The Friday Prayer Joke

I read a joke online of a father who, quizzing his sons on the etiquettes of jumu'ah, asks, “Why must you remain silent during the khutbah?” to which they reply, “So we don't disturb people in their sleep.”

I can count on my hand the number of times a khateeb of outstanding oratory capability and Islamic knowledge visited our local minbar.  Most encounters are a type of attention-span jihad either due to the mental effort exerted in not returning in spirit to my cubicle to juggle  pending work issues, or due to an aurally-administered (over)dose of spiritual Ambien. Occasionally the latter drives the former.

Compromised audience attention-span is a problem. One proposed solution towards re-capturing their mental bandwidth is khateeb training.  Programs exist to teach khateebs the fundamentals of effective communication, the fiqh of Friday prayers, topic selection, content research and construction methods, and more.

This is an important step forward, but I believe it misses a more fundamental problem – that Friday jumu'ah congregants have different needs and expectations with respect to their time commitments, and this in turn has an effect not just on attention-span, but also attendance, and even the perception of the khateeb and masjid.

Lengthier khutbahs are better suited for lands (e.g. Muslim countries) where Fridays are off and the luxury of time exists.  If the people praying post-salah block your way, there's no worry about playing the salah maze game where you try to weave between musallihs.  Why? It's a holiday, so there's no rush.  Did someone run off with your shoes, double-park, or block you?  Are you stuck in Friday prayer traffic?  No problem, it's Friday, and you can chillax.

In a context in which Fridays are not a holiday, a 5-minute khutbah is needed not only because of any advantage it may hold as a matter of restricting minbar filibusters (although this is important too), but because congregants must face a slew of logistical considerations with respect to the masjid as well as their work commitments.

I believe the more optimal sermon duration to be closer to 5 minutes (plus or minus 1 – 2 minutes), with consideration for varying attendee schedules, attention spans, khateeb Islamic knowledge and communication skill levels, and masjid logistics. To be clear, what is meant by a five minute khutbah is the sermon part of the khutbah, not including the opening and closing du'aas, and not including the time the khateeb sits.  It also doesn't include jumu'ah salah.

The 5-Minute Advantage

A five minute khutbah sounds like a slacker's dream come true, but the upside of its implementation would be tremendous.  We'll look at current problems that exist for the audience and the khateeb, and how the 5-Minute khutbah can be of benefit for both of them.

The Uncaptivated Audience

Ambition as 'Ibadah

Before we speak about the khutbah itself, it's instructive to consider the situation of audience members.  Contrary to the spiritual blackmail going around, working your 9 – 5 job isn't just a pathway to a hedonistic “I love this dunya” lifestyle (though it's possible).  It's potentially a type of 'ibadah, particularly if the intention is to meet the obligation of family support.  If permissible material gains are harming a person's faith, then that person has to fix himself, as a number of the Companions were successful business owners (e.g. Khadijah, Abu Bakr, Uthman).

Additionally, professionalism via Ihsan (excellence) in one's work efforts, a solid Islamic ethical base for principled decision-making, and a positive, teamwork-oriented attitude dressed in Islamic character and manners are not only obligations in many senses, they are also an indirect form of daw'ah.

With this in mind, it's important to respect rather than denigrate career success, and to put aside the “either/or” mentality of “either you're religious or you're materially successful”.  Instead, we should replace that with an “and” mentality of “you're both religious and materially successful”.  If we think of the implication of this statement, we see it in action where the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was successful because he was honest and upright in his business dealings when he worked for Khadijah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her).

The Time-Out Dilemna

Part of bringing excellence to one's job is adhering to the expected standards of conduct.  Within that will be the preferences of management.  Each person who makes arrangements to attend jumu'ah will have a different situation.

I've worked with a person in the tech industry who absolutely had to be in and out on time for a Friday jumu'ah taking place in the building itself.  If time ran over by even a minute, his fardh was compromised – the time requirements on him were so tight he had no choice but to leave.  I knew that person personally, and he was in no way someone irreligious.

On the other end of the spectrum are people who work out deals with management, allowing them the luxury of arriving early and leaving late.  I had this type of arrangement with a manager who told me after my weekly Friday morning report (given to him from home via teleconferencing), I could attend Friday prayers and take the rest of the day off to spend it with my family (and for the record, he was not Muslim).

Between these two ends is a spectrum of what is and isn't allowed for each person – the amount of time they can take off, what time they can take off and return, and the consequences for falling out of that window.

In addition to this, special circumstances may limit the amount of time taken even for those with flexible arrangements – a person may find they have to return to a class, a critical business need, a life and death situation (doctors), or a high-pressure project.

If we can respect these as important, then we can begin having a more thoughtful discussion about attention-span and time commitments, one which doesn't degenerate into the default judgmental “you don't have enough iman” response.

The 5-Minute Audience

A 5-Minute khutbah provides three distinct advantages.

Time Advantage: Overcoming Unreliable Time Factors

Because each person's scheduling flexibility varies, a 5-Minute khutbah guarantees everyone attending will hear the beginning, middle, and end of the khutbah.  Many congregants often leave the office late due to their own scheduling priorities and arrive in the middle or end of jumu'ah, using the lengthy khutbah as a time buffer for the prayer itself.  By hearing the entire message, the congregant has the greatest chance to benefit from the reminder.

Besides their own schedule, congregants will have to deal with a variety of unreliable variables related to the khateeb and the masjid.  If the khateeb decides to run over his allotted time, the audience has to endure this.  In one masjid I attend there is traffic light system set up on a pillar that faces the khateeb. It lights up yellow to let him know time is running out, and red when he's running over.  Even with this setup, certain khateebs seem to think it's ok for everyone to blow off work and violate any time commitments that were made. A 5-Minute khutbah severely curtails the damage from self-righteous overruns.

With respect to the masjid, if parking is limited then congregants will have to park and walk further out to come to the masjid and then walk the same distance to return.  He may need to find his shoes if they're buried in a pile, weave through musallihs praying their sunnah, walk through a crowd that moves slowly, and fight Friday prayer traffic once he gets to his car.  A 5-Minute khutbah gives the congregant breathing room to handle all of these logistical obstacles.

Attention-Span Advantage: Maximum Benefit in Minimal Time

Attention-span is critical.  Studies demonstrate the average person's attention-span is actually 5 minutes.  Studies also show a person's daily willpower is finite and can be exhausted.  A person who has been working all morning and into early afternoon, potentially with no lunch break to attend Friday jumu'ah, will find themselves with decreasing amounts of mental endurance to withstand a 25 – 40 minute speech.  The first 5 minutes of a talk is when the audience is giving the speaker maximum attention, and the time when the khateeb can provide the most benefit.

For those who understand the 80/20 rule (80% of your results are driven by 20% of your efforts), those first five minutes, if used properly, will be your 20.

Baraka Advantage: Following the Sunnah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)

Finally, and most importantly, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) gave short khutbahs.  He recommended shortening the khutbah and lengthening the prayers.  My teachers taught that to understand relative terms, check the examples of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and the Companions to properly qualify and quantify those statements.  Many of the khutbahs of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that I read (one is provided at the end of this post), if read in a measured tone, would not cross the 5 minute mark.

That doesn't mean it's wrong to give a 30 – 40 minute khutbah, as other scholars have opined length varies according to 'urf.  What it does mean, however, is that a 5-minute khutbah isn't some type of low-iman shortcutting via fiqh technicalities.  It's in the range of the practice of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

The Friday Khateeb

The Challenged Khateeb

My first khutbah was a fiery delivery of Shaykh Jamal Zarabozo's “Steps of Shaytan” khutbah.  I took out his examples and replaced them with my own.  I delivered it, not in my voice, but as an impersonation of another popular speaker (or my version of it, anyway).  It was an epic rant, and by the time I was done, the earth had been completely seared with fire and brimstone.

After the prayers concluded, two things happened.  First, people came to thank me and tell me that was the best khutbah they had ever heard (wow!).  My head swelled because indeed I had delivered the haqq like a Mack truck, and I had delivered it in style.

But a second, more important event occurred.  One of our Saudi brothers doing his PhD in English linguistics offered to teach me proper tajweed in Qur'an recitation.  Upon further discussion, he discovered that in fact I couldn't read the Qur'an itself.

How does a guy who can't read the Qur'an or even recite al-fatihah properly get to stand on the minbar and advise people on right and wrong?  As it turns out, a large beard goes a long way in imbuing one with authority they may not deserve.  So too does being a little more articulate, rehearsed, and passionate compared to others. Oftentimes the khateeb is an unqualifed individual there to fill the gap because no one else will do it.

It may be the case that my side of the story represents one side of an extreme, but ignorance isn't binary – where you either are or are not – it lies on a spectrum with respect to Islamic knowledge, community awareness, and communication strength.  The number of khateebs having a qualified mentor (eg the local imam) who can review and correct them on a regular basis are relatively tiny in number.

The 5-Minute Khateeb Solution

A 5-minute khutbah is significantly easier to prepare than a 30 – 40 minute speech.  Communication aficionados will no doubt cite the statement “shorter speeches are much more difficult to prepare than longer speeches.”  The reason for this difficulty is because the person stating this is often an expert and vastly more knowledgeable in his domain of expertise than others and has to sort through which information is most critical and succinctly tie up or run past subtleties which add to the discussion.  That can be frustrating and unsatisfying.

For the majority of khateebs, the paralysis analysis of the expert is wiped out.  It's enough to find a beneficial 5 minute khatirah on a set of topics appropriate for jumu'ah, massage the material into khutbah format, and then rehearse it a few times.

Consider the benefits.  In one scenario, the khateeb spends time away from family and other pursuits to research, rehearse, and deliver a 30 minute khutbah on a topic he's knows somewhat, but with little in the way of depth.  In another scenario, the khateeb waits until the last minute and puts together a half-hearted speech and rambles on for 30 minutes come jumu'ah.  In either scenario, the khateeb delivers to an audience who, for the most part, came to fulfill the Friday prayer requirement and likely tuned out after 5 minutes.

A khateeb who starts and finishes in 5 minutes will have more of the jam'ah in the masjid (because the time is so short), will be able to deliver 100% of his message to this majority, and the likelihood they pay attention and process the takeaway message significantly increases because it happens within the time interval of their attention-span.  Shorter prep time will mean less taken away from family and other commitments for the khateeb, which means it will be easier to commit to delivering more khutbahs as needed and easing masjid/MSA scheduling difficulties.

Objections to the 5-Minute Khutbah

People are More Ignorant/Jahil/Non-practicing and This is the Only Opportunity to Educate

This may be true, but increasing the length of time of the khutbah doesn't necessarily correspond with better religious guidance or impact.  Less is more, and more is actually less. A shorter khutbah enables education – short reminders are more powerful because they remain within the attention span of the audience, they force the khateeb to be concise and precise and to focus on takeaway points.  The joke of, “What was Friday prayer about?” with the answer of, “I don't know” will drop significantly, insha'Allah.

People Don't Even Make Friday Prayer on Time, They'll Miss a 5-Minute Khutbah

During my MSA days we had a problem with shoes on the floor – people were too lazy to pick up their shoes and put it on the shoe racks.  I told the MSA we should have a straightforward policy – shoes that are not placed in the racks will be tossed out of the masjid.  The MSA agreed and I was the enforcer.  I placed a sign up in the shoe racks warning everyone of the new policy and then started throwing shoes out.  Miraculously, a problem that had existed for many years solved itself within a week.

Despite our reputation for unprofessionalism, once people are aware of a new standard, they'll adjust.  Any group in charge of Friday prayer logistics and timing should make the congregation aware of the new policy, and once implemented stay strict on the timings for purposes of ease of predictability.

As a side note, this objection is actually a rebuttal to the first objection above about needing to educate the community – many people come in the middle or end of the khutbah because of its duration, so how are these people benefiting from the education again?

What About When We Have a Qualified imam or an Effective Speaker?

Implementing a 5-minute khutbah need not completely eradicate the practice of holding longer khutbahs.  It can be incorporated as part of a system.  Many masjids hold multiple jumu'ahs, so khutbah one can be the longer khutbah while khutbah two can be the 5 minute khutbah.  Another scenario would be to have only 5-minute khutbahs with the exception being the visit of a qualified or effective speaker.  Rather than seeing it as a replacement, I would prefer we see it an option to what is already out there, particularly in corporate environments with a significant number of Muslim employees, MSAs, high schools, and masjids without a full-time qualified imam.  Masjids with the full-time imam can also implement it if they find it useful for their needs.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) advised Lengthening the Prayer and Shortening the Khutbah, so the Prayer Should be Really Long

I received this statement in response a few times, which is based on the recommendation of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to shorten the khutbah and lengthen the salah.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was known to recite Surat Al Jumu'ah and Surat Al Munafiqoon during the first and second rakahs respectively, and also Surat Al A'la and Surat Al Ghashiyah in the first and second rakahs respectively.  In the former case, that amounts to approximately 3 pages of Qur'an which, relatively speaking, is much more than what I see right now after many 30 – 40 minute length khutbahs where half a page from the end of Juz 'Amma are recited within 2 rakaat.

It would be interesting to take a survey and find out how many Friday jumu'ahs have the khateeb reciting 3 pages of Qur'an in the prayer.  My guess (and this is a pure guess based on experience) is virtually none.  A five minute khutbah, plus opening and closing du'aas, plus sitting, along with 3 pages of Qur'an recited will end the total experience within 15 – 20 minutes.

Friday Jumu'ah is the One Time Everyone Gathers and It Builds Community

While this is true, the Friday khutbah is a time when the audience must remain silent. There is no community building component during the khutbah (or at least, there shouldn't be).  Having a 5 minute khutbah will allow community-building to more easily occur because the pressure of time to returning to office will significantly reduce.

However, for those who have no such flexibility and cannot give the time for socializing can return to school or work promptly.  The 5 minute khutbah has built into it flexibility so that audience members can decide if they can stay, and if they do, for how long they can stay.  For some, they must always return promptly while for others, they may or may not have to return to their work quickly depending on their situation that week.

We Need Longer Khutbahs Because We're Not as Good or as Knowledgeable as the Companions

The latter statement is true – we're not as good as the Companions on the whole because the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) has stated they are the best generation.  However, the idea that, “We're not as good, therefore we must do more,” is poor reasoning.  There were men who came to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) stating they would perform more acts of worship than him with respect to fasting, praying all night, and not marrying because they were not as good as him, and they were rebuked for their reasoning.

The other side of this is the “knowledgeable” side of the discussion – the Companions knew more.  The question is, which Companions?  Among the Companions you had scholars such as Ibn Abbas, Ibn Mas'ud, Ibn 'Umar, Aisha, Abu Hurayrah, and others.  On the flip side of the spectrum, you had Companions who came to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) stating they would do the five pillars, nothing more and nothing less.  You had people who lived in the city and people who were bedouins in the desert.  Within the Companions was a spectrum of knowledge and even availability and accessability to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), and the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) addressed all of them during jumu'ah.

The real problem is that we put cause and effect in the wrong place.  We say, “The Companions did not need longer khutbahs because they were so knowledgeable of the language already, and the Prophet  ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was among them.”  What I'm saying is you should flip that around – one of the contributing factors and lessons we should take from the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is that shorter communication, especially with respect to jumu'ah, is the more effective means to communicate and why his impact was more significant on his society as a whole.  His audience and their situations were diverse.

If Shorter is Better, Why is This Post so Long?

In this medium, the audience is here by choice, not by force.  You can read at your leisure, skim as many do, or ignore it altogether.  Reading it is not an act of worship, and not everyone has to be here.  You also don't have to fight through parking, shoe lines, or announcements to read this post.  Long form communication has its benefits, and education in specific topics can't happen in 5 minutes.

This raises an interesting question – is the jumu'ah khutbah the place for “education”?  While I agree on the whole our community needs far more Islamic education, I don't believe the Friday khutbah is the place to do it, specifically for the reasons mentioned above (lack of audience attention, audience time flexibility, shortage of qualified speakers, and pre- and post-masjid logistics).  I believe the audience is better benefited by a 5-Minute reminder than a long-form speech.

Sample 5-Minute Khutbah from the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)

“Acquire knowledge, for surely it leads to fear of Allah. Seeking it is an act of worship ('ibadah); studying it is praising Allah; seeking it is jihad; teaching it to the ignorant is an act of charity (sadaqah); and giving it to its people draws one closer to them. Knowledge points to the permissible (Halaal) and the forbidden (haraam), and it is a shining light pointing the way to paradise.  It comforts the lonely, befriends the estranged, and talks to you in seclusion. It is a guide through prosperity and adversity; it is a weapon against enemies; and it is the best of friends.

With knowledge, Alláh raises people to high stations, making them leaders in goodness, whose steps are traced. Their example is emulated, their opinion followed. The angels like to sit with the people of knowledge, surrounding their wings; and everything dry or wet, the fish of the sea and animals on land, – will ask Allah to forgive them. Knowledge gives life to the heart in the midst of ignorance, and illumines vision in the darkness.

