Respect The Imam

Date: 12th December 2014; 18th Safar 1436

Darood Sharif has a lot of benefits when we recite it. Darood Sharif needs to be recited before a person makes a dua. One Hadith states:

Umar (Radi Allahu Anhu) said, “The Du’a of a person remains suspended between the Heavens and Earth as long as the Durood Shareef is not read”.

References Tirmidhi & Mishkaat

Other Hadiths state:

Narrated by Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (Radi Allahu Anhu) that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “Allah has created Angels that tour the land and bring to me the greetings (Darood Sharif) of my followers.”

References: Sunan An-Nasa’i

Hazrat Anas (Radi Allahu Anhu) narrated that Rasool Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “He who reads a single Durood upon me, Almighty Allah blesses him ten times, ten of his sins are forgiven, and he is increased ten times in stages (internally).

Reference: Mishkaat

Angels have duties upon us. They record all our good deeds and sins. We also have a duty on the Angels, which is not to hurt them with our bad deeds. We should do good and ask for nothing except goodness as Angels tend to pray for all of us so that we be guided towards the Straight Path.

In a long hadith, Umm Salamah (Radi Allahu Anha) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, when Abu Salamah had just passed away, and had closed his eyes, ‘Do not ask for yourselves anything but good, for the Angels will say ‘Ameen’ to all that you ask for. O Allah, forgive Abu Salamah, and raise his ranks among those who are guided.’

References: Sahih Muslim, Abu Dawud & Musnad of Imam Ahmad (Rahmatullah Allaih)

Just as we should pay respect to the Angels of Allah, the Imam of the Masjid are expected to be respected by the Muqtadis. The Imam has a heavy duty upon on his shoulder which is he is responsible for the Salah of all the Muqtadis of the congregation.

Abu Mas`ud `Uqbah ibn `Amr Al-Badri Al-Ansari (Radi Allahu Anhu) reported: Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “The person who is best versed in the recitation of the Book of Allah, should lead the prayer; but if all those present are equally versed in it, then the one who has most knowledge of the Sunnah; if they are equal in that respect too, then the one who has emigrated (to Al-Madinah) first, if they are equal in this respect also, then the oldest of them. No man should lead another in prayer where the latter has authority, or sit in his house, without his permission”.

References: Sahih Muslim

The Imam should have knowledge about the Deen, should know the Sunnahs of Salah and must know how to recite the Surahs and Duas beautifully. Because of all his attributes he is expected to be respected.

In one Hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has referred to the status of the Imams.

It was narrated that Qays ibn Katheer said: “A man came from Madinah to Abu’l-Darda’ in Damascus and he said, ‘What brought you here, my brother?’ He said, ‘A Hadith which I have heard that you narrate from the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).’ He said, ‘Have you come for any other reason?’ He said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Have you come for trade?’ He said, ‘No. I have only come to seek this Hadith.’ He said, ‘I have heard the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) saying, “Whoever follows a path to seek knowledge, Allah will make easy for him the path to Paradise. The angels beat their wings in approval of the seeker of knowledge, and those who are in the heavens and on earth pray for forgiveness for the scholar, even the fish in the water. The superiority of the scholar over the worshipper is like the superiority of the moon over all other heavenly bodies. The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets, for the Prophets did not leave behind dinars nor dirhams, rather they left behind knowledge, so whoever gains knowledge has gained great good fortune.’”

Reference: Jami at-Tirmidhi, Hadith 2606. Classed as Saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani (Rahmatullah Allaih).

Muqtadis should follow the Imam during Salah. According to the Hanafi Fiqh. when the Imam recite the Muqtadi should remain silent. Hadith states

Hadrat Abu Hurairah (Radi Allahu Anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: Imam has been appointed upon you so that you follow him, when he says Takbir then you should also say Takbir, “But when he recites Qur’an then you should remain silent”, when he goes for Ruku and says ‘Sami Al Lahu Liman Hamida’ then you should say ‘Allahumma Rabbana Lakal Hamd.”

Reference: Sunan An-Nasa’i (2/479, Hadith # 919)

The Shafi Muslims are obliged to recite Surah Fatiha all times, even behind the Imam. That is their view and we should also pay respect to them but for the ones who follow the Hanafi Fiqh, we must remain silent behind the Imam.

If the Imam makes a mistake, the Salah of all the Muqtadi gets annulled so the Imam should be someone qualified, someone who knows about the Deen. It is also a duty upon the Imam to detect the mistakes of the Muqtadi and help them with their Salah. He should be able to conduct the Salah beautifully and according to the Sunnah. Just like that the Muqtadi must pay the proper respect to the Imam.

Nowadays, we see that people do not know how to respect the Imam. The Ulamas are the successors of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). This should not be misinterpreted. The meaning of the Hadith mentioned before is that the Imams are the inheritors of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)’s knowledge and teachings; not of any bloodline nor any wealth.

So how the Imams should be respected? Below are the ways mentioned according to Hadiths.

