Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) Miracles – By Imam an-Nawawi

The Messenger of Allah possesses many manifest miracles and signs demonstrating [his veracity], reaching thousands and they are well known.

From amongst them was the Qur’an, the manifest and clear miracle and brilliant proof, falsehood cannot approach it from before it or behind it. It is a revelation from One Who is All-Wise and Praiseworthy. It incapacitated the most eloquent of people in the most eloquent of times to produce a single chapter that would be comparable to it, even if the whole of creation were to gather for that purpose. Allah, the Exalted says,

“Say: If the whole of mankind and the jinn gathered in order to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like of it, even if they assisted each other.” [Al-Israa’ (17): 88]- It challenged them to this despite their large numbers, their eloquence and their severe enmity, and it challenges them to this day.

As for the other miracles, it is not possible to enumerate them all due to their huge number and renewing and increasing nature. However, I will mention some examples:

The splitting of the moon, water flowing from between his fingers, increasing the quantity of food and water, the glorification of the food, the palm tree yearning for him, stones greeting him, the talking of the poisoned leg [of roasted sheep], trees walking towards him, two trees that were far apart coming together and then parting again, the barren [and therefore dry] sheep giving milk, his returning the eye of Qatidah bin an-Nu`man to its place with his hand after it had slipped out, his spitting lightly into the eye of Ali when it had become inflamed and its being cured almost immediately, his wiping the leg of `Abdullah bin `Atiq whereupon he was immediately cured.

His informing of the places of death of the Day of Badr saying, ‘this is the place of such polytheists on the and-such a person.’ His informing of his killing Ubayy bin Khalaf, that a group of his nation would traverse an ocean and Umm Haram would be amongst them and this occurred. That all that was drawn together for him of the ends of the earth and displayed to him would be opened for his nation, that the treasures of the Chosroes would be spent by his nation in the Way of Allah, the Mighty and Magnificent. That he feared for his nation that they would be tempted by the wealth and allurement of this world and that the treasures of the Persians and Romans would be ours and that Suraqah bin Malik would wear the trousers of Chosroes.

He informed us that Hasan bin `Ali would reconcile between two large warring parties of the Muslims, that Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas would live such that nations would benefit by him and others would be harmed. That an-Najashi had died on this particular day while he was in Ethiopia and that al-Aswad al-`Ansi had been killed on this particular day while he was in Yemen.

That the Muslims would fight the Turks who were described as having small eyes, wide faces and small, chiselled noses and that Yemen, Syria and Iraq would be conquered by the Muslims.

He informed us that the Muslims would comprise three armies, an army in Syria, and army in Yemen and an army in Iraq. That they would conquer Egypt, a land whose [unit of land measurement] was the Qirat, that they should deal with their people well for they have protection [being Copts] and ties of kinship [through Hajar]. That Awais al-Qarni would come to you from the auxiliaries of Yemen, he would be afflicted with leprosy and it would be healed except for the space of a dirham, and he indeed arrived during the rule of `Umar.

He informed us that a group of his nation would always be upon the truth and that mankind would become many in number and that the Ansar would diminish in number and that the Ansar would not be given their due [with regards distribution of wealth and leadership]. That mankind would keep on asking questions until they would say, “Allah created the creation…” [Referring to the hadeeth, “the people would continue asking until they say, ‘this is Allah Who created everything…but who created Allah?’” (al-Bukhari and Muslim)]

He informed us that Ruwayfi` bin Thabit would live a long life, that Ammar bin Yasir would be killed by the transgressing group, that this nations shall divide into sects and that they would fight each other.

He informed us that a fire would emanate from the land of Hijaz and the likes of this. All of this occurred exactly as he (sallallahu `alayhe wa sallam) said it would.

He said to Thabit bin Qays, “You will live being praised… and you will die as a martyr”, and he lived being praised and was martyred at al-Yamamah. He said to `Uthman, “He would be afflicted by a severe trial.” [The meaning of severe trial is his being imprisoned in his house and his being killed by the transgressors.]

