Question:

Some people think that it is not upon them to show respect to the Imaam of the Masjid because he is not the supreme leader (i.e., the ruler etc.). This is to the point that you see him, when there occurs a dispute between him and the Imaam regarding a personal issue he raises his voice at him in front of the people and addresses him with a lack of respect. This same person, perhaps you can see him in a restaurant like McDonald’s, for example, addressing the disbelievers with the utmost respect. And the Imaam is Salafee; a person of the Sunnah. The question: What is the extent of the rights of the Imaam; i.e., the Imaam of the Masjid; and is it upon us to show him respect?

Answer: Record now. Record this question. Can I begin?

Questioner: Yes, O Shaykh. May Allaah bless you.

Shaykh: All the praise is for Allaah, the Lord of all that exists. May prayers, peace, and blessing be upon our Prophet Muhammad, upon his family, and companions, all together.  As to what follows:

It is not befitting, as it relates to him, for him to meet his Muslim brother who traverses upon the Book of Allaah, the Majestic and High, and the Sunnah of His Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam), and upon the Manhaj of the pious predecessors except to meet him with good manners and lofty etiquettes and humbleness, mildness, and kindness. If he is from those who have a religious station; like if he is from the scholars, or the students of knowledge, or the Imaams of the Masaajid who deliver the sermons to the people, admonishes them, instructs them, and teaches them the rulings of the religion then displaying good etiquettes with them and…(words unclear), and displaying good manners, and kindness, and mildness, without doubt takes more precedence than with other than him. He who meets his Muslim brothers with a frowning face and rough speech and a raised voice while he meets the enemies of Allaah, the Majestic and High; the enemies of His religion and Legislation with good manners, a pleasant face and delightful demeanor, and kindness, the believer has more right to these characteristics; although it is befitting that he display them to all the people in order that the people can see the effects of Al-Islaam upon him; and that it has refined his manners and has beautified his etiquettes and has adorned him with pleasant characteristics.

The matter is increased in ugliness if this roughness and harshness and hardness towards your Muslim brother and raising of the voice is displayed within the Masjid. For the Masaajid are only built for prayer and the remembrance of Allaah and the recitation of the Qur’aan. The raising of voices therein, and arguing and disputing are more severe in ugliness than singing would be in other places.

So the Muslims must be given their rights. If one is within the Masjid; the point is that the Masjid has a right. It is befitting that one pays attention to these matters and that he gives everyone who has a right his right.

Translation by: Raha ibn Donald Batts
Question posed on December 10, 2013/7 Safar 1435 H.
Masjid Tawheed wa Sunnah