noun, often capitalized
\i-ˈmäm, ē-, -ˈmam \

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

Other provocative Benetton advertisements by Mr. Toscani include a nun kissing a priest, an AIDS patient on his deathbed and Pope Benedict XVI kissing an Egyptian imam. Ceylan Yeginsu, New York Times, "Benetton ‘Migrants’ Ads Draw Outrage for Using Photos of Real Migrants," 21 June 2018 The minor, an Italian citizen of Algerian heritage, has been ordered by a juvenile court to undergo a process of de-radicalization, working with the boy's family, psychologists and an imam. Fox News, "Italian police order de-radicalization process for teen," 7 Apr. 2018 However, Turkish news has reported that the Dinayet uses imams to gather information across 38 countries. Gerasimos Tsourapas, Washington Post, "How authoritarian regimes use migration to exert ‘soft power’ in foreign policy," 6 July 2018 Samarra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a city rich with medieval artifacts from the Sunni Abbasid reign and the final resting place of two of Shiite Islam’s revered imams. Washington Post, "Public enemy or savior? An Iraqi city could reveal the true Moqtada al-Sadr," 4 July 2018 Malaysian media said Che Abdul Karim, who is also an imam in a rural village in northeast Kelantan state, already has two wives and six children aged 5 to 18. Eileen Ng, The Seattle Times, "Malaysia investigates marriage of man to 11-year-old girl," 2 July 2018 At pulpits across the country this weekend, pastors, priests, rabbis and imams gave impassioned sermons, fiercely denouncing the morality of the U.S. government separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post, "Why many white evangelicals are not protesting family separations on the U.S. border," 18 June 2018 The mosques and the imams have the right to challenge the order, the government said. New York Times, "Austria Closes 7 Mosques and Seeks to Expel Imams Paid by Turkey," 8 June 2018 Some were rabbis and imams, and others included women in headscarves and Jewish community members from Berlin and beyond who shared the bikes on a tour through the city., "Jews, Muslims in Berlin team up on bike rides against hatred," 24 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of imam

1613, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for imam

Arabic imām

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Last Updated

7 Oct 2018

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The first known use of imam was in 1613

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English Language Learners Definition of imam

: a Muslim religious leader

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

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something that serves to warn or remind

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