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The role of the Imams in Islam

A SPECIAL FEATURE STORY-1

An Imam delivers a sermon to his ma’moom or followers. Supplied 
By ASA T. MADALE
March 7, 2019
In some of my research work, I have undertaken about the duties and responsibilities of an Imam. I asked myself of this particular question: “What does an Imam do?”
According (Huda, Religion & Spiritually, Jan. 26, 2019), the Imam leads Islamic prayer and services but also takes on a larger role in providing community support and spiritual advice.
An Imam is selected at the community level. Members of the community choose someone who is considered knowledgeable and wise. The Imam should know and understand the Qur’an and be able to recite it correctly and beautifully. The Imam is a respected member of the community.
In some communities, an Imam maybe specifically recruited and hired and may have undergone some special training. In other (smaller) cities, Imams are often chosen from among the existing members of the Muslim community.
There is no universal governing body to supervise Imams; this is done at the community level. 
What are the 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 prayers. The Imam recites the verses and word of prayers, and the people follow his movements.
During the service, he stands facing away from the worshipers, toward the direction of Mecca. 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.
In addition to being a prayer leader, the Imam may also serve as a member of the larger leadership team in a community. As a respected member of the community, the Imams counseling maybe 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 maybe involved in visiting the sick, engaging in interfaith service programs, officiating gatherings in the mosque. In modern time, the Imam is increasingly in a position to educate and reform youth away from radical & extremism viewpoints. Imams reach out to youth, inspire them in peaceful pursuits and teach them the correct understanding of Islam in the hopes they will not fall prey to misguided teaching and resort to violence. (MARANAO WASYAT KO DONIA AGO SA AHKIRAT)
(to be continued)

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