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LANALLAH __Islamic BlogZine__
Sunday, October 17, 2004

Dear Hafiz...part 2

RESPONSIBILITIES OF IMAAM

As the month of Ramadhaan approaches, the Huffaz (plural of Hafiz) will be selected to lead the people in Taraweeh salaah. Thus you will be appointed as the Imaam to enable the people to perform the special Ibadah of Taraweeh salaah. According to the Ahadith the Imaam enjoys a superior status. It is reported in a Hadith that the Imaam who performs salaah in such a manner that the congregation is pleased will have a mount of musk on the day of Qiyamat (Tirmizi vol.2, pg.84). Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) also made dua for the hidayat (guidance) of the Imaams (Tirmizi vol.1, pg.51). This is indeed an honour – but more than that it is a tremendous responsibility. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: "The Imaam is responsible (Haakim)."If the Imaam performs the salaah correctly, the salaah of the congregation will likewise be correct. If the Imaam is negligent, he will bear the burden of the deficiency that occurred in the salaah of the entire congregation due to his negligence. The Imaam should also be an Imaam in the Musjid while leading the salaah, as well as conduct himself as an Imaam when out of the Musjid. This applies even though you may just be an Imaam for the Taraweeh salaah only. Hence the Hafiz who will lead the Taraweeh salaah should at all times posses, among others, the following qualities of an Imaam:

1. He must be upright and pious
2. He must be able to recite the Qur’an correctly
3. He must know the basic masaa’il of Deen pertaining to taharah, salaah, etc.
4. He must be one who knows the Sunnah and adheres to it
5. He must not be one who openly commits sins
6. He must at all times be humble

KNOWLEDGE OF MASAA’IL
Among the qualities of the Imaam stated above is the essential quality that he should be well acquainted with the basic masaa’il of taharah, Salaah, etc. The ghusal and wudhu must be performed completely in the sunnah manner. Neglecting to perform the ghusal and wudhu in the sunnah manner will cause a deficiency in the quality of the salaah. Thus the Imaam has to be even more careful that the sunnah procedure is carefully observed while performing ghusal and wudhu.

TARAWEEH SALAAH
Eventually that day will come when the crescent of Ramadhaan will be sighted. On that night you will have to assume your position as the Imaam of the Taraweeh salaah and lead the congregation. It is extremely important to keep in mind that Taraweeh salaah is also SALAAH. While the pace of reciting the Qur’an may be a little faster in Taraweeh salaah, the same care must be taken in performing Taraweeh as is necessary in the daily Fardh (obligatory) salaah.

COMMUNICATING WITH ALLAH TA'ALA
Consider that even while performing Taraweeh salaah you are communicating with Allah Ta’ala. Ponder over the following hadith: Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said that when the musalli recites the first aayah of Surah Fatiha in salaah, Allah Ta’ala replies and says: "My servant has praised Me." When he recites the second aayah Allah Ta’ala says: "My servant has glorified Me." When he recites the third aayah Allah Ta’ala says: My servant has extolled My praises." When he recites the verse "You Alone do we worship and You Alone do we ask for assistance," Allah Ta’ala says: "This is between Me and My servant." Finally when he completes the rest of the Surah, Allah Ta’ala declares: "This is for My servant - and for My servant is what he has asked" (Mishkaat).

TAJWEED
Hence, when the salaah is a means of communication with Allah Ta’ala, it must be performed in a most dignified manner. The speed of the recitation must not be so fast that some of the words cannot be clearly heard. The recitation must be absolutely clear. The rules of Tajweed must be adhered to. Of utmost importance is the correct pronunciation of the letters. Often due to "high speed" recitation, the letters are not pronounced clearly. In many instances such incorrect pronunciation results in the meaning being completely changed. This is a major sin and one must therefore totally refrain from it. Remember! Taraweeh is salaah. It is an ibadah. Like in any other salaah, one is communicating with Allah Ta’ala in Taraweeh also. Thus be particular with the speed of recitation as well as all other aspects.

NO HASTE!
Extremely important is the proper performance of ruku, qaumah (the standing posture after ruku before going into sajda), sajda and jalsa (the sitting posture between the two sajdas). It is waajib to remain AT LEAST for the duration of one tasbeeh in ALL the above four postures. The duration of one tasbeeh in this context is the extent it takes to say subbahana rabbiyal azeem once. It is sunnatul muakkadah to recite the tasbeehs of ruku and sajda at least thrice. The Imaam must recite the tasbeehs at least three times each in such a manner that the muqtadies also manage to recite the tasbeehs thrice. It is makrooh to recite the tasbeehs so quickly that (in general) the muqtadies do not manage to recite the tasbeehs thrice (see Fatawaa Mahmoodia v. 2, p. 108). Keep in mind that you have not been appointed as the Imaam to break any speed records. You are not in some sort of marathon that you want to complete in record time. Do not perform the Taraweeh in such a manner as if you "just want to get over with it." You are carrying on your shoulders the responsibility of the salaah of the entire congregation. You can NEVER dare to be hasty or negligent. Always keep in mind the Hadith wherein it is stated that the salaah that is not performed properly rises up in an ugly and dark shape and curses the one who performed it. It is then flung back like a dirty rag on the face of the person (Tabrani).

CONSIDER MUQTADIES
While refraining from being hasty, one should also consider the ease of the muqtadies. Therefore a moderate pace should be adopted, not such a slow pace which tires the muqtadies. The rakaats should also be approximately of even length. To recite a very lengthy portion in the first rakaat and just a few aayats in the second rakaat tires most muqtadies.
SINS
The qualities of an Imaam have already been listed. Among them is the important aspect that the Imaam must not be one who commits sins openly. Among the common sins which are committed openly in our time is the watching of T.V. and the intermingling of the sexes. As for T.V., people all sit together engaging collectively in the zina of the eyes and ears. Besides this open sin rendering the Imaamat of such a person to be makrooh, with what purity of the heart can a Hafiz lead the Taraweeh salaah when the filth of the T.V. is in his heart and mind.
Similarly, to freely intermingle with ghair mahrams (those with whom marriage is not perpetually haraam) is not permissible even if such ghair mahrams are closely related to one (such as sisters-in-law, cousins, etc.). This also results in zina of the eyes, ears, etc. The Imaam should therefore be extra careful in this regard.


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