Friday Sermon: Planning, streamlining and enrichment

December 31, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Imam reads from a book the khutba for Juma prayers but how many do understand it?

Imam reads from a book the khutba for Juma prayers but how many do understand it?

December 28, 2012: Today’s Muslim community has not been able to organize the required upbringing of the individuals – properly and regularly – to the extent that it is obliged to do. Shariah had prescribed, even fourteen centuries ago, a comprehensive weekly system of Friday sermons, which is still in vogue to some extent.

However, in order to ensure that the community takes full advantage thereof the sermonizing needs to be subjected to well-researched planning, streamlining and enrichment. In the community’s life, the Imams and Khateebs are meant to play pivotal, multi-faceted role. However, it is not an easy task to adequately perform the duties of deputizing the Prophet (S) and his Companions (R). In order to equip themselves with the required competence, the Imams & Khateebs need to continuously acquire deep knowledge of the basic concepts of Quran, Hadith and, in fact, the wholeShariah alongwith positive thinking, social activism, educational pursuits, high ethical values, and awareness about the most up-to-date scientific and technological developments.

In the Indian subcontinent, Friday’s Arabic Khutba is usually preceded by a speech in local language. For that, on every Friday millions of Muslims piously present themselves in the mosque, sit in reverence with heads bent and keep attentively listening to every word uttered by the Imam/Khateeb. The sermons, fifty two times in a year and 4000 times in an average lifetime, surely leave an indelible impact on the listeners’ personality.

Therefore, the Imams and Khateebs – before each Friday Khutba – should spend quality time to study, mull over and carefully plan their sermon and prepare meticulous notes regarding the proposed subject-matter in a dedicated diary. They should plan the weekly topics keeping in mind the expediency for individual and societal guidance. For this purpose, if the Imams and Khateebs also stay together in small groups of 25-30 each – for 2-3 days atleast once a year – this periodical rendezvous would be mutually enriching. The masses have to be impressed upon that the Qur’an is a complete code of human conduct equally applicable to each moment in life and hence it must not be restricted to recitation and memorization only. Every day for half an hour every educated Muslim must read multiple translations and commentaries of one Quranic verse and, thus, try to appreciate the message given therein. Thus, slowly one begins having a feel of God’s scheme of human creation and, concomitantly, the individual obligations toward the community.
Likewise, with the help of many commentaries, the Imams and Khateebs too need to fully grasp God’s message given in the Qur’anic verses comprised in the Arabic sermon delivered on Friday fully appreciating the relevant historical background and true import of the message. Having done so and with the help of notes in their diaries, the Imams/Khateebs should peridically (say, once in every six weeks) explain the Arabic Khutba to the Friday audience. Similarly, the meanings of the Surahs to be recited in both rakats on Friday should also be explained in local language and it must be announced that ‘these verses would be recited today in the Namaz’. That would boost up and augment the Namazis’ connexion to and ownership of the divine commandments given in the Qur’an.

Apart from that, the Friday speech delivered in the mother tongue should focus on better upbringing of the listeners adequately highlighting that the interests of the community need to be placed at a much higher pedestal than those of the individual. The Ummah has at least one-third claim over each individual’s existence. Everybody must devote one third of his or her time, resources, assets, income and love – not to oneself or the family but – to somebody else who is needy.

The Imams/Khateebs have a basketful of responsibilities and challenges entrusted to them by the Shariah to identify the difficulties faced by the community and explore the steps needed to overcome them. For example, each individual must get the Aadhar card and the election card, eligible candidates must try to join the government service at appropriate level, in addition to purely deeni taleem the parents must impart modern education to the children, madarsa educated child must also know computers, science, maths, English, amendments needed in the Waqf law, etc. While sermonizing the masses regarding such issues the Imams/Khateebs will surely avoid political or sectarian overtone. They must rather focus on social reformation, moral upgradation and selfless service to the community.

We are aware that no part of human life is outside the realm of Shariat. Hence, the role of the Imams and Khateebs must permeate each aspect of the individual and community life. In order to best perform their key responsibilities, the Imams/Khateebs will have to continuously keep themselves well informed. In addition to hosting the five daily congregational prayers, the mosque will have to be used as a center to monitor and upgrade the social, economic and educational progress of the community.

In the Quran’s first revelation itself God has mentioned the significance of Qalam. If we are asked today what’s a Qalam, we would immediately take out of the pocket and wave a ball pen or a fountain pen. Exploring further we can think of the chalk of the slate or the wooden pen of the wooden writing board. But fourteen centuries ago none of these existed and still God used the word Qalam.

A contemplative analysis leads us to realize that the Qalam mentioned in the Qur’an is any device through which one person’s thoughts can be communicated to another or from one place to another. In the twenty-first century the computer keyboard is the Qalam. Today if Muslims do not use computer systems they would lag behind other communities even in spreading the divine message. The Imams and Khateebs will have to learn computers. There are 56 Islamic countries and millions of Imams and Khateebs all over the world. The key to what we can learn from this wealth of global resources lies in our index (shahaadat) finger. Using this finger on the keyboard the knots of knowledge begin to untie. It was only ten years ago that surfing on computer I came to know the genesis of what we recite in the Namaz sitting on our folded legs.

Ironically in India, the individual concern regarding the community mostly remains confined to being angry over governmental indifference toward Muslims. We hardly wonder that if the government has ignored the community for 65 years, then would we still be silent spectators for another 65 years? Or we would stand up as good Muslims, take command of the community and march ahead for its progress and prosperity. The Imams and Khateebs will have to guide the Ummah as rightly said by Dr Sir Mohammad Iqbal:

Ishq ne kar diya tujhey zauq-e-tapish se aashnaBazm ko misl-e sham’-e-bazm, haasil-e soz-o-saaz de.

[Your true love for God has introduced you to the ecstacy of burning out the self for His pleasure. So now it’s your duty to pass on to the community what all you’ve learnt through such joyful self-dedication.]

– tcn

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