An imam caught agreeing to marry off a 14-year-old girl has been welcomed back to his mosque job, despite protests from worshippers.
Sajid Zafar Hussain has spent the past month suspended from his post at the Jamatia Islamic Centre on Woodlands Road, Sparkhill. He was caught on film agreeing to arrange the wedding ceremony by undercover TV reporters posing as the mother and brother of the schoolgirl.
Mr Hussain was immediately suspended by the mosque but the Mail has discovered he was allowed to return to work last Monday. Yet the decision has divided worshippers, with one mosque member claiming the ‘unjustifiable’ return had caused bad feeling. They said: “When the imam entered the mosque to lead prayers a number of members and trustees protested and asked if he would do the decent thing and resign to avoid causing division within the community. The imam refused to comment.
“A number of his supporters then objected and began to push members around, there was a disorder which was defused by the trustees and the members walking away from the situation. “The Management Committee were asked to explain how they concluded the imam’s actions did not amount to gross misconduct. They too refused to comment.”
The ITV Exposure programme visited 56 mosques across the country and asked clerics to perform an Islamic marriage ceremony, known as a nikah. Mr Hussain and imams at 17 other mosques agreed. The Mail visited the Jamatia Islamic Centre where its President Noor Hussain and joint treasurer Mohammed Fidah confirmed the imam had been allowed to return following an investigation by an ‘independent committee’. The President claimed the cleric had agreed in principle to marry off the schoolgirl as a reaction to the ‘emotional state’ of the female reporter posing as her mother, who he described as a ‘desperate woman’.
Asked if they thought Mr Hussain’s offer to marry off the schoolgirl was wrong, Mr Noor Hussain stressed no criminal offence had been committed as no marriage had actually been conducted.