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The Fourteen Infallibles (Arabic: معصومونMa‘sūmūn) are Twelver Shī‘ah Islam religious figures from between the 6th and 9th century who Twelvers believe are infallible, i.e. "divinely bestowed [with] freedom from error and sin". This quality of infallibility is known as Ismah.[1] The Fourteen Infallibles are Muhammad, his daughter Fatima Zahra and the Twelve Imams.


According to Twelver theologians, infallibility is considered a rational necessary precondition for spiritual and religious guidance. They argue that since God has commanded absolute obedience from these figures they must only order in accordance with Islam. The state of infallibility is based on the interpretation of the verse of purification:

And stay in your houses and do not display your finery like the displaying of the ignorance of yore; and keep up prayer, and pay the poor-rate, and obey God and His Messenger. Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a [thorough] purifying.
Quran 33:33

[2] Thus they are the fourteen most pure ones, the only immaculate ones preserved from, and immune to, all uncleanness.[3] It does not mean that supernatural powers prevent them from committing a sin, but it is due to the fact that they have absolute belief in God so that they find themselves in presence of God.[1]

They have also complete knowledge about God's will. They are in possession of all the knowledge brought by the angels to the prophets and messengers. Thus they act without fault in religious matters.[4]

The ascription of infallibility to the Imams is encountered as early as the first half of the 8th century, second century of Islamic calendar, and it was soon extended to the prophets. The doctrine came to exclude the commission on their part of any sin or inadvertence, either before or after their assumption of office. As for Fatimah, her infallibility derives from her being a link between prophethood and imamah, the two institutions characterized by infallibility, as well as by her association with the imams and their attributes in numerous Hadiths. There is general agreement among Shia authorities that all fourteen are superior to the rest of creation, including even the major prophets.[5]

List of Infallibles

Number Name
Arabic Title[6]
Turkish title [7]
Designation Birth–Death CE
Birth–Death AH[8]
Birthplace (present day country) Place of death and burial
1 Muhammad ibn Abdullah
محمد بن عبدالله
Abu al-qasim
أبو القاسم
Rasul Allah
(the Messenger of God)
The prophet of Islam 570–632[9]
40(before Hijra)–10
Mecca, Saudi Arabia Medina, Saudi Arabia
2 Ali ibn Abu Talib
علي بن أبي طالب
Abu al-Hassan
أبو الحسن
Amir al-Mu'minin
(Commander of the Faithful)[10]
Birinci Ali[11]
The first Imam and the rightful successor of the Prophet of all Shia; however, the Sunnis acknowledge him as the fourth Caliph as well. He holds a high position in almost all Sufi Muslim orders (Turuq); the members of these orders trace their lineage to Muhammad through him.[10] 600–661[10]
23(before Hijra)–40[12]
Mecca, Saudi Arabia[10] Assassinated by Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljam, a Kharijite in Kufa, who slashed him with a poisoned sword.[10][13] Buried at the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, Iraq.
3 Fatimah

(the shining one)
The leader of all women in this world and in Paradise.(Arabic: سيدة نساء العالمينSayyidatu n-Nisā'i l-‘alamīn)[14] 605 or 615–632 or 633[15][16][17]
17 or 7 (before Hijra)–10 or 11
Mecca, Saudi Arabia Most Shias believe that she was injured when defending Ali against the first Khalifa that this incident lead to her death in her very young age.[18] She was buried in Jannat al-Baqi in the city of Medina, though the exact location of her grave is unknown.
4 Hassan ibn Ali
ألحسن بن علي
Abu Muhammad
أبو محمد
Ikinci Ali[11]
The second Twelvers Imam[19] 624–680[20]
Medina, Saudi Arabia[20] Poisoned by his wife in Medina, Saudi Arabia on the orders of the Caliph Muawiya.[22] Buried in Jannat al-Baqi.
5 Husayn ibn Ali
ألحسین بن علي
Abu Abdillah
أبو عبدالله
Sayed al-Shuhada
Ūçüncü Ali[11]
The third twelvers Imam[23][24] 626–680[23]
Medina, Saudi Arabia[23] Killed and beheaded at the Battle of Karbala.[23] Buried at the Imam Husayn Shrine in Karbala, Iraq.
6 Ali ibn al-Hussein
علي بن الحسین
Abu Muhammad
أبو محمد
al-Sajjad, Zain al-Abedin


Dorduncu Ali[11]
The 4th twelvers Imam[27] 658-9[26] – 712[27]
Medina, Saudi Arabia[26] According to most Shia scholars, he was poisoned on the order of Caliph al-Walid I in Medina, Saudi Arabia.[27] Buried in Jannat al-Baqi.
7 Muhammad ibn Ali
محمد بن علي
Abu Ja'far
أبو جعفر
al-Baqir al-Ulum

(splitting open knowledge) [28]

Besinci Ali[11]
The 5th twelvers Imam[28][29] 677–732[28]
Medina, Saudi Arabia[28] According to some Shia scholars, he was poisoned by Ibrahim ibn Walid ibn 'Abdallah in Medina, Saudi Arabia on the order of Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik.[27]. Buried in Jannat al-Baqi.
8 Ja'far ibn Muhammad
جعفر بن محمد
Abu Abdillah
أبو عبدالله

(the Trustworthy)

