Definition of imam in US English:



  • 1The person who leads prayers in a mosque.

    • ‘In it the man or father functions as the imam in accordance with the patriarchal nature of Islam.’
    • ‘A shortage of qualified imams means British mosques look abroad for clerics, often to Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.’
    • ‘So, at most madrasa graduates can aspire to become teachers in madrasas, imams in mosques or else open another madrasa of their own.’
    • ‘Cell phones also ring at other mosques while imams give their Friday sermon and lead the five daily prayers.’
    • ‘The bilal calls the faithful to prayer, and the imam leads them in prayer.’
    • ‘This is the view of most of the imams preaching in the mosques in the West.’
    • ‘On Fridays Muslims attend a service at a mosque in which an imam leads the prayer and usually gives a sermon.’
    • ‘His father, the imam of a neighborhood mosque that was destroyed in tribal conflict, was killed in prison.’
    • ‘The men sat outside the house with the imam, who led the wedding prayers.’
    • ‘It would be mad for people just to run off to the local mosque and expect the imam to greet you with open arms.’
    • ‘There are a number of traditional religious practitioners as well as Muslim imams, Catholic priests, and Protestant ministers.’
    • ‘While I was offering a supererogatory prayer, the imam entered the obligatory prayer.’
    • ‘The imam is a prayer leader, the muezzin the caller to prayers in each community.’
    • ‘He was the son of the imam at the Mapiliyia Mosque and provincial Islamic cleric.’
    • ‘The imams from 12 mosques are meeting this week to discuss calling for a vote for Respect.’
    • ‘He was walking with an imam who feared his mosque was under threat.’
    • ‘Muezzins invoke a call to prayer, reminding everyone it is either time to pray or to call them to the mosque, and imams lead the prayers.’
    • ‘Thousands gathered to welcome the imam of the grand mosque in Makkah on his visit to Lancashire.’
    • ‘Among those who attended were several imams of mosques and teachers at Muslim madrasas.’
    • ‘While there is a prayer leader, or imam, in the mosque, they are not a priest, simply a person who knows a great deal about Islam.’
    1. 1.1 A title of various Muslim leaders, especially of one succeeding Muhammad as leader of Shiite Islam.
      ‘Imam Khomeini’


From Arabic 'imām ‘leader’, from 'amma ‘lead the way’.