With knowledge, God's servants become the elite and reach the highest degrees in this life and in the hereafter. Contemplation with knowledge is equivalent to fasting (sawm); spending time to study it is equivalent to standing at night in prayer (qiyam); duties to relatives are fulfilled by it; and through it the halaal and haraam are known. Knowledge precedes action ('amal) and action always follows it. The fortunate ones attain it and the miserable ones are deprived of it.”

Conclusion

Much of what I've shared is based on my own experiences as a khateeb, a congregant, and feedback I've received from others.  What are your thoughts and experiences?  Should we standardize a 5-minute khutbah?  Why or why not?

70 Responses

  1. idesireranks

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    I absolutely 100%, 200% to the exponent of 3003 agree.

    I’ve always been a proponent of this. The time for a khateeb to make a khutbah should be around the time of a khutbah of an-Nabi sallahualayhiwasalam.

    We were commanded to shorten the khutbah. It’s really as simple as that. We do not question the command, we just hear and obey.

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  2. Abu Zayd

    Lol. I wanted to read this quickly before going to bed, but after 5 minutes I have to put it away and finish it tomorrow

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      • maliurj

        I think brother Siraaj has good intention with his proposal. However to standardize a time length for a Khutbah is not practical in my opinion. If a person wants to get up and leave a Khutbah then go ahead. How many times have you been to a doctor and had to wait even when you had an appointment? What is this big rush all about? I am an American and there is always room for negotiation in the workplace if it is approached with humility and not arrogance. I worked at one of the busiest hospital in the Soutwest United States (Jackson Health Systems) and many Muslim doctors attended Jumuah on campus every Friday. As a matter of fact one of the doctors reminded the congregants that the moment your job starts to prevent you from attending jumuah then you need to start considering another profession…word up!!! What job in this whole wide world is so important that you cannot ask to be deducted for an hour on Friday’s to go to worship your Lord? Just because some imams may be boring doesn’t mean all are. When the deen becomes a burden to us then we need to check ourselves. Rasullulah SAAWS used to shorten his khutbahs when he heard the babies crying and this was not because the mothers complained. It was due to Allah’s mercy. Now we have grown men complaining that the khutbah is too long. …give me a break bro.!
        Let us all man up to whatever the test is that we currently have to take. Shop around in your part of town to see if there is a “fast-khutbah” masjid(like a fast-food restaurant) and you go there. Let the rest of us make our own informed decisions about this matter. Allahu Alim.

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      • Siraaj

        There is no one I know who has a problem with taking one hour off every single day of the week since that’s the approximate expectation for lunch.

        There’s also no problem with taking off for the occasional doctor’s visit, although some companies will be strict with respect to paid time off hours, depends on your company, but more to the point, these are one off occasions.

        Friday jumu’ah for many is longer than one hour, heading closer to between 1.5 hours to 2 hours. The reason is because many don’t have a campus jumu’ah – they leave their jobs and travel to the masjid.

        Idealists such as the imam who gives jumu’ah khutbah on the hospital campus can say what they wish. Tell me their advice when they faced this issue and what they did to deal with it. I tend to find some of the most conservative idealists are easily crushed when they’re ideals are challenged.

        Every man’s job is important, particularly because men are obligated by Allah (SWT) to take care of the basic needs of the family – the way a person comes closest to Allah (SWT) is through first what is wajib and then what is from the sunan and nawafil.

        Having said all this, the main thrust of my post isn’t this point – it is that we have many reasons to shorten it. We have this ridiculous notion that the longer the khutbah, the greater the impact. The logic simply doesn’t follow practical reality – only a relative few show on time while others use the time length as a buffer so no real education is taking place.

        I’m saying, deliver a short, quality khutbah – it has more informational bioavailability than the time-bloated talks delivered by mostly unqualified individuals

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      • ahmed barrie

        asssalam alykum
        interesting discussion!
        i also deliver khutba in nyc. we normally finish from azan, khutb, salah, taslim between 30 to 35 minute.
        i think 5 minutes is extreme.
        i also notice some of us like to take text out of context.
        did our beloved prophet really specify minutes for salah or khutba? we know sometimes he used to recite surat baqara in one raka, he used to sometimes recite sura aaraf in Maghreb. is this really possible in any masjed today?
        also the sahabi that was rebuked for making too long salah recited more than sura baqara which is about 50 pages.
        while today most imams recite one page or less in the whole prayer.
        good luck!!!!

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      • Mahmud

        wa alaykumusalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh]

        Actually, if you look at his khutbahs they are extremely short. Furthermore, in Jumah salah he used to recite Surah Al-Ala and Surah al-Ghashiyah.

        Now, who knows better, an-Nabi (S) or us?

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      • Siraaj

        Salaam alaykum brother ahmed, thanks for contributing to the discussion. The Prophet (SAW) recited surahs with al-baqarah, but this was done privately, at night, in qiyaam ul layl. Do you have any recording of him doing so in a jamaat?

        People are at different levels, and the Prophet (SAW) had the wisdom to address people at their level and capability to handle worship. The vast majority of people are not high in iman, and in fact barely have it – you can’t force feed it into them once a week via a 40 minute khutbah (the people who we’re trying to change are likely not even in the masjid because they use the long khutbah as a time buffer – next time you deliver one, check to see how many are present when you start vs when you finish).

        The Prophetic approach which is short and about iman during the khutbah makes more sense to me than any other when you consider the vast majority of people need, more than anything else, their iman raised. Before you can raise their iman, prerequisite #1 they should be there to hear your message, and prerequisite #2 they should be able to pay attention to it.

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  3. Zaid Mohammad (@Zaid_m95)

    How could we standardize all khutbas to being 5 minutes? That’s like Bid’ah. Lol, but on the other hand, my local Imam usually gives excellent relevant Khutbas around 20 min in length. I honestly think the Khutbas should be around 15-20 minutes in length, unless of course the Imam, is not a capable speaker.

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  4. Shamiel

    Reading the article and the comments,I see as a Muslim living in this modern age,we as the ummah have a lot of worldly needs instead of aaghirah.we seems to want to cut short on all forms of worshipping just to meet our needs.what we need is more patience in what ever we do as Muslims for Allah says in the holy Quran: “And seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer) and truly, it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khashi`in.”
    Surah Al-Baqarah (2: 45

    Meaning: Allah commanded His servants to use patience and prayer to acquire the good of this life and the Hereafter.Utilize patience and the obligatory prayer in seeking the Hereafter. As for patience (here), they say that it means fasting.It was also said that `patience’ in the Ayah means, refraining from evil, and this is why `patience’ was mentioned along with practicing acts of worship, especially and foremost, the prayer.There are two types of patience: good patience when the disaster strikes, and a better patience while avoiding the prohibitions of Allah. The prayer is one of the best means of assistance for firmly adhering to Allah’s orders,”And truly, it is extremely heavy and hard” refers to prayer,They (Al-Khashi`in) are those who believe in what Allah has revealed.
    And Allah knows best.

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    • Umm Esa

      Khutbahs of the Prophet (SAW) were relevant, concise and eloquent. Giving a full blown lecture, tirade or one’s detailed opinion on some current affair is hard and heavy…because it is irrelevant, not just because people have weak faith.

      Even when the congregational prayer itself was made longer by a Sahaba, the Prophet (SAW) rebuked him. This discussion is deeper than quoting a few ayaat of Qur’an out of their contexts.

      May Allah guide us to the best ways of calling people to Islam, ameen.

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  5. M.G.H

    Your honesty is appreciated brother. I also think the Khutba should be 20 minutes long with longer prayer, in spite of the fact that most people only come to the Masjid once a week. My teenagers always complain about the long khutba. Also, I would like to see Coffee/Tea and snacks afterward for those who have time to socialize.

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  6. midia hassan

    [Quran 24:37] People who are not distracted by business or trade from commemorating God; they observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), and they are conscious of the day when the minds and the eyes will be horrified.

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  7. ibnabeeomar

    I disagree :)

    1) Its effectively lowering the bar. IMO one of the biggest problems facing muslims (especially in america) is a general feeling of apathy and disregard. this takes something that should be a spiritual boost and makes it COMPLETELY ritualistic ONLY.

    2) there ARE good khateebs out there, even not well known ones, and they do make an impact. i’ve personally felt this myself, and i can remember a stretch of time personally where the drip by drip of good khutbahs over a period of time played a part in helping me turn some things around. –and they weren’t khutbahs by any well known speakers, just your average decent good local khateeb guy.

    as pie in the sky as it sounds, khutbahs can change lives, and there’s lots of examples of a good khutbah being a turning point, or something that finally pushes the person over the brink (in a positive way)

    3) as a khateeb, 5 minutes feels like being handcuffed. I’ve given khutbahs at almost all lengths (35, 30, 25, 20, 15, 10, and yes, 5). ive personally found the sweet spot for having an idea thats well developed, effective, and not drawn out or rambling etc., is about 20 minutes. its not long by any stretch (its shorter than the length of a half hour sitcom [22 minutes]), and its not so short that you cant develop a point well. a total time of adhan+khutbah+salah at 25-30 minutes is ideal to me.

