Charging fees for lectures

Q88 :There is a tradition in our part of the world to organize meetings with the aim of instructing the Muslim community about Islam. Such a meeting may last several days with speeches, lectures and seminars about the Qur'an, the Hadith and other Islamic subjects. It used to be the case that money was collected from the public to meet the expenses of organizing such a meeting. Whatever is left is donated to the local mosque. Nowadays, however, some speakers and teachers only agree to participate in such a meeting after stipulating certain conditions with regard to their accommodation, food and a percentage of the money collected. Is this permissible?

A88 : There is no doubt that a scholar who is able to teach people about their faith will earn great reward from Allah if he does not charge any money for his lectures or seminars. To do so, a scholar has to have some sort of income to meet his needs. He will either have some sort of business, or he may be employed either in the government or in a company. In the latter case, he would do the teaching or deliver his lecture in his free time. If a scholar lacks these means but is an effective speaker and lecturer, he may be in demand in such meetings. If they involve travel, he will have to take time off from his work and family. In such a situation, he does no wrong if he asks to be paid for his effort. Indeed, he will be a better lecturer and instructor if he devoted more time for his research and the preparations of his talks and lessons. Sometimes we tend to think that everything connected with Islam, and the explanation of its message and teachings, should be done voluntarily, and without remuneration. Now this is a little idealistic. Why is it that a person who is well read in any branch of science or indeed in literature or philosophy should be paid for his lectures while a scholar who has spent many years in learning about Islam is looked upon with disapproval if he charges a fee for his lectures? Moreover, if the same scholar receives royalties on books he publishes, we accept that as appropriate, but we disapprove of his remuneration for talks and seminars. Is it not true that this discrepancy is rather arbitrary? May I go back and say that when such talks and lectures are given free of charge, they stand to bring the lecturer a generous reward from Allah. But when a scholar charges a fee for his talks and lectures, he is entitled to do so, even if he is well-off, provided that he does not give a false impression of his position.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )