Dear khateebs:

  1. Say “sisters” as well as “brothers.” I promise no one will get aroused.
  2. Review your khutbah before delivery: If it is all 30 minutes of negative feedback, at least insert some positive notes. Take out at least some of the contempt and the shaming. People naturally try to avoid retaining negative feedback. If you want people to actually change their behavior, try positive notes. Today I heard someone spend 30 minutes assuming the worst of all his listeners in relation to how we use time.
  3. If your textual references are all so elevated as to be unrelatable for ordinary people, try inserting some accessible notes. Try mentioning stuff that can be put into practice. Contextual religiosity is something people can take with them. Otherwise it’s just pious shame that results in nothing. For instance, today a man exhorted attendees to drive 100mph in order to be in the front row at the masjid, promising that they wouldn’t get a speeding ticket. Also, try varying references to the Companions if they are all of this kind:
  • Khalid ibn Waleed saying bismillah illadhi … and drinking poison, and remaining healthy;
  • a sahabi hearing the Prophet say sit and then refuse to stand up because he never heard the Prophet say stand afterward;
  • Ibraheem (AS) leaving his family in the desert.

We have kids in the musalla; we’ve got people wondering whether they should be drinking poison. Maybe try piloting your khutba before delivering it.

4. Here in the U.S., please translate Arabic words. I kept having to tell my kid what you were saying.

5. Don’t shame people across the board for not being eager to attend lengthy Friday prayers. Not everyone has the leisure and freedom to attend lengthy prayer services. Some people have responsibilities. And by the way, some attendees may be physically unable to attend long prayers; some may not be able to retain their wudu. So exhort people, yes, to enjoy the benefits of leisurely prayer when they are able, but don’t assume that they are just bad and lazy if they don’t.

2 thoughts on “Dear khateebs:”

  1. You’ve hit the nail on the head on all points! I’ve always heard only doom and gloom types speak …. In a world full of doom & gloom news … It’s paralyzing!

    1. It really is. The important thing is – it produces zero change. Entire khutbahs based on disapproving shaking of heads.

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