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Is It Permissible to Pray Behind a Drunk Imam?

23 January, 2024
Q As-salamu `alaykum. Is it permissible to pray behind a known drunk that smokes when there are more knowledgeable and pious persons around? And what if there are no pious persons around? Should you stay back and pray your own?


Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh

In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Mercy-Giving

All praise is due to Allah. Peace and blessings be upon His Messenger Muhammad. 

In this fatwa:

If you are sure that this man is known for being drunk, you should seek another imam. You can work wisely with the community to name a good practicing pious man to be your imam.

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Responding to your question, Dr. Hatem Al-Hajj, Dean of the College of Islamic Studies at Mishkah University and a member of the Permanent Fatwa Committee for the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA), states:

That individual shouldn’t be allowed to lead the prayer while he is drunk. Allah Almighty says, “O you who believe! Approach not prayers with a mind befogged, until you can understand all that ye say.” (An-Nisaa’ 4:43)

If he is sober at the time of the prayer and you are certain he drinks, then the congregation must choose another imam, or they would be disobedient.

If the congregation decided to let him lead, then you should find another mosque to pray at.

If there are no other mosques within your reach, then pray behind him in order not to miss the reward of the congregational prayers, and work wisely with the sane and pious members in the community to replace him.

Almighty Allah knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.