Khutbas: Sleepy or Awakening?
The day after writing my earlier post, “If I were giving the Khutba (Sermon) today….“, I went to participate in a vigil for the Sikhs killed in Wisconsin, held at the South Lake Union Park. I noted with pleasure, that a number of other Muslims were also in attendance and knowing each other, we collected in a small group (we were also slated to speak at the vigil).
One of my friends told me that he had read my Khutba post. I informed him that one Muslim responding to my post said:
- “This gathering is going to take place not far from Kent Masjid: Ideally this masjid should be more involved but, today our Imam wasted our 25 minutes in trying to prove that Music is Haram even if, it is on our the phones or in the background while the news are being read. It looks like our Mullahs are being trained to make issue, non – Issues AND Non-issues, Issues. Is it a conspiracy against Muslims? Walah – o – Alam
I have never seen an Imam discuss 9 /11 in any khutba since the happening of this tragedy.”
My friend told me he had seen it and we both laughed. I told him that I was at a mosque some time ago, for Friday prayer and the Imam spent the entire time, informing the congregation that the trouser-cuff must be so many inches above the ankle for a good Muslim. At another time, one Imam’s sermon was about how long the beard of a Muslim must be.
My friend told me it was not quite such a simple matter and that Khutbas must be of a certain kind or, the audience loses them; if one tries to be different, then the audience does not listen so, it is better to deliver a khutba about trouser-cuffs being so many inches above the ankle and beards being so long, because the audience will understand them and receive them better.
We were at a vigil, so I did not wish to make an argument about it but I was aghast; Is this the trend in Islam? to deliver vacuous, bland khutbas that take people deeper into ignorant conservatism?
I tried to imagine a similar conversation between our prophet Mohammed (saw) and the angel Gabriel during an early revelation:
- (Gabriel): “O Mohammed, you must tell your people that it is a sin to bury female children alive when they are born, that God sends ALL his creation as blessings to their parents”.
(Mohammed): “O Gabriel, I respect what you said and I am but a slave of God, but let us reconsider this commandment. Do we really want to send this message?
I mean, these people have been killing their female children at birth for centuries, if we tell them to stop doing this, we may lose them. How about an easier message, one that they will listen to more readily? I mean, how about saying something along the lines that they should not bury their female children alive, but kill them swiftly first and then bury them?
Let us not try to make radical changes in the way these people are conducting their lives or, we might lose our popularity, you know what I mean?”
I wanted to ask my friend how far Islam would have gotten with a populist approach, rather than one that forced people to think and seek change?
Somewhere, over time, it seems to have become more important to gather a goodly crowd to a congregation, than to try to motivate the congregation to pave a better path for itself and for its fellow Muslims.
Somewhere along the road, it became more important to have a large institution, than to have a dedicated, driving institution; it became more important to appease the large-money donors, than to educate the congregation about broad, thoughtful, interpretations of Islam, as opposed to the hide-bound, narrow, non-thought that is showered on far too many congregations these days.
I have heard more motivation sermons during my brief visits to Pakistan, than I have heard here, in the greater Seattle area, over the years.
That is to our shame and to our great loss.