Charging for Religious Services – 3
In another lengthy fatwa [which is composed of a set of questions; I have extracted only the relevant part of the fatwa here for brevity]
Concerning a person [Zayd] who recites from a book in a Mawlid with such a melodious voice and tune that he outperforms professional singers; the commonfolk who do not understand a thing [of what is recited] but are just enthralled by his voice are captivated by it. Therefore, this person has fixed a fee of five rupees to recite in a Mawlid and will not go to any Mawlid which does not pay him that fee of five rupees.*
Zayd’s recitation – particularly when he does it in a singing tune [rāg] – and fixing a fee is impermissible and forbidden. It is strictly impermissible for him to take this payment and partaking from it is forbidden as well. It is mandatory for him to return this fees to those he has collected it from; and if they are dead, return it to their heirs; and if one cannot find them, then such an amount [collected as fees] should be given in charity and he must refrain from doing so in the future.
Firstly, because the mention and remembrance of the Prince of the Universe şallAllāhu álayhi wa sallam is a noble deed and an act of worship in itself; and it is forbidden [ĥarām] to demand fees or payment for acts of worship. In Mabsūt, Khulāşah and Ālamgīrī:
In Khulāşah, Tātārkhāniyah and Ālamgīrī:
In Qunyah, Ashbāh and Durr al-Mukhtār: [and the passage of Durr is most apt when he used the description: ‘the combination of deeds and actions of bodies’]
Secondly, it is apparent from the question that the person Zayd demands a fee for his performance or recital of poetry; even this is expressly forbidden.
In Fatāwā Alamgīrī:
*It was a considerable amount a hundred years ago. Five rupees was approximately a 10 day wage of a craftsman; a month’s wage for an able bodied farmer; 5 rupees could fetch you 65 pounds of kerosene oil and about 40Kg of rice.
See Statistical Abstract Relating to British India, http://dsal.uchicago.edu/statistics/1903_excel/index.html
Also see Prices and Wages in India, http://www.iisg.nl/hpw/data.php#india
** The Imām is using this passage to simply illustrate that scholars classified singing and preaching as actions in which gainful employment is impermissible. Even though the mention of ‘partnership’ is actually the focus of the argument in the original texts, in this context, it is not.
In other words, it is not permissible to solicit/accept payment for
-to bear witness in a case/prosecution
-to recite in a congregation
-to offer condolences
[Question sent by Shaykh Álī ad-Dīn from Naintal, 27 Rabīy al-Akhir, 1313]