Friday khutbah downplayed | Dailytrust

Friday khutbah downplayed

Friday khutbah downplayed
Friday khutbah downplayed

Based on authentic traditions of the Prophet (Salla-llahu Alayhi Wasalam; SAW), Khutbah (sermon) is a cardinal principle of the Jumu’ah (Friday) congregational prayer in Islam.

The khutbah, according to the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), is required to basically consist of admonitions to worshippers. It should begin with the giving of gratitude to Allah (SWT) and seeking Allah’s blessings upon the Prophet (SAW). The Prophet (SAW) said “Every sermon that begins without the creed statement of Islam is like a leprous hand”. Admonishing worshippers is the prime essence of khutbah, which is usually delivered shortly before the commencement of the Friday congregational prayer.

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In delivering the khutbah, the Imam is expected to be precise and clear in his expressions; supporting his admonitions with relevant verses from the Qur’an and texts from the hadith. The essence of the Friday khutbah is enhanced if worshippers, at the end of every Friday congregational prayer, leave the mosque with a deeper sense of piety and some feelings of remorse over their unrighteous deeds. The spirit of khutbah is lost when worshippers at the Friday congregational prayer disperse without imbibing any spiritual and moral lessons from it.

The khutbah is separated into two parts by a brief sitting in the middle of the sermon. As part of its ethics, worshippers are required to observe absolute silence while the Imam delivers the khutbah on the pulpit. Scholars are united in their opinions on the prohibition of speech of any kind while the Imam is delivering khutbah, even if it were exhortation of righteous deeds. Absolute silence must also be maintained whether or not a worshipper is hearing the voice of the Imam delivering the khutbah. Ahmad, Ibn Abi Shayba and At-Tabrani all report on the authority of Ibn Abbas (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) said, “Anyone who talks while the Imam is delivering khutbah is not better than a donkey carrying huge tons (of scriptures but understands them not); and whoever tells another to keep quite would have lost (the exact reward of) the Friday congregational prayer”. The significance of absolute silence during khutbah, therefore, underscores its essence.

While the Friday congregational prayer provides a weekly opportunity for religious leaders to encourage Muslims on good conduct, warn them against the perpetration of evils and keep them informed of happenings around the world. This in addition to the fact that the Imam speaks to a larger congregation of worshippers at Friday congregational prayers; a singular privilege that is missing in the five daily prayers. It would seem for now, in spite of these gains availed by the weekly khutbah that Imams are not actually taking good advantage of the khutbah to caution Muslims against some critical social vices such as rape, which in Nigeria has worsened to an epidemic level.

The greater part of the Friday khutbah in many mosques these days focuses on socio-political topics, theological themes, and at times on issues that seek to divide rather than unite the Muslim Ummah. Not so much of preaching against rape and other immoralities is heard. The khutbah is a forum to educate worshippers about the repercussions of allowing these vices to become pervasive in the society. Imams need to use the weekly Friday khutbah to remind Muslims listeners of the grave punishment that awaits perpetrators of such heinous crimes here in this world as well as in the hereafter. The more Imams attack these vices aggressively in the khutbah they deliver weekly, the better our chances of tackling critical vices such as child and incestuous rape. Allah knows best.

Some worshippers, today, tend to downplay the essence and significance of the Friday khutbah as they go late, sometimes very late and for no genuine reasons, for the Friday congregational prayer. It appear as if this group of worshippers precisely go to the mosque to observe the Jumu’at prayer and not to listen or benefit from the khutbah. Allah (SWT) in Qur’an 62:9 exhorts us to hasten to go for the Friday congregational prayer; saying “O ye who believe! When the call is proclaimed on Friday (The Day of Assembly), hasten to the remembrance of Allah, and leave off business (and traffic): That is best for you if ye but knew”.

Worshippers miss a lot when they go late for the Jumu’at prayer; especially if they miss the khutbah. They would have missed the usual admonition given by Imams in the course of the sermon, which encourages righteousness and condemns disobedience to Allah’s injunctions. A general reminder regularly quoted by many Imams in the weekly khutbah is Qur’an 16:90 wherein Allah (SWT) states “Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you that ye may receive admonition”.  We cannot, on the other hand, say that the admonitions by Imams are falling on deaf ears if the ears to listen to the words of guidance are not there on time to hear the message(s) conveyed by the Imams in their respective sermons.

Some people could ask: But where are you ‘insisting’ on the Imams using Friday khutbah as a medium for combating rape? Because it is a crime in Islam and the crime has noticeably become pervasive even in Muslim communities of Nigeria. Furthermore, Jumu’at mosque (as stated in previous paragraphs) is the largest Muslim congregation that holds on a weekly basis in Muslim communities in Nigeria and around the world.

Jumu’at Mosque Imams in the country are therefore encouraged to be more proactive in exploiting their respective weekly sermons to denounce the fetish claims of fortune tellers who allegedly tell their unsuspecting but desperate clients that child or incestuous rape or rape of the insane begets wealth or power or some worldly needs. Imams and preachers need to be stern in their sermons and preaching when they publicly speak against such practices. That would help to unmask the fraudulent and deceitful crafty tricks of ‘fake Malams’ whose instructions are treated as if they were inviolable by those who are desperate about certain things in life. As Imams, let us effectively use the Friday khutbah to address the menace of social vices in our society. As worshippers, let us not downplay the Jumu’at khutbah. Let us hasten to be early at the Jumu’at mosque on Fridays. That will enable us to maximize the benefits that accrue from listening to khutbah. May Allah (SWT) free our society from all vices, amin.

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