Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Ruling on praying behind a mubtadi' or fasiq

As to the validity of performing Salah behind them and their likes of Fasiqs, this is a well-known controversial subject. However, the more obvious from the Shar‘y (Islamic legal) evidence indicates that it is valid to perform Salah behind all the Fasiqs whose Fisq does not reach to the level of major Kufr. This is the opinion of a multitude of scholars and the view of Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, who wrote some valuable words in this regard, which we will literally quote here for their great benefit. In "Majmu‘ Al-Fatawa", vol. 23, p. 351, he said: "It is permissible for a man to perform the Five Daily Prayers, Jumu‘ah (Friday) Prayer, and others, behind a person who is not known to commit Bid‘ah (innovation in religion) or Fisq, by the consensus of the Four Imams (Abu Hanifah, Malik, Al-Shafi‘y, and Ahmad) and other Muslim scholars. It is not one of the conditions for following an Imam in Salah that the Ma’mum (a person being led by an Imam in Prayer) should know what the beliefs of the Imam (the one who leads congregational Prayer) are. They should not also examine them by asking, “What do you believe?” Instead they should pray behind those whose reality is hidden. On the other hand, if they perform Salah behind someone they know to be a Fasiq or a Mubtadi‘ (one who introduces innovations in religion), there are two well-known scholarly opinions concerning the validity of the Salah according to the Madh-habs (Schools of Jurisprudence) of Ahmad and Malik, whereas the Madh-habs of Al-Shafi‘y and Abu Hanifah say that it is valid.

As for those who say: "I only give my money to those I know," meaning that they do not perform Salah behind those they do not know, in the same way as they do not give their money to those they do not know, this is an ignorant saying that was not stated by any of the Imams of the Muslims. If someone gives money to someone unknown, they may deceive them over it or waste it, but if an Imam makes a mistake or forgets, the Ma’mum will not be blamed for this, as mentioned in the Hadith reported by Al-Bukhari and others in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “They (your Imams) lead you in Salah; if they do it correct, it (the reward for Salah) is for you and for them, and if they mistake, it (the reward) is for you and (the sin) upon them.”[1] He (peace be upon him) thereby makes it clear that the Imam bears the responsibility of the mistake and not the Ma’mums. `Umar and other Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet - may Allah be pleased with them) forgetfully led people in Salah while they were Junub (in a state of major ritual impurity), so they repeated it but did not order the Ma’mums to do so. This is the Madh-hab of the Jumhur (dominant majority of scholars), including Malik, Al-Shafi‘y, and Ahmad, according to the well-known opinion reported from him.

The same ruling applies if an Imam does something he deems it excusable, whereas in the opinion of the Ma’mum it invalidates Salah, such as bleeding, performing Salah without Wudu’ (ablution), touching his penis, not saying Basmalah (saying, "Bismillah Al-Rahman, Al-Rahim [In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful]"), where the Imam believes that his Salah is valid in spite of that, while the Ma’mum believes it to be invalid because of that. The Jumhur agrees on the validity of the Salah of the Ma’mum in this case, according to the Madh-habs of Malik and Ahmad, based on the most authentic of the two narrations reported from him, and it is also one of the two opinions narrated from the Madh-hab of Al-Shafi‘y, and the one adopted by Al-Qaffal and others.

