Wages for working as an Imam

Q: There is a young man who is Multazim (practicing Muslim) - we suppose him to be so and Allah will hold him to account. He says that the Salah (Prayer) of an Imam (leader of congregational Prayer) who receives a salary from the government is considered to be invalid and it is not correct to perform Salah behind him. This young man says that he performs Salah at home, acting upon what Imam Ahmad (may Allah be merciful to him) and Al-Shafi‘y said about Salah in congregation being Sunnah (supererogatory act of worship following the example of the Prophet). I hope that you will help to clear up this doubt through a Fatwa (legal opinion issued by a qualified Muslim scholar). And may Allah reward you!

A: There is nothing wrong in an Imam receiving a salary from Bayt-ul-Mal (the Muslim treasury), because this is one of the Shar‘y (Islamically lawful) spending channels serving the Muslims’ interests. The person who declares it to be Makruh (disliked) to perform Salah behind him does not have a legitimate Islamic evidence for this claim. It is not permissible to abandon congregational Salah under the pretext that some scholars regard congregational Salah as Sunnah; because this is a less correct view and the authentic evidence indicates otherwise. One such evidence is the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “Anyone who hears the Call (the Adhan) and does not respond, there is no Salah for him, unless he has a lawful excuse.” (Related by Ibn Majah (Part No. 6; Page No. 277) and Al-Daraqutny with an authentic Isnad [chain of narrators]) Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them) was asked, "What is a lawful excuse?" He said, "Fear or illness." Muslim also related in his "Sahih (Book of Authentic Hadith)" on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him): “A blind man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! I have no one to guide me to the Masjid,” and he asked the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) to give him a Rukhsah (concession) allowing him to pray in his home and he allowed him that, then when he turned away he (peace be upon him) called him back and said, ‘Can you hear the Call to Salah?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ He (peace be upon him) said, ‘Then respond (to it).’” There are many other Hadith to the same effect.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, and his family, and Companions!