Q. I am a PhD student who was recently called upon by the local university's community to give a khutba at Friday prayers on campus. The topic I chose was "The Role of Intellect and Reason in Islam." During the whole khutba, I quoted the ayah of the Qur'an and referenced the interpretations of Muhammad Asad. At the end of the khutba, some members of the audience told me that the khutba is incomplete without Arabic and without saying the shahadah in the khutba, so they prayed four rakaat of zuhr instead of the jumu’a prayers. Can I have your opinion on this action, because as far as I am concerned, the spirit of the khutba is mainly educational and inviting people to contemplate and think. Is this such a big issue that the khutba must include Arabic verses and the shahadah or is it due to the fiqh schools? I did some research on my own and found out that there are no hadith in Bukhari, Muslim, and Muwaata which corroborate this ruling specifically, except for one in Muslim which says that the Prophet (PBUH) used to recite surah Qaf in the Friday prayers.

A. Your audience's action was wrong and totally egregious to the spirit of Islam and law. If one uses the usul al fiqh reasoning, the rule is that a KHUTBA has elemental parts: Al khateeb (the speaker), al khutba (the sermon), and al mukhaatabilayhim (the audience; some would use "lahum instead of 'ilayhim, or some would omit the prepositions and use mutkhaataboon).

Regardless, those are the three parts. The condition of the address is that the communication be comprehensible, for that is the purpose of the khutba hence its name, for it comes from the Arabic meaning "to address, to preach." If your audience is Anglophone, then you have a right to address them in English. If you do NOT speak Arabic as your mother tongue, and if it is assumed that everyone knows English, especially if you are in an English speaking country, then it would be nonsensical to make Arabic a mandatory element of such a khutba. Your audience’s action reflects linguistic and probably cultural bigotry, and for them to use an Islamic ritual to enforce such bigotry is sinful.

Posted December 10, 2008