Category: Daily
Fatwa#: 15153
Asked Country: Australia

Answered Date: May 06,2007

Title: Your ruling says that praying behind a faasiq is highly offensive. It is better to pray behind someone who has a shariah beard and sunnah with the basic knowledge of Quran and Salaah, than, a hafiz or learned person of the quran who does not have a shariah beard. Some of these hadith I have received speaks contrary. Please explain.

Question

Imamat by a faasiq?!

I completely agree to your ruling regarding the Shariah beard. Al Hamdulillah I have a shariah beard. Your other ruling says that praying behind a faasiq is highly offensive. It is better to pray behind someone who has a shariah beard and sunnah with the basic knowledge of Quran and Salaah, than, a hafiz or learned person of the quran who does not have a shariah beard. Some of these hadith I have received speaks contrary. Please explain.

Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported Allah’s messenger (SAL) as saying: When there are three persons, one of them should lead them. The one among them most worthy to act as Imam is one who is best versed in the Qur’an.

Book 004, Number 1420: Abu Mas'ud al-Ansari reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The one who is most versed in Allah's Book should act as Imam for the people, but If they are equally versed in reciting it, then the one who has most knowledge regarding Sunnah if they are equal regarding the Sunnah, then the earliest one to emigrate; it they emigrated at the same time, then the earliest one to embrace Islam. No man must lead another in prayer where (the latter) has authority, or sit in his place of honour in his house, without his permission. Ashajj in his narration used the word," age" in place of" Islam".

Book 004, Number 1422: Abu Mas'ud al-Ansari reported: The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said to us: The one who is well grounded in Allah's Book and is distinguished among them in recitation should act as; Imam for the people. and if they are equally versed in reciting it, then the one who has most knowledge regarding Sunnah; if they are equal regarding the Sunnah, then the earliest one to emigrate; If they emigrated at the same time, then the oldest one in age. No man must lead another in prayer in latter's house or where (the latter) has authority, or sit in his place of honour in his house, except that he gives you permission or with his permission.

Book 2, Number 0590:Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: Let the best among you call the adhan for you, and the Qur'an-readers act as your imams.

Book 14, Number 2527: Narrated AbuHurayrah: The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Striving in the path of Allah (jihad) is incumbent on you along with every ruler, whether he is pious or impious; the prayer is obligatory on you behind every believer, pious or impious, even if he commits grave sins; the (funeral) prayer is incumbent upon every Muslim, pious and impious, even if he commits major sins.

Can you please explain very clearly with ample evidence to what drew you to your ruling, and what these hadith has any effect on your ruling. Is it the same for all madhabs, if not why is it different, and what are the points of these Imams to differ from each other on this view! Please when any other fatawas are quoted on this please give explanations on it and how was it derived.


Answer

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatoh

According to the Hanafi madhab it is wajib to keep a fist length beard.  A person who does not have a Shar’ee beard is considered a fasiq (open sinner).  It is makrooh al-tahreem to perform salah behind a fasiq.

Rad al-Muhtar (1:560) H. M. Saeed Company

وأما الفاسق فقد عللوا كراهة تقديمه بأنه لا يهتم لأمر دينه ، وبأن في تقديمه للإمامة تعظيمه ، وقد وجب عليهم إهانته شرعا ، ولا يخفى أنه إذا كان أعلم من غيره لا تزول العلة ، فإنه لا يؤمن أن يصلي بهم بغير طهارة فهو كالمبتدع تكره إمامته بكل حال ، بل مشى في شرح المنية على أن كراهة تقديمه كراهة تحريم لما ذكرنا قال : ولذا لم تجز الصلاة خلفه أصلا عند مالك ورواية عن أحمد ، فلذا حاول الشارح في عبارة المصنف وحمل الاستثناء على غير الفاسق ، والله أعلم (رد المحتار)

The position of Salah in Islam is like the head for the body.  In Salah a person communicates with his Creator.  Consider the following emphasis on Salah

عن أبي سفيان قال سمعت جابرا يقول سمعت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول إن بين الرجل وبين الشرك والكفر ترك الصلاة (صحيح مسلم)

Abu Sufyan (Radhiyallahu Anhu) narrates that he heard Jabir (Radhiyallahu Anhu) saying that he heard Nabi (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) has saying, “Discarding of Salah is the link between a person and Kufr and Shirk. (Sahih Muslim)

An Imam leadsthe congregation in Salah which is the foremost fundamental worship in Islam.  Therefore the position of the Imam is just as important.  One should choose an Imam who is befitting and not involved in such actions which incurs the displeasure of Allah.  Being well versed in the Qu’ran is a virtuous and desirous deed, however that does not exclude him from being a fasiq.  Salah behind him will still be makrooh.  On the other hand, if a person is not the best versed in the Qur’an, but is not a fasiq then Salah behind will be valid without any aversion.