He said about a person amongst the Muslims who had just fought a severe fight that”He would be from amongst the denizens of the Fire”, and later he committed suicide. Wabisah bin Ma`bad came to him in order to ask him about righteousness and sin upon which he asked, “Have you come to ask about righteousness and sin?”

He said to `Ali, az-Zubair and al-Miqdad, “Go to the garden of Khakh for indeed there is Dha`inah” who has a book with her. [Dha`inah is the woman with whom Hasib al-Balta`ah (radhiAllahu `anhu) sent a letter to the people of Mecca in order to inform them of the plans of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhe wa sallam) to fight them. It was concerning this that the first verses of Surah Mumtahinah were revealed.

The garden of Khakh is a place falling between Mecca and Madinah. Refer to Bukhari [no. 3983] and Muslim [no. 2494] and Tafsir ibn Kathir [4/344]]

They found her there but she initially denied having the book and then took it out from within her braids.

He said to Abi Hurayrah, when Satan had stolen some dates, “Indeed he shall return” and he did. He said to his wives, “The most prolific of you in giving charity will be the quickest of you to join me.” and it was so [Zaynab bint Jahsh (radhi Allahu `anha) was the most prolific of them in giving charity and was the first to die. Refer to Muslim [no. 2452].]

He said to ‘Abdullah bin Sallam, “You will remain upon Islam until you die.”

He (sallallahu `alayhe wa sallam) supplicated for Anas that his wealth and sons increase and that he should live a long life and it was so. He lived for more than one hundred years and not one of the Ansar was richer than he and one hundred and twenty of his children had already been buried before the arrival of al-Hajjaj [to Basrah]. This is detailed further in Sahih Bukhari and others. [Bukhari no. 1982]

He supplicated that Islam be strengthened through ‘Umar bin al-Khattab or Abu Jahl, and Allah strengthened it through `Umar (radiyAllahu `anhu). He supplicated against Suraqah bin Malik and the feet of his horse sank into the earth and he was thrown off, he called out asking for safe conduct and was granted it, then he asked the Prophet to make a supplication for him.

He supplicated that Allah remove feeling the bitter cold and heat from `Ali and so never did he feel cold or hot. He supplicated for Hudhayfah, the night that he sent him to spy on the Confederates, that he not feel the cold and he did not until he had returned. He supplicated for ibn `Abbas that Allah grant him understanding of the religion and it was so. He supplicated against `Utbah bin Abi Lahb… that Allah cause a dog from amongst his dogs to overcome him and he was killed by a lion at az-Zarqa`. [This is how it is in all of the printed editions; perhaps the author means `Utaybah bin Abi Lahb for this description fits him. As for `Utbah, he accepted Islaam in the year of the Conquest of Mecca.]

He supplicated for the descent of rain when they asked him to at the time of drought. There was not a single cloud in the sky, and then when he had supplicated, the clouds gathered like mountains and it rained until the next Friday. It rained so much that they had to come back and ask him to supplicate and stop the rain, so he supplicated and the rain stopped and they walked out into the glaring sun.

He (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) supplicated for Abu Talhah and his wife, Umm. Sulaym, that he bless them in the night they had spent together and she became pregnant and gave birth to `Abdullah. He had nine children and all of them were scholars.

He supplicated for the mother of Aba Hurayrah (radhi Allahu `anhu) that she be guided and Aba Hurayrah left to find her performing the ritual bath because she had accepted Islam. He supplicated for Umm Qays bint Muhsin, the sister of `Ukkasha, that she live a long life and we do not know of another woman who lived as long as she did. This was reported by an-Nasa’i the chapter concerning washing the deceased.

On the Day of Hunain he threw a handful of dirt at the disbelievers and said, “May the faces be disfigured”, and Allah, the Exalted, vanquished them, filling their eyes with dirt. He once went out to one hundred of the Quraysh who were waiting to do something horrible to him and he put dirt on their head and went on his way without their seeing him.

Refer also to Khayru-d-Din Wanili, Mu`jazat al-Mustapha [3rd ed., Maktabah as-Sawadi, Jeddah]. Consult this for the evidences for what is mentioned in this chapter.

