Permissibility of Khutbah in English

Question ID: 15784

Slmz Mufti

Can you please advise with regards to the permissibility of the Khutbah being delivered in English?

If permissible under certain conditions what are they?

Is there a substantiated difference of opinion on this issue?

If one performed jumah wherein the Khutbah was in part English, is it necessary to repeat the Khutbah?

I detailed response would be much appreciated as this matter is causing much debate in our community wherein The Khutbah was given in English.


Marked as spam
Asked on August 12, 2015 4:51 pm
Private answer

After the Masnun Khutbah, ‘O you who believe, when you are called to Salaah on the Day of Jumu’ah, then hasten to the remembrance of ALLAAH and leave out trade. That is better for you if you know.’
Elders and brothers, some people ask that why is it necessary for the Khutbah of Jumu’ah to be in Arabic? Instead of Arabic, if the Khutbah is given in English, then what is the problem? There is no need to specify English. There are countless languages in the world. Therefore, English should not be specified. The matter should be enquired generally that can the Khutbah of Jumu’ah be given in any language of the world besides Arabic or not? There is no need to specify Jumu’ah; the same ruling will apply for Eidayn. If the matter is spread a little more, then the same question can be posed regarding the Qur’aan that, can Qur’aan be recited in Salaah in another language besides Arabic or not? This is because the Qur’aan has been revealed as a book of guidance for people and all the people of the world do not know Arabic.
They speak different languages. So, if the Qur’aan is recited to them in Arabic in Salaah, then they will not understand anything. They simply stand there with their hands tied. Why is the translation in their language not recited so that they can understand something and practice on it? Therefore, the question should be broadened. One is that the ruling should not be made specific with English and secondly, it should not be made specific with the Khutbah of Jumu’ah.
After this it should be known that there are two angles to the ruling. One angle is that if the Khutbah is recited in any language of the world, then it will be Makruh Tahrimi because it contradicts the continuous practice of the Ummah, the consensus of the Ummah and the practice that has passed down through generations.
The second angle is that in the case of reciting the Khutbah in a language besides Arabic; is ALLAAH remembered or not? If this is established, then the Jumu’ah has taken place, if it is not established, the Jumu’ah has not taken place. Like in the governmental lectures of today, from beginning to end the name of ALLAAH is not taken. So, if the Imam gives such a Khutbah in which no mention of ALLAAH is made, whether he gives it in Arabic or in another language, the ruling is that the Khutbah is not done and when the Khutbah is not done, the Jumu’ah Salaah will not be correct. The compulsory duty of the time; Zuhr, will remain because the Qur’aan states, ‘O you who believe, when you are called for Salaah on the Day of Jumu’ah, then hasten to the remembrance of ALLAAH and leave trading.’ In this verse, one is called to, ‘hasten to the remembrance of ALLAAH.’ ‘and when you are called to Salaah, then hasten to the remembrance of ALLAAH.’
The remembrance of ALLAAH is the Khutbah. Because this Khutbah is given before Salaah, that is why you should go quickly and go and listen to the Khutbah, then perform the Salaah which you were called towards.
In summary, in this verse, ALLAAH refers to the Khutbah with the words ‘Dhikr’ (remembrance). Therefore, the ruling is that if ALLAAH is remembered in the Khutbah, then the Khutbah will be counted and the Jumu’ah Salaah will be correct and if like a governmental lecture, the name of ALLAAH is not taken, then the Khutbah will not be done. Once the Khutbah is not done, the Jumu’ah is not done. If the Jumu’ah is not done, then the compulsory duty of the time remains. If one or two sentences of Dhikr are made, the Khutbah will be counted. It will be reckoned and if it is reckoned, the Jumu’ah will be correct. Because giving the Khutbah in a language other than Arabic contradicts the continuous practice of the Ummah, that it why it will be Makruh Tahrimi, i.e. there will be sin for delivering the Khutbah in a non Arabic language but the Salaah will be correct.
What is the objective of the Khutbah?
These two rulings that I explained, most of the people know them. The question is that when most of the people know them, then why did I mention them? I mentioned them because in the minds of people, the people come with a certain background of the Khutbah and they object. The objection is that the Khutbah is not Salaah, so, if the Khutbah is given in another language besides Arabic, when the objective of the Khutbah is to advise people on a weekly basis, then looking at this objective, if the Khutbah is given in any language, then why is it Makruh Tahrimi? It should be permissible, not only permissible, but it should be Mustahab. This is in the minds of the people.
As long as this objective is not replied, until then the answer to the question will not be understood.

