The Language of Khutbat-al- Jumu’ah
By Dr. Omar Afzal (PhD, Alim) Dr. Omar Afzal can be reached by
Allah (ST) says: O You who have attained to faith! When the
call to Prayer is sounded on the day of congregation (Jumu’ah),
hasten to the remembrance of God… (62:9)
The Messenger (S) did not pray any Jumu’ah without preceding it
with a Khutbah.
The Khutbah of the Messenger (S) consisted of two parts; in
between them he sat down (for a short while); He used to recite from
the Qur’an, and added reminders for the people (of their
obligations, etc.) (Muslim)
On the issue of whether Khutbah (of Jumu’ah, Eidain, etc.) must
be only in Arabic or any other language may be used to fulfill the
requirement, the opinions differ among the Ulema from the very early
days and the question was seriously debated for centuries.
Khutbah in Arabic was preferred by the Fuqaha. However, Imam Abu
Hanifa allowed Khutbah in Farsi (and as an extension, in other
languages) even for Khateebs who were well versed in Arabic. Imam
Abu Yusuf, and Imam Muhammad, like most Ulema, permit giving Khutbah
in a language other than Arabic only for those who are unable to
pronounce Arabic well, while making an effort to master it. (Durr
al-Mukhtaar: Kitab as-Salaat, Radd al-Muhtaar, v.2:p.48).
A Khutbah may be delivered in any of the following ways:
- Both parts only in Arabic;
- The first Khutbah partly in Arabic, and partly in another
language, but the second Khutbah only in Arabic;
- Both the first and the second Khutaba partly in Arabic and
partly in other language;
- Both Khutab in another language after the essential
Tashahhud in Arabic;
- Both parts in another language, with no Arabic.
For detailed arguments in support of the “strictly in Arabic”
position see Maulana Mufti Shafi’s Jawhir al-Fiqh v.1 pp.349-369
(1350 a.h), and Fatawa Rahimia (v.1), 1etc.
Mufti Kifayatullah (Kifayat al-Mufti v. 3 #401,403, 411,420,
430-431) supports “Arabic only” position though he agrees that
Khutbah wholly or mostly in another language also fulfills the
requirement (“Ada” but Makrooh”).
In #432 he modified his position further: “Khutbah in Urdu is
against the ‘preferred’ position, but is “admissible.” (Khilaaf-e
aula but Ada)
Arab Ulema without any reservation support Khutbah in any
language. Fataawa from Al-Azhar, and other centers of learning see
nothing wrong in (b, c, d, and e) positions of mixing the languages
in one or both, or in a language other than Arabic, if the
congregation does not understand Arabic well. (Khutab al-Jumu’ah
wal-Eidain By Azhar Ulema: pp.6-9)
Opinions differ about the second, fourth and fifth positions
among the Ulema in the Indian sub-continent. All of these positions
except the last one are acceptable in varying degrees to most. They
were a common practice especially after the seventeenth century in
parts of the world where Arabic was not the language of the masses,
and the need was felt to convey the information contained in the
Khutbah to the maximum number of the audience in the language spoken
Khutbah for Mass Instruction
Fataawa supporting part Arabic and part another language Khutbas
argue that the Messenger (S) used his Khutbah as a means of
instruction and mass education for day-to-day Islamic affairs.
The advent of Surah Jumu’a’s, ordering Muslim to hurry for
Jumu’ah and not to abandon the Khateeb while he is standing on the
pulpit for worldly gains also confirms it.
Maximum effectiveness of any message is possible only if the
listeners understand it clearly. Ulema who allow Khutba in other
languages have emphasized the point that if the sermon is limited to
a language not understood by the audience, then it’s impact is lost.
A large number of Ulema, including Ahal-al-Hadith Ulema, Shah
Abdul Haq Muhaddith Dehlavi, Maulana Abdul-Hai Firangi Mahli,
Maulana Muhammad Ali Mungeri, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi (earlier
opinion, with some restrictions), Maulana Maududi, etc. wrote in
support of Khutba’s validity in local languages and dialects.
Nawawi, Shah Wali-Ullah and others insist on Arabic to keep the
Muslims attached to the language of the Qur’an.
Ulema.from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, especially of the
Deoband school strongly oppose interjecting any non-Arabic segments,
even a translation, an explanatory note, or a poetic couplet in
Arabic, Persian, or Urdu in Khutbah, though traditionally it was
very common for centuries.
Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanavi (Fatawa Ashrafiya) also allowed
occasional use of short Urdu and Persian translations, couplets and
explanatory notes in the local dialect, if it helped the listeners
understand the Aayat, or Hadith. However, later he appears to have
modified his position after Mufti Mohammad Shafi wrote his treatise
on the subject.
Those who insist on Arabic only Khutbah argue that:
- Khutbah replaces two Raka’at of Zuhr. The prayers are valid
only in Arabic. Hence, Khutbah should also be in Arabic only.
- Khutbah is “Dhikr, and an integral part of the Jumu’ah
prayer. It can be only in Arabic as no part of the prayer is in
any language other than Arabic is permissible.
- Khutbah in Arabic is a Sunnah Muakkadah. Disregarding a
Sunnah Muakkadah is a sin.
- Khutbah in Arabic was the consensus of the Ummah for the
last 1400 years. The Khulafa, the Companions, and the
generations following them did not use any other language in
Khutbah when they reached far off lands and Arabic was not
spoken there. They might have felt the need for reaching out to
non-Arabic speakers, but kept Khutbah in Arabic.
- Many Companions knew or later learned Roman, Persian,
Armenian, Coptic, and other languages. But the Khutbah was
always given in Arabic. They did not ask a native dialect
speaker to translate their Khutbah for others, etc.
For details see Jawahir al-Fiqh (v.1, pp 349-369), Imdad al
Fataawa (v.1 pp 646-665), Al-Mughni (v.1: p. 350), etc.
Those who see nothing wrong in the use of a local language along
with the Arabic in Khutbah (following the recitation of “masnoon”
parts in Arabic) counter the above arguments by saying:
- Khutbah in lieu of the two Raka’at of Zuhr does not mean
that the same conditions apply for the Khutbah to be valid as
for the validity of the prayers.
(For example, the prayer is valid only if facing towards the
Qiblah, but Khutbah is just the opposite. Khutbah is valid without
ablution, even in the condition of uncleanness (Janabat), if
inadvertent, and has not to be repeated. A prayer is invalid in both
situations, and must be repeated. One cannot engage in conversation
while in prayer, but the Messenger (S) himself, the Khulafa and the
Companions entered into conversation or instructed individuals for
doing something while standing on the pulpit in the middle of a
- Prayer is valid only during its prescribed time,
but a Khutbah may begin before Zawaal.
- If Jumu’ah prayer becomes invalid (Fasid) then only the
prayer is repeated, and not the Khutbah.
- The Messenger (S) used to repeat his phrases, especially his
instruction to make them clear and well understood. Khutbah, if
explained in the local language of the congregation fulfils this
tradition. It is just the repetition of what was said in Arabic
for the purpose of clarity.
- The Messenger (S) in Hajjatul-Wida asked the Muslims present
there to listen to him “to take his message to those who are not
present at the moment.” Baidawi, the famous commentator on the
Qur’an, includes the “translation” of Arabic text into other
languages under this category. Hence parts of Khutba may be
delivered in non-Arabic languages.
- Khutbah is also “Mawizah” (counsel and exhortation) besides
“Tadhkeer” (Reminding), and “Dhikr” (Remembrance of Allah). If
it is in a language not understood by the congregation, then its
usefulness is drastically diminished and its impact negligible,
as we see happening during the last few centuries.
- The Sunnah and other obligatory parts (Hamd, Tashahhud,
etc.) of Khutbah have already been completed in Arabic before
the non-Arabic sermon. There is no harm in adding something in
the native language if it is effective in fulfilling the purpose
of the Khutbah.
- Khutbah in Arabic was a “Sunnah” by “Aadat” (habitual), and
not an obligation. Languages may differ from place to place and
from time to time, and yet the requirement of Khutbah satisfied.
- “Ta’amul of the Companions” does not make something
- Khutbah is the most appropriate means of mass communication
and instruction, especially now that the Muslim masses need
guidance on Islamic issues, etc.
For more details see Dehlavi’s “Safar as-Sa’aadah”, Fataawa
Firangi Mahal, Thanawi’s Majmu’atul-Fataawa, Kifayatul Mufti, Fatawa
Qadriya (v.1: p 172-173, Fatawa Naziria (v.1:p.612-615), Fataawa
Azimabadi (p.179, Tafhimat (v.2: p.411), Jadid Fiqhi Masa’il , etc.
Taking into consideration the competing arguments from both sides
and a common practice in most of the Mosques and Islamic centers in
the USA, Canada (MSA:5/17/1994) and around the world, a model
Khutbah may be in two parts:
- The first Khutbah of 10-15 minutes long with the “Masnoon”
parts recited in Arabic, followed by explanatory talk of an
Aayh, and a Hadith, relevant to the contemporary Muslim life in
the local language. The Second Khutbah of 4-5 minutes wholly in
(Allah (ST) praised His messengers for wisdom and oratory
(28:34,38:20, etc.), and used the local language to convey Allah’s
message effectively (14:4)
- The recitation of the Qur’an in Jumu’ah prayer
should be 8-10 minutes to conform to the instruction in Hadith:
Offer a longer prayer and deliver a shorter Khutbah (Muslim,
Jumu’ah is the most appropriate forum for mass communication. In
the West, including the USA and Canada where the younger generation
of the Muslims is raised in a non-Islamic or Islam-resistant culture
Friday Khutbah is the most effective means of raising their
Islamicity and sense of belonging to the universal “Khair-I Ummah”.
