In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate
The preferred opinion of the later fuqaha of the Shafi’i madhhab, is that it is valid to give a khutbah in another language beside Arabic, with the conditions that people understood the language and all the integrals of the khutbah should be delivered in Arabic.
The Integrals of the Two Khuṭbahs are Five:
1. Praising Allah in both the khuṭbahs.
2. Ṣalāh upon Nabi sallaLlahu alayhi wa alihi sallam in both the khuṭbahs.
3. Enjoining taqwa in both the khuṭbahs.
4. Recitation of one verse of the Qurʾān in one of the khuṭbahs.
5. To make duʿā for the believers, males and females in the second khuṭbah.
[see Safinat al-naja: The ship of salvation]
The Opinion of the Mutaakhkhirin Aṣhāb
There is no clear “naṣ,” from the mutaqaddimin ashab, rendering the permissibility of the khutbah in other languages beside Arabic. However, the details of this mas’alah1 has been clarified by many mutaakhkhirin (later jurists) in their commentaries and meta-commentaries.
The integrals of a khutbah should been rendered in Arabic, besides that a khutbah may be rendered in other language besides Arabic. This has been mentioned clearly by Imam Ibn Hajar (al-Tuhfah), Imam Shams al-din al-Ramli (al-Nihayah), Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya (Fath al-Wahhab), Khaṭīb al-Shirbīnī (al-Iqnaʿ), and al-Bujayrimī (Hashiyah ‘ala al-Manhaj).
It is stated in al-Tuḥfah when mentioning the conditions of the khutbah:
“It is a condition that (the integrals of khutbah; not that which is beside them,) are in Arabic.”
Imam al-Shabramallisi commented on the statement of al-Nihayah, “The intended meaning of “them two” is the integrals of two khutbahs,” this informed us, if in between the integrals of the khutbah, speech is given in other languages beside Arabic, it will not cause harm to the khutbah.
In accordance with Imam Ramli’s view, this (permissibility to use non-Arabic in the khutbah) is as a matter of necessity (“yajibu“) only applicable in the case where the interruption through non-Arabic is not long. Otherwise it will harm the khutbah, because in that instance, the continuity of the integrals is not found. Like the case of long pause between the integrals. In general, non-Arabic will be ineffective, because non-Arabic will not be considered in spite of having an ability to perform it in Arabic. This opinion is according to Imam Ibn Qasim on the commentary of al-Manhaj.
(The response of imam al-Shabramallisi to the view of Ibn Qasim rahimahuma Allah ta’ala) However, according to analogy, it will not harm (the khutbah). There is a difference between non-Arabic and silence, the silence is turning away from the khutbah in total, contrary to the case of non-Arabic. Altogether, warning is conveyed; therefore, long separation of the integrals will not bring non-Arabic speech out of being part of a khutbah.
The Khutbah Should Be Given In the Language That People Understand
Apparently, the khutbah is only valid if it is conveyed in the language that the people understand. However, this will not go against the ruling of the validity of khutbah in Arabic. Moreover, it is wajib to give the khutbah in Arabic if people only understand the Arabic well, not other languages. Because of the Arabic is the original, to consider its essential is imperative, unlike other languages. Whenever there are some factors to give preference one over the other, then it should be put forward. This is been supported by the statement of imam al-Ażraʿī, “Perhaps when people understood that language,” this has been narrated by shaykh ʿAmīrah, base on the opinion that Arabic is not a condition in a khutbah,
Considering Other Factors in the Khutbah:
The khutbah is for the sake of exhortation and advice
The object of khutbah is to advice and admonishes people. This should be done in the language that people understood it well. Allah says in the holy Qur’an:
We have not sent any Messenger except with the language of his people so he can make things clear to them. [surah Ibrahim: 4]
The object of the khutbah is an admonition. This is the nass of Imam al-Shafi’i in the Al-Imla’, among those who narrates it from the al-Imla’ is Imam al-Rāfiʿī and others, (al-Majmu).
In the hadith of Bukhari, it is mentioned:
“When the imam came out (for the khutbah) the Angels present and listen to the dhikr.”
Imam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani explained the word dhikr refers to the khutbah i.e. the admonition and others. (see al-Fath: 2: 427)
The khutbah is not a substitute of the two rakʿats of Zuhr.
It is established, the Jumu’ah salah is not a substitute for the Zuhr salah.
Speech is not prohibited in the khutbah
Is it prohibited for the khatib to speak? There are two opinions regarding this. The madhab is that it is absolutely permissible, and the second opinion has two verdicts. All the differences of the opinions regarding the speeches that does not pertaining to the important matter. (see al-Rawḍah: 1: 420)
(see the previous article on the issue of talking during Jumu’ah )
“The correct view according to our [Shafi'i] colleagues is that speech is not prohibited (during the khutbah) and this is the opinion of ʿUrwah ibn al-Zubayr, Saʿīd ibn Jubayr, al-Shaʿbī, al-Nakhaʿī, al-Thawrī and Dāwud. According to Malik, al-Awzāʿī, Abū Hanīfah, Ahmad rahimahumuLLah ta’ala it is haram.” [Majmu' Sharh Al-Muhadhdhab 4/525]
However, There Are Some Problems With The Application of the Usul in this Mas’alah
It is clear, from the opinion of the mutaakhkhirin that they held it to be permitted to speak in non-arabic within the Khutbah, as long as the conditions were met.