Salafi Scholars’ Stance on Ibn Hajar and Imam Nawawi


One of the Muslim scholars in Medina, where I live, said that Imam Ibn Hajar and Imam Nawawi were innovators.  He presented some evidence from Fath ul Baari to justify his view and gave an example on that with the Sharh of Imam Ibn Hajar for the purpose of (seeking) the face of Allah and His Mercy.  What do you think?


The Ahlus us Sunnah wal Jama’ah are just in the matters of judgment on others.  They do not raise the people above what they deserve nor do they diminish their worth.  And it is part of justice to clarify the mistakes of the people of knowledge and favor, to explain them to people and to forbid against them.  Similarly, it is from justice to warn from their mistakes.  This is done so that one may not be misled by their prestige, whereby, following them in what they erred in.  And the Ahlus us Sunnah do not slack from ruling against the one who deliberately goes against the sunnah as an astray innovator.

And it is found in our times the one who discredits the imams, Ibn Hajar and Nawawi, by ruling them to be astray innovators!  And some of them reached the point of stupidity by saying that it is necessary to burn their books Fath ul Baari and Sharh Muslim!

This does not mean that these two imams did not err in issues of Shariah, particularly in the subject of Allah’s Attributes, but our scholars criticized it, clarified it and responded to them with mercy.  And they praised them in what they deserve, made supplication (dua) for them and advised in benefiting from their books.  And this is the justice by which the Ahlus us Sunnah wal Jama’ah are known which is contradictory to the one who accuses these two imams of heresy, being astray and says to burn their books, and it is also contradictory to the one who derives from their speech as if it were revealed law by making what they believe to be the absolute truth without any doubt in it.  So, we will mention what is available from the speech of our scholars for the Muslim making his judgment dependent on justice, knowledge and ruling these two imams with fairness.

The standing committee for issuing fatwas was asked:

What is our stance regarding the scholars who interpreted the Attributes of Allah, such as, Ibn Hajar, Nawawi, Ibn Jawzi and other than them?  Do we consider them from the imams of Ahlus us Sunnah wal Jama’ah or what?  Do we say that they were mistaken in their interpretation or do we say they were astray in that?

They answered:

Our stance on Abu Bakr Al-Baqlaani, Al-Bayhaqi, Abu Faraj bin Al-Jawzi, Abu Zakariyyah Nawawi, Ibn Hajar and those like them who interpreted some of the Attributes of Allah or made tafweedh in their original meaning is that they are from the senior scholars of the Muslims from whose knowledge Allah benefited the ummah, so, may Allah have vast mercy on them and reward them on our behalf the best of rewards.  And they were from Ahlus us Sunnah in what they agreed in with the companions (may Allah be pleased with them) and the imams of the salaf from the first three generations to which the Prophet (pbuh) bore witness to with good.  And they erred in what they interpreted of the Attributes from the texts and contradicted through it the salaf of the ummah and the imams of the sunnah, may Allah be pleased with them, whether they interpreted the Attributes of Essence, Action or other than that.

-Shaykh Abdul Azeez ibn Baaz. Shaykh Abdu ur Razzaq Afifi. Shaykh Abdullah bin Qauud.

Fatwas of the Standing Committee (3/241)

Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih Al-Uthyameen, may Allah have Mercy on him, was asked:

With regards to those scholars who made some mistakes in aqeedah, such as the issue of Allah’s Names and Attributes and other than it, we pass by their names in the university during class, so what is the ruling on asking Allah’s Mercy for them?

Shaykh: Like who?

Questioner: Like Zamkhashri, Zarkhashi and other than them

Shyakh: Zarkhashi in what?

