Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalam alaykum
Can Allah accept sa prayer where the Imam’s Father is Christian born out of wedlock?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
The prayer of a convert or somebody born out of wedlock is valid. Acceptability (qabul), however, is something which the jurists (fuqaha) cannot usually make a judgement on because it doesn’t relate to outer forms of worship, but rather it is a matter between servant and Maker.
It is reported that the Noble Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Indeed, a man leaves his prayer, and none of it is recorded for him except a tenth, a ninth, an eighth, a seventh, a sixth, a fifth, a quarter, a third or a half.” (Abu Dawud) The takeaway is that outward forms aren’t sufficient, except, perhaps, for very partial acceptance. There is no correlation, then, between validity and reward or acceptance.
Illegitimate Children and Leading the Prayer (imama)
Statements in the books of Sacred Law (fiqh) which would seem to indicate the dislikedness (karaha) of an illegitimate child leading the prayer are based on what was perceived to be the norm, namely, that such children were often quite remiss when it came to religious knowledge. Clearly, when this is no longer applicable for a given individual, the ruling does not apply because rulings revolve around their legal causes.
As for a convert who was born to married, non-Muslim parents, they are not considered to be illegitimate because the marriage of the parents is recognised and affirmed in our tradition, barring some exceptional cases.
Finally, there is no shame in having been a non-Muslim and then converting. The divine love for you as a faithful believer reached you before you were created, despite anything which may have happened before you formally entered the faith. If anything, the initial submission of somebody who chooses faith in adulthood is greater than somebody born Muslim. At any rate, once you are a Muslim, there is no disparity between believers except in godfearingness (taqwa).
(Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah, with Tahtawi’s Gloss (1.409); Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih Sharh al-Mishkat)
And Allah Most High knows best.
[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.