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Choice of the right Imam challenges

The Shura (Consultative) Council of the International Muslim Association of New Zealand IMAN) had advertised for a position of Imam for its Masjid in Kilbirnie (Wellington) and is currently working through the recruitment process.

Of course, there is a need for an Imam and the recruitment is a matter of necessity, but the burden of responsibility is great.

Uneasy process

What is very uncomfortable, to say the least, is that in the process of recruitment.

The unlearned will interview the learned, assess and judge them for competency, all in the name of governance. One wonders how, and who in our community is qualified enough to assess the assessors and judge the honourable ‘Ulama.’

Unfortunately, there have been people in IMAN for many years who have been dreaming of a day when they can hire and fire their Imam.

The desire to play the boss has been overwhelming for some. It is nothing new.

Frank opinion

Following is an excerpt from the ‘Khutbah’ (public preaching) of Sheikh Khalid Kamal Abdul Hafiz on November 24, 1995 at the Wellington Islamic Centre:

“Ibad Allah, the brothers may not know that the Imams in New Zealand and Australia or in the Western society are not respected and welcomed in the same way as they are in Muslim countries and Arab societies. Here, they are appointed on the basis of hire and fire, which means that the Imam has to support, confirm or endorse what the organisation demands, or what the president wishes, even though the demands and wishes may be wrong or against Islam.

“All Constitutions of all New Zealand Muslim Associations are silent about the quality of the President, the office bearers and the committee members. Almost every association has hired and fired two or three Imams within the past ten years. IMAN has also been asked to fire its Imam.”

Rights & duties

Every member of IMAN is a de facto participant in what the Shura Council does and therefore everyone should be rightly concerned. Everyone has the right to have an opinion as well as the right to express them appropriately.

We have Islam, which teaches us unity, cooperation and patience.

Islam gives us rights and responsibilities. When it comes to Shura, the right is to express our opinion, and once the due processes of consultation have been applied, then the responsibility falls on us to accept the decision and support the outcome of the Shura.

There are many good people sincerely working towards what is best for the community and every member has the responsibility to cooperate in matters of good.

The above article appeared in the ‘IMAN Newsletter’ dated April 11, 2014.

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