Recently I was asked by a dear friend of mine to contact his relative because the latter was having some issues. Now both of these guys are dear homies to me and I was upset upon hearing that homie #2 was having some issues. However, what really upset me was the following:
Homie: “Do you think you could call him?”
Suhaib: “Sure, I have a Vonage line in Egypt and it would be no problem.”
Homie: “We are willing to pay you well for your efforts.”
Suhaib: “Akhi, there is something called fisabilibrotherhood! He’s our brother, and a dear friend.”
A few months back I was invited to Chicago. Man, I love Chicago, the brothers and sisters there are holding it down; I enjoy seeing my YM brothers and my al-Maghrib Homies. However, this worried me:
Questioner: “You will be paid well if you come.”
Suhaib: “I don’t charge for coming. I know that MAS ask for some money that is put in my scholarship fund to study and that’s it.”
Questioner: “You don’t charge?”
I was talking to a friend of mine and he told me that His MSA organized an event inviting a speaker. After they agreed, posted the fliers and spread the word like Ebola, the speaker called back and said, “By the way, I need 5 Gees to speak!” The brothers and sisters were like, “Man, we are the MSA not Wells Fargo!” However, the speaker refused to show unless they brought the dough!
I went to London and the local organization complained about an international speaker who refused to stay in his hotel room. When asked why he said, “I must have a jacuzzi in my room!”
A big Qari came to the West and visited a local masjid. He told them, “I charge 8 hundred dollars per Rakah!”
All of these stories I relate on behalf of brothers and sister who I trust and were deeply hurt by the actions of these people. This is a reminder to those active in Dawa: Fear Allah and follow the likes of those who went before us:
1. Dr. Jamal Badawi- I remember he was invited to an event raising money for Palestine in L.A. He told the brothers, “Don’t worry about the expenses, I pay for my tickets. Use the money for Palestine!”
2. Siraj Wahaj- Never asked for anything more than the average and always smiles.
3. Dr. Tariq Ramadan- Once he came from his home to the Bay area before he was banned by Bush. We took him to a real nice hotel and he refused saying, “I don’t want this. Put me in a simple place.” He refused and made us take the less expensive option
4. Sh. Syed Gibril, the brother of Mohammad and our teacher, he refused to stay in a hotel room with a T.V, he ordered the brothers to take the fridge out because it had beer in it, when the brothers came to him the next day, the found him sleeping in the closet complaining about the fitnah of this dunya.
5. Hassan al-Banna was asked, “Why do you travel economy?” His response, “Because there is no third class.”
This doesn’t mean we neglect our workers and let them stay in a dump. But, workers in the Dawa need to be on the lookout that they are not falling for the C.R.E.A.M attitude as articulated nicely many years ago:
Cash Rules Everything Around Me
Get the money
Dollar, dollar bill y’all
Cash Rules Everything Around Me
Get the money
Dollar, dollar bill y’all
Imam al-Muhasibi said, “Don’t sell your din for this dunya.”
Fear Allah and stop bleeding the community.
Assalamualaikum wa Rahmatullah,
May Allah bless you with good in this life and the hereafter. How apt your article is to our current times.
Working in the Dawah i know exactly what the article is talking about, and some of the Da'ees are literally bleeding the community. Ive seen more money has gone on a speaker and his requirements than the whole of an event, the cost of the venue, food, advertising etc. The standard now is that the actual guest is half of the cost of an event, if not more.
May Allah guide us to the truth.
Barak Allahu feek!
The commodification of knowledge and even naseeha is deeply troubling to me and I fear an ugly fallout from this in years to come.
…and I'm glad there's a positive use for all that Wu Tang stuck in my head.
Brother I can relate to this issue. I am a member of an isoc (that a UK MSA). We wanted to invite speakers to come and attend our lectures and they were asking for some extraordinary amounts of money. Please brothers involved in dawah, use your logic student do not have immense amount of money, but we will try our best to facilitate your needs and requirements.
well said and definitely needed, ma sha' Allah.
SubhanAllah, I was thinking about this yesterday and was sad how some speakers can deal with the situation in the wrong way. I understand some of them make a 'living' out of speaking, but should they? Or if they are so busy doing dawah and speeches, should they ask for such extravagance or should they simply ask for expenses to be paid? Or leave it to the generosity of the people?
Those examples you gave really show that there are still people who live and do dawah for Allah, they care not for the dunya and entrust everything with Allah. If the speakers are not a living example to those whome they speak to then we serisouly are in need of help.
subhanallah…we have had to deal with inviting a number of scholars and teachers here to the UK and one who needs a big shout is the Imam Shaikh Abdul Hakim Quick. He is one who personifies the Sunnah, wallahi some of us here in London who were with him all said that he reminded us of Rasullah (saw), so humble, patient, well mannered and sublime in his personality.
jsk sidi Suhaib for this reminder to the masses, may Allah reward and rank amongst the Arifeen.
I think we should join Woo Tang Clan!