    4) it defeats the purpose of the khutbah. 5 minutes worked then because of their understanding of what was being said. there’s narrations for example that the prophet (s) would simply recite surah Qaf as his khutbah and that would be it. but think about what they understood from that. the khutbah is there to give a reminder to its audience, and it cant penetrate the heart/mind in such a short scope.

    for more detail on purpose of the khutbah, this explains it quite well: http://www.qalaminstitute.org/2011/07/the-most-essential-advice-about-giving-a-khutbah/

    ^^that cant be done in 5 minutes.

    5) the people dont want 5 minute khutbahs. we did surveying for khateeb workshop that we host with qalam institute, and people want well developed speeches, they come LOOKING for inspiration and enlightenment and cant get it. the only time length was a complaint is when khutbahs were 45 to 60 minutes in length.

    in general, i feel there’s a sanctity to the khutbah, in particular its role in being a strong reminder that can stick with someone from week to week. there’s a large majority of our ummah who’s imaan lives from friday to friday, and doing something like this is a disservice. instead of encouraging masjids to develop people, and find good khateebs, and encouraging people to step up to the plate and contribute, you basically say .. eh its not worth it, just go with 5.

    6) timing is not an issue. people who want to come on time will, and those who dont, won’t (regardless of length). having a 30 minute cap on khutbah + salah provides people with 15 mins each way to/fro work – which in most cases is enough. it also can be adjusted accordingly.

    i think there’s some situations where a 5 min khutbah should be instituted – but examples of that would be at like a hospital where the majority of your crowd is actively engaged in patient care and emergency situations. but as a general rule – for the community at large i think it does more harm than good.

    great discussion though, i think anything that forces us to critically analyze the khutbah and its place is something needed in our community.

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    • Tanim Taher

      Jazakallah Kheir. Argument 6 nailed it. People who “want” short khutbahs can arrive late (although that is against the etiquettes of Jummah) and get their short 5 mins. The rest can arrive early. So you accommodate both groups!

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    • mezba

      Salaams IO. I respectfully disagree with you. If the best Islamic speaker of all time, Muhammad (pbuh) had no problem giving a 5 minute khutbah on average, then other speakers, no matter how knowledgeable, passionate, great orators should just follow the sunnah as there is blessing in it. If he didn’t see it as lowering the bar, then it’s not.I feel most khutbahs should be 5 minutes to 10 minutes at the most, barring special days.

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      • Umm Esa

        His (SAW) recitation in Jumuah was longer than his khutbah. Should we follow his sunnah completely then while we know that majority of congregants may not be able to understand the Quranic recitation? It is an interesting discussion.

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      • Saif

        Muhammad (pbuh) was the best Islamic speaker of all time and he used to deliver Khutba in Arabic language and based on certain knowledge. But now in most places Khatibs need to support their comments with Quran, Hadeeths — also he needs to translate them to the local language and explain. So I don’t think it will be good idea to set a 5 min limit. Compared to standard 45min class lecture 20/30 min is not much. But we can definitely limit announcement time though. Look at the article of BR Siraaj — if he delivers it as a speech I think it will take more than 20min !!

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    • Siraaj

      Salaam alaykum bro,

      Since sending in the initial draft of my piece, it went through some rather dramatic revisions, and I took your feedback into consideration – please re-read the objections section because I’ve added more to it, including the reasons you (and others) offered for why the khutbah was short in the time of the Prophet (SAW).

      Siraaj

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      • Tanim Taher

        Jazakallah Kheir for writing the article. Although I respectfully disagree, but I think the issues concerning the khutbah, the attention span, the timing constraints of the congregants is an important issue to discuss. Thanks for raising these issues.

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      • ibnabeeomar

        still stick by my points :) btw one thing you mentioned that i think is a good compromise is having 2 khutbahs in the same masjid. a lot of them do that now anyways, so its good to have 1 thats normal length (say 20 min), and one thats a fixed 5 minute khutbah year round at the same time to accommodate ppl with work difficulties.

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    • Inqiyaad

      I have had the opportunity to attend Jumuah at a Masjid where both khutbah (including time allotted for translation) and Salah took 25-30 min. Numerous scholars including sheikh Salah-al-Saawi, who all deliver khutab only in Arabic, took about ~15-18 min for the khutbah, including the opening and closing Du’as. The translations were shorter than the Arabic khutbah itself and took 7-10 min. Salah took another 5min. Sometimes, we went over by 3-5 min, still we were done within 35 min even if we went overtime.

      Now, if we are to consider the 15 min khutbah along with 5min Salah, it comes to about 20 min or 23 min if the khutbah was 3 min longer. This still would be over the 7-10 min khutbah (including Du’as) and 5-7min Salah (12-17 min total) that Siraj is arguing for. However, if we were to go with the upper limits of Siraj’s proposals and lower limits of what I have experienced with these scholars, the two are very close. I have no doubt in my mind, whatsoever, that these scholars would be more than happy to cut their khutab by 3-5 min to make it easy on people.

      The point being that it is perfectly possible to develop an idea and deliver it within or a little over the time Siraj is arguing for. Although, I would personally prefer listening to something in the 10-15 min range (including time for Du’as).

      Alhamdulillah, I also have recently started delivering khutab and had the opportunity to redeliver an earlier 20-25 min khutbah to an audience where salah along with kutbah is done within 15 min (at a hospital). I realized that the same message could be delivered within 10-13min.

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  8. Tanim Taher

    Salam,
    Assalamualaikum brother author, and to all the readers,
    Logistically speaking, I think this would be a nightmare.
    If we take an example, suppose 100 cars arrive at a Masjid while Jummah khutbah is going on. Let’s say it’s a 25 minute khutbah. So that’s about 4 cars coming in and looking for parking. Near the end there is a rush, and all the drivers are stressed, some may be honking at the cars that are trying to park. People are nervous that they will miss the prayer, doubly stressed. But all in all, 4 cars per minute is manageable.
    Now you compress that down to a 5 minute interval, 300 seconds, and now you have 3 seconds per car. There is traffic chaos, people are super stressed and guaranteed to miss the Jummah.

    Of course you may ask why don’t people arrive 15 or 20 mins before the 5 min khutbah starts to avoid rush? Well then that will defeat the whole purpose of the 5 min khutbah which is to save congregants the time. All we are doing, is making people super stressed that they’ll miss their prayers.
    MST (Muslim standard time) dictates that we will always be late; so the 5 minute khutbah won’t give us that buffer which people when they get late for work or other reasons to catch the prayer.

    And for the 80% of Muslims whose ONLY Islamic education is the weekly Jummah khutbah itself, then we are cutting down their Islamic education time by 75%. Sure, if anyone is still dreaming of a revival of the Muslim Ummah, well… you can forget about that dream with 5 mins, unless it’s already forgotten. Of course you can find 1 or 2 examples like the colleague mentioned who was religious (meaning perhaps he spent time outside of Jummah learning about deen) and so he wouldn’t really be hurt by a short 5 min khutbah, but you have to talk about the masses of Muslims… One or 2 good cases while ignoring what will happen to the masses who don’t spend any time of their own learning the deen is a bad argument in support of short khutbahs.

    About the argument that 5 min reminder delivered properly can last in memory longer than a 30 minute reminder, that is valid in some cases. But in many cases, it takes a longer time for the human mind to switch from the duniya (thoughts of work and family) to spiritual mode (to really benefit from the reminder) than 5 mins; at least for me any ways psychologically. So a short khutbah may fail even though the message may easily be remembered if the congregant’s mind has not fully transitioned yet. And if you have a good topic of khutbah, 25 minutes will be way way more beneficial and the lesson more retentive than what is physically possible in a 5 minute span.

    Quranic reminders:
    “O you who have believed, when [the adhan] is called for the prayer on the day of Jumu’ah [Friday], then proceed to the remembrance of Allah and leave trade. That is better for you, if you only knew.” [Sura Jumuah, verse 9]

    Since work=wealth
    “O you who have believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah . And whoever does that – then those are the losers.” [Surah Munafiqun verse 9]

    Jazakallah Kheir

    ———————————————————————-
    This is an aside comment… it is not related to what was mentioned in this article. But I think it’s worth mentioning: We need to stop blaming the khateebs for being boring, unprepared or not good communicators, putting us to sleep. It’s so easy to criticize people up there on the mimbar. May be we should criticize ourselves first for not trying to learn the Arabic language (I don’t know Arabic so I am critiquing myself) which prevents us from understanding some of the khutbahs. And may be we should criticize ourselves for not even trying to listen just because the khateeb may not be the best orator and also not for trying to prevent our minds from drifting off to work or other concerns. It’s all so easy these days for us to criticize people in the mimbar, people running the masajid, even scholars. It’s just soooo wrong, and I really am tired of reading such criticisms leveled at khateebs with no effort on the part of the criticizer to appreciate the Muslim brother who is up there fulfilling the community obligation of Jummah.

