Mansooruddin Faridi / New Delhi
The Khutba (sermon) in Friday congregational prayers is not only an opportunity for self-reformation and guidance, but it also connects Muslims to their religion. However, the reality is different as most of the Muslims who come for Friday prayers either ignore the message or follow it sparingly.
This is why the relevance and objectives of this impotent ritual of Muslims are being questioned. The debate centers on how the Friday sermon started, its purpose and how it is being practiced today.
The Friday sermon (Khutba) is a means of guidance which can save Muslims from going astray, despair in dire circumstances, make them realize the importance of religion and their responsibilities and do away with hate. This can lead to religious tolerance.
Muslim intellectuals and scholars say to maintain the effectiveness of the Friday sermon, the choice of the subjects chosen by the Imam is crucial and so is the language and comprehensiveness of Khutba
If the Khutba is given due important then it increases the responsibility of the preacher of the mosque manifold. The sermon should be the best means of reforming and conveying the message rather than converting it into a blessing or ‘dua’ and making it a casual affair.
Muslims attending Friday prayers at Srinagar's Hazratbal Shrine
Most people support the idea that the preacher should use local language to reach out to more namazis. He should also take care of the language, culture, and background of the majority of the worshippers for the effectiveness of his message especially to the new generation of worshipers.
English and Hindi are the standard medium of delivering sermons in north India and yet speakers should use simple Arabic and Urdu words along with English words. The preacher should speak beyond emotional and reactive psychology.
It is also possible that the conclusions you draw from the verses and hadiths are not correct. Now religious leaders are also doing the same.
It is better to keep the Friday sermon short and simple because people’s attention span is short and as such people do not stay for long the mosque during Friday prayer. Long seasons lose meaning as these become a drag. Nowadays, a major drawback of sermons is that the preachers fall into the cycle of giving long sermons. They add baseless stories and anecdotes and this should be avoided.
An important question is whether a non-scholar can deliver a Friday sermon. The opinion of scholars is divided on this.
Friday Sermon is not only a religious message but also a source of awareness and solution to worldly problems. Therefore, it must be expressed in beautiful words with positive thinking.
The first sermon doesn't need to be in Arabic; it is better to give it in the local language. The purpose of the sermon is to make people aware of various issues. If the advice is in the local language, it’s more effective.
People praying in Friday congregation
Most of the scholars have supported this idea. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind's leading intellectual Dr. Razi-ul-Islam says that the debate on this is going on.
He said that today it has become difficult to hold discussion inside mosques. Although at one time the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah was a social center where every issue was discussed. It was the center of religious as well as social and literary ceremonies.
Some people believe that the Messege of Allah should be preached in Arabic, while others favour the local language. It is believed that the first sermon of Friday prayer may be delivered in Urdu, because it serves the purpose of giving knowledge to the people.
Dr. Razi-ul-Islam says that there is no condition for Khutba but only a scholar or a Mufti should deliver it.
The expression should be in one's mother tongue so that the verses and hadiths can be presented correctly. The khutba of the Messenger of Allah should be shortened in the hadiths.
Another prominent scholar Maulana Zaheer Abbas Rizvi, says,” Friday's khutba used to have the spirit of Friday prayer. Now the feeling is missing.These days Friday prayer is nothing but a two-rakat prayer. In the name of preaching, a lot of misleading stories are being dished out.”
Maulana Zaheer Abbas says that there should be talk of unity and agreement in Friday's sermon. It should be a matter of national interest. There should be a middle ground. Moving away from emotions, there should be talk of practicality and confrontation should be avoided.
Malegaon scholar and Sanskrit expert Maulana Jalaluddin Qasmi told Awaz-The Voice that preaching requires a comprehensive idea and theory and these are not the monopoly of clerics or scholars.
“Anyone can convey their message as long as they can do so. Khutba is a great medium through which Muslims can connect. You can find solutions to your problems,” he said.
Maulana Qasmi says that we should give a chance to the new generation for delivering Khutba. The younger persons can deliver the speech after doing their bit of research. If they make a mistake, it’s fine.
FRIDAY PRAYERS IN KASHMIR
New-generation children can use English along with their language, which will make it easier for people to understand. He advocates change in the style of Khutba and ender it in manner that makes it interesting.
Dr. Qasmi says we need to think afresh. “There is no obstacle in Islam or the Quran. Islam is very enlightened and broad-minded religion.”
Sufi scholar and head of the International Sufi Caravan, Mufti Manzoor Zia says that the Friday sermon is important. “It is also a way of keeping Muslims informed socially, politically, and professionally.”
He says that the purpose of the Friday sermon is to create awareness among Muslims and to inculcate a sense of responsibility. We cannot forget that scholars and preachers have taught the country and led us in every direction. It is useful even today.
The Khutba tradition was set up to as that Muslims remain connected to the world through their religion remain aware of the conditions around them and do not ignore their responsibility. Mufti Zia says that in Friday's sermon, the preacher should throw light on one’s responsibilities towards the country and the community.
The speaker should take care of the language and tone. The language should be simple and emotionless. Dr. Zaheer Qazi, head of Anjuman-e-Islam in Mumbai, says that preaching is not just a speech, but it is a responsibility of showing the way to the people.
He says Khutba is a work of leadership. “It also has religious superiority and worldliness. The people gathered on Friday should be made aware of the world along with religion. Various issues should be discussed. Sensationalism should be avoided. Politics should not be given the form of controversy.”
Avoid an aggressive attitude. Show the way to the new generation. Education is still a big problem in our country. Attention should be paid to it. Also, the Imams should advise the youth to leave the bad habits.
Dr. Zaheer Qazi says that the first part of Friday's sermon must be delivered by a professional. The speech should be short since people are always short on time. The speech should touch the heart and mind.
He said that we should protect Shariat by taking measures like speaking in the Khutba about the rights of women. The condition of the country is very bad on this. It is also important to recognize your faults. Dr. Zaheer Qazi says that Khutba should be used to throw light on religious and religious matters as well as on worldly and professional aspects. Moral education is most important, which plays an important role in identifying a Muslim. Etiquette It is your identity, so it is necessary to throw light on the importance of morality in preaching. This was the teaching of the Messenger of Allah.
Convener and scholar of Khusro Foundation, Dr. Hafizur Rahman says that the concept of the Friday sermon is important and it is meant for entire humanity. It should be about how to live in society, what rules to follow in the business, what rules to keep in mind while talking to each other, etc.
In the Islamic era, the Khutba used to be about the guidelines from the government or the Caliph it was about giving guidelines to people on how to move forward. It surely needs to be upgraded to suit the present times.
Our scholars, central institutions, and organizations should sit together and create guidelines for Imams across the country that will enable them to send messages to the people of their respective sects through social media or email.
Ideally, these topics should be covered in Khutba: How to become self-sufficient in business, how to progress in education, cleanliness, how to take care of the general hygiene of your neighborhood, and how to make your civilization an ideal one.