Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
In my place of work there are about 10 Muslim Brothers and we have a room available for our Salat. Sometimes the Brothers ask me to lead the Jamaat, even though I am a very sinful person and get bad thoughts even when I am leading the prayer. I try to avoid being chosen as the “IMAM”, however sometimes the Brothers ask me to lead and because no one else is willing to lead the prayer then I do so. My question is that as I am a sinful person and I get bad thoughts even during the salat, then is the salat valid/accepted when I lead the prayer? Also if there are other Brothers who know more of the Quran than myself, however they do not have a Beard then is it better to appoint that person as the Imam?
Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
May Allah reward you and your friends for your commitment to the pillar of faith, prayer. When the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) was asked what the best of actions was, he replied, “Prayer at its time.” [Related by Bukhari and Muslim]
1. All humans, besides Prophets, are prone to sin. If we are remorseful and repent sincerely, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) himself told us that it is as if we never sinned.
He (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The one who repents from sin is like the one who never sinned.” [Ibn Maja, Tabarani, Bayhaqi; Sakhawi relates in his Maqasid al-Hasana that his teacher, Ibn Hajar, declared the hadith sound (hasan) because of the multiple chains that confirm it]
2. Bad thoughts are normal in prayer. They do not affect the validity or soundness of the prayer. The way to dispel bad thoughts in prayer is to try to clear one’s mind before prayer through a little dhikr and contemplation.
3. There is nothing wrong you leading others: one motivation is that there is more reward for the one who leads prayerif done for the sake of Allah.
4. It is best that the person most aware of the rulings of prayer, as the answers on www.sunnipath.com explain. It is not wrong or blameworthy for others to lead, unless they are abjectly ignorant or openly corrupt.