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Readers’ Opinions: What Makes a Great Khutbah?


This past week, after nearly six years away from public speaking, I finally returned to the minbar and delivered a khutbah.  I had stopped giving khutbahs for a variety of reasons, one of which was because of an imam in one of our communities who so strongly emphasized the weight and responsibility of delivering the khutbah (and by extension speaking about the religion in general) that I really wanted nothing to do with religious public speaking.

Another reason for my reticence was that getting on the khutbah circuit was an immense time drain, especially since many times the khutbah planning chairperson would try contacting me (or others) when the scheduled khateeb would bail out at the last possible moment (seems a bit common), leaving me to prepare an ad hoc khutbah on Thursday night.  I remember one time the khateeb didn’t show up, and I was asked to give one right there.  I asked for a minute to think about it, and then delivered a khutbah on Uthmaan (RA) and the lessons we could take from his life and characteristics.  How did I come up with that khutbah?  I didn’t – it was the Islamic Sunday School class I had taught earlier in the week!

I returned this week because the UC Berkeley MSA was organized enough to have scheduled me four months in advance, giving plenty of time to think and prepare.  During that time, I returned to reading books on public speaking, and re-thinking what I had liked in the past and what I liked now.   It was also great for reflecting with a fresh set of experiential eyes on what was really important for the community-at-large, rather than pseudo-student of knowledge ankle-biting.

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So here’s my question to all of you – what makes an awesome khutbah, and what makes a disaster khutbah?

For example, awesome khutbah for me was a couple of months ago when Imam Tahir Anwar visited and spoke about what the differences among Muslims to amounted to for him, and how we should deal with it.  Disaster khutbah was a fresh student of knowledge getting on the minbar and running as through a marathon refutation of something he read online for 90 minutes.

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Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Siraaj is the Operations Director of MuslimMatters as well as its new lead web developer. He's spent nearly two decades working in dawah organizations, starting with his chapter MSA in Purdue University, and leading efforts with AlMaghrib Institute, MuslimMatters, and AlJumuah magazine. Somewhere in there, he finds time for his full-time profession as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. He holds a bachelor's in Computer Science from Purdue University and a Master's certificate from UC Berkeley. He's very married and has 5 wonderful children



  1. sisterfiddeen

    May 11, 2011 at 9:13 PM

    Assalamu alaikum Br. Siraaj,
    I was there when you gave the khutbah and thought you did a great job MashaAllah! I hope you continue to give khutbahs because it’s one of the best ways to give back to the community.

    To answer your question, I think the best content of a khutbah is stories that people can relate to, stories which humanize the historical messages we so often hear.

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 1:56 AM

      Walaykum as salaam,

      Jzk for the feedback, appreciate it, and I think I definitely attempted to do what you suggested in the khutbah I gave :)


  2. Cucumber

    May 11, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    Qur’an, ahadith, and especially tafseer tidbits really hit home for me. Shouldn’t quote left and right without context of course, but using either or both to back up the main point makes any talk a lot more powerful. Though it seems obvious, some khateebs get caught up in discussing present issues without going back to the two most important sources of all deen/dunya matters.

    I also like khutbas that give me a practical “to-do” list – things I can implement as soon as I walk out of the masjid. Practicality is key because while ‘feel-good’ talks are great, people really need to know what they should do to reach a higher state of spiritual well-being.

    Delivery is also important. Having a basic background in public speaking helps (ex: pacing, tone, making sure main points aren’t scattered, making sense, few “umms”, charisma, etc.)

    Lastly, if a khutba can make half the room cry, it’s a winner. :)

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 1:58 AM

      My favorite khutbahs in the past were the ones that made me cry. When I thought about it, I realized that part of what made me emotional was that the khateeb himself was getting emotional, and it sort of yanked out the emotion from me as well.


  3. Umar

    May 11, 2011 at 10:22 PM

    •correct tajweed when leading the salah afterwards.
    •passion-raise the voice when necessary – especially on jumuah. If you are boring, no matter how inspirational the topic, it falls on the ears of sleeping people. In fact when it is jumuah a special emphasis to the quality of the content and delivery of speech. In conferences, it’s usually the more committed who turn up. In jumuah you have Muslims of every, so it must be done excellently.
    •Know your audience and relate Hadith to their lives.
    •ask rhetorical questions – makes audience think, engaging their minds.
    •personal stories from the speaker’s own life. Helps audience connect.
    •Not necessary to quote the isnad of every Hadith. Perhaps sometimes it’s better to leave it at “in an authentic Hadith, the prophet sws said…” Whether it is islamically preferable to do this, I do not know but in short concise khutbahs it helps the flow.
    •Concision- differentiate between lecture and khutbah.
    •Reading the khutbah from a book…just no.
    •To remain politically acceptable, some stopped talking about global and political issues. We don’t live in a bubble. We live in the society so the things on the news should be addressed!
    •Counter-arguments to your own points and refutations of them – adds persuasiveness.
    •insight – speaker should have more knowledge and be able to extract more lessons than the average listener.
    •confidence in your own words – if you don’t believe what you are saying, why expect others to?
    •balance – many times, it is almost as though the imam wants us to live in caves worshipping Allah. What about food…? We need advice for both this life and the hereafter. I love it when speakers make the point that our whole lives should be worship, but when they forget to explain that worship entails fulfilling our financial and social responsibilities it confuses and alienates the audience.
    •please no group dua after the jumuah Salah. No evidence from Quran or sunnah for this. I question the reliability of the speaker when they engage in all kinds of Bidah after the Salah.
    •no need to sing the Du’aas at the beginning of khutbah. Tajweed for Quran ayat are fine, but some of the Duas are actually sung. Too much.
    •avoid sectarianism. When it’s adds no benefit, just don’t mention any particular group. People have these biases otherwise. If they are sincere, the evidences will suffice.
    •Authentic Hadith!- I’m not joking sometimes these email circulation stories have been used in actual khutbahs I’ve attended.
    •agree with the above comment. Stories are an excellent way to begin the khutbah.
    •Integrety-the speaker should be known to actually practice what they preach.
    •Ihsan- the speech should be encouraging us to excellence. No need to water anything down.
    •the speaker should be humble enough to take feedback and constructive critisism.
    •available to community- if the speaker disappears after the khutbah, what about those who had questions or needed clarifications. Jumuah is the only time most of us enter a mosque, and if there is nobody there willing to answer questions, what a wasted opportunity.

