The days of suppressing the Imams into servitude and expecting them to live like paupers are gone, writes former South African scholar, Mufti Zeyaad Rawat, now head of the Pillars of Guidance Community Centre in Melbourne, Australia.
It is sad to see on my travels how Ulema and Imams are treated and underpaid in many parts of the world.
The Imam is the person we choose to lead us and represent us in our Salaah everyday to Allah, We say Ameen after his duaas, We go to him when we have turmoil in our marriage, He has to perform our children’s Nikaah after teaching them for years, We stop him a million times to ask him the masaail of halaal and haraam and probably he will be the one to perform our Janaazah and lower us in our grave making the last duaas.
Yet we treat him like a slave. We speak to him like we own him. We regulate him as if he is answerable to us. Most miserably my observations are that we pay the Imams a pittance. I have just witnessed Imams on salaries that can barely feed their family and even after the salary they are still worthy of Zakaat.
We take pride in building fancy structures, minarets and domes which is lifeless and sometimes extravagant but we will will save every penny when it comes to the Muadhin and Imam. Their feelings are always shattered. The Imams also have a life and family of their own. We will steal their weekends which is supposed to be their free time with their families and will compromise their pay and steal from their children’s mouth.
We sometimes only ask about them and care when we need them. The minute our need is fulfilled we forget of them as they don’t exist.
Another fallacy of our community is that the Imam must be faultless. Any small mistake he makes is trumpeted and cause for gossip. We should not forget he is also a human being and prone to mistakes.
By this abovementioned behaviour to our Imams we are creating an unhealthy leadership.
We are moulding a generation of Imams that will be Munafiqeen. They will act pious in front of the society and act differently behind closed doors – and all because of the high and impossible expectations of the people.
Secondly they will become greedy and cunning and their eyes will be always affixed to others’ belongings because they are denied their own basic rights.
In Muslim ruled Spain it is said the Imams were the highest paid to the extent that there were less Masaajid to accommodate the increasing number of scholars.
It is so sad that in the last few days in three countries I have witnessed many Masjids closed because the Imams were forced to go work for a living. There is no shortage of funds but the ideology of the people needs to change. The days of suppressing the Imams into servitude and expecting him to live like a pauper are gone. If we continue we will be facing a catastrophe. Irtidaad and extremism in all forms will be knocking the doors of our children and it will be too late to find an Imam to solve the ordeal.
The trustees of the Masjid fail to understand that the responsibility of caring for a public amaanah is so burdensome and questionable on the day of qiyaamah.
The Masjid is not like a business at all and it has a different deeni approach altogether.
Since when do we have a board of Electricians for a medical centre dictating to a doctor how to practice?
I am currently leading a great centre and truly feel like I’m leading, Alhamdulillah, in every sense with the full support of everyone.
This post is to only highlight the secret sufferings of thousands of underpaid overworked Imams that are on the verge of quitting.
Respecting loving and caring for an Alim is a sign of Iman.
Do it sincerely and you will see deen prosper in your generations to come.
Hurt an Alim or show disrespect and you will be the only one to lose.
The Prophet (Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam) said “The Ulema are those whom inherited the prophets.”
In another narration “The Ulema of my Ummah are like (in duty and responsibility) the Ambiyaa (prophets) of the Bani Israel.
If you cannot show respect and love the Ulema its highly doubtful you will be able to show respect and love to the Ambiyaa if they were amongst us.
The great destruction of the Bani Israel was because they never listened and disrespected their Ambiyaa.
We value secular education and will spend millions to give our kids the best secular education. However when it comes to giving our kids Compulsory Islamic Maktab Madrasah Education, then we shirk in that and look for the cheapest.
To our dearest Ulema let us rectify our Niyyah. Let us realize the Aakhirah is greater than the world and we will be tested and trailed like the previous prophets. Let us spend the remaining of our lives serving this Ummah with no want for gain or recognition. Let us be role models to our societies and be diligent we do our share in delivering the amaanah placed on our shoulders. There will be nothing more rewarding than to be a true Imam on the day of qiyaamah leading a nation into Paradise.
May almighty Allah grant us all inspiration.