When the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to walk, the Sahabis used to walk behind him. While walking we should make sure that we do not walk in front of the Imam. It is an etiquette in Islam. One time Abu Darda (Radi Allahu Anhu) was walking with Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu Anhu). Suddenly Abu Darda (Radi Allahu Anhu) walked past Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu Anhu), when the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) saw this, he reminded Abu Darda (Radi Allahu Anhu) about his etiquette. Hadith say:

Narrated from Abu al-Darda’ (Radi Allahu Anhu) that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said to him: “Do not walk in front of your better. Verily, Abu Bakr is the best of those upon whom the sun rose or set.”

References: Tabarani and Ibn `Asakir with a fair chain as stated in Kanz al-`Ummal.

Allah says in Surah Hujurat about how the Muslim Ummah should treat the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam):

O you who have believed, do not put [yourselves] before Allah and His Messenger but fear Allah . Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.

Surah Al-Hujurat, Ayah 1 (49:1) Translation: Sahih International

Now that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is no longer among us so we need to follow this adab by respecting the Imams. When the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to sit for a meal, all the Sahabis used to wait for him to take the first bite and after which they would begin their eating.

Another adab which was followed by the Sahabis that they talked in a lower voice than the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).

O you who have believed, do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet or be loud to him in speech like the loudness of some of you to others, lest your deeds become worthless while you perceive not.

Indeed, those who lower their voices before the Messenger of Allah – they are the ones whose hearts Allah has tested for righteousness. For them is forgiveness and great reward.

Surah Al-Hujurat, Ayahs 2-3 (49:2-3)

In the Tafsir of Surah Hujurat, there is an incident based on the revelation of these ayahs.

One of the narratives, reported by Bukhari, is that once some people from the tribe of Tamim came to the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). During their stay, one of the issues under discussion was to appoint someone as a ruler of this tribe. Abu Bakr(Radi Allahu Anhu) suggested the name of Qa’qa’ Ibn Ma’bad, while Umar (Radi Allahu Anhu) proposed the name of Aqra’ Ibn Habis. Both of them discussed the issue for a while during which the voices of both became loud. These verses were revealed in this background.

The ayah was revealed in order to urge the Sahabis to wait for the Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)’s reply unless he himself appointed someone to reply. Likewise if he was walking, no one should overtake him. If they were sitting in a dining session, no one should start eating before him.

This verse teaches the believers that they should not raise their voices above the voice of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) nor speak aloud to him as one speaks aloud to another in general discussions. The verse warns that neglecting this etiquette may entail nullification of one’s virtuous deeds, because this is a kind of disrespect to the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Thus when this verse was revealed, the blessed Companions became very apprehensive and very cautious. Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu Anhu) said: “By God! O Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), from now till my last breath, I shall speak to you as if someone is whispering.” (Baihaqi) When this verse was revealed, Umar (Radi Allahu Anhu)‘s voice became so low that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) had to ask him to repeat what he said, so that he could understand what he was saying to him.

AS the Quranic injunction “do not proceed ahead of Allah and His Messenger applies to ‘Ulamas’ as they are considered as the heirs of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), likewise the injunction “do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet.” is applicable to the great scholars of Islam also. When sitting in their assembly, it is impolite to raise voices so loudly that their voices are suppressed (Qurtubi).

Reference:  Ma’ariful Quran by  Mufti Muhammad Shafi. Tafseer of Surah Hujurat Ayahs 1-5 (49:1-5). Volume 8. pp. 113-116.

Our adab towards to the Imam should be like this. Sometimes we see people shouting and cursing the Imam. This is something which needs to be avoided.

Another adab is mentioned the next two ayahs of Surah Hujurat:

Indeed, those who call you, [O Muhammad], from behind the chambers – most of them do not use reason.

And if they had been patient until you [could] come out to them, it would have been better for them. But Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

Surah Al-Hujurat, Ayahs 4-5 (49:4-5) Translation: Sahih International

According to Tafsir, these verses were revealed based on another incident.

In this verse, Allah (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’Ala) has mentioned a third etiquette about dealing with the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). It was directed that when he was at home, one should not call him from outside. Particularly calling him by his name is an unmannered attitude. Reasonable persons should not do it.

Imam Baghawi, on the authority of Qatada (Radi Allahu Anhu), reports that the delegation of Bani Tamim arrived in Madbah in the afternoon and came up to the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) when he was resting in one of his apartments. These bedouins were not acquainted with the social manners and etiquette of a civil society. They stood outside the apartment and called out: O Muhammad, come out to us! On this occasion, verse four of Surah Hujurat was revealed (Musnad of Ahmad, Tirmidhi)

Reference: Ma’ariful Quran by  Mufti Muhammad Shafi. Tafseer of Surah Hujurat Ayahs 1-5 (49:1-5). Volume 8. pp. 117-118.

When we approach an Imam, we should not call out to him in a disrespectful manner. We must go to him rather than make him come to us. May Allah teach us all proper manners and etiquette, Ameen.

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