He has been appointed to lead Friday prayer in the prison
Fatwa No: 139720

Question

Assalamualaikum; I am appointed as a Khatib(Imam)for friday prayers for the about 50 prisoners in a room without mimbar. What is the reward for it? Friday prayers in mosque has more rewards right. What topics is advisable for me to deliver during the khutbah for them. They also are paying me some allowances for performing the prayers. Is it alright and halal for me to receive it.What is responsibilities of Imam of Friday prayers? If maemun(followers) make mistakes will the Imam be responsible for it. Plse give me details on all this as soon as possible. Jazakallah Khair.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

There is no doubt that there is a great reward for you in leading the congregation in the Friday prayer if you have a sincere intention as you will be calling to Allaah, enjoining good, forbidding evil and guiding people to do good, and Allaah Says (what means): {And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allaah and does righteousness and says, ''Indeed, I am of the Muslims''.}[Quran 41:33]

Moreover, it is not a condition for the validity of the Friday prayer to be held in a mosque according to the most preponderant opinion or that there must be a pulpit for the Khateeb (Imaam delivering the Friday speech) to stand up on. Rather, delivering the Khutbah on a pulpit or a high place is a Sunnah and not a condition for the validity of the Friday prayer.

What we mentioned here in regard to the validity of the Friday prayer in the mentioned room is that it is valid if we presume that this prison is situated inside buildings or around the neighborhood of buildings or outside it but near it, as according to the view of the Hanbali School. But if it is far from the buildings [like in the desert], then the Friday prayer is not valid according to the Four Schools of jurisprudence.

Besides, saying that performing the Friday prayer in the mosque is better is not completely true, because it might be that the act of leading the prisoners in prayer, admonishing them, reminding them of Allaah and asking them to repent to Him is better and more rewarding than performing the Friday prayer in the mosque, as this leads to rectifying their condition. That is because if the prisoners were left without admonition and without reminding them of Allaah, then much benefit would have been missed. Therefore, dear brother, you should continue doing what you mentioned and you should know that you are doing good and by doing this blessed job, you are filling a gap which the Muslims need to fill.

As regards the topics which we advise you to deal with, then the prison in general holds deviant people, like fornicators and adulterers, thieves, killers and others who have severed their relationship with Allaah, so it is appropriate when talking to them to handle topics that remind them of Allaah and His severe Punishment, and you should remind them to repent and inform them that Allaah accepts the repentance of a person no matter how many sins he had committed, and you should tell them the stories of those who repented, from among the former and contemporary people, especially those mentioned in the Prophetic stories. All these topics are no doubt needed by these kinds of people (prisoners).

Moreover, it is permissible for you to take the money that the administration of the prison gives you for doing this job. If one’s incentive to do good deeds is to get closer to Allaah and then he gets something of this world, then this does not affect or decrease his reward in anything.

On the other hand, the most important responsibilities of the Imaam and the Khateeb are to sincerely advise the praying people and to lead them in the prayer as legislated by Allaah. Furthermore, he should choose the topics that suit their condition and not be too long in his speech or in prayer so that he would not cause them any difficulty.

Finally, if a mistake is done by the congregation during the prayer or the Khutbah, then the Imaam is not held accountable for that mistake but he should teach them when he comes to know about it in the same manner as the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) used to teach and correct his Companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them.

For more benefit on the rulings of the Friday prayer, please refer to Fatwa 137482.

Allaah Knows best.

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