بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The holy Prophet made it clear that following him there would be twelve successors, all from the Quraysh, and that their leadership would bring glory to Islam. Jabir Ibn Samarah says, "I heard the Prophet (a.s) say, 'Islam will always be honored under these twelve successors.' Then he said something that I did not quite hear. I asked my father what the prophet said; he answered, 'The prophet said that they would all come from the Quraysh.'
In the history of Islam, there can be found no twelve successors guarding and preserving the honor of Islam except the twelve Imams in whom the Shiites believe, because it is only the twelve successors mentioned by the prophet who were all introduced as his immediate vicegerents.
Now, let us see who these twelve Imams are. If we exclude the four caliphs immediately following the holy Prophet (whom the Sunnites call 'the Rightly Guided Caliphs, the Rashidun', the other caliphs did not bring any honor to Islam, as is evident from the history of the Umayyad and the Abbasids. But the twelve Imams of the Shiites were paragons of virtue and piety in their own time, and about whose knowledge and trustworthiness historians have given clear proof were the guardians of the Sunnah of God's Prophet and were in the center of attention of the Companions and their followers as well as of the Muslims of later generations.
These twelve Imams are:
Ali Ibn Abi-Talib a.s (Imam Ali a.s)
Hasan Ibn 'Ali (Mujtaba) a.s (Imam Hassan a.s)
Husayn Ibn 'Ali a.s (Imam Hussain a.s)
Ali Ibn Husayn (Zayn al-'abidin) a.s (Imam Zainul Abideen a.s)
Muhammad Ibn 'Ali (Baqir) a.s (Imam Muhammad e baqir a.s)
Ja'far Ibn Muhammad (Sadiq) a.s (Imam Jafar Sadiq a.s)
Musa Ibn Ja'far (Kazim) a.s (Imam Moosa Kazim a.s)
'Ali Ibn Musa (Rida) a.s (Imam Reza a.s)
Muhammad Ibn 'Ali (Taqi) a.s (Imam Muhammad Taqi a.s)
'Ali Ibn Muhammad (Naqi) a.s (Imam Muhammad Naqi a.s)
Hasan Ibn 'Ali ('Askari) a.s (Imam Hassan Askari a.s)
Mahdi (Qa'im)Atfj (Imam Zamana atfj)
about whom successive traditions have been quoted from the Prophet calling him the promised Mahdi.
To obtain further information about the biography of these great leaders, whose names have been mentioned by the Holy Prophet (a.s), see the following books:
Tadkirat al-Khawass Wafiyyat al-A'yan A'yan al-Shiah (the most comprehensive of all).
 Sahih Muslim (Egypt edition), Vol. 6, p. 2.
رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
اَللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلى مُحَمَّدٍ وَّآلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَّعَجِّلْ فَرَجَهُمْ
وَالْعَنْ أَعْدَائَهُمْ اَجْمَعِيْن
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فی امان لله