Praise be to Allaah.
It is important to choose
as the imam one who is known for righteousness, decency and keenness to
benefit the people, because the post of imam is a noble post and the one who
does this task is acting in the stead of the Prophets, caliphs and scholars.
The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allaah be upon him) said: “The people
should be led by the one who has most knowledge of the Book of Allaah. If
they are equal in knowledge of Qur’aan, then by the one who has most
knowledge of the Sunnah. If they are equal in knowledge of the Sunnah, then
by the one who migrated first. If they are equal in terms of migration, then
by the one who entered Islam first”
Narrated by Muslim (673).
So the Prophet (blessings
and peace of Allaah be upon him) chose for the position of imam the best and
If the imam has the
shortcomings or faults that you have mentioned, then he should not have been
appointed as an Imam in the first place and he should be dismissed from the
post so long as that will not lead to greater mischief.
Abu Dawood (481) narrated
that a man led some people in prayer and spat in the direction of the qiblah
whilst the Messenger of Allaah (blessings and peace of Allaah be upon him)
was looking on. When he had finished, the Messenger of Allaah (blessings and
peace of Allaah be upon him) said: “He should not lead you in prayer.” After
that, he wanted to lead them in prayer but they stopped him and told him
what the Messenger of Allaah (blessings and peace of Allaah be upon him)
hadsaid. He mentioned that to the Messenger of Allaah (blessings and peace
of Allaah be upon him) and he said “Yes”, and I (the narrator) think he
said: “You offended Allaah and His Messenger.”
the hadeeth was classed as
hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn
Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: the imams are agreed that it
is makrooh to pray behind an evildoer, but they differed as to whether (such
a prayer) is valid. It was said that it is not valid, as was the view of
Maalik and Ahmad in one of the two reports narrated from them. And it was
said that it is valid, as was the view of Abu Haneefah and al-Shaafa’i, and
the other view narrated from (Ahmad and Maalik). But they did not differ
concerning the fact that it is not appropriate to appoint him (as an imam).
End quote from Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (23/358).
Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah
have mercy on him) said: If it is possible not to appoint one who commits
evil openly as an imam, then one must avoid that. But if someone else
appoints him and he cannot dismiss him from this post of imam or it is not
possible to dismiss him from the post of imam except by means of an evil
that will cause greater harm than the harm of the evil that he commits
openly, then it is not permissible to ward off a lesser evil by means of a
greater evil or to ward off a lesser harm by means of a greater harm. Islam
came to achieve and complete interests and to ward off and reduce evil as
much as possible. End quote from Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz
With regard to prayer
offered behind him, it is valid even if he is an evildoer, according to the
more correct of the two scholarly opinions. See the answer to question
But if what is said about
him is proven, that he does witchcraft, then in this case it is not
permissible to make him an imam or to pray behind him.
To sum up: advice should be
offered to such a person first of all, and he should be reminded that he is
an example for others and that things may be regarded as bad on his part
that are not regarded as such on the part of others, and that he has to
avoid all causes of suspicion, and strive to do his work and fulfil the
trust that has been given to him.
The committee that is in
charge of the mosque has to dismiss him from the post of imam so long as
they are able to do that, and appoint someone who is more suited to this
post than him, and is less likely to come under suspicion and is more likely
to bring people together.
May Allaah help us all to
do that which He loves and which pleases Him.
And Allaah knows best.