Muslim activist, Shiplu Miah has put together 16 pieces of advice to British Imams.
Imams in the UK have been criticised for being “out of touch” with the youth and the Muslim community in general. Community leaders, politicians and the media have constantly questioned the ability of Imams to address societal problems, “extremism” and so forth.
Whilst this assumption is a gross overstatement and exaggeration, there is a significant minority of Imams who do fall into this category. To those Imams, I have humbly put together 16 pieces of advice for you to contemplate on insh’Allah.
1. You are an Imam of a local mosque, not the Caliph of an Islamic state.
2. Take criticism like a man, don’t be a girl about it.
3. Have some adab (manners) by not berating others who lack adab.
4. Know your limits. You are not Imam Abu Hanifa (rh) or Sheikh Ibn Taymiyya (rh).
5. If you think you are above reproach and criticism, you clearly do not deserve to be an Imam.
6. If you are going to express an Islamic opinion that is different to other Islamic opinions, have the humility and decency to at least let your followers know that there are other legitimate opinions out there.
7. Don’t go to the media and speak on behalf of the community without their prior consent.
8. Once in a while get off the pulpit and sit amongst the congregation to learn from others.
9. Encourage people to hold their Imams to account just as you encourage them to hold political leaders to account.
10. Seek advice from those below you – Prophet Muhammad (saw) himself sought advice from his followers.
11. If you get offended when people call you “bro” or when they simply call you by your name without using the title “Imam” or “Sheikh”, then you have an ego problem.
12. You are in need of naseeha (reminders/advice) just like those who come to you for naseeha.
13. Do not engage in self-promotion; it’s not as stealth as you might think and it certainly causes people to lose respect for you.
14. Be an Imam of the people; stay down-to-earth and keep their interests foremost in your heart and mind.
15. As an Imam, every lay person has a right to question your views, stances and actions; it’s your job to remain humble and answer all their questions.
16. Grow a thick skin.
This advice was intentionally written humourously but touches upon reality. The author is not proposing that all Imams should implement the above, rather it is his personal musing reflecting on other’s sentiments, with the hope that Imams would adopt it.