MA Thesis: “The 12 Shiah Imams: Infallible or Imaginary?”

The 12 Shiah Imams Infallible or Imaginary

MA Thesis: “The 12 Shiah Imams: Infallible or Imaginary?”

Author: Mohsen Melanie Ghassan

University: George Washington University

Date of Award: May 15, 2022

Supervisor: Mohammad H. Faghfoory (Professor of Islamic Studies)


In Twelver Shia Islam, the line of 12 Imams occupies the highest religious authority after God and the Prophet. While the Imams are venerated in Shia communities and amongst Shia scholars, the extent of the Imams’ abilities and their exact level of purity have been debated extensively by scholars. Contemporary Shia scholars do not agree on the nature of Imamate and hold different viewpoints on the status of the Imams in terms of their infallibility. It is critical to harken back to the original Shia community and analyze their beliefs concerning the Imams’ infallibility. This will create a lasting dialogue between the Shia and Sunni branches, and this dialogue will serve as a means of understanding theological differences and rapprochement efforts between the two branches. Ultimately, this thesis argues that the infallibility of the 12 Shia Imams is grounded in early Shia literature, has shaped Shia theology, and has become a significant part of the Shia identity today.

Read the full thesis HERE.

Source: Proquest

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