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  9. mezba

    I wish most mosques returned to the sunnah of a 5 minute Khutbah. A few times I was requested to give the Khutbah at our office jummah, and I kept it short: 5-7 minutes. I spoke in depth on a topic I knew a lot about, and didn’t have to ramble. Many of the audience later told me those were some of the effective khutbahs they listened to (because it was short, had a bullet form with action points, and examples, and was short so they remembered it all). This is not to boast, but to point out that most of the times, I have no idea what the khateeb is saying because I had come in the middle of the prayer (we only get half an hour of lunch time after all).

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  10. Rida

    Salam All,
    I was always a proponent of short khutbas. Mostly because I agree with the point raised in the article: speakers with outstanding oratory capabilities are so rare. As a result, we as communities have lowered the bar for what would be a good khutba. Nowadays, any old average delivery in content and style becomes a good khutba, and truly bad ones have become okay. Interestingly I have also noticed that the worst speakers are the ones who make the khutba longest.

    I have seen an interesting setup for Jummah in a small Turkish masjid. They start a khatirah before the time for the Jummah, and the interested people come for that early. By the time for Adhan comes, the musallah is filled to a respectable degree. Soon after the adhan is called, EVERYONE lines up and pray sunnah. Then a 5 minute khutba, and salah. Then majority pray sunnah and people start leaving. Short and sweet.

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  11. Olivia Kompier

    i think there is a disconnect between attendees and khateebs. you can survey the entire community about what kind of khutbah they want, but at the end of the day jumuah is fard upon men, the majority of whom are working for non-muslim employers, and i wonder how many of the people whom it is fard upon who make up the *majority* of attendees have actually been surveyed, not practicing brothers and active community members. also, people say “oh well they can just come late and everyone can be accomodated and we can still keep the khutbah long.” the angels roll up their scrolls when the adhan is called, and if i was a working man id be pretty salty if i missed being written down for jumah just because some other people wanted to keep it long bc that doesn’t sound like true accommodation really. id like to be able to make the whole length and still take care of my job. and i think Siraaj makes an excellent point that length does not equal inspiration. seriously even as a woman id like to see shorter khutbahs because being at the masjid with my kids and trying to police them into silence for a half an hour khutbah is painful. eventually im not listening at all anymore because i dont have the luxury too. and anyone one here who is saying “oh i see the dunya is so important now and people have forgotten the akhira” seriously lame, like really. congratulations on having the intelligence to make a snap judgment.

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    • Inqiyaad

      The argument that the general literacy has gone down so we should go all out on Jumuah is non sequitur. In fact, it further drives away the very people we are claiming to serve by elaborating. I believe it is a lazy man’s proposal to fix lower literacy this way. We should attempt to increase literacy by increasing active pursuit and not by force-feeding once a week. Inspire them on Jumuah and let them seek. If you cannot inspire them to change then you have failed in delivering. Personally, inspirational advice has not necessarily come to me in form of long drawn lectures. Some even were in form of a single statement made to me while the person was getting off a bus and I was left riding the bus thinking about it.

      I have recently moved to a community where the Imam delivers the first khutbah for 30-35 min followed by a 15 min translation and the 2nd khutbah for 5-7 min and then salah, total time of 1h to 1h 10min. Now, the same Imam delivers 1h 15min lectures 4 days a week and goes beyond the time for isha iqamah on several occasions. Several people leave without praying isha because they have business to take care of. Any advice or request to avoid burdening people are met with further patronizing lectures on nifaq and need to be patient with people who remember Allah. Personally, I feel detached from the Masjid even though I am closer to it physically when compared to my previous Masjid. Alhamdulillah, it is not a severe Iman crisis but I feel the Imam in his eagerness to force-feed has decreased my appetite. Several people have shared similar sentiments about the current situation. It could just be that the current Imams quality is not as good as the previous Imams. A part of it shows of as lack of eloquence and regard for the variety of people and their needs. More importantly, it is manifested as a blatant disregard for the Sunnah.

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  12. Olivia Kompier

    by the way rarely have a i ever felt “educated” at a khutbah because 9 times out of 10 the people up there aren’t qualified to give me one and it shows. the run of the mill khateeb should stick to beneficial reminders because that’s what he’s generally capable of.

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    • idesireranks

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      I gave a khutbah last Friday on honesty. It was approximately 10 minutes and 90% of it was ayat and hadith.

      Everyone loved it and I got complimented on it. It was short, to the point. I can give it to anyone who wants.

      Those who say the khutbah is there for people to learn fail to understand that the guidance of an-Nabi sallahualayhiwasalam is the best guidance and that ilm is not the primary purpose of the khutbah. The primary purpose of the khutbah is a reminder. Let the people get there hearts attached to Allah to the point that the voluntarily join halaqahs. Do not force ilm upon them in what is supposed to be a short reminder.

      And that purpose fails when people make the khutbah significantly longer than a khutbah of the Messenger of Allah sallahualayhiwasalam.

      People aren’t built to pay attention for that long. Most people even if they try do not want to. A long lecture does not give an iman rush and a remembrance of Allah and the akhirah like a short reminder does. The people who are forced to listen to the long khutbah benefit little.

      As for those who blame the people who are complaining about long khutbahs-do you know better or do Allah and His Messenger know better?

      The sunnah is a short khutbah. Go to Iqrasense.org and read this khutbah of an-Nabi sallahualayhiwasalam:

      http://www.iqrasense.com/prophet-muhammad/prophets-first-friday-sermon-in-al-madinah.html

      Was this khutbah long or short? What did it consist of? How long would it take for you to do this khutbah?

      And for those who blame the people for lacking patience-what did an-Nabi sallahualyhiwasalam do in khutbahs. Did he force the people to have patience or did he make his khutbah short and command us to make the khutbah short?

      I have this example from an alim-

      One time, al-A’mash went out in the morning and passed by the mosque of Bani Asad. They were about to start praying, and he went inside and prayed. The imam recited ‘al-Baqarah’ in the first rak’ah, and recited ‘Al ‘Imran’ in the second. When he finished, al-A’mash said to him: “Will you not fear Allah? Did you not hear that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever leads the people in prayer should go easy, as there are those behind him who are old, weak, and have needs to tend to.”” So, the man said: “Allah Said: {“…and it is heavy except on those who have khushu’…”} [al-Baqarah; 45] So, al-A’mash said: “I am a messenger sent from those who have khushu’ telling you that you are heavy.”

      I think this argument about weighed benefits is not where the discussion should be. People clearly disagree. So we should return this matter to Allah and His Messenger.

      يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ ۖ فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلًا
      O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result.

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      • Siraaj

        Well, the argument on weighed benefits is what al-A’mash did, he simply was far more concise than I was, and I articulated with modern examples and context.

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      • idesireranks

        No, although obeying Allah and His Messenger is always more beneficial.

        It’s this part that is significant:

        When he finished, al-A’mash said to him: “Will you not fear Allah? Did you not hear that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever leads the people in prayer should go easy, as there are those behind him who are old, weak, and have needs to tend to.””

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  13. Siraaj

    Salaam alaykum all,

    Jazakallah khayr for the comments and respectful discussion, I appreciate it =) My thoughts:

    @Omar, all your statements (except one) are predicated on one fundamental assumption – that most people are attending on time and paying attention. Majority of people are not there to start, and those who show on time, I guarantee you will have faded the khateeb’s voice in their mind as background noise to their daydreaming. There’s little education occurring – if you really want to test out what we all already know, simply attend jumu’ah, take a random sampling of participants 1 hour after jumu’ah, and ask them to tell you about the khutbah, and what the takeaway points were.

    The statement about the comprehension level of the Companions needs a bit more discussion – I’ve mentioned above in the objections section why this is wrong. There were Companions misunderstood statements in the Qur’an and acted on those misunderstandings until the Prophet (SAW) corrected them (such as the Companion who wouldn’t start his fast until he could distinguish the black thread from the white he kept under his pillow).

    @Tanim, those are some good points. On the logistics, each masjid will have to determine the optimal delivery mode. In some cases, they might like to have multiple jumu’ahs with 5 minute khutbahs, and they may find that because it’s so short, they can deliver two khutbahs in one hour with the same khateeb, or something else altogether. As for the mental switch, I hope it occurs when they’re driving to the masjid ;)

    @Mezba, @Rida, I’ve been receiving feedback from others who either do the short khutbah or have sat through it that it’s far more effective and audience members greatly appreciate it, and benefit more from it.

