Kuwait imam 'not arrested' after video of him wearing shorts in call to prayer

Video sparked debate but religious authorities have taken no action against the man

12/07/09 - View from the streets of Kuwait City, Kuwait, the capital and largest city in Kuwait with an estimated 2.38 million people.   (Andrew Henderson/The National) *** Local Caption ***  ah_090712_Kuwait_Stock_0198.jpg
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

A video posted online showing a Kuwaiti imam saying the call to prayer while wearing shorts has sparked debate online amid what authorities say are incorrect reports of his arrest.

A religious authority source told The National that the imam in question has attended the mosque in the Al Rehab area of Kuwait City for the last 30 years and is an upstanding member of the community. They said the video clip was taken after the man had been cleaning the mosque's library in his spare time before realising he had to perform the Maghreb call to prayer.

The official said that with no time to change, the imam made the call to prayer in his “unofficial” attire, a white T-shirt and a pair of calf-length shorts, before he rushed to change and prepare to lead the prayers. He pointed out there is no Islamic law governing what should be worn while performing the call to prayer, or stating that the ablutions required for prayer must already be performed.

An imam who leads the prayer, or muezzin who performs the call to prayer, often wears a Kandura, or long dress, or trousers and a shirt.

A video posted of the unorthodox call to prayer sparked a debate online. While some people criticised the imam's attire, others rushed to his defence.

“There is nothing wrong with what he did according to Sharia,” one poster said. “He should be excused. What if he was asleep and he just woke up in time for prayer?”

Another Twitter user said the person who filmed the video was at fault, making the incident public.

“A lawyer should take up a case against the person who filmed … There are two people near the imam who could have spoken to the imam,” the person wrote.

A few people were critical of the imam's attire, saying that there is a dress code for visiting a mosque.

“One should wear respectable clothing in a mosque whether they are the muezzin or the imam … regardless of the reason,” one user said.

There were reports that the man had subsequently been arrested over the incident, but authorities insisted that this was not the case.

The Union of Kuwaiti Preachers, Imams and Adan Callers said the Imam was not given a warning or found guilty of any violation or administrative errors in the last 30 years, Kuwait's Almajlliss online media outlet reported.

The Ministry of Awqaf closed the matter after questioning the imam and cleared him of any wrongdoing.

It was no known what action, if any, was taken in regard to the person who filmed the clip.

Mosques in Kuwait have been at reduced capacity owing to social distancing rules aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19, but they are set to return to full capacity in October.

Updated: August 30, 2021, 2:56 PM