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ISLAMIC SPAIN

ANDALUSI SOCIETY

THREE FAITHS, ONE LAND

ARTS & SCIENCE

TIMELINES

FILM & OUTREACH

FOR TEACHERS

Leaders

Individuals 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 the faithful.

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.

In 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 knowledge."

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DISCLAIMER: This purpose of this website is to provide supplemental information to the Cities of Light film and is not intended as a scholarly or academic resource. For scholars' sources, see the Recommended Readings section on this site. Articles reprinted from other sources reflect the views and opinions of the authors, and may not necessarily mirror those of UPF.