Questioner: In the subject of Allah’s Names and Attributes

So he answered:

In any case, there are people who belong to a particular group whose slogan is innovation, such as, the Mu’tazilah and from among them is Zamkhashri.  He was a Mu’tazili and described those who affirm the Attributes of Allah as Hashawiyyah1, anthropomorphic and astray.  For this reason, it is an obligation on the one who reads his book Al-Kashaaf, a work of Quranic exegeses (tafseer), to be warned from his speech in the sections dealing with Attributes of Allah.  But wherever he mentions Arabic rhetoric and linguistic rhetorical semantics, then it is good.  And utilizing his book for this purpose is very useful.  However, it is dangerous for a person who does not know anything about Allah’s Names and Attributes. But there are well-recognized scholars who have goodness and they do not belong to a specific group from the people of innovation, however, in their speech is something from the speech of people of innovation.  For example, Ibn Hajar and Nawawi, may Allah have mercy on them both.  Some foolish people slandered these two in a total unrestricted sense in every aspect, so much so, that it was told to me that some of the people say, “It is an obligation to burn Fath ul Baari because Ibn Hajar was an Ash’ari.”  And this is not correct, because I do not know today of anyone other than these two individual men that surpassed others for sake of Islam in the subject of hadiths of the Messenger.  And the proof for you that Allah (swt) with His Might and Power – though I am not certain such is the case- accepted it is that:  Whatever was written by these two men was accepted by the people, students of knowledge and even the masses.  So now the book Riyadh Saliheen is read in every gathering and mosque. The people benefit from it greatly.  I hope Allah makes for me a book like this book.  Everyone is benefiting with it in his house and his mosque, therefore, how can someone say about these two that they are astray innovators, that it is not permissible to seek mercy for them nor read from their books or that it is obligatory to burn Fath ul Baari and Sharh Saheeh Muslim?!  Glory be to Allah!  And who can undertake for the sake of Islam and the Muslims as these two men have done except that Allah Wills, so, I say:  May Allah forgive Nawawi, Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalaani and whosoever resembles their situation from whom Allah benefited Islam and the Muslims.  Say Ameen to that. End quote.

Liqaatul ul Baab Al-Maftooh (43/Question 9)

Shaykh Salih bin Fawzaan Al-Fawzaan was asked:

There appeared between the students of knowledge a difference regarding the definition of the ‘innovator.’  Some of them said, “He is the one who said or did an innovative action even when the evidence was not established against him.”  And from them were some who said that the evidence must be established against him.  And from them were those who differentiated between the Mujtahid scholar and those whose principles were rooted in contradiction to the methodology of Ahlus us Sunnah wal Jama’ah.  It was apparent from some of their sayings that they labeled Ibn Hajar and Nawawi as innovators and lacked in seeking mercy for them?

He answered:

Firstly, the beginner students of knowledge and those other than them from the general public should not be busying themselves with labeling people as innovators and sinners.  Because that is a dangers task and they do not have the knowledge and expertise for it.  Also, this causes enmity and hatred between them. Hence, it is obligatory on them to busy themselves in seeking knowledge and refrain their tongues from that which is of no benefit, rather, it is harmful for them and others.

Secondly, innovation is something that is introduced into the religion and is not from it in accordance to the saying of the Prophet (pbuh), “Whoever introduces something into this matter of ours (i.e. Islam) that is not from it, will have it rejected” (Bukhari).  If someone does a contradictory action (to the Sunnah) out of ignorance, then he is to be excused for his ignorance and is not ruled to be an innovator even though his action is still considered an innovation.

Thirdly, whoever had with him ijtihaadi mistakes in interpretation, such as, Ibn Hajar and Nawawi, and what occurred from these two in interpretation of some of Allah’s Attributes, then such a person is not to be ruled as an innovator.  Rather, it is to be said, “This is where they had an error.”  He hopes for them forgiveness due to what they left behind of great service for the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).  And they were both great imams.  They were trustworthy and reliable with the people of knowledge.  End quote.

Al-Muntaqa min fatawaa Al-Fawzaan (2/211-212)

And Shaykh Muhammad Naasir ur Deen Al-Albaani, may Allah have Mercy on him, said:

For example, Nawawi, Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalaani and their types.  It is unjust to say about them that they are from the people of innovation.  I know that they are from the Ash’aris but they did not intend opposition to the Book and the Sunnah. They were only deluded and thought whatever they inherited from the Ash’ari creed which is two things:

Firstly, that Imam Al-Ash’ari said that.  However, he did not say that except in the earlier part of his life because he later changed his position.

Secondly, that Imam Al-Ash’ari’s mistakes were correct.  However, they were not correct.

