If you’re a Muslim, you might aim to become an imam in future so you can one day lead prayers. The office of the Imam is a very renowned one both spiritually and otherwise; hence, becoming an Imam does require a lot. Nevertheless, there are thousands of Imams all over the world which means you can become one too if you’re dedicated.
Well, if you want to become an Imam in Nigeria, you’re on the right page. Here, I’ll be explaining how to become an Imam in Nigeria. First of all, let’s consider the qualities and duties of an Imam.
Qualities and Duties of an Imam
- Prayers and Quranic knowledge
An imam’s job is to provide answers and direction to Muslims, hence he or she must have a good deal of knowledge. Complete knowledge of the Quran and Islamic religion is required of the imam, as well as an understanding of religious and spiritual laws. He must be well-versed in Islamic doctrine and custom, as well as the teachings’ underlying principles and subtext.
- Ability to Lead
Besides being a spiritual and religious leader for the individual Muslims, an Imam is also a socio-political leader for Islam itself. So long as he stays committed to Islamic values and beliefs, he must be courageous enough to lead wisely and take actions for the best interest of the Islamic faith society.
- Unquestionable Ethics and Morals
Rules for being an imam include demonstration of high morals and ethical standards that are above reproach. He must be pure, praiseworthy and deeply spiritual. An imam must infallibly follow all of the laws of Islam and avoid errors in his everyday life. As a leader, he must lead by example and earn the trust of his followers and of society.
- Divine Consciousness
Last but not least, the imam serves as a link between God and his devotees. The imam must be God-conscious, or in direct connection with Allah, in order to carry out his duties. The divine wisdom and grace are then passed from the Imam to the Muslims believers.
The above are the most important qualities and duties of an Imam. With that, let’s look at how an Imam is chosen.
How is an Imam chosen
From Pulse’s Who is an Imam article, we have the below definition:
“The word “Imam” in Arabic means “leader”. In common parlance in Arabia, an Imam is referred to as any person who holds a leadership position.”
Choosing an Imam is a more subjective process. It depends on the people available to choose from. According to Islam, A Jamaat should be established when at least two Muslims are present and an Imam is required for a Jamaat. There are no fixed factors and it’s more of a first choice among the current options. As a result, anyone can become an Imam. Depending on the circumstances, the same person can be a follower at one gathering and an Imam at another.
The wisest and most righteous in the gathering would be the Imam. If more than one person shares the aforementioned trait, the one with the most votes wins. The Imam will be chosen by the Muktadi (followers). However, if there is just one worthy candidate, the question of popular choice isn’t necessary.
Generally when choosing an Imam, the following is considered:
- The first preference should go to a scholar, if one exists.
- If there are numerous scholars, the one with the best Qirat and Tazbir should be chosen first
- If they are the same, the one with the greatest Takwa should be chosen, otherwise, the elder person
- If still equal, the one who is most polite or the person with the best looks and then voice
If there is a choice between a well-known scholar who has problems with Qirat and a lesser-known scholar who has a smooth Qirat ability, the latter should be chosen. There is no need for a new Imam to be appointed if there is already one in place at the mosque. He can appoint someone to fill in for him if he’s not available at the time.
How to become an Imam in Nigeria
To become an Imam, you need to know the Quran, Arabic, and all the necessary prayers extensively. Also, you should be as close to righteous as possible. For the latter, righteousness, it’s 100% up to you. On the other hand, you must study to be well-versed in the Quran and Arabic.
Hence, to become an Imam in Nigeria, you need to attend Islamic schools and attain as much knowledge and certificates as you can. If you’re the highest scholar and most knowledgeable in an Islamic gathering, you become the Imam unless in mosques where there are already appointed Imams.
There are many Islamic schools in Nigeria you can attend. Like normal schooling, you attain both secondary and higher institution Islamic education.
However, for Islamic schools, the ultimate goal is to develop and guide students into becoming principled Muslims who understand themselves, their religion, and their dealings with others. Also, they learn about their position in the family, community and society.
Students learn about Islamic beliefs in a context where they are surrounded by people who do what they preach. Students will be able to see how Islam may be implemented in all aspects of their daily lives if all aspects of the institution are aligned with Islamic values. All of these makes one knowledgeable enough to become an imam, lead prayers, and offer guidance and advice to other Muslims.