Have you ever heard your Muslim friend mention attending “khutbah”? It’s a very important part of a Muslim’s religious habits, so it’s good for you to understand what it is!
Your Muslim friend might try to tell you that a khutbah is comparable to a sermon at church, but this is not necessarily the case. The goal and structure of a khutbah reflect the legalistic character of Islam. Learning the truth behind khutbahs will help you know how to talk to your Muslim friend about them!
It’s important to point out that the word “khutbah” comes from “khitab” which existed long before Islam began. A “khitab” is an official declaration usually given by a leader. Even today, when a president of an Arab country addresses his people in an event or through the media, it is called a “khitab.”
Khutbahs in Islam are considered official services or announcements given by the Muslim religious leaders. Muslim men attend a khutbah every Friday at their local mosque, often hearing about a section from the Quran or Hadith. Sometimes they also talk about local issues or political topics in their community. Khutbahs are also given on special occasions like religious festivals or the birthday of their prophet.
Khutbahs are required to be given in Arabic or else they are considered null. Even if the audience listening does not understand Arabic, they are required to sit and listen intently and they are still blessed by Allah for attending. (Source)
If you want to learn more about Islam’s rules regarding the Arabic language, read here.
Rules for attending a khutbah:
- Wear clean clothes
- Have good hygiene- no bodily odors or smelly breath
- Do not sit between two people if there is not ample room
- Do not try to get in front of others who are already there
- Do not talk to anyone beside you but listen intently
- Pray as much as possible before the khutbah begins
Women are allowed to attend and sit in a specified areas in mosques, however they are taught that it is more honoring to Allah if they stay home and do their prayers there instead.
What makes a khutbah different from a sermon?
Islam is very particular that a khutbah is not a lecture, it is a “dhikr”, which is a ritual and repetitive chant. This has to do with the structure of a khutbah, which is very specific and liturgical: praising Allah, prayers upon Allah’s messenger, reciting a verse from the Quran, and a reminder to be reverent to Allah. (Source)
In comparison, the purpose of a sermon is for us as Christ followers to learn more about our Lord, grow closer to Him, and be encouraged or exhorted in our faith. A khutbah is a part of the rituals and ceremonies that Muslims are required to follow in order to please Allah. The fact that khutbahs are given in Arabic regardless of audience understanding shows that Islam is performance-based and does not have to do with a Muslim’s heart and soul.
Some Imams who live and serve in westernized countries have started doing khutbahs in other languages to attract more locals. They do both the Arabic and the other language in one khutbah. For Islam to expand and grow, many religious leaders are willing to change 14 centuries of rigid Islamic practices to impact and reach non-Muslims.
How to talk about Khutbahs with your Muslim friend
Islam does not offer a person a relationship with God, but a system of rules and regulations in order to keep people compliant. It is important for us to explain to our Muslim friends that God wants to have a loving relationship with them and that He offers this to them freely!
You can begin a conversation with your Muslim friend about khutbahs and your relationship with God by asking them questions:
- What is the purpose of a Friday khutbah?
- Do you remember a khutbah that impacted your life spiritually?
- What do you expect to hear when you attend a khutbah? Does it leave you wanting to know God on a deeper level?
Hopefully in return you’ll get to share your experiences with sermons that have positively impacted your faith. If your Muslim friend is interested, you can send them a video of a sermon to show them how they are completely different. We recommend sharing one about the Sermon on the Mount or John chapter one.
Dear Lord, please open up my Muslim friend’s mind to think critically about Islam and what they have been taught to believe. Please show me how I can be a good friend and resource to them. I ask that you open their heart to hear Your voice. Amen.