    The above were all from my own experiences. Some are cringeworthy. Others can so easily be corrected.
    Assalamu alaykum.

    PS: a message to moderators: I think I’ve been blocked from this site. Please unblock me. It is quite annoying writing a long comment, giving some advice to my kind brother Siraaj, and having it lost in cyberspace. It’s frustrating. Btw I still think you should uncensor my OBL conspiracy comments. They were all valid points…no?

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 2:01 AM

      Jzk for the feedback – seems like you’ve been through the ringer when it comes to khutbahs =) I remember one khateeb couldn’t stop quoting from famous muslim poets and their often quaint ideas on spiritual enlightment, often with dubiously chosen language.


      • Umar

        May 13, 2011 at 5:34 PM

        It’s only recently – the past year or so, attending the local jumuah – that I’ve had these issues.
        And it’s only because I’ve experienced and benefited from good khutbahs, that I appreciate the effect a good khutbah can have.

        My frustration stems not from the fact that I haven’t personally benefited from the khutbah (I’ve come to expect and accept the failings), but because my family – who don’t pray regularly and who need that boost are in attendance. The fact the imam so frustratingly fails to convey knowledge that benefits and knowledge that inspires, just makes me want to politely talk to him afterwards, and offer a few tips – only the one time I tried, he was doing nawafil after nawafil, that after 30 mins just sitting and waiting, I gave up. (that’s why I included the point above about being available to the community and taking feedback.)

        Finally, if I could just add, I think the quality of the khutbah is a representation of the quality of the community. If we expect and pressurise the khateeb to simply prepare a decent short effective reminder, then we’d get that. If we go to jumuah like sheep making it like a chore, going to get it over and done with, then usually the imam of that community would have the same attitude. After all, he is “technically fulfilling his role.”

  4. Riyaz

    May 11, 2011 at 10:45 PM


    Many a times I think what is delivered post Jumuah salah, the announcements and the like should actually be the part of the khutbah. That is what the ummah really needs to know. What is happening with the Muslim community around them and how they can get involved. Most khutbahs are theoretical and what comes after the salah is practical and grounded in activism. Expand that part and we will insha’Allah get awesome khutbahs.

    The second thing I always believed was that every masjid should have one khateeb, who adopts his community and works in his own manner, through his khutbahs to change and reform his people. One year of reflection, strategy and assessment will really help him decide what his community really needs and how to deliver. Guest khateebs are a good idea, but their involvement should be reduced, and should serve the purpose only of making the community aware of what is happening at the larger level, i.e global, national or how the other masajid are doing. A new khateeb every week is what I think is not exactly helpful and eats up a lot of resources too.

    Jazak’Allah khair.

    p.s: The plural form, khutbahs, though incorrect was used for ease of reading and my lack of knowing what the right term is. Apologies for that.

    • Nahyan

      May 12, 2011 at 12:35 AM

      I agree on point 1, the things the community really needs to hear immediately are ignored because their out of the “juma” mode by then

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 2:02 AM

      I think in my community that would translate into a fundraiser during the khutbah =(


      • MWW_m

        May 9, 2013 at 9:58 PM

        In my community, we actually had a fundraiser during the khutbah. The khateeb started asking for donations and people raised their hands. I wasn’t sure if it would have been permissible for me to walk out so I stayed sitting, fuming to myself.

        • Siraaj

          May 10, 2013 at 2:58 AM

          That’s horrible. I’d hate to sit through that.

    • Azzam

      September 14, 2015 at 8:22 PM

      Salam very good article agree with everything you said.

      ps. plural of khutbah is khutbah :)

    • Azzam

      September 14, 2015 at 8:25 PM

      Sorry meant to write khutab

  5. Nahyan

    May 12, 2011 at 12:33 AM

    Good stuff bro, mashaAllah.

    It isn’t easy to find one’s “public speaking” voice and have it appeal to the maximum number of people.

    For myself, there are 2 main things I consider: (khutbah and regular presentation)

    1) Who is the audience and what would appeal to them?
    – is it at university, high school, masjid with professionals, in a inner-city masjid etc.

    If this is figured out, that’s half the battle.

    @University or student crowd – consider the entertainment factor ; not that Islamic talks are for entertainment, but have to engage the listener.

    Methods: Little humour, STORIES (big one), and speak the language of the people (ie. not like translated books with words like “vices, transgression, supererogatory, scrupulously” etc. which barely add substance)

    2) Intro and Outro – reward those who are there early with my A-game and conclude with a comprehensive message for even last-minute peeps

    – Add an action item
    [#2 learned from Sh.Muhammad Alshareef’s ABCDEFG method]

    Wish you the best in your future khutbahs and inshaAllah you + listeners benefit greatly.

    ps. There’s a great story in the book “Dont Be Sad” which summarizes into Taqwa and sincerity of the speaker being the key determinants of which message really hits home for the listener.

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 2:03 AM

      Any good / bad khutbah stories to add? =)

      • Nahyan

        May 12, 2011 at 6:09 PM

        The bad ones are from memory lane (alhamdulillah, rather than recently); particularly one short reminder speech after maghrib which coincided with a bladder call :P

        Just got up, blurted out my lines and away I go…one of the uncle’s like “shortest one I’ve seen…”

        A good one was about “salaam alaikum” + accompanying body language from the sunnah (big smile, proper handshake etc.). I notice people still using the specific “techniques” i showed and it’s been 1+ years alhamdulillah.

  6. Meena

    May 12, 2011 at 12:47 AM

    Shout out to UC Berkeley!! Dr. Hatem Bazian is lecturing for my school, UC Irvine, tomorrow!

    For me, the best khutbahs are those that relate to a central idea/metaphor/analogy/circumstance that most people can easily relate to. They are the ones that seem like they could be so simple, but there’s like a little twist in it that REALLY gets to you and you leave the khutbah thinking, “wow that was DEEP.”

