Can you please explain what ‘Imam’ means? thank you.
‘Imam` literally means leader, chief, guide and standard. An ‘Imam` is the one that people adhere to and follow his words or actions. The term ‘Imam` in the language of the Quran does not necessarily carry a holy and respectful meaning. It is a title for specific elite who have a leading position in their communities, be it a positive and righteous leadership, or a negative and destructive one.
Thus, the Almighty God appointed Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) an ‘imam` for people (2:124), and also commanded Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.w) and his companions to fight back the ‘imams of Kofr` (the leading figures of the infidels) who violated their oaths after their covenant and attacked the religion of Islam (9:120).
Imam Ali (a.s) is a leader who was appointed by Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.w) through revelation. Therefore, he is a righteous leader, following his leadership and guidance would lead to the true Sunna (tradition) of the Prophet of Islam, which leads to Paradise.
Sheikh Mansour Leghaei