According to Mr. Rashid Al Dhanhani, the Manager of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments in Fujairah, there are currently 287 imams in the emirate of
Most mosques have one imam but there are a handful of mosques that have a muezzin (caller) as well as an imam (mosque leader). More imams are needed as the hope is that eventually each mosque will have two imams in order to ensure adequate coverage when one is sick or on leave.
All imams in
Of the 280 imams in
When asked to explain the absence of Emiratis in the ranks of imams, officials at the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments in
An oft-stated reason is the low salary. Imams from outside of the UAE may start on 5,000 AED and each year this may increase to 7,000 AED plus a free residence.
Emirati imams start at 9,000 AED and they receive a free residence.
Tied to the Mosque
Another negative stopping Emiratis from taking up the imam vocation is that they feel they would be tied to the mosque. They are expected to be on the job five times a day and more on the day of worship. Emiratis value Friday as a family day and see that the responsibilities at the mosque as an imam would preclude much time spent with their family.
Others view the time commitments as being quite liberating saying that once early more prayers are over the imam has the whole morning to himself. While the Friday sermons are prepared at headquarters and are not written by local imams, there are mosque maintenance issues that must be attended to and certain pastoral functions.
The imam has one day off a week but he cannot be off duty on a Friday or Saturday.
New imams start with 45 days of holiday each year and after a few years this increases to 60 days of annual leave.
It is difficult to establish how much training is required to become an imam for this varies according to the formal education received prior to beginning imam training. Some College or University training is preferred and then there are several years engaged in the study of the Koran and theology.
Once a month all the imams in
The head office of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments is based in
Most policy and practical issues are sorted out by the
The imams are paid out of the Fujairah office which also oversees the movement of imams to and from
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Image: Photo courtesy of UAE Pics from the article Mosques in the UAE.