    As I say above in the objections section, instead of concocting reasons for why the khutbah should be longer, let’s consider that perhaps a short communication is a diverse audience is a best practice.

    Siraaj

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  14. Dawud Israel

    Salam,

    Excellent.

    More benefits to short khutbas:

    -People pay more attention to the adab and character of the speaker in order to compensate for the shorter talk

    -It builds a tolerance and comprehension ability to hear longer khutbas and remember them. If you can comprehend 80% of 5 minutes, you can probably comprehend 60% of 10 minutes and at the far end comprehend maybe 50% of 40 minutes or even less. But if you can boost it to 90% comprehension for 5 minutes, then you can boost 10 minute khutba comprehension to 70% correspondingly.

    -By starting at 40 minutes, we teach people to forget, not remember since they are automatically searching for the key points or the key quotes or the summary, so their brain is filtering things out of the khutba. With 5 minutes, they don’t have that process running and we teach them to remember khutbas.

    -Less likely to have the phone ring and disturb people’s prayer since the net time is less

    -Less likely to hear a political khutbah or a khutba full of personal opinions and ranting, and subsequenly less likely to get in trouble with the mukhabarat

    -More time to finish reading Surah al-Kahf and other sunnahs of jumuah

    -People can see how light and easy the fardh is rather than feel like its a burden

    -Competition: Making it harder for the khateebs who want to make a name for themselves, so they are forced to work on their writing skills and delivery

    -Minimizing the nafs of the speaker and giving deference to the sacredness of the masjid space through a shy modest khutbah and long prayer

    di.

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  15. Shamiel

    Slm brothers and sisters.The name is Shamiel and I’m from Cape Town. Algamdu lillaa,Thum’ma Algamdu lillaa.I praise Allah for this city and this community here in Cape Town.having read thru all of the comments and I only put in my 5 Pennies to see what my muslim brothers way of doing things in other parts of the world,I see that there is much differences amongst us,meaning our way of thinking.I pick up a lot of I did this ,I did that, I, I ,I….my dear brothers,this is dangerous.as leaders(ulamah) ,we have to serve,not wanting praises all the time.All praises are for Allah alone.Allahu Akbar. Here in Cape Town we do a 10 – 20 min. Even sometimes up to 30 min. Ghutbah. And most of our people are also working people. No one Algamdulillaa has ever complained so far. Our people love to listen to our ghateebs even if some of them falls asleep sometimes in masjid. But even that (sleeping ) is a blessing from Allah. Like the one brother (Tanim) says, one will only take from a ghutbah what is beneficial to one.as long as one gets a message out of it. And that I feel is important. Jumu’ah is fard on all males and for us to complain about the length of it,is simply a decline in our emaan. So let us stop complain about the times and start building our emaan stronger and then maybe,just maybe we can defend ourselves against the enemies of Islam. As for our kids, let them not complain about lengthy ghutbahs ,or taraweeg or any other religious activity. They are the future flag carries of Islam.Let them not dictate to us. Lastly if I came across as ignorant, or harsh I humbly ask your forgiveness and may Allah the Almighty guide and protect us all ameen.

    Your brother in Islam all the way from Cape Town
    B. Shamiel

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    • Yacoob

      Walaikum salaam brother Shamiel. I’m also from Cape Town, and I don’t think you can generalise the way you have:

      ” No one Algamdulillaa has ever complained so far. Our people love to listen to our ghateebs…”

      I heard complaints just last Friday, when the imam took a really long time to get to his point.

      It differs based on the imam and topic. Yes, the 20 minute time limit is good, but even within that, I’ve very often found myself being uninspired and falling asleep…

      The question is, how do you suggest to khateebs that they improve their public speaking style and improve their effectiveness? Won’t they take offence?

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      • Shamiel

        Wslm B.Yacoob shukran for your comment the problem is not the khateeb,it’s us the listeners.with all our faults and defects we tend to want to blame our leaders.We first have to look at ourselves and see what it is that makes us not getting the message or why we fall asleep. And I can name many defaults we have,but the thing is this,that Allah (SWT) is the ultimate guide and like the khateeb so beautifully every Friday reminding us that “whom so ever Allah guides,no one can misguide.and whom so ever Allah misguide,no one can guide”.the fact of the matter is that the Jumu’ah is fard upon all mukallaf Muslims and we just have to attend.So as for the period of time,it is not for us to dictate because even this comes from Allah.For Allah says in his holy Quran “والعصر ان الإنسان لفى خسر ، إلا الذين ءامنوا وعملواالصالحات وتواصوا بالحق وتواصوا بالصبر”.
        By the token of time,verily man is loss,except those who believe and do righteous good deeds,and recommend one another to the truth and recommend one another with patience.
        As for your question,one does not (insult)approach the khateeb in any way except if what the khateeb say is not in conformity or the boundaries of Islam. Because if one question the khateeb as to how he should conduct his ghutbah or how long it must be,one is actually question Allah and his rasool(saw). Cause what the emam says infront does not come from him,it comes from Allah.(inspiration)And this my dear brother,one has to stay far away from.Because the khateeb is only the messenger.and like they say don’t shoot the messenger.
        And Allah knows best.

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      • Mahmud

        “Because if one question the khateeb as to how he should conduct his ghutbah or how long it must be,one is actually question Allah and his rasool(saw).”

        That is completely false. There is no human who is like that. If the imam is contradicting the command of Allah and His Messenger to shorten the khutbah than if anyone is questioning Allah and His messenger it is the imam!

        The imam should be reprimanded for long, bad khutbahs and should even be fired and replaced with a competent one if he does not amend.

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      • Shamiel

        Astaghfirrulla brother,it seems that you have serious issues with the ulama.respect for the ulama is of utmost important and if one doesn’t respect their leaders, I don’t see any hope for that person. All I’m saying and I’m saying this with all respect, stop blaming and criticizing our ulama, we must check our own intentions first. The issue is with the shortening of khutbahs ,not personal issues with imams. And I’m in all favor of 20-30min khutbahs. As Muslims,lets keep the discussion clean and at the end of the day,with all our differences,we are still proudly and lovingly(for the sake of Allah), MUSLIMS.
        And Allah knows best.

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      • Mahmud

        No, it seems that you have extremely serious issues. Saying that they are beyond question is an enormous thing to say! When they leaders do not follow the sunnah they need to be corrected. A better leader than all of them shortened his khutbah. He is the Messenger of Allah sallahualayhiwasalam.

        We check our intentions constantly. However ulema are not free from blame. They are human and make mistakes as well.

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      • Yacoob

        Brother Shamiel

        While I completely agree that we cannot question or criticise the MESSAGE – the CONTENT (which is from Quran and Sunnah), what I am talking about is the khateeb’s DELIVERY of the message – i.e. his public speaking skills and his communication style.

        Of course we have to respect the ulama. I’m not saying we should disrespect them. But we need to separate the message from the delivery of the message.

        You can have the greatest message in the world, but if your style of delivery – the way you put it across – is ineffective, then you’ll bore people and it won’t have an impact on them. This applies to ALL forms of communication – be it public speaking, writing articles, or any other form.

        I believe that this article is hitting at that very core concept: how to make the message effective. It’s not an insult to the ulama.

        No human being is perfect, and yes, we should respect our ulama – but we should never put them up on a pedestal to the extreme that we say: “He can do no wrong. We cannot question him. We are at fault and he is perfect.”…which is what seems to be your approach.

        Every human can always improve; can always take constructive criticism to better themselves and do their work better. The ulama should be the same. They shouldn’t have a big ego that makes them think – “Who are YOU to be telling ME?”

        If an alim is sincere about his work, and embodies the proper Islamic character, I believe he would be open to receiving constructive advice on his delivery of the message.

        There are ulama here in Cape Town that I love, and they are very popular – yet they have flaws in their delivery styles. And if they could improve on these aspects, they would perhaps have an even greater impact on our people.

        So again, brother Shamiel, I’m not criticising the MESSAGE. I’m saying the DELIVERY STYLE is something that can be improved. And we, as the captive audience, are entitled to have our imams doing that – trying to improve.

        In every job, you should strive to improve. And khateebs are public speakers – hence they should always be striving to improve the effectiveness of their delivery. They shouldn’t just be stagnant and speak the same way for decades and decades, believing they are perfect…

        No offence to you brother…I can see you’re passionate about this, and I hope I’ve put my points across respectfully. I look forward to your response.