End quote from Man huwa al-kaafiru wa man huwa al-mubtadi’ (Cassette #666)

So, may Allah have Mercy on the two imams: Imam Nawawi and Ibn Hajar and forgive them their mistakes.

1Al-Hashawiyyah is a word that the innovators like Al-Mu’tazilah and others say to mean the companions, may Allah be pleased with them, and the generation who came after them of Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jamaa’h. They mean by this term the common people who do not understand the meanings of the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam. It is said that the first person to utter this word was ‘Amr Ibn ‘Ubayd who said: “‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, was one of the Hashawiyyah.” So look at this impudence from this innovator about this great and honourable companion, may Allah be pleased with him! (Source:

Prophets of God: The Doctors of the Soul – Imam Al-Ghazali

Man is formed of a body and a heart–and by the “heart” I mean the essence of man’s spirit which is the seat of the knowledge of God, not the flesh which man has in common with corpse and beast; that his body may have a health which will result in its happiness, and a malady in which lies its ruin; that his heart, likewise, may have a health and soundness–and only he will be saved “who comes to God with a sound heart” (26:89), and it may have a malady which will lead to his everlasting perdition to the next life, as God Most High has said: “In their hearts is a malady” (2:9-10); that ignorance of God is the heart’s deadly poison, disobedience to God its incapacitating malady, knowledge of God Most High its quickening antidote, and obedience to Him by resisting passion its healing remedy; that the only way to treat the heart by removing its malady and regaining its health lies in the use of remedies, just as that is the only way to treat the body.

Remedies for the body effectively procure health because of a property in them which men endowed with intellect cannot perceive by virtue of their intellectual resources, but rather it must be the object of blind obedience to the physicians who learned it from the prophets, who, because of the special attribute of prophecy, came to know the special properties of things.  In a similar fashion it became necessarily evident to me that the reason for the effectiveness of the remedies of the acts of worship, with their prescriptions and determined quantities ordained by the prophets, cannot be perceived by means of the intellectual resources of men endowed with intellect.  On the contrary, they must be the object of blind obedience to the prophets who perceived those qualities by the light of prophecy, not by intellectual resources.

Moreover, just as medicaments are composed of mixtures of elements differing in kind and quantity, some of them being double others in weight and quantity, and just as the difference of their quantities is not without a profound significance pertaining to the kind of the properties, so, likewise, the acts of worship, which are the remedies of hearts, are composed of actions differing in kind and quantity, so that a prostration is the double of a bowing, and the morning prayer is half as long as the afternoon prayer.  This difference is not without a profound significance which pertains to the kind of the properties knowable only by the light of the prophecy.  Very stupid and ignorant would be the man who would wish to discover in them a wisdom by means of reason, or who would suppose that they had been mentioned by chance, and not because of a profound divine significance in them which requires them to be such because of the special property in them.  And just as in medicaments there are basic elements which are their chief ingredients and additional substances which are their complements, each of them having a special effect on the workings of their basic elements, so, likewise, supererogatory prayers and customary practices and complements for perfecting the effects of the principal elements of the acts of worship.

In general, then, the prophets (peace be upon them!) are the physicians for treating the maladies of hearts.  By its activity reason is useful simply to acquaint us with this fact, to bear witness to prophecy by giving assent to its reality, to certify its own blindness to perceiving what the “eye” of prophecy perceives, and to take us by our hands and turn us over to the prophets as blind men are handed over to guides and as troubled sick men are handed over to sympathetic physicians. To this point reason can proceed and advance, but it is far removed from anything beyond that except for understanding what the physician prescribes.

Source: Deliverance from Error (al-Munqidh min al-Dalal) by Al-Ghazali (translated by R.J. Mccarthy, S.J.), pp. 64-66.  Please note that the title given is of my own and not included in the actual work.

A Reply to Some Rational Criticism of Belief in Prophethood – Imam Al-Ghazali


I have had no experience of what you have mentioned [regarding prophethood]: how, then, can I know that it exists and is verifiable, even though I admit its possibility?


You do not limit yourself to believing what you have experienced.  On the contrary, you have listened to the reports of experienced men and have unquestioningly accepted their statements.  Listen, therefore, to the utterances of the prophets: for they have indeed experienced and seen what is true in all that revelation has brought us.  Follow in their path, and you will perceive some of that by direct vision.

