The Khateeb‘s killing it this Friday! …Literally.
Dr. O blogs at Muslim Medicine, a site that strives to serve only the freshest grade-A certified ẓabiḥah ḥalāl comedy. Contact your local ḥalāl butcher for more details.
Every Friday morning, Muslims with a Y chromosome (and a bunch with two X’s) around the globe get ready for their weekly trip to the Mosque for a sermon, or “khutbah” as we call it. For some, it’s a wonderful opportunity to get a much-needed inspiration-boost and “īmān-rush” to last until next week… …and for most, it’s a wonderful opportunity to catch a nap while in an awkward sitting position, or find new fascination with pocket lint or wayward strings jutting out of our clothes, or even discover how pretty the Mosque carpet designs are.
It’s rather unfortunate to admit that for many, jumu’ah has become an utterly mundane routine every Friday as we shuffle into the Mosque, find a comfy spot to perch, and then space out for half-an-hour while waiting for the “aqimus-ṣalāh” – the clarion call that seems to jolt majority of the crowd back to life again.
I’ve begun “hifz-ul-carpet-design,” where I spend every Jumu’ah memorizing the carpet patterns.
What was the khutbah even about? I guess something to do with Islam or Sunnah. I dunno. And who gave it? Some generic bearded imām guy. Be honest- after the jumu’ah ṣalāh ends, you tend to forget the entire point and message of the khutbah, don’t you? And I can guarantee you that if you ask any guy right now what the khutbah topic was last week or even the week prior, you’d be hard-pressed to find even a handful of people who can vaguely remember, let alone offer any lessons or take-home messages.
While there’s certainly some blame to toss at the typical attendee for being so disinterested and disengaged, an overwhelming responsibility rests on the khateeb for ensuring that his congregation actually listens and more importantly, remembers his words. And that’s where this list comes in. From my own personal experience both as a khateeb and as an avid attendee (it’s kinda sorta obligatory for me), this is Muslim Medicine’s Top 10 Ranking of Terrible Khutbahs, hand-picked from actual experiences.
10 – The Khateeb Who Can’t Speak English
I remember attending a khutbah in a Mosque that pours the “back-home” culture on a little too thick, and much to my expectations, the khutbah was delivered in 5% Arabic and 95% Urdu, with zero English. Now this would be perfect if I was in Pakistan, but last I checked, I was in New York. And I walked out of that khutbah with a wonderful 45-minute urdu immersion lesson courtesy of the Rosetta-Stone khateeb, and just like my fellow attendees: the convert, the army of morally-crumbling religiously-bankrupt high schoolers, and the unfortunate traveling Arabs who happened to stop by, we all left that Mosque understanding nothing.
What I learned: “We have not sent any Messenger except with the language of his people so he can make things clear to them” [14:4]. I think there’s an example in there somewhere for khateebs to apply to their audiences…?
9 – Professor Shaykh Dr. Khateeb, PhD
Oh man, this one was just torture. There’s only one thing I remember, and it was the painful realization that I wasn’t attending jumu’ah, I was attending this khateeb’s grad-school level course lecture on the inner machinations of the fiqh of zakat. It had such mind-numbing technicalities and intricate fiqhi rulings that I was completely lost, and I’m positive the entire congregation was just as perplexed. The khateeb’s monotone Ben Stein voice made it even worse, so even the one student of knowledge in the audience capable of understanding this was probably put to sleep.
What I learned: Just like most of my college lectures, I walked out of there wondering if I was even in the right class. Khutbahs aren’t meant to be delivered from textbooks using Powerpoint presentations, they’re meant to be simple reminders for average folks.
8 – The Anesthesiologist
I call this khateeb the “Anesthesiologist” because I’m fairly certain that surgeons play his khutbah recordings in Operating Rooms to induce unconsciousness in patients. I don’t know how this khateeb preps himself before his khutbahs– does he swallow a bottle of nyquil, or inject elephant tranquilizers into his neck and then stand at the minbar?
Whatever he does, his voice, energy, delivery, and gusto are so incredibly dull and monotone that whatever message he’s giving to the audience is completely lost since half of them are asleep or passing in and out of consciousness. When “aqimus-ṣalāh” is finally uttered at the end of all the boring droning, its like someone popped a balloon or something because the entire audience seems to look around with wild confusion as they wake up from their deep slumber.
What I learned: If you’re neither energetic nor passionate about delivering your khutbah, why should I as your audience member bother to invest energy and attention in receiving your message? This is one of the most basic lessons of public-speaking 101.
7 – Hopelessly Confused Khateeb
At first the khutbah seems to start off well, but the more you listen, the more confused you get as the khateeb throws in random ayat and ahadith and pulls lessons and morals seemingly out of thin air, while coming to illogical conclusions that don’t seem to fit in with the overall flow of the khutbah. The end result is a cacophonous disjointed mutant-khutbah that doesn’t drive home any particular message and leaves the entire audience scratching their heads.
I remember one particular khutbah I attended where the khateeb began with the usual ABC’s and 123’s of “be a good Muslim” and “make sure you pray,” and then all of a sudden went into a rant about polygamous marriages, then threw some jabs at homosexuality, and then wrapped up his franken-khutbah with Muslim youth getting thrown into prisons. I mean don’t get me wrong, I actually clearly remember this khutbah, but for all the wrong reasons.
What I learned: Come on. Whether it’s done out of a sheer lack of preparation, or the khateeb is just making up his khutbah as he goes along, this is an unprofessional way to deliver a sermon. When your audience forgets your message, but remembers the Titanic Hindenburg that was your delivery, you know your khutbah was a flop.
6 – Law-Abiding Khateeb
This khutbah is a bit rare since most khateebs are sensitive to their audiences and cooperative with the MSA or Mosque Boards that invite them, but once in a blue moon you get to witness a khutbah that’s been distilled into a pure, unfiltered rant. Whether it’s a personal vendetta or something (or someone) who wronged the khateeb, or even biased seething disapproval for some perspective or viewpoint, this guy will make sure that his grievances are made clear by using the khutbah as his weapon of retaliation.
I remember a khutbah where the khateeb took aim at the Mosque Board itself and like Liam Neeson facing down Albanian kidnappers, took down the entire group with a serious vengeance. It was like watching an episode of The Office and seeing an angry Muslim Micheal Scott lambaste the very people who invited him to come speak, and it was incredibly uncomfortable and awkward to witness. Now granted, I didn’t have a clue as to what happened behind the scenes or whether or not such criticism was even justified to begin with, but one thing was for sure- that khateeb was definitely NEVER going to be invited back to this mosque again (and he most likely knew it), so I guess he decided to go down fighting.
What I learned: Imām Shafi’i said: “To admonish your brother in private is to advise him and improve him. But to admonish him publicly is to disgrace and shame him.” It’s a sad sad day when you see the khutbah itself being used as a personal tool of the khateeb– a “bully pulpit” if you will- for him to viciously use against people, places, ideas, or perspectives that he personally disagrees with. I attend khutbahs to find peace, remembrance, and inspiration- not to be force-fed the khateeb’s own vendettas.
5 – Def Jam Jummu’ah feat. Wiz Khateeba
Unlike their elder counterparts, younger khateebs are excellent for delivering khutbahs to their own age group in high school and college MSAs. Their knowledge base may not be as extensive as a Shaykh or imām’s, but they have an uncanny ability to derive pertinent life lessons from Kanye West lyrics, NBA player trades, or Assassin’s Creed cut-scenes.
To this day, I still clearly remember a fellow student in our MSA delivering a khutbah about Muslims bumping and grinding in the club. Yes, you read that right. Bumping and grinding in the club. It was one of the most bizarre yet entertaining khutbahs that I’ve ever listened to, and I guess it was ironic considering that the Muslims who were probably clubbing the night before most likely weren’t there the morning after to listen to his khutbah. But hey… you never know.
What I learned: despite poking fun at younger khateebs, it goes without saying that there is such an incredible potential in a lot of them to grow and develop into strong public speakers and youth advocates, if they’re just given a chance. It’s a shame that Mosque and Islamic Centers continue to recycle the same tired old khateebs over and over again without giving any opportunities for younger khateebs to step up and gain experience. Perhaps instead of dismissing our youth all the time, we should make an effort to cultivate them.
4 – KHATEEB ANGRY! KHATEEB SMASH!
I don’t know who spat in this khateeb’s cereal, or who cut him off in traffic, or if he’s just a self-loathing Mets fan, but this guy clearly has anger issues, and rather than go to a therapist to vent his frustration, he takes to the minbar instead. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes a good verbal kick in the rear is just what a community might need to get itself back on track, but like many other things in Islam, everything comes in moderation.
Maybe its just me, but khutbah topics about jinns, the dajjal, or the last days are pretty scary stuff, and when you have the Incredible Hulk delivering these topics, the result strikes more fear in the hearts of men than opening up an Īd gift and seeing the complete Twilight Blu-ray Disc collection. Anger in a khutbah can be creatively channeled at just the right time to elicit powerful reactions and really strike home a message, but when the entire khutbah is a volcano of fiery rage spewing fury into the faces of the audience from beginning to end, that’s what I’d call emotional overkill.
What I learned: Khutbahs shouldn’t leave adults cowering and kids whimpering in fear, and there shouldn’t be a mad rush to the bathroom after the khutbah ends so that everyone can make wudu again and put on a clean pair of pants. Have mercy on the sound system, and mercy on the really young and really old members of the audience who can’t handle these voice tones. Also, spare the congregants and the Mosque itself from FBI visits after each furious khutbah.
3 – The Dark Lord Sauron
This khateeb commutes to the Mosque from the very pits of Mordor, and fashions his khutbah from the wretched fires of Mt. Doom. Like a Dementor from Azkeban he swoops onto the minbar and sucks the very life and joy out of the entire audience with his fire and brimstone khutbah. Hope you renewed your prescription for Prozac, because this sermon comes with an extra helping of severe depression and no hope for salvation.
Even for Īd khutbahs, the one time where you’d hope the khateeb would make you feel warm and happy, Shaykh Grinch finds it appropriate to remind his congregation on this blessed day that “you got accepted to Hell University, and Shaitan’s your roommate!” It’s the perfect positive feel-good message for converts, struggling Muslims, and visiting non-Muslims.
What I learned: The immaculate wisdom of the Qurʾān is that Allāh beautifully couples His warnings about the Fire with His promises of Paradise, and couples descriptions of His punishments with His mercy and blessings so that everything is perfectly balanced. For a khateeb to cherry-pick only the ayat and ahadith that describe condemnation and punishments and completely leave out repentance, mercy, and blessings, is a travesty of negative emotional manipulation that depresses people far more than it “inspires” them to reform.
2 – Gandalf the Grey Uncle
Oh man, these khutbahs are just painful. It’s always a hit or miss, and more often than not, for an overwhelming majority of the youth in the audience, these khutbahs are a clear miss. Elder uncles are incredible sources of experience and wisdom, masha’Allāh, but there are some that just don’t have the knack for being effective khateebs, at least not for American audiences.
Even when there’s a fantastic message, I usually tend to get sidetracked when the khateeb compares “the internets” to Shaitan’s playground, or suggests that the solution to all of the problems facing the youth are for brothers to go to hifz school and then get scholarships to med school, and for sisters to forget about college, just marry doctors, and send their kids to madrassas so they can grow beards as long as telephone poles. I don’t know what kind of fantasy utopia that is, but it’s as practical and feasible as organizing a Muslim-led Gangnam Style flash mob at Fajr time.
What I learned: Between the thick accent, the mistrust of newfangled technology, the old-school back-home mentality, and an utter misunderstanding of American culture these khutbahs really highlight the sheer generational and cultural gap between the immigrant and 1st generation communities. Every jumu’ah becomes a reminder of just how badly the Mosque board and the khateeb roster miss their mark on addressing serious and relevant issues that are corroding their communities.
1 – WWE’s Friday Afternoon Smackdown
Hope you brought some popcorn and managed to grab a front row seat, because these are the khutbahs that are notoriously remembered for years. Usually jumu’ah khutbahs are a one-man show- just the khateeb speaking. But when controversy strikes, or when the audience gets rowdy or offended and tensions start to build, suddenly player two grabs a controller, hits start and “There’s a New Challenger!” gets announced as a brave soul interrupts the sermon to offer a challenge to the khateeb.
And that’s when jumu’ah becomes an episode of Dragonball Z. Ridiculously trivial Mosque fights are nothing new, but when they happen at jumu’ah, the entire community gets to witness the ugliness of our ummah as the khateeb fights his own audience members. Perhaps damage control wouldn’t be as bad if it were just limited to a public war of words and egos, but seeing as how the concepts of tahdhib and akhlaq (manners and etiquette) are nearly extinguished in our day and age, it’s shameful to admit that stories of fist-fights and actual physical violence following khutbahs are hideous moments that some Mosques try their hardest to sweep under the rug.
What I’ve learned: Regardless of whether it’s the khateeb’s fault or the audience member’s, nothing is more saddening than sitting and watching a khutbah turn into such a disgraceful display. Ultimately, it isn’t just the khateeb who loses face, its the entire community.
I’m aware that all these anecdotal examples paint a pretty bad picture of jumu’ah, but for every terrible khutbah that I’ve listened to, there have been numerous ones that have truly touched my heart and given my iman the shake-up that it so desperately needs.
The jumu’ah khutbah is a legacy of our ummah established by the beloved Prophet , and to stand at the minbar as a khateeb is to carry that legacy and assume the responsibility of reminding the community of their faith and purpose by aspiring to the same beauty, eloquence, passion, and strength that the Prophet himself channeled during his sermons.
There’s no denying that you and I have forgotten majority of the jumu’ah khutbahs that we’ve listened to during our lifetime. But there’s no doubt in my mind that like me, you’ve attended at least one jumu’ah where your heart was filled with remembrance, your mind enlightened with haqq, your body filled with renewed vigor, your eyes welling with tears, and your iman cleansed of impurity. Those are the blessed khateebs whose knowledge and eloquence of speech is a gift from Allāh , and those are the jumu’ah khutbahs that we don’t ever forget.
In the words of Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda, one of the shuyookh who taught me how to give khutbahs:
“If you want to reach the hearts of the people, give your heart as a khateeb.”
5 Reasons The Muslim World Needs a Jon Stewart
There will be many who read the title of this article and think – of all the many, many things that the Muslim world does need – they’re pretty sure that a middle aged liberal Jewish comedian isn’t one of them.
And they would be wrong.
Who am I kidding? Even Hijabi Barbie is front page news for us
But I’m here to make the case that we could also do with our own version of Jon Stewart.
No. This doesn’t count…
Well, here are just 5 reasons:
1. Someone who tells it like it is
Politicians and leaders often like to hide behind semantics and carefully scripted soundbites. They speak like they’re afraid of what might happen if the masses understood what was actually going on.
Probably with good reason.
Then here comes Jon every weekday evening cutting through the garbage and explaining things in simple, direct (albeit American) English.
A dose of raw, passionate, straight-talking truth? Suddenly, college students are interested in the debt crisis or police brutality.
The Muslim world could do with a few articulate souls who manage to move beyond preaching to the converted and instead, try and reach out to the disaffected, the uninterested and the disenfranchised.
Someone who could dumb it down without the dumb part.
2. Someone who is fair
It is well known that Stewart is towards the more liberal end of the spectrum. [Understatement alert]
You would expect him to constantly and mercilessly pick on Fox News and Dick Cheney.
But this doesn’t stop him from pointing out the hypocrisy and ineptitude of those he supports. Watching the Jewish American Liberal Stewart rip apart Israel during the last Gaza war showed he was a man of some principle.
The Muslim world could do with leaders who are willing to tell hard truths to their home crowds just as much as they were willing to rail against their natural enemies.
3. Someone who nurtures talent
Over the years, the Daily Show has attracted young and unknown aspiring comedians and turned them into confident stars. From Steve Carrel to Steven Colbert – Stewart hasn’t just surrounded himself with sycophants but with talent that pushed him to do better.
Again, the Muslim world could do with leadership that produced more leaders rather than ever more dependent followers. How amazing would it be if the Muslim world served as an incubator for good leaders, where people were valued and flourished and…
4. Someone who pushes the intellectual boundaries
If the Daily Show was to pander to its demographic, they would have movie and rock stars on every evening to plug their latest asinine movie or album. Instead, you were as likely to see an interview with Taylor Swift as with the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Stewart often nailed the balancing act of being entertaining to his audience whilst also encouraging them to broaden their intellectual horizons.
The Muslim world could do with leaders who focused not just on individual spiritual inspiration, but also on societal temporal aspiration as well.
Translation: Where’s the Muslim equivalent of NASA?
5. Someone who tells it with a smile
Lets face it, for someone who has been on TV 4 nights a week for more than 15 years – Jon Stewart has surprisingly few gaffes to highlight. There were only a handful of anger-related meltdowns. There were definitely no unguarded moments where he “heroically” rails against an elected government, but stays silent about a coup and the mass murder of innocent people whose political viewpoint he disagrees with.
No caption would do justice…
Whatever Jon did, he did with grace. He skewered you like a kebab and cut you up like a … kebab. However, he did so with a politeness that made it hard to dislike him.
The Muslim world could do with leaders that managed the art of making a point without making an enemy.
Now some will read the above and wonder why someone who holds as many opinions at odds with Islamic orthodoxy as Stewart should be cast in a favourable light by us. To them I say that I am not advocating taking our religion from him. In fact, the qualities described above are Islamic qualities that are rooted in our deepest traditions, yet somehow are best exemplified these days by non-Muslims like him.
You don’t have to accept his views or his politics to be a fan of the way the man simply excelled at what he did.
And what he did, was shine a searing light on the state of his nation so that maybe, somehow, some way, they might just realise that they could be so much better than they are now.
If that isn’t something that the Muslim world needs right now…then I don’t know what is.
MuslimKidsMatter | Muslim Teenager Posts
Muslim Teenager Posts
By Nura F.
Don’t you hate that awkward moment when you read a Teenager Post you can’t relate to because of how different your lifestyle is from that of many other teens? I’ve stopped that, with my new Teenager Posts for Muslims! The point behind my Muslim Teenager Posts is to provide the countless Muslim youth with appropriate posts to view on the Internet, seeing as there are not that many appropriate ones. Muslim Teenager Posts can also show non-Muslim teenagers what it is like to be a Muslim as a teenager. It is a perfectly harmless, entertaining, and small way to spread Islam, especially since so many of the children these days spend their free time on the Internet. I hope that my Muslim Teenager posts will change the way people think about Muslims and will be relatable for Muslim teens everywhere.
Nura F is sixteen years old and is working to become an author for both children and teens. Her two favorite genres to write about are humor and adventure. Outside of her writing career, Nura loves to bake, read, and draw. She is also an avid blogger and keeps a number of blogs: one about her baking creations, one containing passionate rants, and one about reflections on ayahs in the Qur’an (which she really, really needs to update). Nura lives in Texas, USA, with her parents, sister, and two younger brothers.
(Attention, writers! Muslim Kids Matter is a regular feature at Muslim Matters. New articles for kids are posted every other Sunday. You’re welcome to send in your entries to email@example.com.)
After #TweetlikeABC and #FauxNews: Jon Stewart’s Take on Palestine-Israel Coverage