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Let's learn to appreciate our Jumuah Khutbah - by Dr. Muhammed Rafiq Khan

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The Friday sermon or Khutbah is a unique occasion for us as Muslims to align ourselves with the Source of our spiritual and moral sustenance.We are like travellers on a long journey, who need recourse at frequent time intervals, to their compasses and charts, to plot their onward paths in a world of a challenging, changing and uncertain terrain. The time of Jum'ah, like the month of Ramadan, or the occasion of Haj, are important spiritual and moral checkpoints in the life of a Muslim. Asa religious institution of the nascent Muslim Ummah, it served the quintessential purpose of affirming Muslim identity. Hence it is perfectly understandable how serious an offence it is to be absent from consecutive Jum'ah prayers without any valid excuse. The occasion of Jum'ah serves the important function to educate, inspire and remind Muslims of their link with their Creator. The Khutbah or sermon as it's central feature is therefore no ordinary, secular or profane speech, but it has an element of sacredness

attached to it.  This holiness or sacredness of the Khutbah is due in the first instance to it's Qur'anic content. The subject of the verse in question becomes the canvas upon which the Khatib or preacher sketches the admonition or advice for the congregation.Our scholars of jurisprudence have distilled from their knowledge of the Qur'an and the Hadith some cardinal features of what constitutes a Khutbah. These include the following in chronological order : AL —HAMD. Celebrating the praises of Allah and thanking of Hiim for the honour and blessing of being alive , being Muslim, being of sound mind and physical health and for all His Mercies, big and small He graciously bestows on us. ASH—SHAHADA.

 

The public recital of the Most fundamental statement of faith which serves to affirm our identity. It informs the assembly that this credal statement is the basis upon which this congregation is constituted. SALAWAT. After the. Shahada it is only appropriate and befitting that we request of Allah to bless His servant and our Beloved Muhammed (pbuh), remembering at all times the enormous sacrifices he made for our sake. If he had to give up this mantle of Prophethood in the face of all his difficulties, what would have been our spiritual status today? Can we therefore ever tire of asking Allah to shower His choicest blessings upon this Most Noble of all Human Beings? He is the highest fountain of all spiritual blessing or barakah. WASIYYAH-BIT—TAQWA. This is an admonition for the listener to fear Allah. It serves to establish the link between the listener and His Creator. This must serve to instil the correct mind-set in the individual. It helps to establish a common bond of spiritual quest and search between the Khatib and his Jama'a. No Khutbah , no matter how socially relevant or politically correct , is valid without fulfilling this vital principle.

QiRAATUL—QURAN. The verses or ayat chosen form the subject matter of the Khutbah. In this way guidance from the Qur'an is sought for both spiritual and secular matters. The manner in which the Khatib elaborates upon the meanings of the verses chosen and his use of ancillary materials such as Hadith, reflect his unique understanding of the issues which are of relevance in that context and the solutions he proposes for it. DUA. Supplication whilst the Khatib is on the pulpit or mimbar is a unique occasion for the Khatib and the congregation or Jama's jointly to beseech Allah's Help for issues which affect the welfare of the. community at large. BOTH the first and second parts of the Khutbah follow this pattern as outlined above. The Qur'an is the prime inspiration for the outward form of the Khutbah. The Qur'an forms the basis of any advice or admonition given to the Jama'ah. However the Khutbah must also have an inner strength and beauty. The Qur'an combines unique literary features such as brevity and simplicity in conveying its message as well as the smooth flowing of ideas and words. The Khatib must try to enhance the quality of the Khutbah by incorporating some of these features in its delivery as well. There are a number of other aspects to the Khutbah which whilst no doubt of significance, are not absolutely necessary. These include mentioning the names of the Four Rightly Guided Khalifs of Islam.

It is strongly recommended that the Khatib should recite the verse quoted in full below as the final piece of advice or Nasiha in the second Khutbah. " Lo! Allah enjoins justice and kindness, and giving to kinsfolk, and forbids lewdness and abomination and wickedness. He exhorts you in order that you may take heed." (16: 90). The khatib should be ever mindful that the waqt of Jumu'a is of special spiritual significance for a Muslim and thus should never bring the Khutbah into disrepute by making slanderous remarks, using innuendo or resorting to insinuation. Nor should he abuse the Khutbah by engaging in useless polemic debate. Lastly, the real beauty of any Khutbah lies in the inner sincerity and conviction with which the Khatib delivers the message. This will no doubt help to create an awareness of the Creator in the listener and the Khutbah would have achieved it's purpose of serving as a source of spiritual inspiration. It is only with these principles (arkan) listed above that we can enjoy the intended benefits of the Khutbah. W

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