Should the Khutbah be in English?

Growing up in the United States, I assumed that the language of the khutbah, the Muslim Friday sermon, was not an issue of serious contention. Since my community is very diverse, the common language is English. Arabic is used when the Qur’an is cited, hadith related, and supplications recited. However, the English translations are usually provided. Of course, there are many communities with a large percentage of a particular immigrant group in which Arabic, Urdu, Somali, etc. are used.

I always assumed that the reason why English was used in my community stemmed from the need for the congregation to comprehend and reflect on the message of the sermon, which they could only do if they understand the language. Moreover, since many Muslim Americans like me grow up being exposed to Arabic but not necessarily understanding it, it was important to find a way to make young Muslims feel connected to the mosque and language plays a big role in that.

There are different opinions on the validity of the khutbah being in a language other than Arabic. However, according to Abu Majeed on suhaibwebb.com, the general opinion among scholars is that other languages are acceptable for the sermon. Abu Majeed does say, though, that when he used English in one of his khutbahs, he was criticized for his modernist views on Islam.

What this issue highlights for me is the role of language in Muslim identity. Arabic’s centrality to Islam has played a big role in unifying Muslims worldwide, but that does not mean that every aspect of faith is required to be in Arabic. Some rituals must be done in Arabic like prayer, but there are others, like the khutbah, where there is more flexibility since Islam is an inclusive and diverse religion. Having said that, Muslims are not the first group to engage in this kind of discussion over what language is used in which context. For the most part this decision has depended on the needs of each individual community.

Do you think the Friday sermon should only be in Arabic? How important is language to religious identity? Should the diversity of a community matter in a ritual? Please share your comments below.

4 thoughts on “Should the Khutbah be in English?

  1. Friday Sermon to me is like spiritual food for the rest of the week. When someone delivers a profound Khutbah, it touches everyone’s heart and renews their faith especially in a non Muslim country. It is great to be able to understand and speak Arabic but majority of us dont and if the Khutbah is delivered in Arabic, it becomes difficult to connect. Even people sitting listening to Khutbah stop paying attention to it because they cannot understand it. So atleast here with so much diversity and in a place where we do need to interact with non Muslims in English, Khutbah in English is necessary -in my opinion.

  2. I think the khutbah to use the native language.
    for example in Indonesia to use Indonesian it is very important, Alqur’an is still existence.

  3. Salam, jumma should be in ARABIC. Allah states in the Quran that khutbah is zikr, remembrance of Allah, not a speech so that everyone should understand, if you say zikr can be done in english that the future generation probably use this ideology and start praying salah in english and say we understand it and can concentrate more!
    The sahabas radiyallahuanhum traveled far and wide, they mastered the local language but the jumma khutba was always delivered in arabic. Hadrat Salman r.a who was a persian always delivered his khutba in arabic even thou the congregation never understoon it, history proves this.
    Brothers everyone cant be a scholar and say our local language will be nice in khutbah. Think first, refer to authentic scholars. Khutba should always be in arabic. If people are so eager to listen to a speech then deliver an english or whatever language speech BEFORE the azan.

  4. Assalamo alikom warahmatullah. Zazakallah to Br. abdullah. Some brothers don’t understand what is Jumma Khutbah. It’s a prayer. For this Jumma is two rakat only. It’s very important like wajib. None of us are allowed during this time to even say nawafel salat. Yes, our generation needs to understand islam, so there can be 30 minute motivation talk before Johr time start. As soon as time due, say Azan and give others time to pray Sunnah salah. After were all done sunnah, muazzin say’s Khutbah azan, right away Imam start Khutba in arabic. Everyone is benifited. English for motivation talk , arabic for khutbah. Does it make sense. Those who have appointed islamic university passed Moulana couse; they knew definitely well. Though some non professional people (reputation hungry) are using prints of “moulana Google’s misinformation” purposely. May Allah guide them. Zazakallah. They claim,” they are giving khutba but talk in that some stuff where every body laughs. Is it khutba or nonsense!! May Allah forgive us.