On Using the Pulpit and Mosque for Political Gains

Answered by Sayyidi al-Ḥabīb `Umar bin Hafīẓ (may Allāh preserve him and benefit us by him).

Some people take up positions in mosques and on the pulpit for political aims and motives. What is your opinion on this?

Individual or group interests should not be allowed to encroach upon places of public guidance and to influence people speaking in the name of the Sacred Law which governs all groups and should be the reference point for all. The pulpit (minbar) should not be transformed from a place of teaching to a platform for people to mobilise others or to achieve their political, material or social aims. The pulpit should only be used for the lofty purpose of admonition and guidance and teaching the Sacred Law.

A Muslim must differentiate between his personal opinion and the sacred texts. There is a big difference between an individual’s opinion and a text revealed by Allāh or conveyed by His Messenger which calls all creation to a praiseworthy quality or to a noble action. Examples of these are sacred injunctions related to acts of worship whether they be compulsory or supererogatory or those related to good treatment of parents, neighbours and relatives or showing kindness to the poor and needy. These are lofty values which are at the heart of the Sacred Law but mixing this with the attainment of personal goals corrupts the intention of the teacher and transforms mosques and pulpits into places of conflict.

Mosques should be protected and the dialogue in them should not be aimed at provoking and exploiting people. Someone speaking in a mosque should speak with sincerity with the intention of calling people to Allāh, not to a specific party or group. The mosque should remain a place for the call to Allāh through the teaching of noble qualities. It should be a place to which people come to receive enlightenment in their transactions with Allāh and to remove the dirt and dust which clouds their hearts. They should not find conflict in the mosque which has been brought in from outside.