Taking the initiative to lead the Salah

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by DarulIftaBirmingham

I have heard it is not good to take initiative to lead prayers in a group, but that the others in the group should appoint you.
But what about if you are going to pray with a friend who is not suitable to lead the prayers (he makes tajweed-mistakes, has less knowledge about the rules of salat, has no beard etc.). Should you in this case take the initiative to lead the prayers?
And does the same apply if you are visiting the home of the (unsuitable) friend?

In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.

Answer

The most deserving of Imamat (leading prayer) is

  1. The believer who is the most knowledgeable of the rules regarding prayers and purification (cleanliness) provided that he has memorized such a quantity of the Holy Qur’an that he could do the “Sunnah Qiraat” with and also recite correctly. He should not have wrong beliefs and should keep himself away from shameful and immoral acts.
  2. Thereafter the one who can recite the Qur’an correctly.
  3. Then he who is most pious.
  4. Then the most aged.
  5. Then the one who possesses best manners. (Raddul Muhtar p.294 v.2)

However, if there is an appointed Imam in any mosque or at any place then this Imam is most deserving of leading prayer notwithstanding the fact that others are more versed in Islamic knowledge and “Tajweed” than him. (Raddul Muhtar p.413 v.1)

Regarding your question, as you are the most worthy of leading the prayer you should take the initiative and lead it, even in the situation when you are visiting his house.

Regarding the second part of your question, seeking for an office or responsibility is something which is disliked. It is narrated by Saaiduna Abdur Rahman Ibn Samurah Radiallahu Anhu that the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam said, Never seek an office, because if you get it by asking for it, the support of Allah will not be there…(Sahih Muslim)

However, the aforementioned scenario will not fall under this hadith for two reasons.

Firstly, because the aforementioned hadith is referring to more responsibilities and duties connected with a government or with the rights of people. Secondly, if a person honestly feels that he is best equipped in fulfilling a particular role, then it is permissible to take the initiative for being the Imam. (Maariful Quran p.104 v.5)

Only Allah Knows Best

Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham

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