How many times did you go to your local masjid for jumm’ah prayer only to lose your wudu because you slept over an imam’s khutba?
How many times did you almost laugh at loud when you hear the khateeb saying things about Islam that you know are 100% wrong and incorrect?
How many times have you been to the masjid where an imam’s recitation of the Quran is more than 50% inaccurate?
These are just a small sample of the many issues Muslims face when going to the masjid. We learn many things about the religion through qualified religious leaders online and then when we go back to our masajid, its almost the complete opposite of what we know is right. Sometimes its the opposite; we think that certain shaykhs online are qualified when they’re not and then when we go to our own local community leaders, we think their wrong.
The problem is, we as a community are allowing these imams into our masajid. Think about this for a minute. Say, for example, you have a serious leg injury that requires a doctors attention every week. You have to call in a doctor to go to your house because you cannot walk. So you call in a doctor and he comes in to treat you only for you to find out that he is still a student in medical school and doesn’t have enough experience to treat your leg properly. I know this example is too extreme but what do you do in this case? You don’t allow him to further treat you because it is highly possible that he can make your injury even worse than what it already is. So what you have to do is, call in a person who is actually qualified to do the job. Same thing applies at the masjid. When some one comes in to give khutba at a masjid and he isn’t qualified, you do not invite him any more.
But what do we do instead? We further encourage and deceive the imam or shaykh into thinking that he is qualified by inviting him over and over again. This causes the imam to think that he knows what he’s talking about and therefore, he will never improve.
Now you may say, well there aren’t many qualified imams out there to begin with so we have no choice but to take whatever we can get. Problem is, if you keep following that mentality, this issue will never be resolved. We cannot allow people to think they are qualified just because they took a 3 day “Fiqh class” or a 5 hour “tajweed class.” That is clear deception and in fact, we should also shun these organizations who promote such classes and claim that you will “master” that field of knowledge within that short period of time.
Every single Masjid in America should have stricter requirements as to who is allowed to be an imam of a masjid and who is allowed to give khutbas. At the end of each khutba, we should go to the board of the masjid and tell them about our concerns and to avoid bringing in people who are clearly not qualified. It is much better to have people in our own local communities volunteer a topic to discuss in the event that no qualified imams can give the khutba. At least then, everyone knows that the volunteer who chose to bravely speak isn’t qualified but he put in his best effort. That volunteer should include a disclaimer making it clear that he isn’t qualified to be considered a Shaykh or Imam so that way, he won’t be held accountable for any potential mistakes because you won’t be obligated to listen to him. But if a unqualified imam comes in, fools people through his own ignorance that he is qualified, and then spreads wrong info, he will be held into account.
Basically, when a qualified khatib comes in, we listen to him and understand. When a volunteer becomes a khatib, we listen and go home to do further research. When it comes to unqualified khatibs, if you are less ignorant than him, then you can listen and go do further research to see if everything he said was accurate. Unfortunately, if you are more ignorant than the khatib, you will think everything he is saying is accurate or worse, think you know everything and reject most qualified scholars.
For the people who have no clue if their imam is qualified or not, don’t act like you know if so and so is qualified or not; you will only make things worse. If you had the pleasure and opportunity of being around a qualified shaykh or imam and notice that the imam in your local masjid is not qualified, try to bring as many people as possible who share the same opinion and try to get the masjid to bring in someone who is. Many masajid today know that an imam may be qualified but decides not to bring him in because either they are trying to save costs or they want someone who is well known (who also happens to be not qualified). This is wrong and we must stop this from happening. This narrow-minded mentality is why a lot of Muslim communities are not progressing. They don’t realize that by bringing in a qualified imam, not only will the community be well off, but people will be more willing to donate (which solves their costs problem) and this person will end up famous in his own community.
So this is a plea to all Muslims to do their part and make their local masjids a center-place of growth and knowledge for the Muslim youth and the community. We can no longer afford unqualified people to run our masjids anymore. Please do what you can to make our Masajid free of corruption (by board members) and put sincere effort into bringing in qualified individuals to lead them.
I ask Allah (SWT) to make all the masajid in America a place for religious growth and free from politics and corruption. Ameen.