    I would also like to say, the shorter the better. Sometimes there are a million things we’d like to say about one topic and all tangentially related subjects. But as the speaker, I think it’s important to really just stop and figure out ONE thing only. Trying to tackle many things in one khutbah isn’t feasible, and sometimes it just gets too boring and too messy. I feel that it’s more important to focus on getting one thing across and really getting into the matter. It can be really hard to cut out so much material that is so dear to the speaker, but editing down is so essential to having a very effective khutbah.

    I also don’t think that the khutbah should be a public speaking test for the khatib. I think we as communities need to stop dissecting the khatib’s public speaking skills and start focusing on the content. Not all of us can be amazing speakers. However, it’s nice for the khatib to push himself and to work on his skills, just so that less people nod off during the khutbah :)

    As far as your hesitancy to give khutbahs Br. Siraaj, I think this video by Sh. Muhammad AlShareef really nails the issue of people needing to step up in the face of heavy responsibilities. We can’t always be afraid of living up to really difficult tasks.

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 2:10 AM

      Salaam alaykum Meena,

      You know how it is when you’re giving a lecture, and then someone you really respect comes in and it’s like, you’re delivering a lecture to them…? Yeah, Dr. Hatem was at the khutbah, and when I saw him, I had this mental pause, and I was like, woah, Dr. Hatem is attending this, I should just sit down and ask him to take over =D

      For me, the issue wasn’t just fear of delivering khutbahs incorrectly (though that was there), but also just daw’ah / life balance. Taking care of the wife and kids is also priority, and it’s not fair to them, after working throughout the week, to neglect them because of someone else’s irresponsibility. Some would say, your family should sacrifice for the good of the community, but I would say taking care of myself and my family is also for the good of the community, it’s just a matter of perspective.


      • Abdul-Qadir

        May 12, 2011 at 12:11 PM


        “Some would say, your family should sacrifice for the good of the community, but I would say taking care of myself and my family is also for the good of the community, it’s just a matter of perspective.”

        Preach on, brotha, preach on.

  7. Nihal

    May 12, 2011 at 1:30 AM

    Can you place the audio of your khutbah so we can listen as well?


    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 2:15 AM

      LOL, nope. Didn’t record it. Basic outline though:

      Khutbah 1: Brief Summary of the Trials the Prophet suffered from the time the boycott of the Muslims and Banus Hashim and Muttalib (7th after revelation), the Year of Sorrow, and the rejected daw’ah at at-Ta’if, and the Prophet’s du’aa right after being rejected.

      Khutbah 2: Trials

      1. Why are Prophets tested more? Where not just drop miracles left and right and destroy the opposition?
      2. The Benefits of Trials
      3. How to Deal w/Trials in Your Life


  8. Amad

    May 12, 2011 at 2:07 AM

    -Strong Start. Articulate a clear vision for the khutbah & what you’ll cover
    -Variation of voice
    -NEVER read. Read the audience instead
    -RECITE Quran, not read it.
    -Stories always great
    -Use relevant/familiar examples to illustrate.
    -Keep a constant theme and only focus on 3-5 points around it. More and you’ll lose them.
    -Constantly run the thread of the theme through it, so people never lose track of what it is
    -Summarize in the end
    -Strong Finish with a couple of clear to-do recommendations.

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 7:58 PM

      Amad, I would love to attend a khutbah delivered by you bro :D


  9. WAJiD

    May 12, 2011 at 2:48 AM

    A good khutba is one that adheres to the obligatory actions required to make the khutba valid, runs to time and has a message that is clearly understood.

    A great khutba inspires us and sparks the fire within our souls to change the situation within ourselves, our families, our communities and our Ummah.

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 7:59 PM

      And how does it do it – do you have examples that come to mind?


      • WAJiD

        May 13, 2011 at 9:36 AM

        I’ll source two examples on the same topic and post them up inshaAllah.. failing that, I’ll write the examples inshaAllah.

  10. Aly Balagamwala

    May 12, 2011 at 4:26 AM


    I miss listening to Friday Khutbahs as majority of masjids in Pakistan have a standard repetitive Arabic khutbah. One of the reasons I started becoming a practicing muslim was the Friday khutbahs.

    Khutbahs should:

    1) Be short
    2) Have a take home message which signifies action
    3) Relate to the listener
    4) Have a great dua portion to it


    • Abu Aaliyah

      May 12, 2011 at 8:22 AM

      Asalaamu Alaikum,
      Alhamdulillah, the Juma’ kutbah is for this main purpose to be a powerful reminder. Since most people only come to the masjid on juma’, it is important they receive a heart softening reminder that will increase their iman and result in action.
      – I really love Br. Nouman’s Juma’ kutbah since he explains one ayah of Allah’s words to remind the people.
      – Also it is important the kutbah to be practical for our times.

    • AbdulQ

      May 12, 2011 at 2:56 PM

      Yeah, your right.

      A lot of the indo-pak masajids I frequent also tend to just have the Imam recite something in arabic for 10 minutes before Salah. I don’t really understand this, I’ve always felt that the Khutbah is the lifeline of the community, it has the ability of unifying and solidifying.

      But to be fair, many masajids might have a lil’ something in urdu prior to the “official” khutbah. Personally, I feel that if you’re giving a khutbah in Canada/ U.S. — try and keep it in English. While I can kinda-sorta make out urdu, I typically see some somali brothers with the most perplexed looks during jummah.

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 8:00 PM

      Yes, it would be nice if our desi imams came up with an alternative to this – not saying their heart isn’t in the right place, but it seems to be shortchanging a lot of folks.


      • Mohammed

        May 13, 2011 at 11:33 AM

        Assalamu `Alaykum

        The reason why these ‘desi’ imams have a set jumu`ah khutbah in arabic is due to the fiqh which they follow, which most likely is the madhhab of Imam Abu Hanifa (ra). Actually, the majority of classical scholars held the opinion that the khutbah must be done in arabic, some even to the point where they deemed jumu`ah as invalid if this condition was not upheld. Therefore, as a way to benefit the believers at this opportune time in which Muslims gather while upholding the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) and Sahabah (ra) who traveled to different lands yet kept arabic as the language of the khutbah, a talk is given in the local language before the khutbah begins. This talk is separate from the khutbah and has nothing to do with it. The following article by Mufti Taqi clarifies the issue very clearly explaining the classical scholars views on the issue. It is a very honest and open read so please give it some time insha’Allah.

        Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani

        JazakAllahu khayr and have a blessed Jumu`ah!

        Oh yeah, ma bad for diverging off topic but I just taught it might benefit some heads….

        Peaaaaaace out

  11. asif

    May 12, 2011 at 6:24 AM

    sorry to ask, which brother write the above article
    is it brother siraaj?

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 8:00 PM

      yep, but just so it’s clear, the pic is not of me, but our good Shaykh Yasir Birjas (who is ill right now, please make plenty of du’aa for him).

      The alternative was a picture of Nouman Ali Khan with a big sundae (when I typed in “khutbah” into google images).


      • Omar

        May 13, 2011 at 7:57 PM

        Anyone who comes and delivers an A+ khutbah here in Sacramento is entitled to that sundae… its delicious stuff… so let me know who’s down :)

  12. Faith

    May 12, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    Assalamu alaikum ya Khatib,

    Jazak Allah Kheir for asking this question- I’m so excited to have a place to feed back for the first time on this issue.

    From a lay person’s perspective I have the following suggestions for how to make an awesome khutbah:

    1) CONSULT- Ask the local people which issues they want to hear more about- maybe they would want practical advice on how to keep up their Iman at work, with children etc. Maybe there are issues of Stigma like divorce, depression, or drugs that need addressing but people are too shy to ask-  why not issue an anonymous paper questionnaire to find out what the local problems are?

    2) STAY RELEVANT- Focus on local issues and news, then national, then international- make cross links between news stories and Quran and sunnah. 

    3)AUDIBILITY and DELIVERY- Make sure the women and the men can hear you and are happy with the volume. Can the women see you? I understand this is important islamically but pls clarify. 
    Remember the 4Ps-  Pitch, pace, power and Pause- vary and use to great effect and study good speakers and how they use each.


    Too loud or too quiet
    Audible throat secretions/phlegm!!
    Too aggressive or too soporific
    No English so lots of the audience do not understand
    Never ending complaints and judgement on the Ummah or Non-Muslims without solutions
    Personal opinion instead of Quran and Sunnah
    No practical advice- just a rant
    Discrimination- e.g sweeping judgement on other groups

    Weren’t there institutions specifically dedicating to educating Khatibs in Islamic History? Dar Al Hadith? Maybe this is something we need to bring back!

    Hope this beneficial,


    • Amad

      May 12, 2011 at 9:06 AM

      Important point about women. Nothing more disastrous than to have 50 sisters unable to hear a word.

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 8:03 PM

      Great post, this would make a great primer of do’s and don’ts for khutbahs!


  13. Coorled38

    May 12, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    My friend in Bahrain’s house is practically attached to the Friday mosque and so we can always hear the khutbah being given. They usually put it on loud speaker so the neighborhood generally can tune it. One specific speaker always always talked about women and how we are basically the source of all evil. His khutbahs were vile and full of woman hating rhetoric…and nobdoy ever said anything to him. I lived in that neighborhood for 10 years and he came on once or twice a month with the same “keep your women in the home as they are fitna fitna fitna”…

    It would have been nice to hear an occasional khutba that did not disparage anything…just focused on the good things one can do…help your neighbor…neighborhood…charitable acts etc. I never heard anything like that.

    It was also rather disconcerting to be (in the early days of my residence in that neighborhood) nearly the only American and to hear khutbas about how Muslims should hate America, Jews, nonMuslims etc and not befriend them or believe anything they say as they (we) were only interested in destroying Islam/Arabs…whatever. Again…nobody ever stopped these sort of khutbas…just full of hate and conspiracy theories.

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 8:04 PM

      This reminds me of something I read in the book “Switch” by the Heath brothers, which is all about bringing about change, and how the focus on the negative is natural, but doesn’t help. They go on to explain where we should focus – I think the next Readers’ Opinions thread I create will revolve around this idea ;)


  14. JohnDoeMuslim

    May 12, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    A khutbah is awesome when it’s not episodic. A awesome khutbah needs to be actionable, concise, and precise. That’s not to say the imam should spend 5 minutes explaining the isnad of a hadith before quoting a short hadith. The listeners don’t care about the isnad. They have delegated the verifiability of the hadith to the imam. Awesome khutbahs also don’t talk about embarrassing thing. Although there’s no shame in talking about real issues, 500 men don’t need to know about the nitty gritty of menstruation cycle. The imam should realize that often people are there with their children. Some listeners might be nymphomaniacs. Any mention of women’s Netherlands(!) not only voids the wudu but also make it impossible to keep concentration. An awesome khutbah is relevant and timely to the local community. An awesome khutbah is a listicle–presented in a list form.

    In an awesome khutbah the imam doesn’t cry. He refrains from saying “my dear brothers and sisters” every 17 seconds. In an awesome khutbah, the imam doesn’t exceed his allotted time. In an awesome khutbah, the imam doesn’t come off as pretentious by lacing each sentences with “this is first for me and then for you.” In an awesome khutbah the imam doesn’t mention an obscure quote by an obscure poet from back home. In an awesome khutbah, the imam doesn’t mince his words when putting out blanket condemnation or blanket apology. In an awesome khutbah, the imam doesn’t feel ashamed to pray for Filistinis, Kashmiris, Afghans, Iraqis, Tibetans, Taiwaneses, East Turkmenistanis, Chechens.

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 8:06 PM

      Hey wait, when I say the, “First me, then you” thing, it’s because I know I have a shortcoming and I’m still telling others they need to leave it off too – what if I’m really feeling it, and how can you tell?


      • MW_M

        May 13, 2011 at 10:08 AM

        It might be authentic, but I concur with this brother, too often it comes out sounding pretentious and artificial.

        Unless you really, really, really feel that this is a major shortcoming on your part (maybe when talking about riya, that’s one where I can see all speakers feel that they come up short) it’s better to just think it in your head and not say it out loud. It’s been said so many times it’s become mechanic and I daresay quite a few speakers who use it do so just as a filler.

  15. abu Abdullah

    May 12, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    Back…Can’t live without MM for long…

    First thing first, Speak from the heart.
    Give naseehah on a relevent topic that people can relate to with example ( personal life would be best as they say, Dil se jo awaz nikalti hain asar rakhti hain meaning the voice coming from bottom of heart (with genuine concern) definitely Learn all the khutbah of prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam and 4 top sahaba rashideen.
    create genuine Humor, if possible within first three sentences. Read wiston churchill speeches for reference if you like.
    making preparation ahead of time and begging Allah to give you the best tawfik that your words may be just may be affect people, towards pleasing Allaah.
    Take blessings from your parents/family, may be they will tell you not to yell at people.

    I did not give any khutbah until I was told to give a khutbah before 30000 people and I ended up on giving it on the manners of Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam and all I could remember that the people near me in first few rows had their eyes filled like mine with takbeer. wal hamdulillah rabbil ‘alameen.

    Off topic, Your naseeha sessions are so impressive and are those that work mash Allah, I could only imagine khutbah. may Allah preserve you and all those here who put sincere naseeha and silent prayers.

    • abu Abdullah

      May 12, 2011 at 11:28 AM

      enjoying Birjas’s picture you chose for this post. may Allah grant him speedy recovery. Ameen.

      Weren’t you at 2008 Ilmsummit Brother’s Jumuah khutbah class?

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 8:06 PM

      I’m better one on one than one to many =) jzk for the kind words.

  16. Yahya Ibrahim

    May 12, 2011 at 10:55 AM


    The Khutbah is primarily a call to Taqwa. That is the essence. All that other jazz must lead to Taqwa.

    Focus on presenting a path that leads to Taqwa and put your reliance and sincerity with Allah.

    The Khateeb is not an entertainer.
    The Khateeb is not a Fundraiser for specific community events
    The Khateeb is not a politician
    The Khateeb is not a critic
    The Khateeb is not to pass judgment on others from the minbar.

    The shorter and more concise the message the better.
    The Prophet (s) gave a khutbah by reciting Surat Qaaf. Thats it. Simple.

    The longer the prayer the better.

    The Prophet (s) said, “Evidence of a Khateebs prowess is the shortness (precision) of his khutbah, and Length of his recitation of the Quran (in the Prayer).”

    I encourage you Akhi Siraaj to continue helping our community.
    Listen to some of the heavy weights … not lecturers but Khateebs who deliver a message in under 30 minutes…Sh. Abdullah Hakim Quick and Siraaj Wahaj are guns…especially the older stuff.

    Finally, sincerity in seeking reward is paramount. Allah grants tawfeeq. I would rather touch one person out of 1000 and play a role in changing their life, rather than make 999 people laugh.

    Al Quran, Al Quran al Quran


    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 8:10 PM

      Shaykh Yahya, your comment made my day =) I’ll do my best to help the community with whatever resources I have, insha’Allah.

      For length, what would you say is about right, given our community dynamics? I remember one imam saying that the scholars he took from advised longer khutbahs because people have less access to islamic learning, but I thought, how was that different from the past, and don’t longer sermons just knock people out anyway? Isn’t something shorter easier to remember, and more actionable?

      So what timeframe would you recommend for length?


      • Yahya Ibrahim

        May 13, 2011 at 9:40 AM


        A jumah should never exceed 25 minutes. The salaah 15 minutes including the iqamah and lining up and all that stuff.

        1pm start..all comes to an end by 140-145pm

        The best of advice is concise and is self evident in authority. Khairul Kalaam maa qalaa wa dal.


        • MW_M

          May 13, 2011 at 10:11 AM

          Sheikh is it true that the khutbah should be shorter than the salah?

    • Hena Zuberi

      May 13, 2011 at 4:03 PM

      A khateeb is NOT an entertainer

      This is golden- the point is not to make the audience laugh or entertain but bring our moral compass back to Allah SWT (though a tasteful joke or two are welcome). Have respect for the khateebs even if they may seem ‘boring’ especially if they are knowledgable

      -Catered to the audience– are you at a big family oriented masjid with kids, youth, women in the crowd or addressing a group of men gathering in a hall in a downtown hotel

      – Are you a regular who knows the community and the issues they face or are you a guest speaker?
      Go into specifics if you are the former or stick to general if you are the latter

      Authentic knowledge that touches the heart

      Clear enough so that when the wife who stayed behind and missed Juma’ah because of the babies asks, “what was the khutbah about?” the husband doesn’t have to think about it. He can share the message with his family.

      Tone should be genuine and not patronizing
      Relevant- doesnt have to be about current affairs every time just relevant to the lives of the audience wherever they may be in the world

      -Any khateeb who incites hate should not be asked to give khutbah again

  17. Atif

    May 12, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    This is something I think about quite often, because listening to a great khubah is really a rarity these days. Whenever I hear a bad khutbah, my wife says I get into “Khutbah Rage” (kinda like when you drive you get road rage) and I get in a bad mood. It really upsets me that we have an opportunity to benefit and help reform people’s hearts, but it’s wasted.
    I echo most of what was said above:
    Must haves:
    1. Stick to one topic/theme and make it memorable. If you say all sorts of different things people will forget it an hour after they leave.
    2. Relevance. I shouldn’t be asking myself, “What does this have to do with me?”. That kind of question should be answered within the first few minutes of the khutbah.
    3. Topics of spirituality. It’s ironic to me that a speech meant to uplift and inspire people never addresses topics of spirituality. Examples: Love, Fear, and Hope of Allah. Paradise and Hellfire. Patience. Tawakkul. Repentance and Seeking Forgiveness. Modesty and Humility. These topics are rarely talked about in the khutbahs I attend.
    4. Action Items.
    5. Actually motivating people. Like people said above, even if you talk about the Hellfire, people should feel motivated to become better and not feel like they are being yelled at or they’re not good enough.
    6. Engage the people. Answer questions that people have in their head.

    Things that are nice to have:
    1. Clear English accent, as well as clear Arabic pronunciation
    2. Good tajweed and recitation
    3. An actual curriculum. Nouman Ali Khan mentioned this in a conference once. A regular Khateeb should have all of the khutbah topics planned out for the year, each khutbah in order and building on each-other. Just imagine the effects of that…subhanAllah.

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 11:51 PM

      When I attend a boring or bad khutbah, I try to take benefit by either finding something beneficial in it, or I make a note of what I didn’t like. Makes me an active listener.


  18. Farhan

    May 12, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    I avoid giving khutbahs for a variety of personal reasons, but from time to time I’m asked by a satellite Jumu’ah location at a hotel or what-have-you to deliver one. All humbleness aside, they usually turn out quite good.

    Here’s my basic format:

    1) The introductory Hamd, praise of the Prophet SAAWS, du’a, and verse(s) related to fearing God;

    2) I always always always jump to a story – it gets everyone’s attention – But I don’t finish it (coming soon)
    3) Relate that story to a concept
    4) Go into examples, involving substories, usually from things I’ve seen
    5) Repeat the concept

    6) Break between the two Khutbahs, asking people to make istighfar

    7) Return to the unfinished story
    8 ) Give the lesson
    9) Concept again, or related point

    10) Allah and his Angels praise the Prophet, oh you who believe, send prayers upon him
    11) Salawat myself aloud
    12) Du’a related to the khutbah topic
    13) Du’a for the believers
    14) Bada bing, bada boom!

    I also try to be “understanding” of people who make a mistake or do something wrong. So for example, if I’m speaking against backbiting, I will say “And I’m sure it is tempting, perhaps its even enjoyable and you feel its justified…but…”. It works out well

    What I avoid:
    Getting technical
    Criticizing the audience directly in a negative way (You are ALL SINNERS!!!!)
    Unstructured rant about the problems of the Ummah
    Being quiet or monotone

    How’s that?

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 11:52 PM

      Very interesting format, especially the part with the story left in the middle, will have to try it out one day.


      • Farhan

        May 13, 2011 at 10:11 AM

        Yah, it never fails. I always start with “Returning to the story, so Abdullah….” and continue. Everyone wants to be like “oh smack, what happens now??”

        Re-captures attention

    • Ayesha

      May 13, 2011 at 3:34 PM

      Was jus wondering if the astaghfaar thing in between the two khutbahs is allowed??…its an obligatory act of worship…but was it done specifically “at this time” by the Rasool???

  19. fugstar

    May 12, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    Great idea for a thread guys!

    Great khutbas contain processed insight, not regurgitation.
    they are also adorned with neat concepts
    delivered by someone with a healthy approach to learning.

    The khatib doesnt waste everybodies time and embody all ill of the ummah in his delivery, length and content. He does not speak in a whiney/accusative tone

    The khutbas have integrity and demonstrate uloomination
    They are able to nourish the subtle minded and the not so subtle minded at the same time, not by being a black or white convert, but by being well thought through

    The greatest khutba I ever went to was a friend reflecting on the bi in bismillah!

    Great khutbas animate the soul and the body.

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 11:54 PM

      I like that – whiney, accusative tone :)


  20. Cartoon M

    May 12, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    1) Have relevant topics that are presented in a way so that the community can relate to it. Some khutbahs are on the most random topics, which may be good and informative, but have nothing to do with what people are dealing with.

    2) Stick to ONE topic. There are so many khutbahs where the khateeb goes all over the place. He may have 5 topics that have nothing to do with each other. I think going in depth with one topic would have a much more beneficial effect on the community.

    3) Don’t speak in a monotone voice. It’s like a lullaby, even for those really trying to listen.

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 11:54 PM

      What are some bad, random topics?


      • Cartoon M

        May 13, 2011 at 11:27 PM

        One example I can think of is making the whole khutbah a fiqh lesson. It may be good and beneficial in another context, but probably not for a khutbah. When you only have 30 minutes to reach out to Muslims who may only be exposed to Islamic knowledge during the khutbah, I feel that it would be more appropriate to have something more eemaan boosting. I think that would encourage them to have a healthier relationship with the religion. Fiqh information are easily accessible if someone needs to find it at another time. But that’s just my opinion. Maybe others find it beneficial.

        oh and May Allah make your future khutbahs amazing =]

  21. Jawad

    May 12, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    As mentioned by Sheikh Yahya Ibrahim, a khutbah does need to be concise.
    As seen in the hadith, the speaking portion is supposed to be short and the prayer is recommended to be lengthened. This aspect however does’t exist in our communities. At our masjid, 30 minutes is the time limit that the khateeb is given, but in my opinion that is too long especially when you see more than half of the masjid dosing off. In my opinion 20 minutes is more than enough.

    In terms of a khutbah, it needs preparation. I feel as many khateebs lack the preperation to give a khutbah. They may have the knowledge, but the art of public speaking is also needed in delivering a khutbah. I have seen many khutbahs where it is basically read off the paper. There is absolutely no flow and by the end everyone is watching their watches carefully thinking when it’s going to end. It takes me roughly 3-4 hours at the minimum to prepare a decent khutbah.

    In addition to this, the khateeb needs to make sure that he delivers the khutbah with the audience in mind and also to assess the maturity of the crowd. I remember in high school the khateeb would talk about topics which first of all were boring, and secondly barely any of the kids understood. When speaking in a masjid, i feel the khutbah needs to be general; i say this because once i was at a khutbah where metaphysics was involved somewhere.

    In summary … a good khutbah for me is when i leave the masjid; I feel more God-consciouss, have some tips on my hand on how to improve myself and when i look forward to the next khutbah by the same individual.

    • Siraaj

      May 12, 2011 at 11:57 PM

      y’know what’s interesting, when you’re up there speaking, it doesn’t feel like all that much time has gone by


  22. sakina

    May 12, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    Why not ask the shuyukh cos they’ve pretty much mastered it tabarakallah

    • Siraaj

      May 13, 2011 at 12:01 AM

      It’s good to get feedback from both those who deliver and those who listen :)


  23. Mezba

    May 12, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    No accent.
    Try to have no accent. The worse the accent, the more tuned out the listener.

