Shafaqna (Shia International News Association) – Answer: By taking the concept of traditions of “the twelve caliphs” in to consideration, we can realize that the meaning is all members of the household of the Prophet (s.a.w.), There are the following concepts in these traditions:کلّهم من قریش»، «خلیفه»، «بقاء الاسلام عزیزاً بهم»، «قیام الدین بهم»، «قیّمون على الأمّة»، «خذلان البعض لهم» و «تعریضهم للمعاداة» and … , each of them refers to the twelve Imams who are the twelve pure household of the Prophet (s.a.). Here we explain each of the mentioned features:
1. کلّهم من قریش
This sentence signifies that all the twelve ones are from the Quraysh and there is a general consensus among all the theological Islamic creeds on this matter that Imam should be from the Quraysh and as the twelve Imams will come successively after the demise of the Prophet (s.a.), according to the usage of «بعدى» word “after me” in all the traditions, it is just referred to the Imams of the household of the Prophet (s.a.w.).
Some of the traditions refer to the successive coming of the twelve caliphs after the demise of the Prophet (s.a.). “Caliph” is derived from the etymon of “Khalaf” means successor, and the one will be able to be the successor of the Prophet (s.a.) holding the rank of infallibility the same as him, and they are the twelve pure ones from the household of the Prophet (s.a.w.). The real caliph is the one being the governor of the community and leading people to the right way whether being apparently in authority or not.
3. «بقاء الاسلام عزیزاً بهم»
Some of narratives signify that the respectful existence of Islam depends on the twelve caliphs it means that they bring glory and reverence to Islam because they have led all the people to the real Islam and have made them be optimistic about it by observing its rules and explaining it correctly.
4. «قیام الدین بهم»
This sentence means that the religion exists because of the presence of these twelve people and if they did not exist, there would be no religion. And as the Islam and the religion will exist to the day of Resurrection the twelve caliphs will continue to exist to that day and will be the flag-bearers of Islam until the day of Resurrection, these twelve people are no one but the twelve pure ones from the household of the Prophet (s.a.w.), the first one of whom is Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) and the last one is his holiness Imam Mahdi (a.s.). This interpretation indicates that these twelve people should hold the highest levels of religious science and its observance to gain competence in preserving the religion and guiding the people.
5. «لا یضرّهم من خذلهم»
It has been mentioned in some narratives that,“those people who intend to humiliate them, will fail to do so”, and based on some other traditions, they (the twelve caliphs) will encounter different kinds of enmities and there will be some people intending to oppose and fight against them to extinguish their light (i.e. the light of truth), but they will never be able to harm them and hinder them from their significant and vital objectives, including maintaining the religion and preserving the real Islam.
By considering these matters and other ones in the mentioned traditions, the concept of the twelve pure Imams from the household of the Prophet (s.a.) can be concluded from these traditions, because they were the people who perfectly held all these qualities and were the real caliphs after the Prophet (s.a.) and the flag-bearers of the real lslam during their lifetime, while the enemies never could distinguish their light by opposing them and fighting against them. they were ones who endured many sorts of torture and torment from the governors, some of whom were sent to prison terribly, some were poisoned and some were martyred dolefully, but they never stop clarifying the truth and the real Islam and it didn’t hurt their honor and greatness but the real Muslims’ affections for them increased every single day. They are the people who exist after the Prophet (s.a.) until today, and the caliphate and Imamate routine will continue to the Day of Resurrection with the continuation of the twelfth Imam’s life and its longevity, though he is absent for some reasons.
 Ali Asghar Rizwani, Imamology and answering to the doubts (2), p. 266