The original objective of the recitation of the Qur’aan and Salaah is the remembrance of ALLAAH
The foundational mistake is that what we have decided that the objective of the Jumu’ah Khutbah is to advise people on a weekly basis. This is incorrect. What is the original objective of the Qur’aan? The original objective is that the Qur’aan is the Dhikr of ALLAAH, whether the Qur’aan is understood or not, it should be read. ALLAAH says, ‘indeed We have revealed the reminder (Dhikr) and We are its protectors.’ In this verse, ALLAAH said that We have revealed the Dhikr, ‘we have revealed the Qur’aan’ is not said. The Qur’aan has been referred to as Adh Dhikr because the original objective of the Qur’aan is the remembrance of ALLAAH.
Subsequently, he who understands Arabic he recites the Qur’aan and he who does not understand also recites the Qur’aan and both of them receive ten rewards for every letter recited.
If someone says that the original objective of the Qur’aan is guidance from the side of ALLAAH just as ALLAAH states Himself, ‘the month of Ramadhaan in which the Qur’aan was revealed as guidance for mankind’. The Qur’aan was revealed as a guidebook for mankind and if I have the guidebook in English, then only will I understand it. If it is in Arabic then I will not understand anything, I do not know Arabic. When I understand the Qur’aan, then the book will be guidance. One person recites it without understanding and one person recites it with understanding. There is a difference of that between the skies and the earth between the two although they will both get reward equally. However, the Qur’aan will be guidance for one and it will not be for the other. So we learn that the original objective of the Qur’aan is to become a guide for people.
Answer: becoming a guide, i.e. taking advice from the Qur’aan is the secondary objective. It is the second level objective. Advice can also be taken directly if a person knows Arabic. If he does not know Arabic, then through it he will get advice. It has been translated into many languages of the world. It has been done so that those who do not know Arabic, they can acquire advice using them. From this we learn that it is not necessary to acquire advice directly from the Qur’aan, a person can also acquire advice through means, like translations. This is because acquiring advice is the secondary objective, the primary objective is Dhikr.
Therefore, it was said, ‘indeed we have revealed the Dhikr’. So if Dhikr is the objective, then it is necessary to recite the Qur’aan in Arabic, whether one understands or not. Wherever advice is the objective, if a gathering of Arabs is held, then recite in Arabic and if there is a gathering of English and Urdu; then recite it in English and Urdu and the people will attain advice.
Similarly, the objective of Salaah has been mentioned in various places. In the beginning of Surah Taahaa the incident of Hadhrat Moosa  is mentioned. It states that when ALLAAH  made Hadhrat Musa  a Nabi, then there was a discussion between ALLAAH and Hadhrat Moosa  on Mount Toor. Therein ALLAAH  states, ‘and establish Salaah for My remembrance.’ From here it is learnt that the original objective of Salaah is to remember ALLAAH. In the beginning of the 21st juz, ALLAAH commands Rasulullaah , ‘and establish Salaah. Indeed Salaah stops shameless deeds and lewd actions.’
This is a benefit of Salaah and it is a secondary benefit. ‘and the Dhikr of ALLAAH is the greatest.’ A greater benefit is the Dhikr of ALLAAH, i.e. a greater benefit than stopping from evil actions and lewd actions is that it is the remembrance of ALLAAH. From these two verses we learn that the original objective of Salaah is the remembrance of ALLAAH and when the remembrance of ALLAAH is the objective; then you cannot recite the Qur’aan in a language other than Arabic in Salaah. Out of Salaah, like I am delivering a lecture, because the objective is not the remembrance of ALLAAH, but it is advice, that is why it is not necessary for me to recite the Qur’aan in Arabic only, the translation of the verse is sufficient too.
The objective of the Khutbah is also the remembrance of ALLAAH
Just as the objective of Salaah and Tilaawah is the Dhikr of ALLAAH, in a similar manner, the objective of the Khutbah is the Dhikr of ALLAAH. I recited the verse in the Khutbah, ‘and hasten to the remembrance of ALLAAH.’ In this verse, ALLAAH said ‘hasten to the remembrance of ALLAAH’ not ‘hasten to the Khutbah’. That is why it is necessary for the Dhikr of ALLAAH to be in the Khutbah. If a Khutbah is delivered like a governmental lecture, then it will not be counted, whereas in Arabic it is also called Khutbah. However, the Jumu’ah Khutbah will not be done by it. So, when it is proven from the verse that the foundational objective is the remembrance of ALLAAH, then you will have to give the Khutbah in Arabic and the secondary objective of the Khutbah is to acquire advice, it could be acquired through other means.
Before the Khutbah, the Khateeb stands at the pulpit and gives advice in the local language. When the secondary objective of the Khutbah can be acquired through other means, then it is not necessary to change the method that has come down from the era of Rasulullaah . If you want to change it, then also change the Salaah, recite in English as well so that people can understand the Qur’aan and acquire advice.
