Why Other Imams Don’t Help: Losing Their Livelihood

Why Other Imams Don’t Help: Losing Their Livelihood


Photo Credit: Matthew Sleeper

We often ask why trustworthy imams don’t stand up to their abusive peers and hold them accountable. Unfortunately, many imams and community leaders are already overworked and under-compensated, which creates stress in their personal lives. Simple factors like healthcare become issues- even for imams in wealthy communities. Often, taking these controversial stances against abusers adds to their stress by putting their livelihoods on the line. In fact, we have heard cases in which imams would attempt to be “Good Samaritans” by boycotting events where abusers were speaking, but the community instead ostracizes them and they almost lost their jobs.

These are still reliable imams that we can go to for advice. However, if we want these imams to actively address issues beyond their vocational role, we need to pay them livable salaries and otherwise support them as a community. It irks me when masaajid (mosques) can raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for masjid expansions and [pointless] renovations but will not pay their imam more than $30,000 a year. We fail our imams when we don’t pay them enough to support themselves. We simply can’t expect them or any other community member to take on more stress when they are having a tough time providing for their families.

The bottom line is, if we want our scholars to stand up to abuse, which is already controversial, then they need to do it without fear of losing their livelihoods and reputations. By paying them a living wage we can ease this situation, thus empowering our imams and giving them leverage to address abuse. If we pay them more, we are providing them more support as communities, giving them more power to tackle these difficult issues.

To learn more about why not all good people help, click here.

There are many challenges that Muslim leaders face. Over the coming weeks, we will host a short series online where some community leaders will share varying challenges they have faced.


Share this post:

8 Replies to “Why Other Imams Don’t Help: Losing Their Livelihood”

  1. I’m sorry what do all these excuses have to do with doing what is morally correct?

    1. Thank you for your comment. It is commendable if leaders and victims come out and take a stance, but there are conditions that make prohibiting the wrong an obligation. You can read more on that here.

      It’s not a moral obligation when a person fears harm. So, if people decide to not risk their livelihood when chances are that speaking out will be of no benefit, it is not immoral to be silent. Likewise, we cannot blame victims for not coming forward, we know how much victims get blamed. It’s just not fair. In masjids, boards are quick to fire imams and just find someone else who will overlook financial corruption, while the good imams then struggle to feed their families

      1. I disagree with you. I’m investigating cases where several imams have left a trail of victims.s behind to their teachers knowledge. When the imam is a predator it is morally correct to do, just as our Prophet (pbuh) exposed predators to his community. I have personally spoken to teachers requesting intervention for these cases and they have offered no assistance. At this point,
        exposing predators is a must to protect our community. (Please publish the comment as I have notice mine have not been published in the past)

  2. Sister Melanie,

    We’ve seen many cases where imams have overlooked while in a position to make a change. This is inexcusable, and we have written about the cover-up and collusion which you can find here. Please have a read.

    Again- I never said it is immoral to expose, the whole point was to bring attention to the preventatives for taking stances. Whistle blowers face consequences. If we ignore this aspect, we will never understand spiritual abuse (or bystander effect). There is a difference between prohibiting the wrong (nahi an almunkar ) not being an obligation vs not being a virtue. The Prophet peace be upon him was in a position to make a change and this piece is in reference to those who are not in a position to be heard.

    Some of the Islamic scholars we are working with have chosen to remain anonymous. Some are providing religious counseling to victims that have reached out. Scholars and everyone else are free to speak on behalf of themselves outside of this medium. The threat of intimidation is real, hence the purpose of this particular blog post, addressing the real practical ramifications of Good Samaritan imams speaking up. Some leaders have graciously agreed to contribute to our site and as the post mentioned- we will feature them inshallah.

    I have also seen many imams refusing to intervene, and encourage people to not depend on leaders. You can read about that here.

    We are not discouraging listing the predators but addressing why some imams are literally scared to do so. It would be a disservice to this cause to treat this matter as black and white without addressing the nuances of abuse and subsequent cover-ups. We want to address why some imams do not speak up the same way you have not named names (as you say you have investigated cases yourself). We believe in taking a holistic approach in addressing spiritual abuse to empower the abused and our community at large.

    In Shaykh’s Clothing is a resource website. The only comments we don’t publish are ones that name names, are hateful, are threats, or are major distractions.

  3. “It irks me when masaajid (mosques) can raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for masjid expansions and [pointless] renovations but will not pay their imam more than $30,000 a year.”

    Hit the nail on the head right there. A sad reality of most masaajid in the world right now

  4. ok let’s be honest. It’s 2017 and so many muslims don’t even pray. We can’t expect them to take huge risks on morality. And it’s not like we’re some church and need imams to do it- ppl can do it themselves.

    1. Salam alaykom Mohammed, I don’t think that it is helpful to suggest victims name names themselves, they are victims of abuse, and that leaves a wound that can seriously disempower and leave them unable to cope with the subsequent scrutiny which inevtiably will fall on them. I don’t think they need perission to speak out either. but, I have noticed that in one case, people around the abuser are very quick to rush to his defence, close ranks, and ensure that his position and myth are preserved. when you are a ‘nobody’, that is a very intimidating position to be up against. Another aspect is a sense of uncertainty, ‘maybe, I am the problem, maybe, I am misunderstanding, maybe, I deserved it… And for muslims who pray [and even those who don’t – may Allah grant hedaya to understand what a special blessing it is] there are many confusing fatawas that seem to condemn the exposure of these people more than the abuse itself. Allahu Alim!

  5. Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I
    will be waiting for your next post thanks once again.

Comments are closed.