Is it permissible to call a scholar, such as a Marji’ (Grand Religious Authority) as Imam? Can we call a scholar an “Imam”?
I have heard people referring to the late scholar Sayyid Muhammad al-Husayni al-Shirazi as an ‘’Imam.’’
In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful.
May Allah bless Muhammad and his Family and damn their enemies.
‘’La Musha-ha Fil Istilah’’ (i.e., no dispute over using terminologies) is a principle that permits leniency for using terminologies. The term ‘’Imam’’ is not restricted in Shari’a rules to certain individuals.
If the title “Imam” given to other than the holy Twelve Imams (peace be upon them) is used to imply Ma’soum’s (divine) attributes, then it is prohibited. Giving an individual the title of “al-Imam al-Rabbani” (i.e., divinely Imam) who is directed by Allah (the Most Exalted) is a transgression.
However, if the title “Imam” is used to imply that an individual is followed as a religious leader, used in the same sense as “Imam al-Jama’a,” one who leads in prayer, then there is no problem with it. There are restricted terms, such as “Amir al-Mu’minin,” which narrations prohibit using to refer to anyone besides Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him).
The Office of Sheikh al-Habib