Even if you have had no such experience, your reason peremptorily judges it necessary to believe and follow the experienced.  Let us suppose the case of a man of mature mind who has never experienced sickness, and then he falls sick.  He has a sympathetic father skilled in medicine, whose claim to be versed in medicine the sick man has been hearing ever since he reached the age of reason.  His father compounds a remedy for him and says: ‘This is good for your sickness and it will heal you of your malady.’  What, then, does the sick man’s reason require, if the remedy be bitter and foul-tasting? That he should take it? Or that he should disbelieve and say: ‘I do not understand this medicine’s suitability for obtaining a cure, since I have had no experience of it’? Undoubtedly you would regard him as stupid if he acted thus.

So, too men of insight regard you as stupid in your hesitation to believe. If you then say: ‘How can I know the compassion of the Prophet–God’s blessing and peace be upon him!–and his knowledge of this spiritual medicine?’  I would say: ‘And how did you know the compassion of your father, seeing that it is not something perceptible to the senses? Rather, through the indications of his various attitudes and the evidences of his actions in his daily comings and goings you came to know it with a necessary and unquestionable knowledge.’

Anyone who reflects on the sayings of the Apostle–God’s blessing and peace be upon him!–and on the reports that have come down about his concern for guiding men rightly and his subtlety and delicacy in drawing people by the various forms of gentleness and kindness to the improvement of their morals and the patching up of discord and, in general, to whatever is best for their religious and temporal affairs, obtains a necessary knowledge of the fact that the compassion of the Apostle for his Community was greater than a father’s compassion for his son.

Moreover, when one considers the marvelous deeds manifested at his hands, and the wonders of the unseen reported in the Qur’an and the traditions, and what he mentioned about the distant future–which in the event turned out just as he had said–he knows with necessary knowledge that the Apostle had reached the stage which is beyond reason and that the eye had been opened for him to which are unveiled the unseen and the special properties and things which reason does not perceive…So try it yourself and meditate on the Qur’an and study the traditions–then you will know that by seeing with your own eyes.

Source: Deliverance from Error (al-Munqidh min al-Dalal) by Al-Ghazali (translated by R.J. Mccarthy, S.J.), pp. 77-79.  Please note that the title given is of my own and not included in the actual work.

Weakness of Faith Due to Scandalous Conduct of Some Religious Scholars – Imam Al-Ghazali

There are three remedies for this sickness:

One of them is for you to say: “The learned man who, you allege, devours what is illicit, knows that such illicit things are forbidden just as well as you know that wine and pork and usury–to say nothing of backbiting, lying, and slander–are forbidden.  Now you know that, yet you do such things, not because of the lack of your belief that it is disobedience, but rather because of your desire which gets the better of you.  Well his desire is like yours, and it has indeed got the better of him.  So his technical knowledge of subtle questions beyond this prohibition, by which he is distinguished from you, does not necessarily involve a more severe warning against this or that specific illicit action.  How many a man who believes in medicine cannot abstain from fruit and cold water, even though he has been warned against them by his physician!  But that does not prove that they are not injurious, or that faith in medicine is unsound.  This, therefore, is the way to construe the faults of the learned.”

The second remedy is that the man in the street be told: “You ought to be believe that the learned man has acquired his learning as a provision for himself in the afterlife and supposes that his learning will save him and will be an intercessor for him.  So in view of that he may be negligent in his actions because of the merit of his learning.  And though it be possible that his  learning will be additional evidence against him, yet he thinks it possible that it will procure him a higher rank in heaven.  This may be the case for, even though he has given up good works, he can adduce his learning in his favor.  But you, common man that you are, if you pattern yourself on him and give up good works without having any learning, you will perish because of your evildoing, and there will be no intercessor for you!”

