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Twelvers (اثنا عشرية Ithnāˤashariyya) are those Shiˤa Muslims who believe there were twelve Imāms.

80% of Shi'a are Twelvers and they are the largest Shi'a school of thought, predominant in Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain. [1] [2]


[edit] Alternate names

The Twelvers are also known by other names, each connoting some aspect of the faith.

  1. Shīˤa is normally used to refer to the Twelvers since they are the "orthodox" variant of Shiˤa. In extended usage, "Shiˤa" can refer to other groups as well.
  2. Jaˤfarī is always taken to refer to Twelvers to the exclusion of the Ismā'īlī and Zaydī ("Fivers"). The term Ja'farī is used for the Ja'farī Madhhab and Fiqh ("Jurisprudence"). It is attributed to Jaˤfar as-Sādiq, who the Shīˤa consider to be their Sixth Imām. The founders of the Sunni Hanafi and Maliki schools of thought narrated Hadith from Jaˤfar as-Sādiq.
  3. Imāmī is a reference to the Twelver belief in holy and infallible Imāms after the time of Muħammad. Though the Ismā'īliyya (including the Seveners) also accept the concept of Imāms, this term is also used for the Twelvers.

[edit] Theology

[edit] Religious law, the Sharia

The Jaˤfarī derive their Sharia, or religious law, from the Qur'an and the Sunnah. The difference between Sunnī and Shīˤa Sharia results from a Shīˤa belief that Muhammad assigned ˤAlī to be the first ruler and the leader after him (the Khalifa). Moreover, according to Shīˤa, God dictated this designation. This difference resulted in the Shīˤa:

  1. Following hadith from Muħammad and the 12 Imāms.
  2. Not accepting the "examples", verdicts, and ahādīth of Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman (who are considered by Sunnīs to be the first three Caliphs).
  3. Attributing the concept of the masūm "infallibility" to the Twelve Imāms or Fourteen Infallibles (including Muhammad and his daughter Fatima Zahra) and accepting the examples and verdicts of this special group.

[edit] The concept of Imāms and the Mahdi

The Shi'a Imams, the first of which is ˤAlī ibn Abī Tālib, are viewed to be infallible. It is an important aspect of Shīˤa theology that they are, however, not prophets (nabī) nor messengers (rasūl) but instead carry out Muhammad's message. They are considered as superior as all prophets and messengers except the last one. Shīˤa Muslims view all religions and groups that accept prophets or messengers after Muħammad to be heathen or heretical. They believe the last (who also is the twelfth and current) Imām, the Mahdī, is in hiding by the order of God and will reappear by God's command.

[edit] Hussayn's martyrdom

Hussayn ibn ˤAlī's martyrdom on the Tenth of Muharram - known as Āshūrā - plays a significant role in Twelver theology. This day is annually commemorated with grief and sorrow; some participate in ritual beating of their chests, as some believe this is a form of expressing the helplessness that comes from a practical inability to have helped Hussayn and his small troop of 72 revolutionaries. Some even strike their bodies with sharp objects until it bleeds. Though there have been Shī'a leaders (such as Ayatollah Khomeini) who have prohibited this ritual, many still practice the ages-old custom. In most nations with significant Shī'a populations, one can observe large crowds in processions grieving over Hussayn's martyrdom.

[edit] Some examples of Jaˤfarī jurisprudence differing from Sunni

(This list is not exhaustive nor representative of the Sunni/Shīˤa dispute on religious jurisprudence)

[edit] Declaration of faith

Both Shīˤa and Sunni believe that anyone who declares in public; "There is no god but God and Muħammad is his messenger" and believes in it is to be considered a Muslim. Though some Shīˤa add, "and ˤAlī is the vicegerent of God and the heir of the Messenger (wasī) of God."

[edit] Accepting a scholar's verdict

The Jaˤfarī school of thought accepts and encourages the concept of taqlid (Arabic تقليد) or "imitation", e.g. that unlearned Muslims should choose a jurist of known virtue and knowledge and follow ("imitate") his rulings and verdicts in their daily life. This religious leader can be known as a "source of imitation" (Arabic marji taqlid مرجع تقليد, Persian marja), or less exaltedly as an "imitated one" (Arabic مقلَد muqallad), and is a person who spends years studying the Qur'an, the sunnah, and the sayings of the Imams and their deeds in order to come up with certain opinions based on those sources of knowledge. However, his verdicts are not to be taken as the only source of religious information and he can be always corrected by other muqalladeens (the plural of muqallad) which come after him. This process may take years or decades; as the idea in taqlid is that verdicts are based on the latest research and are implemented according to one's contemporary situation. Sunnis do not practice taqlid in the same sense.

[edit] Prayer

There are minor differences in how the prayer ritual is performed among Sunnis and Shīˤa. During the purification ritual in preparation of prayer (which consists of washing the face, arms, feet, etc. and saying of some prayers), the Shīˤa view wiping the feet with wet hands as sufficient as opposed to some of the Sunnis, who consider complete washing of the feet necessary. Also, Shīˤa do not use their fingers to clean inside the ears during the ablution ritual.

During prayer, it is the Jaˤfarī view that it is preferable to prostrate on earth, leaves that are not edible, and/or wood, as these three things are considered purest by the Prophet in Hadith specifically mentioning Tayammum. Hence many Shīˤa use a small tablet of soil (a mixture of earth and water, and often taken from the ground of a holy site) or wood during their daily prayers upon which they prostrate.

In Jaˤfarī view, the hands are to be left hanging straight down the side during the standing position of the prayer, while the Sunni schools of thought (except for the majority of Malikis) hold that they should be folded. Similar to the Sunni view, the Jaˤfarī consider the five daily prayers to be compulsory, though the Jaˤfarī consider it acceptable to pray the second and third prayer, and the fourth and fifth prayer, one after the other during the parts of the day where they believe the timings for these prayers to overlap. The other three Sunni schools allow this consolidation of daily prayers only while travelling or under some other constraint.

[edit] One-fifth tax

(Khums) There are differences in this regard between Shīˤa fiqh and the Sunni interpretation.

[edit] Marriage

The concept of mut'a or "temporary marriage" is endorsed by the Jafari school of thought. The Sunni and Jafari have similar rulings regarding the different aspects of marriage.

It has many conditions that can be considered as pre-requisite, similar to that of permanent marriage.

[edit] Schools of thought within the Twelvers

There are three main schools of thought among the Shi'a Twelvers:

Today, the Usūlī school is overwhemingly the most predominant school among the Twelvers. See also the Akhbari and Usuli Controversy.

[edit] See also

de:Imamiten fr:Chiisme duodécimain it:Duodecimani he:התריסריים nl:Jafari ja:十二イマーム派 pl:Imamici ru:Шииты-двунадесятники sv:Tolvarna th:อิมามสิบสอง


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