(1) However, despite this permissibility, the fuqaha stated that the arkan (pillars) of the khutbah should be in Arabic. How have the fuqaha come to this conclusion and what is the principle behind this?
(2) With the limited source I have, I have not come across the qawl (legal saying) of the mutaqaddimin that conforms to the fatwa of the mutaakhkhirin as mentioned above.
Maulana Taha’s Clarification Regarding the Issue:
Restricting the stipulation of being in Arabic to the arkan of the khutbah alone is a sort of compromise between the idealism of those of the As’hab al-Wujuh who insist upon Arabic, and the realism of those in whose opinion Arabic is not a requirement.
The second group (whose view is recorded by al-Mutawalli in Tatimmah) approach the matter from a realistic angle: the khutbah is for the sake of exhortation and advice; delivering it in a language which the congregation does not understand defeats the purpose. Reasoning that the purpose of the khutbah is more important than its language and form, they came to the conclusion that Arabic per se is not a requirement for the validity of the khutbah.
The first group, on the other hand, took note of a number of other features of the khutbah:
(1) it is a fard dhikr
(2) it consists of indispensable integrals
(3) it has to be delivered from a standing position
(4) the two khutbahs must be separated by a mandatory sitting in between
(5) it can only be delievered in a state of taharah
(6) the ‘awrah has to be covered during its delivery
All of these considerations led them to the conclusion that while the khutbah might perhaps not quite be a replacement for two rak’ahs, it certainly has a much more formal character than common speech. By looking wider afield into fiqh they found that all forms of fard dhikr carry the stipulation of being in Arabic, hence they concluded analogically that the khutbah, too, has to be in Arabic.
The dalil (proof) used above is qiyas (analogical deduction). It is this dalil which Imam Nawawi uses in Sharh al-Muhadhdhab. As for the argument of iittiba’ of a transmitted practice which is commonly cited, it stands challenged by the usuli dimensions which had been raised, to which one may respond by citing the special nature of the khutbah as outlined above. This response, however, will only be effective within the bounds of the madhhab since the other madhahib generally do not regard satr al-’awrah, taharah, qiyam etc. as shurut (pre-conditions) for the validity of the khutbah.
That much pertains to the Mutaqaddimin up to the Shaykhayn.
The realism that underlies the marjuh view (of Arabic not being a requirement) did not quite die out, as can be seen from the compromise position of having the non-integrals in the local language. In my opinion this view came about precisely on account of the persistence of the idea of the purpose being equally important (if not more important than) the form of the khutbah. What may also have contributed to it from a socio-historical perspective is that unlike in its early centuries, the spread of Islam no longer went hand in hand with the spread of the Arabic language. Regions to which Islam spread during the last millennium or so did adopt Islam, but unlike the lands of the early conquests (Egypt, Syria, North Africa), Arabic did not replace local languages. The phenomenon of substantial Muslim populations whose use of Arabic was restricted to devotional aspects of life.
I would believe that there would be a certain credence to the claim that these two factors (the persistence of the importance of purpose, and the proliferation of non-Arabic speaking communities) combined to impress upon the Muta’akhkhirin the need for introducing some realism. In doing so they had two options:
(1) Abandon the rajih position and go back to the marjuh.
(2) Stick to the rajih position but adapt it somewhat.
The option they chose was the second. The manner in which they reasoned their adaptation of the rajih position was as follows:
• The rajih position dictates that the khutbah must be in Arabic
• The khutbah, essentially, is really only the arkan; in a certain sense, the rest is superfluous
• So if the arkan are kept in Arabic, the requirement of the rajih position has been satisfied at the most basic level
• The rest may therefore be in a language other than Arabic
With the likes of Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya and his pupils Khatib, Ibn Hajar and al-Ramli having jointly reached this conclusion, the question that arose was whether the inclusion of a non-Arabic insertion would invalidate the khutbah. All agreed that if the non-Arabic insertion is short the khutbah would remain valid since the requirement of muwalat stands unaffected. In the case of a lengthy non-Arabic insertion, however, opinions differed. Ibn Qasim in his (unpublished) Hashiyah on Sharh al-Manhaj takes his cue from al-Ramli when he states that where the non-Arabic insertion creates a lengthy interruption, the khutbah should be invalid, as in the case of a lengthy silence. To this Shabramallisi responds by differentiating between a non-Arabic insertion on the one hand and silence on the other.
[end with slight amendment]
And Allah ta’ala knows best.
[re-edited by Abul Layth on Sept. 4-2009]