Praying behind someone who smokes and consumes Qat
When Salah (Prayer) became due, I proceeded to join the congregation, and as I reached the group, I discovered that the Imam (the one who leads congregational Prayer) was a tobacco smoker
and a chewer of Suwaykah, which is known in the Southern Region as the Qat (Khat: leaves and buds that are habituating stimulants when chewed or used as a tea). Therefore, when I came to know this, I offered Salah alone. However, some brothers told me that I was mistaken to have done so. (Part No. 22; Page No. 197) Am I mistaken or is it permissible to offer Salah behind such people? Is it better to offer Salah alone in this case? It should be noted that I only did this trying to do the best thing. Praise be to Allah, I have never been a smoker. Can a smoker lead people in Salah?
Smoking tobacco is Haram (prohibited), and insisting on consuming tobacco and being addicted to it are even worse, for it is an unlawful and evil thing. Allah (Exalted be He) says:
...and prohibits them as unlawful Al-Khabâ’ith (i.e. all evil and unlawful as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons and foods)
Smoking is also Haram because of the harm it entails. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
"There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm."
Anyone who is afflicted with smoking should not lead people in Salah, unless the Ma'mums (persons being led by an Imam in Prayer) are also smokers or addicts. Nevertheless, you are mistaken for having refrained from offering Salah behind the Imam and praying alone, since offering the Five Obligatory Daily Prayers in congregation is a Faridah (obligatory act), as based on the evidence taken from the Qur'an and Sunnah (whatever is reported from the Prophet).When you abandoned offering Salah behind this man after knowing that he was a smoker, you should have searched for another congregation to join or lead. Accordingly, whenever you experience some circumstances through which you do not expect to find another congregation, you should stay and offer Salah behind such an Imam in order to maintain the Faridah in congregation. This is based on the legal evidence indicating the validity of offering Salah behind disobedient people.
(Part No. 22; Page No. 198) May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.