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Can I Take the Position of an Imam in a School?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaikum.

Can I take the position of an Imam in a school? What hadiths pertain to going for leadership?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

Yes, you can. The obligation of earning a livelihood takes precedence over avoiding positions of leadership. However, with the proviso that you are actually fit for the role.

Otherwise, the general course of action is to avoid such positions when reasonably possible, and when you are not the only suitable candidate, or when others won’t sufficiently fulfil the particular role– attested to by other than yourself, and preferably a righteous scholar.

Abu Dharr said, “I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, why do you not appoint me?’ He clapped me on the shoulder with his hand and then said, ‘Abu Dharr, you are weak. It is a trust, and on the Day of Rising it will be disgrace and regret except for the man who takes it as it should be taken and fulfils what is demanded of him in respect of it.'” [Muslim]

Please also see: Seeking a Community Leadership Position and Showing Off

And Allah alone knows best.

wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Seeking a Community Leadership Position and Showing Off

Answered by Ustadha Shaista Maqbool

Question: as salaamu alaykum, I would like to know about hadiths that speak about seeking for a position in the community, and also hadiths that speak about showing off to other peoples in order to gain positions in the community…and if there is anything in the quran that speak about it also I would like to know inshaAllah…jazakallahu khair..

Answer: Wa’alaikum assalaam warahamtu Allah,

Many apologies for the belated reply.

Seeking Government Leadership vs. Seeking a Community Position

There are ahadith which discourage seeking leadership positions in a government or state, however, this is unlike seeking a position in the community. The discouragement for seeking a position in a state is due to the great authority and power someone in this position has and the ease by which he may abuse this authority for personal benefit at the expense of the community [see: Ibn Hajr, Fath al-Bari]. This is usually not the case with community positions.

Yes, the intention of one seeking a position even in the community is vital like all actions and should be made purely for the sake of Allah to serve the community; not for the fame and title of a position.

The ahadith related to seeking a leadership positions in a state or government:

On the authority of Abdurrahman ibn Samurah: “The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to me: O Abdurrahman! Do not ask for leadership for if you are given it due to your request, you will be left to yourself. But, if you are given it without having requested it, you will be aided in it (by Allah)…” [Bukhari and Muslim]

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: You [Muslims] will covet leadership and it will be a regret on the Day of Judgment, so what a great nurser [of pleasures] and what a terrible weaner [from them].   [Bukhari]

On the authority of Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari: I entered upon The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) with two other men from my tribe. One of the men said, “Give us leadership o Messenger of Allah,” and the other said the same. So The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “We do not appoint this matter to whosoever asks for it or whosoever is covetous of it.”  [Bukhari and Muslim]

Showing Off

As for showing off, it is prohibited and loathsome to show off for any reason. Showing off is of two types. The first is to seek a worldly benefit by an action [normally done] for the Hereafter. Its opposite is sincerity which is to divest the objective of drawing near to Allah, Most High, through obedience from seeking worldly gain. The second type is to seek a position amongst people through worldly acts [or things], such as showing off with one’s body, clothes, speech, works, or through other people such as friends or family. [Al-Nahlawi, Al-Durar Al-Mubahah]

The texts on showing off and sincerity are many. Here are a few:

“…They were not commanded except to worship Allah, making their religion purely for Him…”  (98:5)

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whosoever mentions [his deeds to be known amongst people], Allah will mention him [by revealing the truth about him]; and whosoever shows off [his deeds], Allah will show him off to people [with the truth about him].” [Bukhari and Muslim]

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The most greatest of what I fear for my Ummah is setting up partners with Allah; I do not mean [for them to] worship the sun, moon, or statue, but [to do] acts for other than Allah along with hidden desire.” [Ibn Majah]

We should note that these ahadith are first and foremost for us to apply to ourselves. As for others in the community, it is obligatory to have a good opinion about their intentions and leave their hearts for Allah ta’ala to judge.

And Allah knows best.

Wasalaam,

Shaista Maqbool

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani