Here's a Quranic verse you won't hear many scholars quoting on the speaking circuit:
"Say, [O Muhammad], 'I do not ask you for this message any payment [but] only good will through kinship.' And whoever commits a good deed - We will increase for him good therein. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Appreciative." [42:23]
In other words, Allah is instructing the Prophet (S) to tell his followers that there's no charge of any sort for preaching Allah's message (except to show love to the Prophet's (S)/your family). The reward will be given by Allah Himself.
As followers and even heirs of the Prophet (S), scholars are obligated to follow that sunnah [tradition] of speaking without a set fee.
However, many of our scholars are neck deep in this unspoken bid'ah [innovation].
Better-known scholars in America are charging a whopping $5,000 to $20,000 per lecture in addition to demanding paid transportation and 4- to 5-star hotel stays. Some even require travel costs for their "personal assistants."
The problem with getting paid for speaking is that public lectures about Islam now become a commodity to go to the highest bidder, starting from wealthy mosques to big-budget conventions to government-sponsored forums to eventually uber-rich kingdoms.
Scholars no longer talk about what needs to be said, but what their paymaster wants to hear. And the richer the host, the less likely they'd want to shake the status quo, though Islam came to challenge it and free the oppressed.
Several years ago a "celebrity Shaykh" came to give a lecture in our town. He's considered one of the more outspoken imams living in a very politically active community so I was excited to go listen to him while the War on Terror was in full swing.
But he ended up talking about the habits of frogs for much of the time.
After the talk, I went up to ask him why he didn't address the ongoing wars.
"Our community is very inactive and I was hoping you would say something to encourage them," I said.
"I do talk about that but it depends on what town I'm in," he said.
"Well, there are other scholars who say what needs to be said no matter what." I then gave him a name of such a scholar.
"I know him," he said. "Look at how many followers he has and how many I have."
I left flabbergasted but convinced that the $83.33 per MINUTE we spent on him was a waste!
Mosques across America should boycott scholars with set fees to free the pulpit for the more sincere and sunnah-following scholars satisfied with whatever recompense is voluntarily given. Those interested in rolling in dough should take up another line of work.