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Sanusi Lafiagi

Personally, I think that the position of the Imām should be by qualification, not hereditary, and contractual, not tenured. In that way, we would be able to eradicate the unfortunate monopolistic and draconian tendencies that have characterized most of our Imāms today. Once there is a vacancy for Imamship, public announcement should be made  for all interested applicants who satisfy some basic requirements to apply. 

After this, an underground investigation should be launched into the background, track records and integrity of all eligible applicants by trusted individuals in order to narrow down the list. Then, eligible applicants should be tested both orally and in written. The result of the examination should be juxtaposed with their rectitude to arrive at a balanced evaluation.

Two or three leading candidates should be appointed Imāms and given specific roles based on their specialization and competence. For example, we can have a Khatīb who gives sermons on Jumu’ah days; a Mufassir/Muftī who gives Tafsīr during Ramadān and gives post-Subh Fatwā every weekend; and a Mu’allim who holds halaqah two-three times a week. Any of these three scholars can take over the function of the other in cases of absence or incapability.

From time to time, the Shūrā committee of the mosque will evaluate the performance of the Imāms and give relevant advice and recommendations where need be. Such division of labor will also ensure that the Imāms are not overburdened and will have time to concentrate on their job/business. Also, the Imāms will only be entitled to stipends that commensurate their job descriptions.

Furthermore, such contracts should be renewable after every year or two based on fulfillment of certain conditions.

Until we begin to hire Imāms on merit and fire them for insubordination, some of the shenanigans that we witness today will not stop.

How practicable????

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