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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The number of people killed in fighting on Friday and Saturday in Geneina, capital of West Darfur, reached more than 100, including the imam of the city’s old mosque, the Darfur Bar Association said in a statement. Reuters, NBC News, 14 May 2023 Heroic law enforcement officials were joined by local faith leaders, including an imam and Baptist minister who offered their help. Joe Biden, CNN, 5 Apr. 2023 With the growing number of Somalis displaced by the drought, the imams of the mosques in Mogadishu are leading efforts to encourage the city’s wealthy and others who can afford it to sympathize with the poor and give generously. Omar Faruk, ajc, 29 Mar. 2023 Prosecutors also obtained seditious conspiracy convictions against Omar Abdel-Rahman, the radical Egyptian imam known as the Blind Sheikh, and nine others in 1995 for allegedly plotting to blow up bridges, tunnels, and other targets in New York City. Mark Hosenball, The New Republic, 13 June 2022 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. Mohamed Ibrahim And Amy Forliti, USA TODAY, 13 Sep. 2021 In addition to the Russian Orthodox delegation, the religious leaders included Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, the seat of Sunni learning in Cairo, who warmly greeted Francis with a kiss on the cheek when the pope arrived in a wheelchair. Nicole Winfield, BostonGlobe.com, 14 Sep. 2022 This is especially true for the last 10 nights of the holiday leading up to Eid al-Fitr, where the imam, the prayer leader of a mosque, will lengthen Dua Qunoot for up to half an hour in congregation. Manal Aman, Woman's Day, 29 Mar. 2023 Albury says about the imam. New York Times, 1 Sep. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'imam.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Arabic imām

First Known Use

1613, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of imam was in 1613

Dictionary Entries Near imam

Cite this Entry

“Imam.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/imam. Accessed 29 May. 2023.

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