Role of an Imam in populating the Masjid

In the previous two monthly issues, some Madani pearls were presented regarding the important position of being an Imam under two discussions entitled, Honourable Imam: His words and conductand Honourable Imam: Study circles and Lectures. Below, some Madani pearls will be presented in the final part of this series regarding The role of an Imam in populating the Masjid and his conduct with the local community and the management committee.

* Dear honourable Imams! Remember that after leading Salah in congregation, your greatest goal should be populating the Masjid, and a Masjid is populated by people offering Salah. Thus, the respected Imam should strive to mention Salah in his study circles, lectures and in all of his interactions. A graduate of Dawat-e-Islami’s Jami’a-tul-Madinah who is serving as an Imam and speaker in a Jami’ Masjid of Karachi states that the number of Salah offering people in their Masjid was very small, such that there would barely be one row of attendees in Fajr; whereas, in the other Salahs, we would have around one to one-and-a-half rows. All praise is due to Allah Almighty, during the blessed month of Rabi’-ul-Awwal, whenever I had an opportunity to deliver a speech, I would speak about Salah in the context of it being a requirement for the completion of love for the Holy Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّم . I motivated the Islamic brothers towards congregational Salah. All praise is due to Allah Almighty, our Masjid now has three to four rows of attendees for the Fajr Salah, and the number of attendees has more than tripled in the other Salahs too. The founder of Dawat-e-Islami, ‘Allamah Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Attar Qaadiri دَامَـتْ بَـرَكَـاتُـهُـمُ الْـعَـالِـيَـهْ came to know of this improvement and hence showed great appreciation.

* The respected Imam should strive to take steps that raise religious awareness within the area and should also keep endeavouring to increase the passion and motivation of people on a practical level. If the Imams of Masajid desire, they can make use of their platform to create religious fervour in the locality and can stop the public acts of sins taking place on the streets. They should treat children like their own and show them compassion, and they should treat the youth like their own brothers and treat them with gentleness and kindness. They should consider the elderly like their own fathers and treat them with honour. The requirement of this position is not to just consider it as a job; rather, it is an important religious responsibility. They should deal with people with openness and sympathy such that they begin to adore them.

* The one who has the responsibility of being Imam should give it its full importance. If he fulfils its right as best as he can, then there is certainly great reward for him in this. He should remain aware of the individual and collective states of the attendees. He should not cause them any worries or difficulties. He should make them incline towards him, not drive them away. The manner in which Salah is lead can also be a means of bringing people close or driving them away. The guidance regarding how Salah should be lead can be attained from the blessed sayings of the Beloved Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّم  and the sayings of the pious predecessors. The Imam should definitely take into account the states, health and ages of the attendees; if there is an elderly or sick person present in the prayer, he should make the Salah somewhat shorter, i.e. shorten the recitation. If an attendee finds it difficult to sit for a lengthy period, then he should not recite Tashahhud and Durood etc. in Qa’dah too slowly; rather, he should recite them quicker, in such a way that he still pronounces each word correctly but the sitting does not become difficult for those offering Salah behind him either. The Beloved Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّم  of Allah Almighty has stated, ‘When anyone leads people in Salah, he should shorten it because amongst them are also the weak, the sick and the old. And when he prays alone, then he may lengthen the Salah as much as he desires.’ (Bukhari, vol. 2, pp. 252, Hadees 703)

It is mentioned in another narration that the Messenger of Allah صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّم  said, ‘O people! Some from amongst you cause dislike. Whosoever leads people in Salah should shorten it because amongst them are the weak, the old and those in need. (Bukhari, vol. 2, pp. 252, Hadees 704)

Shortening Salah refers to such a Salah that is short but whose essentials, Wajibs and Sunnahs are also fulfilled. It does not mean that the essentials of Salah are not completed, just as Hakeem-ul-Ummah, Mufti Ahmad Yar Khan Na’eemi رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه states: The meaning of shortening the Salah is not that the Sunnahs are omitted or that it is not performed properly; rather, it means that the actions of Salah should not be prolonged, they should be performed according to what is sufficient - for example, reciting Tasbih three times in Ruku’ and Sujood. (Mirat-ul-Manajih, vol. 2)

In short, it is essential for the Imam to offer Salah completely and correctly whilst keeping the condition and health of the attendees in mind, and he should act upon the guidance given by the Messenger of Allah صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّم .

* The Imam of the Masjid should remain completely impartial, neither should he become a part of any political party, etc. nor should he show any other partiality of any kind. He should never speak of supporting any political party or group etc. because doing so will bring some people closer to him, but the rest will make it a point of conflict. When delivering speeches, one should keep the situation of the country and area in mind.

* The Imam should not unnecessarily interfere in the administrative matters of the Masjid. If the Masjid committee seeks Islamic guidance on any matter, he should guide them appropriately and if he sees anything unlawful occurring, he should advise them accordingly. He should not interfere in every matter nor create a scene for not being heard.

* He should have a habit of giving time to the Masjid committee and other attendees in gatherings, the sacred nights, I’tikaf and other occasions. The Imams who always say, ‘I do not have time’ achieve very little success in Masajid.

* Even though the Imam may get his wages cut in case of being absent, but it should be kept noted that the loss which the committee and other attendees regularly feel within their hearts is very difficult to make up for. The majority of attendees become upset with an Imam who is regularly absent for Salah and they make all sorts of comments behind his back. The outcome of this is that the Imam is eventually dismissed.

* It is necessary for there to be an ambience of love and affection between the Imam and the attendees so that they can help each other in good deeds and piety. If enmity and hatred has risen due to following one’s own desires and satanic traps, then one should make an effort to put an end to them. The lawful requests of the attendees should be respected. If the attendees request him to attend Mahfils (religious gatherings), gatherings of Isal-e-Sawab or to deliver dars or lectures on any positive topic in their homes, he should accept in an appropriate manner. Likewise, it is the responsibility of the Masjid attendees that they keep in mind the rights of the Imam and respect and honour him above others.

* There are some people who show great sympathy towards the Imams, they support their every word and praise them at every opportunity. After some time, they borrow money from the Imam and will return it a few times, and then they are usually nowhere to be seen after that. One should remain wary of such people.

* The Masjid attendees are mostly pleased when the Imam visits them in times of joy and in times of sorrow. Thus, if someone gives an invitation to attend on an occasion of joy, then he should definitely attend if it is appropriate. If an attendee falls ill, he should visit him. Similarly, if there is a death in the locality, especially if it is of an attendee or his relative, he should participate in the shrouding, funeral Salah and burial, etc. Not only will this be a means of happiness for the bereaved, but it will also increase the value of the Imam in the eyes of the people.

* After the congregational Salah, some people bring their children along for Damm. Even if the Imam does not officially partake in spiritual cures, etc., he should still recite some short litanies like Durood, یاسَلامُ, or Surah Al-Falaq and Surah Al-Naas and perform Damm. O beloved Imams! Your designation, responsibility and its sensitivity is associated with every department and field. Your conduct, speech, way of living, character, sociability, in fact, every step you take should be for the preservation of the Masjid, Mimber (pulpit), Mihrab[1], Islam, and Islamic values.

May Allah Almighty grant all Imams the taufeeq of fulfilling the obligation of serving the religion of Islam in the best of ways.

اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ النَّبِیِّ الْاَمِیْن صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم

[1] A prayer niche in a Masjid indicating the direction of Salah ,i.e. Qiblah (facing towards the Ka’bah).




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