Altinci Ali[11]
The 6th twelvers Imam[30][31] 702–765[30]
83–148 [30]
Medina, Saudi Arabia[30] According to Shia sources, he was poisoned in Medina, Saudi Arabia on the order of Caliph Al-Mansur.[30]. Buried in Jannat al-Baqi.
9 Musa ibn Ja'far
موسی بن جعفر
Abu al-Hassan I
أبو الحسن الاول [32]
Yedinci Ali[11]
The 7th twelvers Imam[34] 744–799[33]
Medina, Saudi Arabia[33] Imprisoned and poisoned in Baghdad, Iraq on the order of Caliph Harun al-Rashid. Buried in the Kazimayn shrine in Baghdad.[33]
10 Ali ibn Musa
علي بن موسی
Abu al-Hassan II
أبو الحسن الثانی[32]
al-Rida, Reza[35]
Sekizinci Ali[11]
The 8th twelvers Imam[35] 765–817[35]
Medina, Saudi Arabia[35] According to Shia sources, he was poisoned in Mashad, Iran on the order of Caliph Al-Ma'mun. Buried in the Imam Reza shrine in Mashad.[35]
11 Muhammad ibn Ali
محمد بن علي
Abu Ja'far
أبو جعفر
al-Taqi, al-Jawad[36]
Dokuzuncu Ali[11]
The 9th twelvers Imam[35] 810–835[36]
Medina, Saudi Arabia[36] Poisoned by his wife, Al-Ma'mun's daughter, in Baghdad, Iraq on the order of Caliph Al-Mu'tasim. Buried in the Kazmain shrine in Baghdad.[36]
12 Ali ibn Muhammad
علي بن محمد
Abu al-Hassan III
أبو الحسن الثالث[37]
al-Hadi, al-Naqi[37]
Onuncu Ali[11]
The 10th twelvers Imam[37] 827–868[37]
Surayya, a village near Medina, Saudi Arabia[37] According to Shia sources, he was poisoned in Samarra, Iraq on the order of Caliph Al-Mu'tazz.[38] Buried in the Al Askari Mosque in Samarra.
13 Hassan ibn Ali
ألحسن بن علي
Abu Muhammad
أبو محمد
Onbirinci Ali[11]
The 11th twelvers Imam[40] 846–874[39]
Medina, Saudi Arabia[39] According to Shia, he was poisoned on the order of Caliph Al-Mu'tamid in Samarra, Iraq. Buried in Al Askari Mosque in Samarra.[41]
14 Muhammad ibn al-Hassan
محمد بن الحسن
Abu al-Qasim
أبو القاسم
al-Mahdi, Hidden Imam, al-Hujjah [42]
Onikinci Ali[11]
The 12th and last twelvers Imam[43] 868–unknown[44]
Samarra, Iraq[44] According to Shia doctrine, he has been living in the Occultation since 872, and will continue as long as God wills it.[44]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Dabashi (2006), p.463
  2. Momen (1985), p.155
  3. Corbin (1993), pp.48–49
  4. Corbin (1993), p.48
  5. Algar, Hamid. "Chahardah M'asum". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  6. The Imam's Arabic titles are used by the majority of Twelver Shia who use Arabic as a liturgical language, including the Usooli, Akhbari, Shaykhi, and to a lesser extent Alawi
  7. Turkish titles are generally used by Alevi, a fringe Twelver group, who make up around 10% of the world Shi'a population. The titles for each Imam literally translate as "First Ali", "Second Ali", and so forth. Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. Gale Group. 2004. ISBN 9780028657691. 
  8. The abbreviation CE refers to the Common Era solar calendar, while AH refers to the Islamic Hijri lunar calendar.
  9. Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. "Muhammad". Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. "Ali". Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved 2007-10-12. 
  11. 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. Gale Group. 2004. ISBN 9780028657691. 
  12. Tabatabae (1979), pp.190–192
  13. Tabatabae (1979), p.192
  14. Ordoni (1990) p.117
  15. "Fatimah". Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  16. Ordoni (1990) pp.42–45
  17. Amin. Vol. 4. p.103
  18. "Fatima", Encyclopedia of Islam. Brill Online.(see:Umar at Fatimah's house)
  19. Madelung, Wilferd. "Hasan ibn Ali". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Hasan". Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  21. Tabatabae (1979), pp.194–195
  22. Tabatabae (1979), p.195
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 "al-Husayn". Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  24. Calmard, Jean. "Husayn ibn Ali". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  25. Tabatabae (1979), pp.196–199
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 Madelung, Wilferd. "'ALÈ B. AL-HUOSAYN". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 Tabatabae (1979), p.202
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 28.4 Madelung, Wilferd. "AL-BAQER, ABU JAFAR MOHAMMAD". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  29. Tabatabae (1979), p.203
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 30.4 30.5 Tabatabae (1979), p.203–204
  31. "Wasil ibn Ata". Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  32. 32.0 32.1 Madelung, Wilferd. "'ALÈ AL-HAÚDÈ". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 33.4 Tabatabae (1979), p.205
  34. Tabatabae (1979) p. 78
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 35.4 35.5 35.6 Tabatabae (1979), pp.205–207 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Ali al-Reza" defined multiple times with different content
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 36.3 36.4 Tabatabae (1979), p. 207
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 37.3 37.4 37.5 Madelung, Wilferd. "'ALÈ AL-HAÚDÈ". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  38. Tabatabae (1979), pp.208–209
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 39.3 Halm, H. "'ASKARÈ". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  40. Tabatabae (1979) pp. 209–210
  41. Tabatabae (1979), pp.209–210
  42. "Muhammad al-Mahdi al-Hujjah". Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  43. Tabatabae (1979), pp. 211–214
  44. 44.0 44.1 44.2 44.3 Tabatabae (1979), pp.210–211


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External links