The Sahabah did not ever deliver the Khutbah in another language but Arabic in the century of their existence
The Arabian Peninsula was conquered in the era of Rasulullaah . ALLAAH says, ‘and you will see people entering the Deen of ALLAAH in droves.’ The people of the Arabian Peninsula are meant by this. The people of the Arabian Peninsula were waiting to see who would win the war between the people of Makkah and Madinah. They understood that whoever takes control of the Ka’bah, they are on the truth and until now, the Quraysh had control of the Ka’bah. Therefore, their hand was on top. However, the battle that began now, where will it stop? It will stop where one of them will take control of the Ka’bah and the other will not be worthy of controlling the Ka’bah.
In the 8th year of the hijrah, when Makkah Mukarramah was conquered and the entire Makkah embraced Islaam, then all the Arabs saw that if the polytheists are on the truth, then Rasulullaah  would not have taken control and Makkah would not have become Muslim, but Rasulullaah  took control and the people of Makkah became Muslim so it means that Islaam is the truth. After this, delegations from the entire Arabian Peninsula came in order to accept Islaam, one after the other. Sometimes 80 delegations came. This is ‘and you will see people entering the Deen of ALLAAH in droves’. However, there was no dealing between the people of the Arabian Peninsula and people from outside until now.
One year before the demise of Rasulullaah , he  sent invitational letters to the kings and leaders out of the Arabian Peninsula; whether they were big or small, whether they were a superpower or not, no country remained. Then one year passed in difficulty when Rasulullaah  passed away. After the demise of Rasulullaah , in the era of the Khulafaa’ e Raashideen, wars with those countries began. Some became followers without war and there were great battles with others. Finally, Iran – which was the superpower – also fell and the other superpower (Rome) receded until it went to Constantinople. The Sahabah did not go forward because cold countries lay ahead while the Sahabah were residents of a hot country.
I want to explain that all these countries that the Sahabah conquered; they were all non Arab countries. Arabic was not spoken here and in the era of the Sahabah, after the place was conquered, Islaam spread rapidly but in the 100 years of their existence, the Sahabah never delivered the Khutbah in the local language, whereas there was a need to deliver the Khutbah in the local language at that time. Towns and towns of people reverted to Islaam, it was necessary to convey the Deen to them in their language but no Sahabi delivered the Khutbah in a language other than Arabic, in any place.
The practice of Hadhrat Salmaan Faarsi 
The first narration of Abwaab us Siyar of Tirmidhi states that there was an army commanded by Hadhrat Salmaan Faarsi . Persian was the mother tongue of Hadhrat Salmaan Faarsi . This army laid siege to a Persian fort. The people in the fort also spoke Persian and the Muslim commander also knew Faarsi. The army said, ‘If you permit, we can attack.’ Hadhrat Salmaan  said, “Wait for now. Give me a chance to practice on the way of Rasulullaah . Before the battle begun, he  would give the invitation to Islaam, first I shall give them the invitation to Islaam.”
Subsequently, Hadhrat Salmaan  took a group of companions and went to the fort. They were on top while this group was at the bottom. They had talks, the group on top spoke in Persian while Hadhrat Salmaan  spoke in Arabic. The translation was being made on both sides. Hadhrat Salmaan Faarsi  knew Persian but he was not speaking Persian. During the conversation, when he called them to giving Jizya, then he recited the verse of Jizya, Hadhrat recited it himself. In this verse, the words, ‘and you are small’ came. The people translated the verse such that whoever heard it became livid. They translated, ‘in the condition that you are disgraced.’ Who will accept to be disgraced? When Hadhrat recited this verse, the translator made the entire translation but ‘and you are small’ was translated by Hadhrat Salmaan  himself in Persian. The translation of it in the Hadith is ‘while you are not praised’. i.e. you should accept Islaam so that our and your rights are equal. Accepting Jizya and living in our country is not a liked thing.
What a beautiful translation he made? There is a lengthy Hadith after this. From this Hadith I want to show that Hadhrat Salmaan Faarsi  knew Persian and he translated the verse into Persian himself but despite knowing Persian he conversed in Arabic. There is some wisdom in it for him doing this; he would not have done this without reason.
An incident of Imam ul Hind Maulana Abul Kalaam Azaad
