Zaidi is an Islamic sect named after the Imam Zayd ibn Ali. This section of the Shia Muslims is closest to the Sunni Muslims. They recognized any descendant of Hasan or Husain, the two sons of Ali, as Imam if he could win the leadership by the sword and possessed the other qualifications of an Imam. They admitted that there might be no Imam and also allowed two Imams at the same time if they ruled in widely separated lands. They do not believe in the occultation of the hidden Imam but instead believe in a living Imam. The Imamhad to have certain qualities- he must be a scholar, able to teach his people, and must claim his rights by force of arms. Many of the Imams have been scholars and have written much, especially on law. One of the oldest law books is a Zaidi code.
The Zaidis believe in the first four Imams but differ from the twelvers in not believing in the fifth. For the Zaidis, the fifth Imam is Zayd ibn Ali and not his brother Muhammad Al Baqir. After him, the other descendants of Hasan and Husain are recognized as Imams. Zayd is said to be the rightful Imam because he led a revolt against the corrupt Ummayad dynasty, which they believed a true Imam should do. In matters of law and jurisprudence, the Zaidis follow the teachings of Zayd ibn Ali which are documented in his book Majmul Fiqh. In these matters of Jurisprudence, they are quite similar to the Hanafi School of law. Theologically they are closest to, though not the same as, the Mutazilites. The Zaidi sect later split into six groups regarding certain principles of belief. These schools are the Jarudiyya, Sulaimaniyya, Tabiriyya, Dukayniyya Shia, Khalafiyya Shia and Khashabiyya Shia.
They do not call the first three Caliphs usurpers and refrain from cursing them. They are Mutazili in theology, severe in their ethical code, and averse from mysticism. No dervish orders are allowed among them. They follow the Shia in adding the words, "come to the best of work" to the call to prayer, in not allowing the wiping of the shoes, and in regarding the flesh of animals slaughtered by non-Muslims as unclean. They differ from them in not permitting temporary marriage. They agree with the Khawarij in calling sinning Muslims unbelievers. These are some of the basic beliefs and practices of the Zaidi Sect of Shia Islam.