The Friday Prayer

Question

What is the nature of the sermon delivered in the Friday Prayer? Who is authorized to deliver it? What should the speaker say in the sermon? Is it obligatory to say it in Arabic?


Answer

The sermon is an essential part of the Friday Prayer. This prayer provides an opportunity to the Muslims to gather in large congregations and offer the Salah. The congregational nature of this prayer was ordained to provide a platform for the Muslim rulers to address their people; these rulers of the Islamic state and their representatives were thus given the privilege to speak to the public and communicate to them information on national and local concerns. It was hence only the political representatives who were entrusted the responsibility to lead the Friday Prayer and deliver the sermon. They would not only exhort the believers to the right path, but also discuss the political and administrative affairs. They could state the government policies on any issue and seek the public opinion.

After the decline of the Muslim rule and abandonment of this duty by the state representative, the sermon is now merely said to simulate the decreed Friday sermon though the traces of the political aspects are still found in its contents.

We know that the blessings sent on the four caliphs and the descendents of the Prophet (sws) are analogous to the earlier tradition where leaders would defend their policies and exalt their predecessors. Initially, every political group used to exalt only those caliphs who were perceived to be the founders of their political group. It however changed and some neutral people decided to praise all the previous grand Muslim leaders.

This explanation is further corroborated by the fact that, many a time, a tradition is also narrated in the Friday Sermon, even in these days, which describes that the head of a state is the shelter provided to the Muslims by the Almighty.

In the light of the above explanation, we can say that the sermon in fact is a means of communication between the rulers and the ruled. Naturally, it should be in the language that the audience understands or it would mean nothing. The second part of the sermon has always been devoted for prayers and beseeching the audience to follow the right path. This again necessitates that the sermon should be delivered in the language the audience knows in order to make it fruitful.

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