sah Hüseyin
Ali ibn Husayn (658–713), also known as Ali Zainul Abideen
Muhammad ibn Ali (676–743), also known as Muhammad al Baqir
Jafar ibn Muhammad (703–765), also known as Ja'far as Sadiq
Musa ibn Jafar (745–799), also known as Musa al Kadhim
Ali ibn Musa (765–818), also known as Ali ar Ridha
Muhammad ibn Ali (810–835), also known as Muhammad al Jawad (Muhammad at Taqi), also known as Taki
Ali ibn Muhamad (827–868), also known as Ali al-Hadi, also known as Naki
Hasan ibn Ali (846–874), also known as Hasan al Askari
Muhammad ibn Hasan (868–?), also known as Hujjat ibn al Hasan, also known as Mahdi
According to Twelver doctrine, what is referred to as pillars by Sunni Islam are called the practices or secondary principles. There are three additional practices. The first is jihad, which is also important to the Sunni, but not considered a pillar. The second is Commanding what is just (Arabic: امر بالمعروف), which calls for every Muslim to live a virtuous life and to encourage others to do the same. The third is Forbidding what is evil (Arabic: النهي عن المنكر), which tells Muslims to refrain from vice and from evil actions and to encourage others to do the same.HYPERLINK \l "cite_note-24"HYPERLINK \l "cite_note-25" Twelvers have five Principles of the Religion which relates to Aqidah.
Salat (Prayer) – Performing the five daily prayers.
Sawm (Fast) – fasting during the Islamic holy lunar month of Ramadhan (Able to eat while the sun is hidden)
Hajj (Pilgrimage) – performing the pilgrimage to Mecca (once in a lifetime)
Zakat (Poor-rate) – paying the poor-tax (2.5% of your wealth every year should go to the poor)
Khums (One-fifth of savings) – paying tax to the Imam (سهم امام) and poor/deserving saadat (descendents of Ahlul Bayt) - Saham-e-Saadat
Jihad (Struggle) – struggling to please the Almighty. The greater, or internal Jihad is the struggle against the evil within one's soul in every aspect of life. The lesser, or external, Jihad is the struggle against the evil of one's environment in every aspect of life. This is not to be mistaken with the common modern misconception that this means "Holy War". Writing the truth (jihad bi l-qalam) and speaking truth in front of an oppressor are also forms of Jihad.
Commanding what is just
Forbidding what is evil
Tawallá – loving the Ahlu l-Bayt and their followers
Tabarrā' – dissociating oneself from the enemies of the Ahlu l-Bayt
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