and communities follow ethical, practical, and religious
laws. They also participate in worship. Leaders are those
who are specially trained in knowledge of the faith and care
of the community and its members. They play roles in guiding
In Judaism, the leader is called a rabbi (sing., 'ra-bI).
Rabbis receive rigorous training in the scriptures and other
Judaic writings. The word in Hebrew means "my master."
Rabbis preside over Jewish congregations in houses of
worship called synagogues.
Christianity, priests and pastors serve as part of a church
hierarchy, or ranks of authorities. Only trained, ordained,
or initiated priests can fulfill certain sacred functions of
worship for the lay, or ordinary, people. Priests and
pastors preside over Christian congregations in houses of
worship called churches.
In Islam, there is no priesthood, ordination, or religious
hierarchy. A prayer leader is called an imam, which means
“one who stands in front” of the lines of worshippers. Imams
can lead prayers for groups of men and women in Muslim
houses of worship called mosques.
Leaders who offer advice on how to practice Islam, on the
law, and other kinds of guidance are called alim (sing., AH-lim)
or ulema (pl., oo-leh-MA). The word means "one who has