If, for example, an Imam intentionally performed Salah without Wudu’ and the Ma’mums never knew this until they died, Muslims unanimously agree that Allah will not hold them to account for this and they will not bear any sin for it, unless they learn that the Imam is performing Salah without Wudu’, in which case they must not perform Salah behind him, because he is not a worshipper offering Salah, but a jester! If after finishing the Salah, it is learned that the Imam performed Salah without Wudu’, there is a difference of opinion among the scholars as to whether it should be repeated. If a Ma’mum knows that the Imam is a Mubtadi‘ (one who introduces innovations in religion) who calls others to follow his Bid‘ah or a Fasiq (someone flagrantly violating Islamic law) whose Fisq (flagrant violation of Islamic law) is apparent, if he is the regular Imam of a Masjid (mosque) and the Ma’mum has no choice but to perform Salah behind him, such as when he is the Imam for the Jumu‘ah (Friday) or ‘Eid (Festival) Prayers, or the Imam for the Hajj Prayers at ‘Arafah, and so on, they should perform Salah behind him, according to the majority of the Salaf and the Khalaf. This is the Madh-hab of Ahmad, Al-Shafi‘y, Abu Hanifah, and others. Therefore, the scholarly opinion concerning ‘Aqidah (creed) is that Ma’mums should perform Jumu‘ah and ‘Eid Prayers behind any Imam, whether he is righteous or wicked. Similarly, if there is only one Imam in a village, congregational Salah should be offered behind him, because performing Salah in congregation is better than performing Salah alone, even if the Imam is a Fasiq, and this is the Madh-hab of the Jumhur, including that of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Shafi‘y, and others. In fact, Salah in congregation is Wajib (obligatory) on each individual man, according to the Madh-hab of Ahmad. Anyone who abstains from offering Jumu‘ah and congregational Prayers behind a wicked Imam is a Mubtadi‘, according to Imam Ahmad and other Imams of Ahl-ul-Sunnah (Adherents to the Sunnah), as he mentioned in the treatise, "Risalah `Abdus Ibn Malik Al-‘Attar".

The correct view is that it should be performed and not repeated. The Sahabah used to perform Jumu‘ah and congregational Prayers behind wicked Imams and they did not repeat them. For example, Ibn ‘Umar used to perform Salah behind Al-Hajjaj, and Ibn Mas`ud and others used to perform Salah behind Al-Walid ibn ‘Uqbah. He used to drink Khamr to the extent that he once performed four Rak‘ahs (units of Prayer) when leading them in the Subh (Dawn) Prayer and then asked, "Should I do more?" Ibn Mas‘ud said, "What we have already done with you today is in excess." And this was why they referred the matter to `Uthman

It is also mentioned in: "Sahih Al-Bukhari", that when `Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) was besieged, someone else led the people in Salah. So someone said to ‘Uthman, "You are the Imam of the people, and the person who is leading the Salah is an Imam of Fitnah (sedition)." ‘Uthman replied saying: "O my kin! Salah is the best deed that people perform, so if they do it well follow them and if they do it badly, avoid their errors." There are many other similar examples.

The Salah of a Fasiq or a Mubtadi‘ is valid in itself, so if someone is led in Salah by one of them, their Salah will not be invalid, but it will be Makruh (disliked), due to the reprehensibility of performing Salah behind them, as enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil are Wajib (obligatory). Therefore, anyone who openly commits Bid‘ah or immorality should not be appointed as a regular Imam for Muslims, as they deserve Ta‘zir (discretionary punishment) until they make Tawbah (repentance to Allah). If it is possible to shun him until he makes Tawbah, this will be good. Also, if some people stop performing Salah behind him and perform it behind someone else, in the hope that this may affect him and induce him to perform Tawbah, withdraw, or shun other people away from committing sins like his, not performing Salah behind such a man will be in the public interest, as long as the people do not miss performing the Jumu‘ah or congregational Prayers. However, if not performing Salah behind him will lead people to miss the Jumu‘ah or congregational Prayers, anyone who abstains from performing Salah behind him will be a Mubtadi‘, acting in opposition to the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them). Similarly, if the regular Imam is appointed by rulers it will not be in the public interest to stop performing Salah behind him, in this case people should not stop performing Salah behind him; it will be preferable to perform it behind the best Imam.

This ruling applies to anyone who openly commits Bid‘ah or Fisq that patently contradict the Qur’an or Sunnah, such as the Bid‘ah of Al-Rafidah (a Shiitic group), Al-Jahmiyyah (a deviant Islamic sect denying some Attributes of Allah, claiming they are ascribed to people and cannot be ascribed to Allah), and their likes."

It is, therefore, clear that anyone who declares that it is invalid to perform Salah behind a Fasiq does not have any reliable proof, as far as I know. However, those who teach and practice positive law resemble those who study the different types of Riba, Khamr, or gambling, or teach them to others for their own desires or their greed for money, even though they do not regard that as permissible and know that all Riba-based transactions are Haram (prohibited), as they know that drinking Khamr and gambling are also Haram. However, due to their weak Iman and their being overwhelmed by their desires or greed for money, their belief that these things are Haram does not stop them from being involved with these forbidden matters. According to Ahl-ul-Sunnah, they are not Kafirs (disbelievers), as long as they do not believe that this is permissible as previously clarified.


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