I was also UK ISoc president, but alhumdulilah we didn't have any scholars who charged to come and speak, the following scholars also speak for free:
Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad
Sister Yvonne Ridley (Not a scholar but an exceptional speaker)
Sheikh Abu Jaf'ar al-Hanbali (Scholar based in Nottingham)
Despite the fact Sheikh al-Hanbali stayed up quite late having a personal session with a brother regarding questions he had about Hanbali fiqh, he left early the next morning because he had a 4 hour drive ahead of him and it was snowing, and so he paid for the bed and breakfast (motel) himself.
This is such an awesome post Imam Suhaib. This was so important you posted this. The people you posted are role models for everyone, not just the Imams. I have been put in the same situation regarding scholars needing money. I mean I'll pay for your ticket, hotel room and a “thank you for coming” honorarium but if it is an insane amount I might as well just do it myself!!
By the way, you forgot to mention that Qari Sh. Syed Jebril does not even allow his voice to be recorded, subhanallah. 😉
Scholaz for the dollaz! great post…
Perhaps a list could be made of Islamic workers who don't charge exuberant prices?
that’d expose those who are charging exuberant prices 🙂
Drop me an email and let me know how your mom is doing.
No music – just lyrics
Believe me I wanted to!
It's about time someone finally talked about this.
I've heard that Shaykh Saed Rageah of AlMaghrib does some pro-bono work as well.
I know that Baba Ali (ummahfilms.com) paid for all his own expenses. I remember him telling me that, “Money exposes you”– that it may not make you corrupt, but if you had some flaws before, it will make them apparent. And so he never charged or brought money into the equation since it plays with a person's intentions. But because he was in such high demand I have heard he has started charging for accommodation I think, not too sure about that though.
I understand that some of these people do this full-time but I firmly believe it's best to follow the example of the prophets who worked for themselves. There is even a Hadith that Allah is glad to see a man come home sweating from a hard days work.
Also the volunteers at Muslimology do everything fisabilillah–and alhamdulillah, I can tell you that there is a special baraka, special blessing that comes with working with people who have the most sincerest and clearest intentions. It's like relying on Allah and having him send you people… 🙂
Yeah we prolly should have a list of people who don't charge. Imam Zaid would even pay for his own flight if needed.
Btw I'm gonna need $5 for every comment.
Dear Imam Suhaib, I wrote you a nice paragraph length few weeks back when you asked, I sent it to you via this website, did you get it? I don't have your personal email addy akhee…maybe the webmaster still has the email, i clicked the link contact Br. Suhaib
If you buy 8 rakahs of Taraweeh, the rest will be buy one get one free.
Buy one speech for $5,000 and get the next for $1,000. If you let me stay at the hyatt with a jaquzi, you will get $1,000 off future speeches.
I charge $10 per comment.
I remember Shaykh Sodais from Mekka Mukarramah was invited a few years ago to the ICNA convention in Ohio. One of the brothers was assigned to take care of him thru the day. They took him to his hotel room which was extremely luxurious. He replied that he didn't desire to stay in that room and asked for a more simple one. Subhanallah, it's beautiful to hear these stories.
btw Shaykh Suhaib, wanna come to a YM summer retreat in August? We'll pay you good BBQ and Swimming lessons?
I used to work alot with ICNA convention committee. I remember dealing with some of the scholars was pain, just their requirements and demands. Perhaps, rightly so, but i had wished i didnt have to deal with them. Some of the people i absolutely love are Sh. Abdllah Idris Ali, Sh. Nur Abdllah, Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah…each time you try to give them a gift, its returned on the face…Once i had to go through so many different loops of hiding gift from Sh. Abdllah Idris Ali that it took me a month to find a way to get a gift to him for a fundraising dinner he did for us. Also, these shuukh also care so much for other scholars and ummah its amazing. I remember i was with Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah and i mentioned that Sh Suhaib Webb was in chicago with YM brothers, he questioned right away, “How is he doing, is he OK? Does he need something? Make sure you take care of him properly!…” he was so genuinely concerned that he made me call YM boys and relay the message to them right away.
Khair, I guess CREAM is a good formula to judge who and which shcolars should we invite to our programs. Sh. Suhaib, JAK for breaking the tabou
beautiful and profound
I know how to swim, and my BBQ is smoking. I'm from Oklahoma, so don't get me started on the Q.
JAK Imam Suhaib. If you come to my house to chill, we can pay you handsomely in the best Desi chicken you've ever had. My mom puts Italian dressing in hers. Bling bling.
On a somewhat related note, I'd really like to see an article or some thoughts on your blog about copyright issues in relation to Islamic media. Not necessarily which of the two to three opinions are correct/incorrect, but how to engage with the differences.
In other words, some homies produce Islamic media (audio, books, videos, etc.) asking them to be bought and not copied, while other cats are jacking that media and putting them up online, saying that the Deen cannot be bought and sold. Just because some brothers and sisters disagree with the concept of Islamic copyrights, does that mean they don't have to abide by them? What's the deal, on the wheels of steel?