    Keep it English (or Arabic, or Bengali ..)
    If it’s an English khutbah, keep it English. Some people think adding Arabic (like saying the hadith in Arabic and then translating) adds to authenticity. No, as previous commentator said, less is more.

    Has to be focused
    No point in giving a khutbah on everything. The main point has to be reiterated time and time again and end in action list

    Don’t be angry
    Khutbahs have to be inspiring. Instead, we sometimes get khatibs who are angry at taxes, US, Israel, apathy or whatever and make listeners feel like dirt. How does that inspire listeners?

    Practical Topics
    Relates to knowing your audience. If it’s exam time at a university, they don’t really care about the significance of the beard. Talk about prayers during difficulty, succeeding in life, etc. If it’s world cup of cricket, try to talk about fitness, health, etc.

    • Nahyan

      May 12, 2011 at 5:45 PM

      Excellent points.

      lol @ #1 as if it’s a choice

      And ya that translation bit adds to boredom than substance, especially if they are struggling with one of the languages

    • Atif

      May 12, 2011 at 6:24 PM

      If the hadith is short, I don’t see the harm of quickly mentioning the Arabic. I actually prefer this, because I enjoy listening to the original Arabic. When the Khateeb says the original Arabic, I try to imagine the Prophet (sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) saying those very words to his Companions (radiAllahu ‘anhum).
      It’s not just hadith, it’s ayaat as well. Even if you don’t understand it, you can feel the effect of the Arabic; this is from the barakah of the Quran. For example, “Certainly, in the remembrance of God do hearts find satisfaction” compared to “A laa bi thikrillahi tatmainnal quloob Certainly, in the remembrance of God do hearts find satisfaction”

      I prefer the latter :)

      • MW_M

        May 13, 2011 at 10:15 AM

        Yeah, especially short ahadith. Even when I didn’t understand any Arabic, there’s something about the words which captivates you. And later on, always hearing certain ahadith with their translations right after, I began to recognize the arabic words in the hadith and then outside it as well.

    • Yahya Ibrahim

      May 12, 2011 at 6:38 PM


      Why no accent?

      It is an unfair criticism. My father an engineer from Egypt migrated to canada 40 odd years agoo. Je won’t lose his accent. Neither will many of our elders. That has no bearing on the truth of the message.

      Let’s not alienate the bulk of those who take up this noble duty. Many popular sheikhs started off with and continue to have accents.


    • Siraaj

      May 13, 2011 at 12:02 AM

      I think on the accent, if the grammar is strong enough, or the delivery, that’ll more than make up for it.


      • sakina

        May 13, 2011 at 4:29 PM

        For me accent is one of the best things – sometimes you listen harder because the khateeb’s accent sounds interesting / different to your own

  24. Muhammad

    May 12, 2011 at 9:15 PM

    Giving khutbahs really frightens me. My main concern being sincerity. I mean, can you really be sure that you’re intention is 100% to seek the pleasure of Allah?

    When giving the khutbah, if you a hear a takbeer from the audience or even after the khutbah if you’re commended on what an awesome khutbah you just delivered it’s bound to give you an ego boost. You can so easily fall in to the trap of riyaa without even realising it. So, for those that have delivered khutbahs, how do you ensure your intentions are pure and sincere?

    • Umar

      May 13, 2011 at 5:18 AM

      If you are struggling with this, i’d recommend this lecture by Abu Mussab:

      Trust me, after watching this, you will be a different person. I say it from experience. He makes the profound point, that you shouldn’t put of doing righteous actions for fear of riyaa, (as shaytaan has already won.) Rather, you should do the good deed, and before during and after, check the state of ur heart.

  25. ibn Muhammad

    May 12, 2011 at 11:37 PM

    Br. Siraaj, what resources did you use for your khutbah?

    Was there a sense of nervousness becuase it had been so long?

    Also, for time, 25-30 minutes is ideal. One of my masaajid do 45-55 minute khutbahs (they do them in Arabic and half the audience is asleep).

  26. Abd al-'Azeez

    May 13, 2011 at 12:10 AM

    I wanted to say JazakAllaah khayr for thinking about what a congregation thinks.

    I always try to provide constructive feedback to my Masjid following a disastrous khutbah. Some of the feedback is simple and basic but essential for an audience that has been raised in the West. Here are my pointers:

    To talk about something relevant in the eyes of the people, not something abstract like ‘The Fiqh of Wudhuu’ which has it’s own time and place.

    To not reel off of long verses and ahadeeth in English. Other than where required for the khutbah, Arabic statements should be avoided.

    To cut the Arabic terminology – people can relate to ‘verse’ rather than ‘ayah’ or ‘narration’ rather than ‘hadeeth’

    To not use poor examples

    To not read from the script

    To not use scare-tactic stories – they don’t work with Western-raised audiences

    Messages encapsulated within stories are effective.

    To not ignore a major current affair or issue that the community is talking about

    To empower people to improve – not condemning a community’s self-inflicted sorry state

    To give people a practical walk-away action to take from the khutbah, not generic advice

    To not overburden the congregation with threads of information – the khutbah should give one simple message, not a speech on all things unrelated to the nominal topic.

    To not reel off 20 points from the treatise of such and such an Imaam (or even 5 points)

    To not be academic with knowledge (i.e. not quoting superfluous information which does not benefit the subject).

    The Imaam should be dressed elegantly and make an effort to appear approachable, not exude a holier-than-thou contempt. Note: dressing elegant does not necessitate wearing ‘Islamic’ clothes.

    After the khutbah, let the Imaam mingle or at least be available for people to approach.

  27. firoz85

    May 13, 2011 at 5:51 AM

    1.Iman Boost – Its got to hit the heart
    2.Reflective – It must be reflective of what we ought to be as muslims and what we are right now
    3.Hope – That its never too late to change or strive harder

  28. M

    May 13, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    Why do some khateebs scream during the khutbah? I understand if they’re trying to emphasize something but screaming just makes me flinch and zone out. It ends up sounding sort of barbaric. And I know Islam is far better than that.

