The Replacement Imam


We’ve seen the debacle with replacement refs in the NFL. These are people that have some background in the profession, and yet when thrown into a positon they’re not qualified for, they fail in spectacular fashion.

There’s a large distinction between mentoring and training someone versus putting a person into a position they are not capable of handling. Many communities in North America have done this with the Imam position. There’s a number of reasons that this may happen. Some people may be unaware of what qualifications are actually necessary for an Imam. For others, they misunderstand the job that an Imam does. This stems from not properly understanding an individuals strengths and background while also not understanding the different hats an Imam must wear.

The onus for this problem falls on the heads of community leaders. By virtue of being in that position, they must know and understand what qualities and qualifications go into hiring someone to lead the community. This requires that they themselves are engaged in a serious effort to further their own knowledge of Islam and leadership, otherwise they will not be able to look for the right qualities. Game recognize game.

Mufti Abdullah Nana posted some comments in regards to this issue on Twitter that are a must read. Community members must educate themselves and start holding their communities responsible.

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Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters, Qalam Institute, Muslim Strategic Initiative, and Debt Free Muslims. He is a regular khateeb and has served in different administrative capacities in various national and local Islamic organizations. He works full time in the corporate field, is a PMP, and certified Leadership Trainer through the John Maxwell Team. You can follow him on on Twitter @ibnabeeomar, and check out his latest project - The Fiqh of Social Media.

Omar UsmanThe Replacement Imam

9 Comments on “The Replacement Imam”

  1. Rehan

    Going through something of the sort in our community but it almost felt like this article is supposed to continue on page 2…

  2. Anonymous

    What I got from the tweets is…a graduate from a university is considered to be qualified? I have seen way too many “qualified scholars” put in imam positions and lack serious wisdom. There need to be a balance. Many of these graduated don’t know anything about the community which backfires.

    I agree with this article somewhat, but I feel wisdom with knowledge is more important…and that balance needs to be there. Way too many graduates fall under the same boat thinking they are “scholars.”

  3. concerned

    Do you consider a 9 month old bayyinah graduate thinking himself as a big scholar coming in this category? Dilemma is that they even start giving tafseer lectures with limited knowledge they have. New trend of Topi-less tie-wearing “scholars”

    1. more concerned

      The comment was to the point and instead of rather answering you removed it. This proves that the truth is bitter. While you write this article emphasizing the need of right and qualified scholars, strange to see why you can’t answer the topiless and teaching tafseer with 9 month of arabic knowledge? Is covering the head not from Sunnah?

  4. BintKhalil

    Assalamu alaikum

    I don’t understand – so there’s both a shortage and surplus of scholars?

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