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      • Siraaj

        Salaam alaykum brother Yacoob, yes, this is exactly what the article is about, effectiveness of delivery. There is an element of leaning towards a western context because other factors besides just fixing the way the speaker speaks are at play, but at heart that’s what it’s all about.

        Additionally, we have many masjids, but few qualified “ulama” relative to the number of jumu’ahs that take place.

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  16. Amad

    5 minute khutbas would not work because:

    .
    1) Do we know for sure that every khutbah given by the Prophet (S) was 5 minutes? Or were the only ones recorded and transmitted 5 minutes (considering that a narrator would be focusing on the khutba and not documenting it)?
    2) We all know the Prophet (S) had an amazing unparalleled ability to be concise. Until we can get even close, how can we possibly hope to deliver the needed message in 5 minutes?
    3) People lived the deen in the time of the Prophet (S). I suspect there was learning going all the time. Now, for many, it’s a one-shot opportunity in a week. Your rebuttal has a different angle.
    4) It is simply not practical, esp. in the West, as people come from distances and from work to pray and it is easy to be delayed by 5 mins. Versus the Prophet’s time when you walked and EVERYONE walked too. It is not that some may not desire to come; sometimes, you might just not be able to come on time.

    and grandest of all
    5) People like me zone out for 5 minutes at a time, and thus have a high probability of missing the entire khutbah

    Finally, I doubt that could not make an effective case for a 5 minute khutba in 5 minutes– it’s not it being ibadah, it is about the ability to craft a comprehensive message within 5 minutes. Very few have that ability.

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    • Siraaj

      Salaam alaykum Amad,

      As I mentioned to Omar, if everyone is sitting in the masjid to receive the education and paying attention, then the value of the khutbah as tool for education where there is none may have merit. The reality is it’s not working.

      For the timing issue you mentioned in point #4, there is a simple practical answer. In one community I attend, the first khutbah starts at 1:20pm and salah is done by 2pm, so ideally we should leave by 1pm to drive and walk. By the time we walk to our car and get back to the office, it’s 2:20pm. That’s 1 hr, 20 min. I’m simply saying maintain that schedule, but end by 1:30 – 1:35pm so people can return earlier.

      Finally, a long post has another value – it demonstrates that even the people who were interested in this issue, who came into this post by choice, did not have the endurance to handle a lengthy post that would require 10 – 15 minutes of reading, so I would invite those disagreeing with me to convince me about the educational value of a lengthy khutbah to people who attend by obligation when they couldn’t even maintain the necessary attention to read the post ;)

      Siraaj

      PS – studies show your attention span will be at its max during the first five minutes of the talk – it flits around every 5 minutes because the talks are too long, which is consistent with the studies ;)

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      • Saif

        It is true in modern times people’s attention span for something good has decreased a lot and something bad has increased tremendously. I am from SF bay area — I see how my friends/colleagues spend hours in watching movies, sports, CNN, cnbc etc and then chatting about it with others without complaining. But we have little time for anything good — how many have 30min/per week to do some voluntary work, helping others. I don’t think decreased attention span is a good quality — we should not encourage it. We should do research how to enhance our attention span — it does not happen automatically — we need to work on it. I don’t think our attention span is short because we are busy. In fact people before us had to work much longer/harder (physically) to earn their living. I have worked in different companies in bay area in last 15 years under non-Muslim management. I never had problem in attending Jum’a prayer for 1 1/2hr — sometimes I had to attend different shift.

        Muhammad (puh) was the best speaker of all time — he used to give Khutba in Arabic and based on certain knowledge — also all the companions were learning from him round the clock and they were in sync all the time. Now a Khatib needs to support his comments about recent events with Qur’an, Hadeeths and then he needs to translate/explain them. I cannot imagine a Khatib can do it in 5min. When a verse was revealed it used to spread immediately to the most of the companions. Now the whole Qur’an is available in our smartphone but we don’t have attention span to read it. It is not good. We need to change. We should not just limit Khutba to 5 min just because some of us have less attention span.
        Yes in special cases it can be 5 min as some brothers have suggested. But it should not be generalized.

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      • idesireranks

        Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

        It’s not a matter of forcing people to have better attention spans. The sunnah does not expire. An-Nabi sallahualayhiswasalam did not force the Sahaba to have longer attention spans. Rather, an-Nabi sallahualayhiwasalam commanded us to shorten the khutbah. Whoever obeys Rasullullah has obeyed Allah. The khutbah’s of an-Nabi sallahualayhiwasalam were extremely short. Allah and His Messenger are more knowing therefore we cannot impose our own logic on current times, rather we should simply hear and obey.

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      • Saif

        Of course sunnah does not expire and we should hear and obey. I agree Kuthba should be reasonably short. But it has to be exactly 5 min? Is it Sunnah to use clock to measure 5min?

        I explained before — not all Khatibs are not the best speakers — also they need to support their comments regarding recent events with Qur’an, Hadeeths — since most of the current audiences are not Arabs they need to translate, give ‘shane nuzul of an Ayat, mention reason for authenticity of the Hadeeths, give explanation, meaning of some key arabic words used in an Ayat or Hadeeth etc. What Muhammad (pbuh) used to say did not need all these — so we cannot just do mechanical calculation of time — we should take Sunnah as to make Khutba reasonably short — it can be 5, 10, 15, 20 or longer depending upon what are the topics.

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      • idesireranks

        Akhi, I define reasonably short as the average time it would take one to recite two(because the sunnah is to do two khutbahs) of an-Nabi sallahualayhiwasalam.

        That means 5-12 minutes usually.

        Also, why should the khutbah be the time for learning ilm or talking about current events? Those are things that should take place at other times.

        I wouldn’t say I am the best speaker-I just did a few ayat and hadith on honesty in my khutbah+ a few sentences(90% if the khutbah was ayat and hadith) and it lasted 10 minutes. It was a short reminder that they can keep in their heads and I think it is closest to the sunnah. Everyone loved it.

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      • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

        AssalamuAlaikum Wa Rehmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu Gibran

        Please check your name it is again reverting to idesireranks and you being a frequent commenter it would be a violation of policy. Try to change it so it is always Gibran.
        JazakAllahu Khairin and sorry for the inconvenience.

        -Aly

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      • Mahmud

        Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

        Yeah I forgot about that for a while. I’ll change it to Mahmud-good enough?

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      • Siraaj

        Bro, I work in the bay area too, and most people are not in jumu’ah to begin with – pick MCA or the old prayer area that was Napredak, majority of people are using the 30 – 40 minute zone as a buffer to come late, make wudu’ and so on.

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      • Saif

        A large number of Muslims do not attend Jum’ah (this is true for other places as well) not because they don’t have time — most of the time this is because they have lot of other fun things to do. If we have 20min Khutba time total Jum’ah is only about 30min — we should try to reduce time wasted in parking, traffic congestion etc. — this can be done by doing carpool, making wudu at work place etc.

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      • Siraaj

        Salaam alaykum Saif,

        It was the advice of the Prophet (SAW) to both shorten the khutbah and lengthen the prayer, so I don’t see a problem with following both his action and advice in this regard, even now.

        If a khutbah is a 30-minute educational seminar, then the khateeb will have much to say and translate. But if it’s five minutes, one or two hadeeth or ayaat to discuss will suffice.

        As I mention above, it’s 5 minutes with maybe 2 minutes leeway. We already have standardized timings in each masjid for the purpose of predictability, which makes it easy for us to commit to our employers and plan our time.

        Siraaj

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      • Iqbal Hossain

        Brother Siraaj,

        Thank you for the discussion. I am also a fill in khateeb for a newly built masjid. I like your idea of short khutbah. but I sincerely want the khutbah to be inspirational and life changing in bullet form.

        Would you please share with me as many khutbahs as you have in text form, so I can share with our community.

        Or, if anyone in this discussions have inspirational khutbahs, please share with me.

        My email is hmdiqbal@yahoo.com

        JAZK

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  17. mezba

    Salaams. I think we should stop saying “We can’t do this even though the Companions did it because our time/iman/society/culture is different and the Companions were different/pious/religious/learning”. And just start DOING things the way they DID it, and see if that makes us like them (it should).

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    • idesireranks

      wa alaykumusalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      I agree with you completely. When did the Sunnah expire? We can say our time is different for practically everything from riba to the rules of war. However the reality is, we are supposed to hear and obey regardless of the time.

      I think the very max any khutbah should be is 15 minutes. 5-10 minutes is good.

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  18. WAJiD

    Salaam,

    A 5 minute khutbah could change peoples lives.

    And 50 years of 50 minute khutbas could have no impact.

    It’s not the timing that is crucial (though I really like this article for pushing the envelope) but the content & delivery… in my opinion.

