Can One Decline to Lead Salat?

By Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Posted: 11 Rabi-ul-Awwal 1422, 3 June 2001

Q.) Does it become the responsibility of the most learned person to lead the prayer if the rightful Imam is not present, or can he decline?

A.) Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, "The most learned is entitled to lead the Salat." (Mishkaat)

The Fuqaha (jurists) have explained, that is in the context of a dispute of appointing an Imam. The criterion suggest to appoint an Imam that is most learned. The Hadith does not imply to impose upon the most learned to lead the Salat. He may decline to do so if he wishes.

And Allah Ta'ala Knows Best