What is the ruling on a corrupt and...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

What is the ruling on a corrupt and inexperienced prayer leader?


What is the ruling on a corrupt and inexperienced prayer leader?


The Companions and the tabi‘un [followers of the Companions] prayed behind the corrupt and inexperienced. It is permissible for anyone whose prayer is accepted to lead prayers.


Al-Bukhari recorded in his hadith collection ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar prayed behind Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf Al-Thaqafi. Likewise, Muslim recorded in his hadith collection that Abu Sa‘id Al-Khudari prayed the ‘Eid prayers behind Marawan and that ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas‘ud prayed behind Al-Walid Ibn ‘Uqba Ibn Abu Ma‘it who used to drink alcohol. In fact, Al-Walid once led the morning prayer and performed four rak’as [cycles of prayer] instead of two. The Companions also prayed behind Ibn ‘Ubayd who was accused of atheism and wrongdoing.

Anyone whose prayer is valid may lead prayers. Yet, it is considered disliked in Islamic law to pray behind someone who is corrupt. Thus, for instance, when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) saw a prayer leader spit in the direction of the qibla (direction of prayer), he said: “[This man] should not lead you [in prayer].” Thereafter, the man was banned from leading prayers. If possible, it is better to pray behind an honorable, religious and ethical person though it is permissible to pray behind a corrupt individual if he is merely fulfilling his role as imam. The people should however advise him [to mend his ways] so they may benefit from him as a prayer leader.

Although it is disliked to pray behind a wrongdoer, Islamic law nevertheless deems it valid. This opinion is supported by the hadith: “Pray behind the trustworthy and the corrupt, and perform jihad along every ruler, whether he is trustworthy or corrupt.”
And God the Almighty knows best.

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