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Good Khateebs Are So Hard To Find These Days

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khutbah.JPG*Alhamdulillah, we would like to introduce SaqibSaab as a new associate writer for MuslimMatters.org. He is from Chicago and also writes on his own blog. When was the last time you were absolutely thrilled to listen to a Jummah khutbah? If you’re like the majority of Muslims, you probably haven’t heard a solid khutbah in a long time. That’s because khateebs nowadays are lacking in so many ways vital to giving that solid khutbah we’re all wanting to hear.

I asked some brothers what they felt was the #1 problem about Jummah khutbahs for them. Here’s some responses and reflections.

Problem: “Reading off of a paper and not delivering from the heart…they’re boring!”

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The Jummah khutbah is the most opportune time to deliver a killer sermon and give the Muslims an intense Eman rush that lasts all week. Unfortunately, it’s also the most common time to hear a boring half hour long speech where someone is reading off an article printed from the internet.

One of the Prophet’s (SAW) blessed teaching methods was that he never bored the people.

Not every khateeb is going to be as good as the next, but that shouldn’t stop khateebs from striving their best to give better khutbahs. Imagine if a khateeb were to attend a seminar or read a book on effective speaking techniques. Not only would the community benefit, the speaker would rake in great reward for trying to do something for Allah with ihsan (excellence).

Also many brothers complain about khateebs not being innovative enough in their topics. Or talking about the same old things week after week, focusing on less important issues (politics) and not giving anybody anything to go home with.

One brother said:

“Khateebs love to talk about how Muslims are so bad and [how the Ummah] has it so bad. There’s no emphasis on the positive being done, and no real effort to inspire people with hope and positive energy.”

Problem: “Khateebs speaking outside their bounds not knowing their limits in terms of knowledge.”

Sometimes the layman is put on the stage to address the Jama’ah on Friday. Next thing you know, a star is born who can speak words of silk and stir the hearts of the crowd. They’re not the most knowledgeable, but their delivery and influence on the people is higher than others.

And then, of course, the people praise him so much that his ego gets inflated, Shaytan whispers to him, and we now have a khateeb who thinks he can do it all. He’s now lightning-quick to talk about issues and pass judgments and verdicts on things they have barely looked into or have little to no idea about. The words “haraam” and “halaal” flow off of their tongues without any second thought, all of which will occur even within the Jummah khutbah and afterwards when speaking to other laymen.

Allah (SWT) tells us:

“And pursue not that of which you have no knowledge; surely the hearing and the sight and the heart, all of these, shall be questioned about that.” (Surah Isra 17:36)

If only out khateebs knew that they have to be very careful about what they say, maybe then we’d have more cautious khateebs.

Problem: “Lack of Khateebs due to poor excuses.”

This seems to be a problem particularly within the MSAs. The person in charge of finding khateebs is frustrated, because everyone he goes to ask says, “I don’t know enough about Islam and therefore I can’t/don’t want to give the khutbah,” or something pessimistic like, “I’m not pious enough.”

A local MSA’s Jummah Coordinator said about this problem, “Look, we know none of us are scholars, and none of us are gonna give these mind-blowing, life-changing khutbahs. But, we can [at least] go up there and regurgitate a speech we’ve listened to by a scholar and reflect a bit on the Qur’an and Sunnah and share some reflections with an audience, it’s not that hard.”

These young brothers are not only ignorant or “not pious enough” to give khutbahs, they also aren’t doing jack about it.

The Prophet (SAW) said:

“He who treads a path in search of knowledge, Allah will make easy for him a path from the paths of Paradise.” (Ahmad)

If more Muslims realized that learning Islam is an easy ticket to Paradise and actually went out and learned their religion, we probably wouldn’t have such problem of Khateeb scarcity in the name of ignorance.

Problem: “Khateebs with bad character.”

A distant friend told me about one khateeb in his community. Famous for speaking throughout the MSAs in the area and even in various masajid, he’s known for being a role model for the people, both old and young. One day, my friend was accidently forwarded an Email from that very khateeb. The Email had an attachment of a supermodel, with the khateeb’s comments on how much he admired her beauty, physique, and more. Since that day, my friend has hestiated in ever hearing that khateeb give khutbah.

From my understanding, the khutbahs are to be given by people of example. People of knowledge, people who can motivate the masses for change, and most importantly, people who are role models and leaders. SubhanAllah, what kind of leaders do we have standing at our minbars today?

The other day a friend asked me how to advise someone who says, “Salah is between me and Allah (SWT) – that’s why I don’t pray.” Before I could look into some ways to help someone with such a mindset, my friend revealed the bad news. This argument on why one doesn’t need to pray came from someone who gives khutbahs in his community.

If I’m supposed to get something out of the khutbah once a week, what could I possibly take from someone who has such serious problems? I can’t imagine much.

Solution

The problems with our khateebs are many and frightening, but the solution is simple. We need to realize the importance and power of Jummah.

Every week the Muslims gather on Fridays, taking out time from their busy schedules to go for Jummah prayer. They come just to hear a couple words, only twenty minutes or so, after which they stand together to pray, filling the masjids and MSA rooms with numbers unfound at any other time during the week. This weekly experience can be the biggest way to charge the Eman of the Muslims. If people knew the importance of this day, then maybe they’d place some more effort into improving a key part of it, the khutbah.

I leave you with a quote from one of the brothers I asked whom I asked What do you wish was different or better about MSA khateebs?:

“I wish people realized that the khutbah is the weekly re-energizing for the community, whether it be at a Masjid or on campus. People come to get pumped up on Islam for the next week of trials and tribulations that they’ll undoubtedly come in contact with. Realize the importance, and that it’s not just something you where you can just read off your notes and walk away expecting people to be satisfied. Oh, and take criticism to heart, it helps us in the long run.”

I ask Allah (SWT) to increase our knowledge, improve the abilities of our khateebs, forgive their sins, and help us give the Jummah khutba its due rights.

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SaqibSaab is an average Desi Muslim guy living in Chicago. He enjoys videography and design as side hobbies, and helps out with AlMaghrib Institute in Chicago, Wasat Studios, and other projects here and there. His go-around vehicle is a 2007 Volkswagen Jetta 5-speed Wolfburg Edition. Originally born in Michigan, he and his wife reside in Chicagoland with his parents who come from Bangalore, India. He blogs personally at SaqibSaab.com.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. ibnabeeomar

    November 2, 2007 at 10:27 AM

    also check out these notes from Dr. Mamdouh on how to give a good khutbah

    http://lotaenterprises.wordpress.com/2006/12/27/tdc06-khutbah-workshop-i-mamdouh-muhammad/

  2. BintAbdillah

    November 2, 2007 at 2:48 PM

    I actually enjoy the Khutbahs at my local Masjid Alhamdulilah…

  3. talib

    November 2, 2007 at 5:01 PM

    I too enjoy the khutbas at my local masjid and other masajid al hamdulilah, never have i encountered a khateeb who don’t atleast have a degree in islamic studies. However i just like to give a point regarding the khateeb who send out an email of a super model, maybe his email has been caught by a virus and send out spam email to his contact list. That brother should investigate the matter instead of him boycotting the khateeb.

  4. Umm Uthmaan

    November 2, 2007 at 7:26 PM

    Politically Correct Khutbahs?

    http://al-istiqamah.com/IF/BritKhut.htm

  5. Safi

    November 2, 2007 at 8:01 PM

  6. Ayesha Siddique

    November 2, 2007 at 8:34 PM

    I think whether or not the khutbah is interesting depends on the masjid you go to. For example, if you go to a well established masjid with an imam who has a degree in Islamic Studies and has been giving the khutbah every Friday for the past 10 years, chances are you’ll hear something interesting.

    But if you are in a younger community, like for example on a college campus, you probably won’t hear an interesting or thought provoking khutbah.

    It’s all very relative, I think.

    Masha’Allah, excellent post all around.

  7. SaqibSaab

    November 2, 2007 at 9:14 PM

    Umm Uthman, a friend sent me al-Istiqamah’s article “Politically Correct Khutbahs?” earlier today. It has a solid piece in it:

    Many years ago Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaqi remarked that during the time of the Spanish inquisition, whilst the streets of Andalusia ran with Muslim blood, the Jumuah khutbahs would focus on wudu, dhikr and other such innocuous topics. The political situation was completely avoided by Imams in the weekly sermon – due to fear of arrest. Evidently many Imams today are following this same craven path.

    A lot of brothers complain that their khateebs “bring up politics too much on Fridays.” I don’t agree with that totally. The problem is when we have the uninformed khateebs up there blasting away at issues of the Muslim Ummah when he has no idea about the truth of matters.

    Ignoring current issues is one thing. Speaking about them incorrectly, that’s just as bad.

  8. A.M

    November 2, 2007 at 11:13 PM

    Is there a place where we can send our khutbas to be evaluated and then get some specific feedback on how to improve?

    That would be of immense help. JazakAllah khair.

    Brother Saqib, jazakAllah khair for this much needed post.

  9. skh

    November 3, 2007 at 2:29 AM

    salaam aleikum,

    this topic is very very relevant. However, I would add one other caveat. In my community weeks after some Muslims were arrested and paraded by the local papers and law enforcement (and later found to be wholly innocent of the charges), a brother had confronted the khateeb after the jum’ah as to why he didn’t even bother to mention their plight in his khutbah. The khateeb told him to come to his office after everyone had dispersed. When he did, he was told in no uncertain terms, that a copy of the khutbah MUST be mailed every friday to a local law enforcement/FBI official per instruction from the govt.. My friend’s mouth fell open and he then apologized to the khateeb and left his office. It Seems in return for garbage khutbahs on totally irrelevant topics, the govt. will then and only then pursue cases of hate discrimination, bias, or racism against the community. I was told that this govt/masjid relationship is a U.S. copy of a model that has been perfected in the UK actually.

    So along with little or no financial transparency, a severe lack of political accountability, and ideological bankruptcy, we now have masjids in many areas that deliver meaningless and irrelevant khutbahs per govt. instruction. And we wonder why so many Muslims don’t get anything out of masjids and ju’mah salats?

    salaam aleikum,
    skh

  10. MR

    November 3, 2007 at 11:31 AM

    Thank God for my MSA. Every khutbah is awesome here!

  11. AnonyMouse

    November 3, 2007 at 2:32 PM

    Here’s an idea – workshops for the aspiring khateeb!

    My dad did something like that w/ the MSA in our city, before Ramadhan… once a week, for a couple hours, he helped them in choosing topics for, researching, writing out, and delivering khutbas.

  12. Mahin F Islam

    November 5, 2007 at 6:04 PM

    Assalaamu alaikum,

    Nice post Saqib, if I may add a couple negatives in today’s khutbah world.

    1) Khateeb that doesn’t even know Khutbatul Hajjah

    2) Butchers Qu’raan recitation(in terms of tajweed rules).

    Sr. Anonymouse, we did a Jumuah workshop the summer before a school year when I was in MSA…turned out to be pretty beneficial.

    One final point, there is a brother in our community who is recognized as one of the top khateebs in the city; he’s an engineer actually. Big up to Engineers! Anyways, I told him that people enjoy his khutbahs because he’s rarely critical so I told him he’s earned enough capital in the community to earn the right to give a khutbah where he just blasts the Muslims(an admonishment). So I told him for every 3 loveydovey feel good khutbahs he gives, he should give 1 khutbah where he just lays down the law and tells people how bad they suck. I told him that the Sunnah of Rasulullaah (Sallalaahu alayhi wa salaam) was to deliver the khutbah in an admonishing style.

    Anyways, he disagreed with me by saying that he only gives khutbahs in one location maybe once every 4-6 weeks(he’s on a rotation), so since he’s not the regular imaam he can’t be the admonisher. Basically, the imaam is with the community all the time and has an established relationship with his constituents and the people look to him for advice (however hard it may be). His goal he says is to give people hope so they don’t despair. It was hard for me to disagree with him on that point.

    However, I told him that people like him for his khutbahs because he is following the golden rule of “not criticizing”. (See Tawfique Chowdhury’s lecture on “Our Best Friends” to understand his point). However, in a khutbah where the Muslims are only there once a week, the people will go home feeling good and then not do anything (because they’re doing good) rather than heeding some much needed advice. (that was the gist of my point to him)

  13. rushdi

    November 7, 2007 at 4:17 PM

    I agree with the brother’s article. The friday khutba can be a source of great frustration, especially after 6 days of being hammered by media/ internet misrepresentation. This feedback needs to be delivered to the khateebs nationwide so they can be aware of this reality. Brother you speak the truth! I too sometimes leave Jummah more disturbed than when I arrived. I too have experienced the “negative” khutba approach that does nothing to lift souls, and ennoble hearts.

    With regard to the example of the brother and the supermodel. “Do not look for the stye in your brother’s eye, when you have a beem inyour own.. first remove the beam, so that you can see clearly to remove the stye from your brother..”

    Thinking the best of ones brother is the way of Rasullulah.. this prophetic quality is best emmulated by searching first for corruption in ones own soul, and minimizing that seen in others.

    “None of you believes until you love one another” If the brother that witnessed this really loves the Khateeb he spoke of… then he should, realize, the wrong that he has commited towards his brother in his own heart. By avoiding the Judgement of others, and making sincere dua for his brother’s shortcomings, he may effectively treat two maladies (that within himself, and that which he perceived in his Khateeb).

  14. Sabir

    November 11, 2007 at 9:02 AM

    Doesn’t the existence of the fourth problem lend validity to some of the excuses described in the third problem? If a khateeb is supposed to be a person of example, and a brother who has been asked to deliver a khutbah feels that he is too sinful or weak in his own level of piety, shouldn’t that be a valid reason for him to decline the request?

  15. Moqsood Noeman

    December 12, 2007 at 9:54 AM

    Assalaamu alaykum,

    u doing good, good post khutbahs,

    Allaha Hafiz

  16. Imam Tariq Ansaar Aquil

    March 16, 2009 at 3:10 AM

    Visit kateeb Site

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