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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles


A.M. Journal

Muhammad Speaks

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


QUESTION: Can Muslims who follow Hanafi, Hambali. Shafii or Maliki schools of thought make prayer following an Imam from the American Muslim Mission?
— Rahway, N,J.

IMAM: Schools of thought should not be taken as division or as meaning that there are sectarian lines or divisions separating Muslims.

Now there are many Muslims who follow the Maliki school of thought. When they join other Muslims in prayer, they follow the Imam who is leading them. Whether it's the Maliki school of thought or Shafii, or Hambali — or any of the major schools of thought — if a follower of one of those schools joins another group, he follows the Imam of that group.

It is forbidden to make any movement in prayer behind the Imam that would be seen or taken as independent movement or independent performance of prayer without respect for the Imam. We can't do that.

So if anyone who follows one of those schools of thought comes into this community, he must follow the Imam of the masjid here, whether it's Qasim Ahmed or myself -whoever's leading the prayer. He must follow the Imam who is leading the prayer. And if the Imam makes a mistake, then he is to call the Imam's attention to that mistake.

But all of us recognize that the schools of thought are perfectly legitimate, and if I'm praying behind even a Shaite Imam who doesn't even hold their hands on their abdomen like we do -they hold their hands straight down to their sides — if I were praying in a Shaite group, a group who follows the Shaite way, 1 would hold my hands like they hold them.

If the Imam raises his hands to his ear and then he drops his hands to his side, I would do the same thing because this is not a major difference.

In fact, it is said that there is no reason for Muslims to not follow anyone who lowers his hands there, because Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) never put that much importance on holding the hands. I think the most important reason for us holding our hands to the abdomen like this is because it's a very comfortable position.

You notice that when you hold your hands down — joggers especially will understand this right away — if you jog or take long walks and you hold your hands down to your side, you'll feel numb, a tightening in your hands faster, the extremities: the hands, the fingers — you'll feel tightening faster. But if you jog holding your hands up to your chest level, you won't feel that numbness nearly as fast; there won't be as much of a problem.

So when we pray, many Muslims stand" for a long time. I'm convinced this position is the more comfortable position, and you don't experience numbness coming into the fingers by holding your arms up like this. But if anyone chooses to hold his hands down, 1 will follow him if he's the Imam leading in prayer. But if I'm the Imam leading that prayer and there are all Shaites, I think all the Shaites should do what I do.

And  again.   I   would   say  to  our  community that we shouldn't take it upon ourselves to follow these different schools of thought. We should look for an indication and the direction we should take in our leadership. If our leader indicates that we should be more like the Maliki -that is more in Africa perhaps than any of the other schools — then we should do that.

But I think what we are going to see come out of this community is the same kind of independent study and commentary on this religion that came through these great and noble people we call the leaders of the schools of thought, the ma jor schools of thought in Al-Islam. I don't think it's something that we should see as, 'Oh, that would be out of order’ — it's not out of order.

I think every nation, every people, every new nation, every new land will eventually produce a leader that will be for them just as Maliki. Shafii, Hambali and the rest of them were for their people. Because if you study them, they came from different parts of the globe. they came from different parts of the Islamic world; they didn't come from the same area, and the reason why they have differences is because they were applying
the teachings in their given circumstances, in the given circumstances where they found themselves.

And I think the circumstances here will produce more. One of them from Egypt. I think, and Pakistan, and different parts of the world. Pakistan is one of the newer countries to embrace Al-Islam, although it embraced Al-lslam almost in the very early centuries of Al-Islam.

In fact, the religion went there very early, but it took time for Pakistan to become a Muslim country; it took time in the early centuries of the history of Al-Islam for the Muslims of that area to become a well established Muslim country.

But they had to have their people too, they had to have their leaders, they had to have their people to lead teach them how to live the religion and how to apply it in given situations. I hope that we will have the same kind of leadership developing here.

So I'm not looking for a school, Maliki school or any of the schools. I think that as students of this religion we should study all of these schools because this is an indispensable part of our history. We should study all of these different schools, but we shouldn't think that we have to fit ourselves to any of them.