Imam Abu Dawood in his Sunan narrates:

عن أبي سهلة السائب بن خلاد قال أحمد من أصحاب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أن رجلا أم قوما فبصق في القبلة ورسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ينظر فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم حين فرغ لا يصلي لكم فأراد بعد ذلك أن يصلي لهم فمنعوه وأخبروه بقول رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فذكر ذلك لرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال نعم وحسبت أنه قال إنك آذيت الله ورسوله (ابو داود)

Abu Sahlah al-Sa’ib bin Khallad (Ahmed, the sheikh of Abu Dawood says he’s one of the companions of Rasulullah (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam)) narrates that a person lead the people in salah.  He spat towards the qiblah while Rasulullah (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) was looking.  Rasulullah (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) said after finished, “He should not lead you.”  The person afterward tried to lead them again, but the stopped him and informed him about the statement of Rasulullah (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam).  The person mentioned this to Rasulullah (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) and Rasulullah (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) said yes (I commanded them not to make you Imam).  The narrator says, “I think Rasulullah said, ‘you have caused harm to Allah and his Rasool.’ (Abu Dawood)

Rasulullah (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) dislikes a person who spits towards the qiblah to make Imamat.  To be an open sinner is much more grave.  It is obvious that the Imam in the above cited hadith was probably the most learned from amongst them since he was already doing Imamat, but still too Rasulullah command the people not to make him Imam in the future.

Hereunder are the meanings of the Ahadith cited by you.  

The first four Ahadith

These four Ahadith were presented as a proof that a person who is well versed in the Qur’an has more right of Imamat, regardless of him being a fasiq or not.   These Ahadith can only be taken into consideration as a proof if one of the people being addressed was a fasiq (al-ayadhu billah).  We hold belief that Companions of Rasulullah (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) had the greatest amount of piety.  Their prime concern was to imitate Rasulullah (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) to the minutest detail.  It is without a doubt that none of the Companions were open sinners such as the act of shaving ones beard.

It is also important to understand that by “the best versed in Qur’an”, it does not only mean a person who is hafiz of the Qur’an or a person who reads a lot.  It actually means a person who has a strong attachment with the Qur’an and acts upon it.  In the time of Rasulullah (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam), knowledge and acting upon the knowledge were not two separate entities.  A person who has knowledge of Qur’an was a person who acted upon it. 

Keeping this in mind, the meaning of the Hadith will be understood in the context where none of them are fasiqs.  Then whosoever is the most learned and well versed in Qur’an has the right of being the Imam in Salah. To say that these Ahadith prove that a fasiq who recites well has first right is incorrect.  In fact, in another narration it comes:

عن ابن عمر قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم اجعلوا ائمتكم خياركم فانهم وفدكم فيما بينكم وبين ربكم (السنن االكبير للبيهقى و السنن الدار قطنى)

It is reported on the authority of Ibn Umer that Rasulullah has said, “Make the best amogst you your Imam (in Salah) for verily they are the spokesmen between you and your Rabb. (Sunan al-Karib li al-Bayhaqi and Sunan al-Dar Qutni)

We are commanded to choose a person who is the best amongst us since he is considered a spokesman for the congregation.  It is not appropriate to choose an open sinner to represent the congregation in front of the court of King of All Kings 

The latter part of Second and Third Hadith

The first part of the Hadith has already been discussed.  As for latter part, the meaning of it is that the owner of the house is more rightful for Imamat in his house even though there might be a person in the gathering who has more knowledge or better recitation than him.  The reason being is that the owner has authority over the affairs that take place in his house. Similar is the situation of a stipulated Imam of a masjid.  He has more right of Imamat even though there might be a person who is more befitting than him.  The Hadith does not discuss who should be chosen as an Imam, but states the right of these people.  If the owner of the house allows someone else to lead the prayer then it is permissible since he is giving his right away.

Fifth Hadith

As for the fifth Hadith where it states that “the prayer is obligatory on you behind every believer, pious or impious, even if he commits grave sin”, we also agree to this.  That is why the Hanafi Fuqaha have stated that salah behind a fasiq is valid.  If a fasiq has become the Imam for some reason or the other, then it is still necessary to perform Salah behind him and not perform it individually.

Rad al-Muhtar

( قوله نال فضل الجماعة ) أفاد أن الصلاة خلفهما أولى من الانفراد ، لكن لا ينال كما ينال خلف تقي ورع

However, this does not mean that a fasiq should be made Imam.  Instead it states that if the fasiq was to become an Imam then still too it is incumbent upon you to perform salah behind him.
 

Other Madhahib

The verdict of the other madhahib will be similar if they consider a person without a fistful beard to be a fasiq.

Fiqh al-Islam wa adilatuhu (2:1205) Dar al-Fikr al-Mu’asir

من تكره امامته – الفاسق العالم ، ولو لمثله عند المالكية والشافعية والحنابلة، لعدم اهتمامه بالدين . واستثنى الحنابلة صلاة الجمعة والعيد، فتصح امامته للضرورة، وأجاز الحنفية امامته لمثله. ودليل الكراهة ما روى ابن ماجه عن جابر عن النبى صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: ((لا تؤمن امرأة رجلا، ولا اعرابى مهاجرا، ولا يؤمن فاجر الا ان يقهره بسلطان يخاف سيفه أو سوطه)) . وانما صحت امامته لما روى الشيخان: أن ابن عمر كان يصلى خلف الحجاج، وروى ((صلوا خلف كل بر وفاجر)) – (فقه الاسلام و أدلته)

And Allah knows best

Wassalam

Ml. Ehzaz Ajmeri,
Student Darul Iftaa

Checked and Approved by:

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In'aamiyyah

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