Khutbah should never be limited to only explaining the virtues of
Salaat, Saum and other Islamic rituals. Some Khateebs shout
constantly at the audience as if threatening them how they will be
thrown into the hell-fire will change their behavior. Others promise
lavish rewards for doing small good deeds like fasting a particular
day, or praying a few extra nawafil. Islam balances between the
rights of Allah, and the duties towards human beings. Amr Bil-Ma’ruf
wa Nahi an al-Munkar does not mean restricting the Khutbah to a few
traditional topics. Khateeb should also address the most pressing
contemporary issues facing the Ummah in the light of the Qur’an and
the Sunnah. He is responsible to create awareness, and keep the
attention of the Muslim masses focused on real life issues. The best
Khateeb is one who delivers precise and to the point logical
Khutbah, without being vacuous in a lengthy prattle.
- Khutbah must have the following “Essential elements”
Ibn Hanbal: 1)Hamd (Glorifications of Allah), 2) Tashahhud
( ), including Daruud ( ); 3) Verse from the Qur’an; a Hadith as
Mauizah (exhortation/Advice); 4) Tandhir and Tabsheer (Admoniation
and …..); 5) Du’a for Muslims.
Malik: TaHdhir ( ); Tabsheer ( ); Other parts are
Abu Hanifa: Dhikr (Allah), Hamd, Tashahhud fulfill the
requirement though other components should also be added.
Shurut: 1) Khutbah in two parts, both preceding the
2) Sitting in between the two;
3) Niyyah (Intent) (If not intended as Khutbah for Jumu’ah, then
counted as a talk. Khutbah again a must before the prayer.
4) In Arabic (Yusuf Islahi (English): pp. 233-234)
Khutbah was a Talk
- The Messenger’s (S) Khutbah was a talk= Make a
pulpit a for me so that I may sit on it when I am talking to
people (Kallamtun-Naas) (Bukhari: 868)
- His Khutbah was not limited to Jumu’ah and Eidain only. He
used them 1) to convey his Allah’s decisions (as, for the battle
of Badr, absolving Aisha (R), and the companions who did not
join the Muslims for Tabuk, etc), solutions for long tern issue
(Hajjatul Wida’a), contemporary situations (First Khutbah in
Medina, Khutbah following the victorious entry in Makkah, After
the distribution of booty at Hunain., (Tabari, al-Bayaan
wal-Tabyin, Usud al-Ghabah)), etc.
Khutbah was precise and short
- Samurah b. Jundub: The Messenger did not prolong
“Mau’izah” in Jumu’ah. It used to be precise and easy.
- Ammar: Extending the prayer and shortening the Khutbah are
signs of one’s wisdom; therefore, prolong the prayer and
compress the Khutbah. (Muslim: )
His Manner of delivery
- Jabir: During the Khutbah the Messenger (S)’s eyes
would become red, voice raised, and anger level elevated, as if
he is inspiring awe in an army. (Muslim: )
- Aisha (R): The Messenger (S)’s manner of speech was neither
rapid fire like your, nor low-pitched that people could not
understand him. He was vividly precise and very clear (Ibn
Interrupting the Khutbah
- The Messenger (S) came down from the pulpit (after
Khutbah) and talked to people (before starting the prayer. (Tirmidhi,
- Abu Buraidah: Hasan and Husain (when very young) came in red
shirts while the Messnger (S) was delivering Khutbah. He came
down from the mimbar, carried them in his lap and went back to
continue his Khutbah. (Abu Daud)
- The Messenger (S) used to instruct individuals during the
Khutbah (Bukhari: 881, Tirmidhi: );
(Whoever comes to Jumu’ah prayer must take shower
Jabir: The Messenger (S) was giving Khutbah when he instructed
people to sit down. Ibn Masud arrived and hearing this sat down at
the door of the Masjid. The Messenger (S) saw him and asked him to
come closer to him (Abu Daud);
He prayed for relief from Allah for…by raising hands (Bukhari
Explained the Solar eclipse phenomenon
- The Messenger’s (S) Khutbah after solar eclipse
- After the battle of Hunain (Bukhari :874);
About Ansar on death-bed. (Bukhari; 878)
Explained his decisions
11. Tahajjud/Taraweeh (Bukhari:875)