al-Imama Part 1: Definition
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The Ahlul Sunnah and Twelver Shia'a agree on the following:
  1. The position of Imamate is similar to that of prophethood.
  2. The person who is assuming the position of imamate is not a prophet.
  3. Obedience to the person assuming the position of imamate is compulsory on the Ummah.
  4. Imamate is succession to prophethood.
Now, lets look at the definitions given by some of the Muslim scholars, Shia'a and Sunnis:

Shah Ismail Shaheed (hanafi scholar), in Munsub-e-Imamate page 42

"One should remember that there may be some that inherit one, two or three traits with the Prophets, hence Imamate is of different states, some are superior to others, this is 'Absolute Imamate' when an individual shares all the traits of Prophets – his Imamate is superior to all people, the only difference is that he is not a Prophet. We can say, in support of such a person that had Prophethood continued after our Prophet (s), it would have been this person".

Shibli Numani (Hanafi scholar), in al Faruq, Volume 2, page 96

"The position of Imamate is in fact the mirror image of the Prophet, an Imams nature is like that of Prophets".

Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi (shia'a scholar), in Haq al Yaqeen, Volume 1, page 29

"The position of Imamate is like that of Prophethood".

Imam of Ahl’ul Sunnah, Mir Seyyed Shareef, in Sharh Muwaffaq, page 729

"Before discussing the appointment of the Imam, it is imperative that we define Imamate. Our Ulema have deemed Imamate to be 'Kingdom' in the spiritual and physical sense...it means to uphold and protect the Ummah, it is succession to Prophethood, its obedience is compulsory on the Ummah".

Imam of Ahl’ul Sunnah, Ibn Abideen Shami, in Fatawa Shami, Volume 1, page 384

"Imamate is that Kingdom that is spiritual and wordly, it acts on behalf of Prophethood".

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