    Also, I agree with what was said before: the shorter, the better. Even if the the khutbah is good, it’s just impossible to sit still and focused for more than 25-30 minutes.

    And lastly the khutbah should be in the language of the audience. It makes more of an impact that way. It’s sad that even though I live in America, hearing a khutbah in good English is a rarity.

  29. Sabour Al-Kandari

    May 14, 2011 at 7:46 AM

    Awesome article/thread masha’Allah, this should be very useful mwaha.

    One of the things I learned in high school was that it’s surprisingly easy to give consistently good khutbahs. Our khatib was one of our teachers and he was in his 20’s so he had that cooler older brother effect on us, so being able to relate that well with your audience and at the same time being a strong role model is gold and comes out in da’wah skill. The topics were pretty much floating around the same straightforward theme of akhira and dunya throughout the year, and they were still consistently powerful.

    As for bad khutbahs err… I’ve seen some really terrible things that were conscious decisions, man. I don’t think those are helpful to mention. As for those who are trying their best and seeking advice, a good khutbah (like a good speech) is almost completely a function of how much time is put in to it (confessions of a public speaker, awesome book). Sure some people will have a head start with natural charisma (like the brother in the last paragraph), but it’s all something that can be targeted, analyzed and improved if one is willing to put in the effort – reading this thread is a good start! =)

  30. XYZ

    May 15, 2011 at 1:21 AM

    Salaam alaykum brother Siraaj,


    1) The topic must be relevant to the specific audience that is listening to you. You must address issues that are pertinent to the lives of the people that form your audience. The minute you go away from the subjects that are of interest to them, you loose their attention and their focus. Ex: Talking to youth? Talk about gender relations, marriage, drugs, music, role models, etc.
    2) Be concise and to the point : Some khutbas go from the situation in Palestine, to halal meat, to the brothers wearing dirty socks in the masjid, all the way back to Masjid Al-Aqsa = Disaster. Khutbah is a REMINDER and REMINDERS ARE SHORT and PRECISE . Don’t try to show off, don’t try to impress, don’t try to please or show how good of a speaker you are (or you think you are). Just deliver the reminder without loosing focus, but at the same time don’t be too specific.
    3) Action items : this might sound weird but you need to TELL THE PEOPLE WHAT TO DO! Yes, just like that. Too many times, we walk out of the khutbah feeling like : “Wow that was great….now what?” Again, you must relate everything to situations that the people face daily.

    4) Be sincere and be passionate about your topic : You are calling the people to fear Allah. You are trying to preserve them from the fire and help them to be guided to Paradise. Speak about topics that fire you up and make you passionate. That way, your tongue will move, but your heart will speak, and insha’Allah their ears will listen and their hearts will feel. And finally, be sincere. Sincerity is this is the key ingredient to make any act of worship attain perfection.

    And Allah knows best.

  31. Heeber

    May 16, 2011 at 10:21 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum

    Thumbs down on khutbahs that basically say, “we are oppressed”, “we are messed up”, “we are not blessed” …because we are not following the deen. I wonder, “dude, we are sitting in the masjid listening to you because we care about the deen”

    Thumbs up on khutbahs that provide tangible solutions, from quran and sunnah, on day to day issues. These are so few and far between…sigh!!!

  32. Humble Muslim

    May 17, 2011 at 1:49 PM


    Jazak Allah for all the advice here for amateur khateebs like myself. Going back to what Siraaj said at the beginning, I personally feel that giving Jumaa khtubas is one of the best Iman booster there is. I don’t do it regularly, more of a last minute backup :-), but I never say no.

  33. Nur

    May 19, 2011 at 6:31 PM


    Always make sure your khutbah is not a “Information dumping” khutbah where you quote hadith after hadith &Quranic ayat after ayat,,, make it sound real & relevant and extract from the hadith and Quran to a point where everyone becomes involved!

  34. Abu Muhammad

    May 20, 2011 at 6:54 PM

    I second what Sheikh Yahya Ibrahim said about the khutba not being longer than 25 mins. Many times, some khateebs give khutbas lasting for 40-45 mins and it’s hard to maintain focus for that long. Also, the khateeb should have a good delivery to keep the people engaged because even if you have the best material to present, it’s not going to do much good if it doesn’t connect with them.

    Finally, some of the best Khutbas that I have heard are ones where the khateeb simply take verses of the Qur’an and expounds on them based on the traditional methods of tafsir and he should be in tune with the day to day affairs of the Muslim community.

    • MU

      May 20, 2011 at 7:07 PM

      Finally, some of the best Khutbas that I have heard are ones where the khateeb simply take verses of the Qur’an and expounds on them based on the traditional methods of tafsir and he should be in tune with the day to day affairs of the Muslim community.

      Those are truly the best ones. When an ayat comes to life, there is nothing more beautiful…

  35. Mezba (Read with Meaning)

    June 2, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    For those who follow Urdu, I have attended some khutbahs that are like this in India. How disgusting!

    This speech has all

    1. Insulting and degrading women (including Muslim women) – first line
    2. Muslim men should not waste time on earthly women because of hoors.
    3. Paradise is paraded around as a low budget adult movie.

    One cannot think that these type of khutbahs are more prevalent where the sexes are segregated.

    • Hena Zuberi

      June 2, 2011 at 6:30 PM

      You are the second person who pointed out this person today- May Allah swt guide him- why do we wonder at the misogyny in our cultures when this is what our men are learning at a religious gatherings- How will a young man react to his ‘dirty’ earthly woman when he comes home after listening to that? His going ‘there’ maybe what it takes to get someone out of bed for Fajr but for Allah’s sake not by degrading women like that- Sincere duas for his and our guidance please everyone. :(

  36. Pingback: Comment on Readers’ Opinions: What Makes a Great Khutbah? by Azzam | Souqhub | Blog

  37. Ibn Muhammad

    May 2, 2016 at 10:19 PM

    I am eager to learn… I would love giving khutbahs. ..I’ve tried…. I need assistance..may Allah reward all those who has contributed here… also all our readers…

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