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Question: What is the true ruling on giving a gift or money to an Imam (Hafiz) who is leading the Taraaweeh prayers during Ramadan even if the Imam does not ask for it, or would not know it until the gift is given to him upon the completion of the Qur'an ? Once given, should the Imam (Hafiz) accept this gift?

Generally speaking, traditional ruling in the Hanafi School has been that one is not allowed to receive remuneration or payment for reciting the Qur’an. This has been the position authenticated by Imam Ibn Abideen in his esteemed work.

However, lately, because of change of times and diminishing nature of incentives and lack of ambition and declining of moral standards in the Ummah, many scholars have adopted the ruling that although payment for reading the Qur’an is not encouraged or desirable, there is nothing wrong to pay the Imams who lead prayers. This has been the position that has been widely practiced in the Muslim community throughout the world. It does not require much imagination to say that a Hafiz who leads the Taraaweeh can also fall in this category. So we can pay him, not for his reading of the Qur’an, but for freeing himself for the service of the community even as we pay the Imam who leads the five daily prayers.

Reading the Qur’an from memory is a rigorous task; it requires extraordinary concentration. It is, therefore, not sinful to pay him in this time and age when people are less inclined to devote to such pursuits because of the reign of the worldly consciousness and consumerism.

Based on these considerations, a Hafiz can be paid a remuneration or gift not for his reading, but in lieu of his dedication to the service of the community.

On his part, a hafiz, who is otherwise not financially well to-do, can accept the same, if his intention is not to receive the money for his reading, but for being able to serve the community.

If, on the other hand, he is well to do, it is preferred that he does not accept any payment.

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