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Is it permissible for an ex-imam to stay in a masjid-owned property without paying rent?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Darulifta-Deoband.com
Assalaamu ‘alaikum I am a local musalli of a masjid in my area and would like to have the following clarifed. We had an imam appointed at our masjid who as part of his salary was given the liberty of staying in a property that the masjid owns, with his family at no charge. the issue now is that the imam has left his employment. However as the property is owned by the masjid and was to be used only for imams, due to him no longer being employed as the masjid’s imam, it was part of his contract that he vacate the premises on leaving his post. the individual in question has refused to do so and on trying to reach an amicable agreement with him, the masjid committee stated that they would allow him and his family to continue living in the property owned by the masjid if he provided a reasonable rental sum every month. to this also the imam refused and at present has been living in the property rent free for a few months. 1. please could you let us know what the ruling is for such a person (imam) in light of the Qur’an and Sunnah. 2. What would the best course of action be to resolve this dilema? 3. Many local scholars and learned people who are aware of this situation have stated through reference to religious texts (I cannot remember exactly which ones as I am not myself a scholar) that the leading of salah by such an individual described above is makhrooh tehreemi. Is this correct? JazakAllah khairan. Wassalaamu ‘alaikum


(Fatwa: 1481/1394=D/1429)

(1) If the abovementioned event is right and true, it is essential for the former Imam to vacate the room of the of mosque, otherwise he will be considered encroacher.

(2) If that room is needed for the new Imam, efforts should be made to vacate the room from the former Imam through compromise, negotiation, pressure, judicial procedure or any other possible way. But if the room is not needed for the new Imam and it will remain empty, then it is possible to give the room to former Imam on rent.

(3) If he lives there by force, he will be called an encroacher, and salah behind him will be makrooh tahrimi.

Allah (Subhana Wa Ta’ala) knows Best

Darul Ifta,
Darul Uloom Deoband

This answer was collected from the official ifta website of Darul Uloom Deoband in India.

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