Why are people of illegitimate birth not allowed to lead congressional prayers, be a Marj’i (Grand Religious Authority) or a Shari’a judge? Would this ruling not be considered unfair because it punishes a person for something that is not their fault or their crime? Are the sources that mention this ruling authentic?
In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful.
May Allah bless Muhammad and his Family and damn their enemies.
The ruling by no means punishes people of illegitimate birth. On the contrary, it avoids causing emotional harm to these individuals, preserves them from the Shaytan, and protects them from falling into sin. For example, If a person of illegitimate birth became a judge or a Marji’, then his enemies or opponents – who might be dissatisfied with his judicial decisions – could use that fact against him. His illegitimate birth will be an excuse for insulting and slandering him by using offensive terms such as “son of adultery” or “son of sin” to denounce him, his rulings and provoke him.
This will undoubtedly cause severe psychological stress due to provocation and develop a feeling of hatred towards his community. It is also possible that this provocation might lead him to – as a reaction – to rule in opposition to Allah’s (the Most Exalted) rules. Therefore, he would either oppress or unlawfully innovate in the religion of Allah (the Most Exalted), ultimately causing his downfall in this life and the hereafter.
For that reason, Islam made sure that these individuals are not subjected to humiliation or disgrace; kept away from such positions of authority so that they do not get ill-treated. Any person who has authority over people – be it a judge, a Marji’ or even leading in prayer – would undoubtedly have some enemies and opponents who may verbally abuse him and consequently cause him to develop a need for revenge and fall into sin.
Therefore, it would be safer and better for this individual to live in the community away from such positions, with peace of mind that the truth of his origin is poorly known. On the contrary, if he held a position of authority, the origin of his birth would undoubtedly be exposed as people are usually keen to investigate the origins of those in a position of power, which could become an unbearable embarrassment for him.
It might be worth pointing out that Sheikh al-Habib, as explained in some of his lectures, outweighs the view that a person born illegitimately of unbelieving parents (who do not consider adultery as a crime) would be allowed to become a Marji’ or a judge if he accepted Islam. This is in line with the generally-accepted juristic rule titled “al-Jabb”, i.e., Islam forgives or undoes previous misdeeds and their consequences for those who convert to Islam. His Eminence explained that the ruling on illegitimate children is specific to those illegitimately born of Muslim parents who deliberately committed adultery.
The Office of Sheikh al-Habib