What is your opinion regarding people taking money to teach, the Qur’an or take a wage to be Imam of a mosque. There is a group here in England and in Pakistan (Attock district) calling themselves, Hizb-Allah, who will not pray after any imam who takes money (i.e. one who is on a fixed wage), to the extent that they willÂ not pray behind the Imam of the Ka`bah. They consistently refer to one of the ayats of the Holy Qur’an, where there is an instruction to the effect (in urdu) “mat becho meri aayaton ko kaleel muhaawzay par”1) (i’m not sure about which surat). Some people have pointed out that this Ayat is targeted at the Jews, who carried out such practices, at the time of revelation.
Can you shed any light on the matter?
Under the prevalent socio-cultural setup in most of the Muslim societies, it is generally required of an Imam of a mosque to make himself available in the mosque throughout the day and do all the duties that are required of him by the collectivity. Under these circumstances, it would not be correct to say that these Imams charge money for leading prayers. On the contrary, it would be more accurate to say that they are paid for making their services available for the community, for the whole day.
In the same manner, teaching people how to read the Qur’an or to take a class of Arabic language and grammar for a better understanding of the Qur’an or that of delivering lectures on the Qur’an at a University are all professional services for which a person may charge money.
The referred verse does not condemn charging money for providing professional services, but, as the context and the words of the verse show that it actually condemns the attitude of ignoring or turning away from God’s directives to gain some worldly benefits or to avoid any worldly losses.
I hope this helps.
May 17, 2001
- i.e. ‘do not trade my directives for such a low price [of worldly gains]’ (Al-Baqarah 2: 41 [↩]