Saudi Arabia: Only Qualified Applicants Need Apply


I received the following as an email from a dear friend and I have chosen to share it in its entirety as I think it creates a great platform for dialogue.  I request in advance that the discussion stay professional and intelligent.  There’s no need to lower oneself to debasing a system or individuals.  Let’s discuss in healthy terms on why or why not a system is or is not working.  I KNOW you can do it!

Subject: JOB Vacancy During Year 1520-1566


Here’s an Job advertisement for the position of Imam of the Grand Mosque in Istanbul at the time of Sultan Suleyman (Khaleefah) who ruled the Ottomon Empire from 1520-1566:
-To have mastered the languages of Arabic, Latin and Turkish and Persian.
-To have mastered the Qur’an, the Bible and the Torah.
-To be a scholar in Shari’ah and Fiqh.
-To have mastered physics and mathematics up to teaching standard.
-To be a master of chivalry, archery, dueling and the arts of Jihad.
– To be of handsome countenance.
– To have a strong melodious voice.

(Source: Al Ahram newspaper 22nd September 1986, Egypt)
Do any of our senior ulema or imams come close to filling the conditions of this job description?

16 Responses

  1. Seriously???? Here is my question. Did they find anyone that fits that bill?

  2. Of course they have not. The job is still open. You can apply.

    It is the skill 2nd from the bottom which always trips all imams:)

  3. I’m not familiar with your imams nor senior ulema

    In the list, I like the requirement for language and religious studies. What is Sharia’ah and Fiqh? Perhaps Sharia’ah law? Archery and dueling seem a bit irrelevant in the 21st century. And as to the handsome countenance and melodious voice, I’d rather require healthy eating and exercise habits and regular attendance at Toast Masters.

    Here’s my own list:

    -To have mastered the languages of Arabic, and Turkish and Persian. (Chinese, English and Tagalog might be good too. Forget Latin.)
    -To have mastered the Qur’an, the Bible and the Torah.
    (have a bit of understanding of Buddhism and Hinduism too)
    -To have studied world history and the influence of religion on human events
    -To have mediated a conflict in which grave offense has occurred on both sides
    – To have fought for justice in a way that required personal sacrifice
    -To have suffered enough to judge with mercy
    -To have established a habit of healthy living

    Well, my list is if anything more stringent in its requirements!

    Bedu, I’m touched by your belief that we can have civil discourse!!!

  4. Interesting qualities needed! What a neat thing to find!

  5. Ha!

    Let’s see… I’ve never met an imam in an Arab country who spoke English, so I think we can safely rule out the other three languages. Even in the US, English is a 50/50 chance, and so is Arabic – I’ve met several who somehow managed to memorize the entire Qur’an without understanding a word of it. I’ve never understood the point of that, but it’s common in non-Arabic-speaking Muslim countries like Pakistan.

    The lack of English limits the extent to which I can interact with them, but even if they were all experts on fiqh and shari’a (which I can guarantee you they’re not!), it wouldn’t do them much good in most Muslim countries. Imams who promote teachings that contradict the positions of the royal families or ruling dictators tend to ‘disappear’, and they all know that. For example, I don’t recall any speaking out against their governments’ support for the American invasion of Iraq, though I very much doubt any of them believed it met the Islamic criteria for a ‘just war’.

    I think that’s the real problem. In most Muslim countries, the government keeps a tight leash on imams, and those who are too liberal, too strict, or too outside-the-box don’t last long. Those who are knowledgeable enough about Islam to know that many of the ruling family’s actions are haram (wrong and sinful), and intelligent enough to know the consequences for saying so, tend to pursue a different career path, even if they would have made great imams.

    Conversely, those who do choose to become imams tend to be those who either don’t know enough to realize that much of what they’re told to say is wrong, or they know it’s wrong, but don’t care as long as they’re getting paid. Neither of those are well-suited to the job, for obvious reasons, but under the current system in most Muslim countries, that’s what we’re stuck with. Until something changes, no one better-qualified will want to do it.

  6. Phew! I’m wondering what handsomeness has anything to do with being an Imam. Probably didn’t want something like this to show up

  7. Archery and duelling are most probably requirements due to the benefit these sports have to offer ie mental fitness, focus and attention skills, and patience etc.

  8. I like your list Annie!

  9. Waw! what a list! I would like to see such a person!
    yes, I am wondering too, did they find somebody who fit the bill?
    I really like that list! And how religiously well versed as well! Ànd he has to be handsome!

    One thing is clear, the list nowadays must be very, very short.
    If they have a list at all….?

    LOL @ Moq:mrgreen:

  10. Given how specialized physics and mathematics are compared to the 16th century I think we can rule that out as a requirement for today. As far a languages go, very few Imams in the US seem to speak English.

  11. They should require communication in atleats a few languages , ( atleast those serving the popluationthat attends the mosque) ,
    and basic high school education. C;mon people high school math and science is not that hard. If hormonal 17yr old can mange it with a million other distrations a grown man should be able to.

    I think it is quite easy to find an imam who is well educated and who speaks english and who is profiecient in the koran and well read. it’s a matter of IF the hiring comitee wants to or just wants to promote their friends :-)

  12. “To be of handsome countenance”? Really? lol .. So if the dude was alright looking, but he had all the other qualifications needed, they won’t hire him?

    I didn’t know Allah (swt) judges people based on their appearence.

  13. i don’t think ‘handsome countenance’ means just goo dlooking, inthe context it would also mean plesant to look at , calming face etc., etc.,
    someone with a face and body that doesn’t distract those praying i guess:-) ha ha or maybe it was written up by a woman who probably felt the mosque would be a much better place with a good looking face in it.

  14. lol Probally you’re right Radhaa, who knows ..

  15. Hate to burst the bubble here. This is a hoax/spam email which has been circulating in the cyberspace since 2001!!!

    Another one … moon split miracle …. amongst myriad of others, has been spammed around the globe since the mid-1990s!

    Hate to speculate on the motives of the originator(s) and subsequent senders :)-

  16. Oh my glob, that is amazing.
    I’m very excited to see that one must have mastered the Bible and the Torah in addition to math and science.
    I wish that the Catholic church (well all churches really) would have such high standards for its clergy!!!!!

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