The third remedy, and this is the real one, is that the true man of learning commits a sin only by way of a slip, but will in no way stubbornly persist in his sins.  For true learning is that which leads to the knowledge that sin is a deadly poison and that the afterlife is better than this  life.  And anyone who knows that will not barter the better for something inferior.  This knowledge is not the fruit of the various types of knowledge with which most men busy themselves.  Hence the knowledge they acquire only makes them bolder in disobeying God Most High.  True knowledge, on the other hand, increases its possessor’s reverence, fear, and hope, and this stands between him and the commission of sins, save for those slips from which, in moments of weakness, no man is free.  But this is not a sign of weak faith, for the believer is tried but continually repentant, and he is far from stubborn impenitence.

Source: Deliverance from Error (al-Munqidh min al-Dalal) by Al-Ghazali (translated by R.J. Mccarthy, S.J.), pp. 79-80. Please note that the title given is of my own and not included in the actual work.

Imam Salaries: Are Imams Less Valuable Than Garbage Collectors?

As a board member and a president of a mosque in the U.S. for many years, I have some things to say on this topic.

The average salary of an imam in the U.S. is $30,000. The average salary of a garbage collector in the U.S. is $33,660. This should show you how much worth we give our religious leaders. I don’t know why some people in our community give less value to an imam of the community than a garbage man [1]. Is this the type of honor and respect we want to hold for a religious leader in our community?

There are mosques that spend millions of dollars on its structure and its beauty but refuse to increase the imam’s salary for more than chump change. Most mosques can afford $60k imams but refuse to do so. Yes, there are some exceptional mosques that really cannot afford it, but I assure you that they are in the minority. A full time mosque with a jummuah prayer can generally afford an imam with a decent salary. Problem is many Muslims have this false notion that since these guys are working for Islam, they should expect their reward from Allah and not the worldly life. The irony is that most of these people would never accept such salaries for their own sons especially if they have families! There is no doubt that they should expect their reward from Allah but being given a decent salary so that you can take care of yourself and your family is a right of every single imam.

Seeking out cheap imams is one of the main reasons that mosques import imams from overseas. It’s purely cheap labor. The other reason they import is because to some of the board members, particularly the elderly immigrant class, it reminds them of their good old days of having an imam that understands their culture and language back home. This is why when such imams come over, they have a difficult time connecting with those who are not of their own country and culture especially the youth. Thus, this imported imam becomes the imam of the Desi uncles in the community, if that is where he is from, or the imam of the Arabs, if the import took place from an Arab country. The rest of the community suffers. Over time, the mosque comes to be recognized as a Desi mosque or an Arab mosque. I would argue that even those that cannot afford decent salary imams should lay off importing imams. They would do much better hiring up and coming imams raised in the U.S. or new graduates, also American raised, who are willing to work for less to gain experience and grow with the community. As the community grows, then so should the imam’s salary. And yes, there are cases where overseas imams have done very well and are loved by everyone in the community but this is not the case most of the time.

I remember in our own mosque when a particular board member and some elders from the community insisted that we get rid of our current American raised imam and replace him with another foreigner in the community “who is willing to work for less and do more”! Of course, the majority of us board members kicked that ridiculous idea to the side. We were fortunate to have many open minded board members but there are other communities who have closed minded board members who would take such a decision in a heart beat.

All of this is nothing but cultural baggage from Muslim countries that immigrants bring with them. One of the crises in the Muslim community is low salaries for imams. Many of them are suffering financially and this is why it is not uncommon to find imams who have other jobs as well, such as, tuition fee for Qur’an lessons, fee for doing a marriage service, etc. Numerous articles have been written on this issue criticizing masjid boards for holding cultural baggage and treating their imams like they do ‘back home.’ If you visit Muslim countries, especially Pakistan or India, you will see that imams are some of the poorest people.

Then we wonder why we have such poor performing imams who do more harm than good and are full of bakwas. It’s because most of the smart and intelligent religious leaders have some dignity and self respect and are not going to work for some chump change. I myself have witnessed in many mosques where the doctors, engineers, I.T. professionals, and businessmen of the community are far more knowledgeable than the imam of the mosque in religious issues but would never work as imams because they cannot afford to. Muslim Strategic Initiative also has some great articles on this topic.

[1] This is not to degrade garbage collectors who are also serving our communities but just trying to draw the point that leaders in our community deserve more.