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  19. Tanim Taher

    Salam,
    I love this discussion. Even though I disagree (as my previous post said), I ended up liking most of the comments in either side of the discussion.
    The conclusion is… if a community decides to fix a time for the khutbah – whether it’s 5 or 10 or 20 or 30 minutes, their rationale for the decision should draw on from points mentioned here across both sides of the spectrum.

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  20. ZAI

    Good article.
    Good points on both sides.
    Def. preferable to keep it shorter for the sake of attention spans and focus.
    On the other hand, for many people jum’ah is their only contact with anything
    Islamic period. Its the only time they might hear something expounded on through
    the Islamic lens.I don’t think there is any right or wrong answer here. One probably
    needs to know one’s audience/community and tailor the khutba to suit them as best
    possible.

    Can be 5 min. or 15 min., but you have to reach your congregation and make it
    relevant. One absurdity that fails to accomplish that for instance, is this spreading
    phenomenon of non-Arabs insisting on a khutbah in Arabic. What is the point of that?
    It totally unnecessarily lengthens the khutbah and serves zero purpose.

    Anyways, just my two cents.
    Both sides make good arguments….I’d lean a BIT towards Br. Siraj’s POV though.
    If not 5 minutes, better to keep it to a moderately short amount..10, 15 max based on the
    audience. It’s not meant to be a speech, a dars or a halaqa.

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  21. UmAhmed

    as-salamu ‘alaikum,

    I think it is better if we hear from scholars on their understanding on the rationale (‘illa) for the shortened khutba and the lengthened salah on Friday. From what I remember hearing, if we are not looking at it literally speaking, but rather from the perspective of the greater context, the Sahabah understood Arabic, and the contexts of the ayaat. So the lengthy recitation touched them and brought back all sorts of emotions and reminders.

    Today, the masses are of a different kind. Majority of Muslims are non-native to Arabic, and don’t even understand the recitation. So I have heard that nowadays the reverse scenario should hold, in order to achieve the same desired effect of our Rasool, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Ie if back THEN the khutbah was 5-10 minutes on average and recitation was 15-20 minutes, the reverse should happen now. A heartwrenching reminder (qawlan sadeeda) should be longer, and the recitation shorter.

    Yes, not every khateeb, maybe even the most, may not be superqualified, but still, what the people understand from his 15-20 minutes of khutba is still going to be much more what they will understand from a lengthy recitation (ie next to nothing). Whether the heart or mind is there or not is a different issue. IF a person is ghafil(heedless) no human can control his heart and mind. That is in the hands of Allah. IF Allah ‘azza wa jall wants to open someone’s heart to further hidaya, he might be one who rarely pays attention in the khutbah, but because of his sincerity, or a good deed that Allah loved and accepted from him, HE out of His Mercy can make his ears perk up and his heart open to hear the one line that will be lifechanging.

    The goal of the da’ee in the US, is to give the beneficial reminders calling to goodness and faith in Allah. And to do our best to cover all bases, here’s an approach that I have witnessed and found to be very thoughtful all-inclusive of all the “types” that attend Friday prayer:
    1. For those who DO come at the beginning, or strive to do so, so that even if they are a few minutes late, meaning they have the intention of LEARNING and getting a reminder and imaan boost, the speaker starts out with a powerful introduction/story and a brief outline of what’s to follow
    2. Proceed with subpoints of khutbah. for the next portion up to the time when khateeb sits down before the final few minutes.
    3. In the last 5 minutes, for those who missed a large part of the khutbah, or are JUST WALKING IN, this speaker would then deliver a power packed executive summary of the entire khutbah in 5 minutes. maybe change a story or two, but deliver the entire 20 minute khutbah again in 5 minute form.

    This approach I believe inshaAllah will cover all sides of the issue. Wa Allahu ta’aala ‘alam.

    salam,
    p.s. This brother mashaAllah who consistently delivered this type of khutbah every time it was delivered is br. Altaf Husain
    p.p.s. even if not all khateebs are qualified, the least a masjid scheduler can do, if this is a priority issue, is to request all khateebs to summarize their entire khutbah for latecomers in last 5 minutes.

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  22. Zabih

    I am surprised that you didn’t include the Jawaaami’ Al-Kalim arguement in your article.

    Nonetheless, I agree with a short khutbah. Maybe not exactly 5 minutes but anywhere between that and 15 min is ideal. You have tons of people who attend Juma’ah at a Hanafi masjid just so that they get the reward of attending while understanding nothing and not attending the talk before either. You get rid of that with this. Also, the Prophet on the minbar was described to be powerful and fierce. You cant follow that sunnah with a 30 minute khutbah. I remember I gave a khutbah in a strong voice for like 20 minutes and i ended up just screaming Fatihah in the Salaah.

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    • Siraaj

      Most people will make a poor excuse of it as why they must remain longer winded, that it’s unique to the Prophet (SAW), neglecting his advice specifically to do the same from the minbar.

      Siraaj

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  23. yaqub

    As salamu alaykum wa rahmatullah,
    Brother I wanted to say jazakAllah khayran for the contribution on the discussion of the length of the Friday sermon [khutbah]. I felt like your article presented the situation that many American Muslims face on Friday, having to see to fulfilling the obligation of attending the Friday prayer and also a pending work schedule.
    I feel, and I am sure you and likewise our other Muslim brothers too, that the best guidance on how we should perform acts of worship in Islam is according to the manner in which it has been conveyed to us by Allah and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم).
    In various hadith books it has been narrated from the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) that his khutbahs would be short. For example,
    In Sunan Abi Dawud (1/476, Dar al-Hadith Cairo edition 1420/1999), it is narrated on the authority of ‘Ammar b. Yasir that the Prophet,
    أمرنا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بإقصار الخطب
    In regards to the hadith’s authenticity, other scholars like Imam Ahmad in his Musnad, Hakim in his Mustadrak, and others have narrated it too. Both Abu Dawud and Mundhiri made sukut on it. Other scholars have stated that this hadith is sahih.
    And in the hadith coming immediately after the aforementioned in the same work on the authority of Jabir b. Samurah,
    كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لا يطيل الموعظة يوم الجمعة إنما هن كلمات يسيرات
    It may be noted here that there are other wordings of similar hadith that mention shortening the khutbah on Friday and also lengthening the salah. Like what Imam Muslim related in his Sahih (6/1078, Dar al-Taqwa Cairo edition),
    إن طول صلاة الرجل وقصر خطبته مئنة من فقهه فأطيلوا الصلاة واقصروا الخطبة وإن من البيان سحرا
    One scholar, Hafiz Munawi in Fayd al-Qadir (2/457 Maktabat al-Tijariyyah al-Kubra Cairo edition 1356), mentioned that to achieve this, the salah should be longer than the khutbah. He also mentioned that most scholars have stated that doing this is recommended, and the Zahiri scholars considered it obligatory. In Mughni al-Muhtaj (1/556 Dar al-Kutub al-‘Illmiyyah Beirut edition), Khatib Shirbini stated something sort of similar; shortening the khutbah/ lengthening the salah implies that the khutbah should be shorter than the salah.
    While I am unaware in regards to a duration for khutbah length being related and expressed as 5, 10, 15, or 20 minutes for example, I do know that the surahs the Prophet would recited from the Holy Qur’an on Friday are mentioned.
    In Sahih Muslim (6/1087) it is mentioned that the Prophet would recited Surah al-Jumu’ah and Surah al-Munafiqun. In Sunan Abi Dawud (1/484), it is related that he would recited Surah al-A’la and Surah al-Ghashiyah.
    Perhaps in considering the surahs that the Prophet recited, and that the prayer should be longer than the prayer, in that there might be guidance for the suggested khutbah length.
    May Allah reward you for starting the discussion. Please keep us in your prayers.
    Allah knows best.

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  24. Faisal

    5-minute lecture is way too short. Why? Because a hard-working man probably works a 5-day job. If he can’t sacrifice or strive to negotiate for a day-off or an hour-long break, then the community should not have to respond to his schedule. one hour out of 5 days is a small percentage. Khutbah should be between 20 to 30 minutes long…This is not long at all. 5-min is insanely short. 10-min is reasonable. but 20-30 min should be the most

    Most workplaces will definitely consider the religious beliefs of their employees. Those who do one-hour to two-hour long khutbah, they are burdening the people and are not following the sunnah.

    Allah knows best…

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  25. Ali

    I agree with shortening the khutbah and lengthening the salat. The friday khutbah is not meant to be a lecture, but a reminder that people can implement. I doubt things will change, to be honest, The people who attend the mosques are generally the old immigrant populations, who are set in their ways. And the youth are virtually non existent. For a Muslim born and raised in the West, the Friday prayer is something that is caught on the off chance when there is a holiday. For people who have work or school, the friday prayer is a luxury to attend.

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