AsSalamu Alaykum Wa Rahamatullahi Wa Barakatu!
Wow, mashaAllah I was searching something and I came across this blog.
Subhannahllah I didn't know some speakers think like that, And.. “I charge 8 hundred dollars per Rakah!” WHAT in the world?! Since when is that in the Quran or the sunnah of our beloved Rasoolrulllah?!
JazakaAllah akhi for your words, I love the last quote that you stated: Imam al-Muhasibi said, “Don’t sell your din for this dunya.”
and I say: My Deen, Islam, is priceless.
awesome post. alhamdulillah most of my experiences with bringing in speakers/ shyookh have been pretty good, but I've heard so many people complain about having to deal with this issue.
Hold up, there cant be just one side to this 🙂
What constitutes what is too 'high' of a price ? The MSA's budget or the Sheikh's family's expenses ?
When Abu Bakr was given the khilafa, he was asked to leave his business so then he asked for a salary until it met his families needs (it was still modest). Similar story with Umar (r). Who is going to pay these sheikhs bills ?
Brothers and sisters, realize this is one of the biggest concerns sincere brothers have in commiting their lives to Dawah. The lack of financial support by the community.
Where people spend their money is what they TRULY value. Why are masjids putting up huge chandlers, why are MSAs spending a lot of money halls to have Eid dinners ? All this while, frowning down on scholars who ask for money.
How much we spend on our scholars should be done with the most generousity. It'll reflect what we truly value.
Wallah o alum
The 800 dollars per rakah was that for a salafi prayer? or a madhabist prayer? There should be a further discount for a madhabist prayer since its 20 rakaah and not 8.
It's definitely not a one-sided issue, so JAK for the comment. However there needs to be some focus on the major point of this article. It's not about getting paid vs. not getting paid. It's about asking for or too much.
Like in any business world transaction, there is a need to look at FMV. There is no reason for a speaker to expect $5000 from an MSA which tries to get $200 a week to provide for Iftars in Ramadan. That's simple overkill.
Another example: Shuyukh requiring first class. Why? We understand Abu Bakr's radhiAllahu 'anhum model for requesting a salary that continued onto others amongst the greatest Muslims ever. But requiring first class? What's with that? And what does it show the organizers about the people they are inviting who are, literally, the scholars that lead them by example?
So it's not about getting paid vs. not getting paid. It's about extravagance vs. simplicity. Wa Allahu 'Alim.
So i think we can agree the right thing lies between speakers asking for 1st class and organizations frowning down on speakers asking for money.
So this is the million dollar question, no pun intended:
Keeping the needs of the organization and speakers in mind, WHAT guiding principles should be used to determine what kind of compensation should receive ? This is where the solution lies.
Lets turn this comment thread into something that finds the solution so there is a win-win for both parties.
Great examples to inspire us
A preacher from the old time gospel hour… stealin money from the sick and old, well the God I believe in isnt short of CASH MR!!! Preacher Man on this site , is a good Preacher man , he dont take the $$$ dolla bill, but he will take a fish fillet and 44 ouncer at Mcky dees. Oh yah.
Salaam alaykum Imam Suhaib,
Is it appropriate to relate 1st and 2nd hand accounts from one side of these stories without properly representing the other side's story from their own perspective?
I was thinking the exact same thing.
the whole copyright issue baffles me.
could you please clarify this issue Brother Suhaib
also ,does mothers of the believers have copyright, because i downloaded it off another website for free… and if yes, is this counted as stealing?
Mashallah! Salam AKI!
I must say, you have a solid argument here. If we do something for the sake of ALLAH it is better for us. Of course. The rewards may come in 10X what we think we were worth, in a way we might never imagine.
Some speakers get requests from numerous organizations and student groups, and some can handle the payments and others can't. If the shaykh or speaker was not making his money on his demands, then I don't think he would be making them. I don't think FMV applies here because you can't really put a value on the knowledge you're receiving, but we can talk intrinsic value and what people are willing to pay for something, and it appears the shaykh making such a demand is getting such payments, or he'd starve if he maintained such a standard with no payoff.
Re: flying first class, I think if you know any shuyookh who are doing so, you should ask them directly why they have chosen such rather than asking others who don't know their circumstance why they've chosen this – otherwise, it may lead to backbiting that person, or holding suspicions of them that are unbecoming a Muslim. Believe the best until you can conclusively prove the worst, rather than speculatively assume it and throw it under the bus of extravagant behavior.
Jazakumullahu Khairan sh suhaib for this article.
regarding flying first class, I have heard from speakers that for “long” trips, they do request this…otherwise they don’t get any rest (especially on american airlines 🙂 )
Alhamdulilah, I very much appreciate this article, thank you
however May Allah purify our speech, i know what it means, but the verb ‘to bleed’ used in a figurative sense could be improved…something softer…
PS does your website have a no links policy, eg can i post beautiful quran recitations here?
Jazak Allahu khayran
Alhamdulilah brother siraaj, your first post was great
but then I think your second post was nearer to disputation
may Allah purify your speech and mine