The Imam leads Islamic prayer and services but may also take on a larger role in providing community support and spiritual advice.
An Imam’s Duties
The primary responsibility of an Imam is to lead Islamic worship services. In fact, the word “imam” itself means “to stand in front of” in Arabic, referring to the placement of the Imam in front of the worshipers during prayer. The Imam recites the verses and words of prayer, either aloud or silently depending on the prayer, and the people follow his movements. During the service, he stands facing away from the worshipers, toward the direction of Mecca.
For each of the five daily prayers, the Imam is present at the mosque to lead the prayers. On Friday, the imam also usually delivers the khutba (sermon). The Imam may also lead the taraweeh (nightly prayers during Ramadan), either alone or with a partner to share the duty. The Imam also leads all other special prayers, such as for funerals, for rain, during an eclipse, and more.
Other Roles Imams Serve in the Community
In addition to being a prayer leader, the Imam may also serve as a member of the larger leadership team in a Muslim community. As a respected member of the community, the Imam’s counseling may be sought in personal or religious matters. One may ask him for spiritual advice, help with a family issue, or in other times of need. The Imam may be involved in visiting the sick, engaging in interfaith service programs, officiating marriages, and organizing educational gatherings in the mosque. In modern times, the Imam is increasingly in a position to educate and reform youth away from radical or extremist viewpoints. Imams reach out to youth, inspire them in peaceful pursuits, and teach them the correct understanding of Islam—in the hopes that they will not fall prey to misguided teachings and resort to violence.
The following is a list of responsibilities the community should expect of the imam:
- Leads the daily prayers at the masjid.
- Leads Jumu’ah prayer and gives the khutbah.
- Leads Eid Prayers and gives the khutbah.
- Providing funeral services and guidance.
- Provides matrimonial and divorce counseling and services.
- Teaches courses and gives daily reminders for adults (topics: Qur’anic studies, Hadith, Seerah,etc.)
- Conducts youth focused activities and interactive programs(example: Quran memorization,halaqahs, outdoor activities etc.)
- Leads outreach and da’wah activities for both Muslims and people of other faiths.
- Maintains regular and convenient office hours at the masjid for members of the community who seek counsel and guidance.
- Maintains online presence to remain available to the community as a imam/leader
- Interacts with all persons and organizations, Muslim and non-Muslim, in a manner that reflects positively on the masjid.
- Conducts himself at all times in ways that foster unity and a sense of inclusion among all members of the local Muslim community, and promote broad participation in Islamic and community activities.
- Lead by example to prevent discrimination on any basis including but not limited to school of thought, gender, race, nationality, ethnic origin, citizenship, political affiliation, or economic status.
- Work with Masjid’s Executive Committee on fundraising programs for the Masjid as needed.
- Provide consultation to the Board of Directors on religious matters, community issues, and Mosque activities as requested.
- Regular meetings on monthly or quarterly basis with the Imam Committee to evaluate performance.