When there was the freedom war in Hindustan against the English, the head of Congress, Maulana Abul Kalaam Azaad went to discuss a matter regarding freedom with the viceroy. The viceroy knew Urdu very well and Maulana Abul Kalaam Azaad knew English very well. The discussion began, Maulana was speaking in Urdu and the translator was translating into English for the viceroy. The viceroy was replying in English and the translator was giving the translation to Maulana in Urdu. Think, why was each of them doing this? Maulana knew English, so why did he not speak in English. He could have spoken in English so that awe could come over the viceroy, and the viceroy knew Urdu, so why did he not speak in Urdu? He should have spoken in Urdu so that his ability could be shown before Maulana Azaad. However, the viceroy did not speak Urdu, nor did Maulana speak in English.
During the conversation, the translator did not translate a statement of Maulana correctly. Maulana reprimanded him that you are saying something in the translation which I am not saying. The viceroy also understood all this because he knew Urdu. The viceroy said, “Maulana, when you know English, then why do you not speak to me in English? See what is happening.” Maulana could have said that when you know Urdu, then why do you not speak to me in Urdu?
But he did not want to come down, that is why he was saying to Maulana that why are you speaking directly to me in English. Maulana Azaad replied, “Sir, if I speak to you in English, then what has remained of the fight between the English and me? When I speak their language, then no fight remains between us and them.”
This was the era when the great Mufteen of Hindustan gave the fatwa that it is Haraam to learn English, it is Haraam to work in the English army; the items made in Britain are Haraam, all these fataawa are from this era. It was based on a need and expediency because the war for freedom was going on. If we wore their items in that time, worked in their army, then what war would be taking place with the English?
Anyway, I wanted to mention this sentence of Maulana from this incident that if I spoke to you in English, then what war would remain between the English and me? In this incident, think with a cool heart that despite knowing Urdu, why did the viceroy not speak in Urdu. Despite knowing English, why did Maulana not speak English? In the incident of Hadhrat Salmaan Faarsi , despite knowing Persian, why did he not speak Persian? ‘In these incidents there is advice for those of understanding.’ There is a lesson in it for those of understanding, if someone does not understand, then what should I do?
The territories conquered by the Sahabah are now the Arab countries
The countries that the Sahabah conquered are now the Arab countries and the places conquered after the Sahabah did not become the Arab countries. Hindustan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bukhara, Samarqand, Tashkent etc. – all these were conquered after the Sahabah and did not become Arab countries because the territory conquered by the Sahabah, Arabic entered into everything. When Arabic entered into everything, then people began to quickly learn Arabic and when all the people were forced to learn Arabic, then these countries became Arab countries.
Muhammad bin Qaasim came to our area of Sindh; he did not go beyond this. Walid got him killed. For a long time, this remained the condition. Then the conquerors came to Afghanistan. They conquered until Rangoon, Burma and went away. However, after conquering, they kept their language of Persian. As long as it remained, Persian remained. Even the Hindus knew Persian very well. The commentaries of Guldistaan and Bustaan were written by a Hindu. However, when their rule came to an end, then who would have any interest in Persian? Subsequently, their language went with their country. If they began to speak Arabic, then all the countries would have become Arab. Understand this difference that the countries that the Sahabah conquered, they are Arab countries today and those which were conquered after the Sahabah they are not Arab countries today.
This is because the Sahabah kept everything in Arabic, the Khutbah in Arabic, the Qur’aan in Arabic, the Salaah in Arabic, the lessons in Arabic, they kept everything in Arabic. The people had to therefore learn Arabic and the entire place became Arab. Later on, people spread their language and placed Arabic behind. The result was that their languages remained as long as they did, when they went, their languages went and Arabic was placed behind. Understand this matter.
Language is necessary in places of existence
There is a language of every Deen and every government; this has to be brought forth in places of existence. If this is done, then the government will run and the Deen will remain. If it is not brought into the places of existence, the language of the Deen is not brought into the places of existence, then the government will not remain, nor will the Deen remain. Take an example, Hinduism is a very old Deen. How old? ALLAAH knows best how old. Some researchers feel that the books revealed to the sons of Hadhrat Nuh , they believe in these books. After this, no Nabi came among them. Whether this is correct or not, anyway, this much is correct that this is a very old Deen.
The language of their Deen is Sanskrit. However, for a long time, Sanskrit has not remained in the places of existence. Subsequently, Sanskrit has been wiped out. Today, the Indian government is striving to enliven this language and for this reason it has established universities but there will be just a few here and there who will know the language. If they know it, well and good, otherwise the general Hindu does not know it. This is as a result of not bringing the language into the places of existence. There are Christians and Jews, their Tauraat and Injeel was revealed in Syriac (Suryaani), but in the world today, Suryaani is not spoken anywhere. The Jews and Christians themselves do not know it. Then another language came, Hebrew. This language remained and their Talmud etc is in this language. However, most of their priests and bishops do not even know Hebrew because this language also did not come into the places of existence.
Subsequently, the time carried on and there was no one to protect the language. When the foundational language of the Deen ended, then the Deen will not remain in its original form. It is for this reason that Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism did not remain in their original condition until today.
Another example: you know this that there is a national language of every country and in the country, the country also accepts other languages that are in vogue, like in Hindustan the national language is Hindi. Besides this, there are 14 languages which the government has accepted. The 14 languages are written on the notes but the national language is one, and that is Hindi. The southern areas of Hindustan, Tamil Nadu, Madras; Karela etc. no one there knows even a single word of Hindi. They speak their own languages there but if you go there and reach the train station, then you will see that all the names are written in Hindi, then the names are written below in English and other local languages. This is bringing the language into the places of existence. Similarly, in the court, in the offices, in every place you will find Hindi written above the local language. If the government language of Hindi was not brought on them in this way, then the entire Hindustan would not remain under one government.
In accordance to the local language, it would be split into different areas.
Keep these two examples before you and think that which is the language of Islaam? It is Arabic. In order to keep it preserved, it is necessary to bring it into the places of living. What are the places of living? Every seventh day is the Khutbah of Jumu’ah and the Imam recites the Khutbah quickly when nothing is understood. Yes, this much is understood by all that this is our language. The Imam recites in Arabic in the Salaah, no one in the Masjid understands but they all understand that this is our Qur’aan and it was revealed in this language. The gathering of Eid takes place twice a year. When the Khateeb stands up and delivers the Khutbah in Arabic, then even if the people do not understand, but they all understand this much that this is the language of our Deen. The result of this is that a person has said that the Qur’aan was revealed in Hijaaz, it is recited most beautifully in Egypt, no where it is recited so beautifully, and it was understood in Hindustan. The people of the Arab countries have not understood the Qur’aan as much as the people of Hindustan have understood it because the people here made effort on the Arabic language and day and night they stayed behind it, then only they understood the language. Travel the entire earth, you will not find people in the Arab world who understand the Qur’aan and Hadith like how you will find in the non-Arab countries.
This blessing is because there is an enthusiastic link with Arabic in us. It is the language of our Deen and we have held it tight. The Arabs do not make effort to learn our language in the way we make effort to learn theirs and this enthusiastic link will remain as long as it is in the places of living.
The summary of the talk is that the Khutbahs of Eid and Jumu’ah are in the places of living and when they are in the places of living, then the original language of the Deen that is here, it will be used so that the language can come alive and the Deen of Islaam can remain upon its original teachings. In the 100 years of their era, the Sahabah did not ever deliver the Khutbah in a non Arabic language whereas the new Muslims of those areas were more in need of advice than today in the local language. From that time until now, the Khutbah throughout the world is given in Arabic, no one says that give the Khutbah in the local language. These Americans are talking in their love of English, in Britain, Canada and in other areas of Europe you do not find this matter. This is only in America. My brothers, put the love of Arabic in place of the love of English. The Imaan will also be strengthened and the foundational language of the Deen will remain as well.
When the language will be brought alive, then the teachings of Islaam will also remain in their original form. Otherwise, if the language fades away then the same will be the condition with Islaam, that which happened with Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism.

Marked as spam
Answered on August 18, 2015 2:48 pm