Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Friday Preachers: Preach and Do Not Repel | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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There has been increased debate and controversy over the issue of Friday sermons in Islam. During this controversy, some preachers managed to mobilize the resentment, and to exploit the Friday sermons to serve the political aims, especially since some of these preachers belong to a certain group with specific aims, and hence they exploit the Friday pulpit to serve their aims.

the Friday sermon and prayer are among the great rites of Islam. Because of the great importance of these rites, our pure Shariaa includes texts and rulings that show the accepted standard of behavior and controls that apply to these rights. Here we are going to talk about the “three principles” related to the Friday sermon:

First: According to the Sunnah as recorded by Muslim in his Sahih (Sahih Muslim is one of the two main authenticated records of the Prophet Muhammad’s Hadith) and to Imam Ahmad, the Prophet, God’s prayer and peace be upon him, said: “The length of man’s prayer and the briefness of his sermon are indications of his scholarliness, i.e. of his knowledge of Sunnah; therefore, prolong the prayer, and shorten the sermon.”

The honorable directive from the great Prophet, peace be upon him, guides us to what is best for the worshipers in the performance of their rites in the way that would satisfy God Almighty. The directive specifies that the Friday sermon should be brief and short, and in which the preacher talks to the people in a way that they can understand and absorb using wise words and clear sentences so that the worshipers benefit from the preacher’s directives when they apply them after the prayer. In most cases, the worshipers attending the Friday prayer are from various classes, and they differ in their understanding, level of comprehension, culture, and interests; there is a clear difference between addressing groups of politicians, economists, religious scholars, and so on. Therefore, the preachers ought to take this into consideration, and address every group in a way that they understand and comprehend. This requires the preacher to choose the suitable words for each of these groups; however, if he were addressing a public gathering, such as the public Friday prayer that includes the ignorant, the scholar, the young, the old, the employed, the unemployed, the educated, the illiterate, the politician, and the economist, the preacher should take this into consideration, and should understand the difference in addressing someone who is capable of understanding completely and a youngster who does not understand properly the meanings, the terminology, and the phrases.

Therefore, whoever climbs the Friday pulpit ought to observe these differences and variances in comprehension so that he will not be misunderstood, and so that what he says will not result in something he does not mean, want, or approve. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that motivated some of those weak in the mind and some youngsters to deviate from the path of rectitude, and to dissent from the right way; they understood that some of these phrases called for hysteria and violence. The preacher is like a doctor; he must understand the condition of the patient so that he is able to prescribe a suitable treatment for this condition.

Second: The preacher might discuss the political events; he starts with reviewing these events as if the sermon is some political news bulletin! However, his style could arouse emotions and sentiments. This style could mobilize a few souls who have little understanding but a great deal of emotions, and they become time bombs that could explode in a place in which they should not go off, and among people that they should not blow up. For example, this is the case of the deviated misguided group, including the supporters of Al-Qaeda.

Third: In the Friday sermon, some of the preachers deviate from the method of the Prophet, which is based on making the sermon brief and beneficial for the public. This deviation leads many among the audience to not understand the sermon. Prince of the Faithful Ali Bin Abi-Talib, God be satisfied with him, is said to have warned against talking too much; he said: Talking too much makes one forget at the end what one wanted to say in the beginning. Moreover, talking too much makes the audience get bored and tired, and hence the sermon becomes unfruitful, and many of those who come early, particularly the old and the sick, get harmed. Furthermore, this leads to deviating from the method of the Prophet, God’s prayer and peace be upon him, which orders us to preach and to make things easy for the people. According to both Sahihs (Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim are the two accepted records of authenticated Hadith) Anas Bin-Malik, God be satisfied with him, attributed to the Prophet: “Make it easier and not more difficult for the people; preach to them and do not repel them.” We find that, rather than using the method of preaching good rewards and advising patience that normally is followed by an improvement of the situation, the preacher resorts to a method that leads his listeners to pessimism, despair, and resentment, and hence they do not benefit. On the contrary, the listeners might resort to easing their resentment by perpetrating any action that could satisfy their inflamed sentiments, which were triggered by the repelling preacher who has not adhered to the method of preaching and easing.

In conclusion, I advise Friday preachers to adhere to the method of the honorable Prophet, who never said from the pulpit anything bad about a specific person, or made it difficult for the people by prolonging and repelling.