Reply of Grand Ayatollah Saafi to the question regarding a congregational prayer led by a non - spiritual leader
To the Grand Ayatollah Saafi Golpayegani
Recently in some of the masjids congregational prayers are being led by non –spiritual leader (Non – Ruhanis) and fellow Muslims are also praying behind them. What is the ruling of such cases according to the jurisprudence?
In the name of Allah, the most beneficent and the most compassionate.
Alaikum As – Salam Wa Rahmatullah
In general, it is permissible that a non – spiritual leader can lead a congregational prayer. Even a spiritual leader and Mujtahid can follow a non-spiritual leader and non – Mujtahid in congregational prayers. The conditions of leading a congregational prayer are faith in Allah and justice. And if the congregational prayer is for men or for mix gathering then apart from those two conditions, masculinity is also one of the conditions.
However, regarding the congregational prayers of masjids, since the reward of praying congregational prayer behind a spiritual leader and scholar is many times more than praying behind non-spiritual leader. And the tradition is that it is a place from where Islam should preached and the rulings of permissible and non-permissible things should be explained, it is the place from where people are invited to perform welfare and refrain from evil and it is the duty of a leader is to drive away the suspicions in religion and other matters. It is a very major position in disciplining the society and in advancing the politics of religion and inviting people towards welfare. In present times some, who pretend to be, intellectual consider a spiritual leader as an obstacle in their evil goals, and those are the people who promote the congregational prayers lead by non-spiritual leaders.
It is necessary to save and continue the tradition of predecessors by continuing to pray the prayers lead by spiritual leaders and scholars. Perpetrators lest create a crack in the traditions. However, if a spiritual leader because of some genuine could not lead a prayer, in such case a non – spiritual leader who has the above mentioned conditions can lead the congregational prayer, and there is no harm in such prayers and is also correct and Allah knows it all.
4thJamadi Al-Thani/ 1433