Wages for Alims and Imams.

Q. My question is regarding Ulema’s hadya (in the West the muslims say wages of imam/alim)?

The imams here get paid on average between £150-£175 and from £200-£250 maximum. One of the major reasons is that they can get benefits from the government, so why should we pay more? Please comment on this view.

Secondly, can wages as a word be used for this hadya?

These days people over here are ready to sponsor students of madrasa £80-£100 a year for hifz or alim course, infact, some even pay the whole madrassa cost.

Two or three people might be running a madrassa whose annual budget might be some Rs. 2,0000,000/year (£20000).

But when these students finish their alim course, the whole city, town, village or that locality can’t end up paying him the average salary of that country (though he should be paid more than that). In my opinion the imam of the masjid should at least get £25000 a year.

Aren’t we just following our desire of getting rewards on sponsoring a student but not as our responsibility?

My question is are they being paid the right figure, if not then on whose shoulder the sin is? Where will this lead the whole ummat? Are we conveying a message for generations to come that if your father is a business man then think of going to madrassah otherwise forget it.

A. With respect to the first view that ‘Imams can get benefits from gov’t so why should we pay more’, in my opinion is unjust and unfair.

The reason being, that a salary or a wage is an exchange for work done. As such, whenever work is done, a wage must be paid which is equitable to the work that was performed. In fulfilling this requirement (which is one which is very strict according to Islamic teachings) one cannot look to see if the worker can be helped by others or not. This sort of conduct in my opinion is totally unjust and unfair and is oppressive to a worker.

It must be understood that a worker who does a job for a person has the right to claim his lawful and just salary. This has nothing to do with others who can assist or lend a help to the worker. There is no relation between the both.

In this same manner, if a person is being assisted by another one, this must not bring about any reduction in a salary/wage which he can claim for legally performing a work in an organization. Both are two different things which must be treated separately.

It is clear that such behavior brings about an oppressive attitude by people where they employ others to work for long hours or may give them laborious work and may then pay them a small salary (far below an equitable rate) with the assumption that these workers may be helped by others. This is totally wrong and in my opinion, unacceptable in Islam.

‘Can wages as a word be used for this Hadya’!

My response to this is that first of all the word ‘Hadya’ is misused. ‘Hadya’ is something which is given as a gift and when this word is used about a thing it reflects that the thing is being given as a gift.

In the case of paying a person for a job which he has done, then it is compulsory that he is paid a ‘wage/salary’ which is known as ‘Ujrah’ (in Arabic) and the word ‘Hadya’ does not express this meaning. In fact, it is because of the use of the word ‘Hadya’ that people have developed the attitude to give the Imams only a little pittance rather than a lawfully claimed wage/salary. Using this word, creates the impression (to others) that kindness is being extended to the Imam by giving him ‘a Hadya’, as such, he cannot even demand an increase in his salary.

It should be noted that ‘a gift’ is given without asking for an exchange in return. However, in the case mentioned, when this ‘Hadya’ is given to the Imam, he is expected to perform a job in return. The conclusion to this will therefore be, if the Hadya is really a gift to the Imam then where is his salary and if it is his salary then using the word hadya is wrong.

The schedule of salaries for teachers and Imams should be fixed by competent, fair and knowledgeable people. This should not take into consideration whether an individual is being assisted by others or not. It should be focused on the qualifications of a person, the competency to do the work, the nature of the work done and the hours of work. In this manner, wages should be fixed, being fair and equitable and one should not look at it being ‘fi sabeelillah’. If any Imam/Alim wishes to do so then he can do so on his own personal level, however, organizations should not look at their employees in this manner, thus paying them very low wages.

If these Imams/teachers etc. are not being paid the right figure then the sin shall fall upon those who employed them and are responsible for paying them.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan