Should I Follow an Unlearned Imam?

Question: What should we do if the imam of our mosque is unlearned and makes mistakes in the Fatiha?


Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Thank you for your important question.

If one is in an area replete with the ulema, one should not pray behind someone who does not recite the Fatiha correctly or does not follow one of the Four Schools.

If however, one lives in an area or country where one frequently has to pray behind people who cannot recite the Fatiha correctly or who do not follow one of the Four Schools, then as long as their prayer is valid according to one of the Four Schools and valid in their own opinion, one can pray behind them. This is not the relied upon position in the Shafi’i school but can be followed where there general difficulty in finding proper imams. [Rawdat al-Talibin, Nawawi; al-Majmu’, Nawawi]

Allah Most High says, “Hold fast to the rope of Allah all together, and do not be divided [into sects]. And remember Allah’s blessing upon you when you were enemies, then He brought your hearts together, so you became brothers by His grace.” [Qur’an, 3: 103]

Please see:


I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid Dingle

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.