noun, often capitalized
\ i-ˈmäm How to pronounce imam (audio) , ē-, -ˈmam How to pronounce imam (audio) \

Definition of imam

1 : the prayer leader of a mosque
2 : a Muslim leader of the line of Ali held by Shiites to be the divinely appointed, sinless, infallible successors of Muhammad
3 : any of various rulers that claim descent from Muhammad and exercise spiritual and temporal leadership over a Muslim region

Examples of imam in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The device exploded in the imam’s office, and while no one was hurt in bombing, the attack spread fear through the mosque’s community of worshippers. Mohamed Ibrahim,, "Prosecutors cite Illinois man’s anti-Islamic writings as Minnesota mosque bombing case goes to jury," 9 Dec. 2020 Islam ran deep in the family of Abdullahi, himself the son of an imam. Liz Navratil, Star Tribune, "Cascade of factors led to deadly fire at high-rise apartments in Minneapolis," 26 Nov. 2020 The device exploded in the imam's office, and while no one was hurt in bombing, the attack spread fear through the mosque's community of worshippers. Mohamed Ibrahim, Star Tribune, "Judge hears closing arguments in Minnesota mosque attack," 8 Dec. 2020 Indeed, shortly after the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, the CFCM itself expressed its desire to manage imam certifications. Martha Lee, National Review, "France’s Flawed Stand against Islamist Radicalization," 27 Oct. 2020 Besides becoming the highest-ranking nonbinary official in the country, Turner will also be the first practicing Muslim elected to the Oklahoma state legislature, which in 2019 blocked an imam from conducting the chamber’s daily prayer. Teo Armus, Washington Post, "A Muslim millennial was elected the country’s first out nonbinary lawmaker — in Oklahoma," 5 Nov. 2020 Nazari told NBC News that the imam had said the airstrike hit his mosque in the village of Hazara Qarluq. Saphora Smith, NBC News, "Afghan government denies children among the dead after military airstrike," 22 Oct. 2020 His students have included the daughter of Tehran’s Friday Prayer imam and grandchildren of a founding cleric of the revolution. Farnaz Fassihi, New York Times, "A #MeToo Awakening Stirs in Iran," 22 Oct. 2020 Several men were gathered at Dar al-Farooq for early morning prayers on Aug. 5, 2017, when a pipe bomb was thrown through the window of an imam's office. Amy Forliti, Star Tribune, "Trial to begin for man accused in Minnesota mosque bombing," 1 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'imam.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of imam

1613, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for imam

Arabic imām

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about imam

Statistics for imam

Last Updated

10 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Imam.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for imam


How to pronounce imam (audio) How to pronounce imam (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of imam

: a Muslim religious leader

More from Merriam-Webster on imam

Britannica English: Translation of imam for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about imam

Comments on imam

What made you want to look up imam? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!