Khutbah (Arabic: (خطبة "khuṭbah")) serves as the primary formal occasion for public preaching in the Islamic tradition. Such sermons occur regularly, as prescribed by the teachings of all legal schools, at the "dhuhr" (noon) congregation prayer on Friday. In addition, similar sermons are called for on the two festival days, or in response to an eclipse or excessive drought."Khutba", "Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World"]

Origins and definition

Religious oratory (including sermons) may be pronounced in a variety of settings and at various times. The "khutbah", however, refers to "khutbat al-jum�a", usually meaning the address delivered in the mosque at weekly and annual rituals. Other religious oratory and occasions of preaching are described as "dars" (a lesson) or "waz" (an admonition), and their formats differ accordingly.

The "khutbah" originates from the practice of the prophet Muhammad, who used to deliver words of exhortation, instruction, or command at gatherings for worship in the mosque, which comprised of the courtyard of his house in Medina. Though khutba is not mentioned by name in the Qur'an, one passage explicitly alludes to the Friday noon prayer, and summons believers to "dhikr Allah" (meaning “the remembrance of God”) [62:9] . This is understood to be anexpression that some commentators have regarded as denoting the sermon.

After the takeover of Mecca, Muhammad presented himself as a khatib to the city in AD 630. The first four caliphs, and the Ummayads caliphs and provincial governors all delivered Sermons. There were not necessarily exhortatory, but addressed practical questions of government and sometimes even included direct orders. Under the Abbasids, the caliph himself no longer preached, but assigned the task to the religious judges. The Abbasids insisted they were clearing Islam of the secularism of the Umayads, and this probably helped in strengthening the religious aspect of the Sermon. ["Khutba", "Students' Britannica India", p.236]


At the beginning of the service the "adhan" is given, during which the "k̲h̲aṭīb" (the individual who delivers the khutbah) remains sitting. The "iqama" is given when the "k̲h̲aṭīb" descends. The Sermon is delivered in two parts. Both parts are delivered while "khatib" is standing and punctuated by a pause in between them when the "k̲h̲aṭīb" sits down. During the sermon itself, it is obligatory to pronounce the following:
*the "hamdala", or an expression to praise Allah and show gratitude towards Him; saying "al-hamdu li'llāh" "Praise belongs to Allāh" at the beginning of the Sermon is usually sufficient, ["Ḥamdala", "Encyclopaedia of Islam"]
*the ṣalāt on the Prophet,
*recitation of a part of the Qur'an in the first part of the Sermon or, according to some doctors, in both,
*admonitions to piety in both parts of the Sermon,
*and "duʿā" (prayer) on behalf of the faithful.

The "k̲h̲aṭīb" must be in a state of ritual purity; his dress must be in accord with the prescriptions. It is commendable for the "k̲h̲aṭīb" to be on a pulpit or an elevated place; to salute the congregation when directing himself towards them; to sit down until the adhan is pronounced by the muʾad̲h̲d̲h̲in; and to direct himself straightway to his audience. Finally the "k̲h̲aṭīb" should make the Sermon short."Khutba", "Encyclopaedia of Islam"]

In medieval Islam, Sermons were generally delivered in classical Arabic. This linguistic requirement that required substantial training on the part of the "khatib", and a notable degree of education on the part of listeners, especially non-Arab Muslims. This expectation contributed to the growth of a literary genre consisting of model sermons, such as those by the renowned ibn Nubata (d. 984). Later on, however, preaching in colloquial languages, while often retaining certain Arabic expressions, has become increasingly common.


One of the conditions for the validity of the Friday service is that it must be preceded by two sermons. The sermons are delivered when the number of auditors required for a valid "j̲umu‘a" are present.

Traditionally, as instructed in classical Islamic legal treatises, Friday congregational prayers in which Sermons were delivered were restricted to urban centers and normally to one major mosque in each city. Such a mosque is referred to as a "masjid jami‘", that is, a "Friday Mosque" (or a "cathedral mosque"). These mosques were distinguished by their central location, large dimensions, monumental architecture, symbolic furnishings indicative of its exalted stature, and, the most demonstrative of all, the "minbar" (ritual pulpit).

In contemporary times, Friday congregational prayers with Sermons are common in mosques of all sizes and conditions, and not just restricted to a few central locations. Sermons are also dispensed through newspapers and broadcast on radio and television.

pecial occasions

Sermons on special occasions generally contain features that are relevant to the celebrations or the natural phenomena at whose arrival they are delivered. For instance, on Eid al-Fitr, the preacher is has a duty to instruct the faithful congregation concerning the zakat, or almsgiving. On Eid al-Adha the preacher includes remarks specifying the rules for the sacrifice.

There is a slight difference in the Sermon delivered on Eid. The sermon's first part must open with nine takbīrs, the second part with seven. The Sermon may also be pronounced while sitting. Regarding the Sermons delivered during an eclipse or excessive drought, classical texts advise that such sermons must admonish the audience and ask God's forgiveness. Usually the verse 9 of Sūra LXVI is also recited and a special prayer called "Muḥammad's du'a"ʾ is said.

One major difference between the Sermon delivered on special occasions and that delivered every Friday is that in the former the Salat precedes the Sermon, while in the latter the Salat comes after.

overeign's name

In the pre-modern Middle East, the mention of a ruler's name in the sermon was one of the two prerogatives of sovereignty (the other being the right to mint coins). Mentioning meant accepting the sovereignty and suzerainty of a ruler. Omitting the name of a ruler from the sermon was like publicly declaring independence. This prerogative of sovereignty was introduced by Islam, not present in the pre-Islamic era. In addition, the sermon, a major vehicle of communication, also announced the deposition of a ruler, the accession of a ruler, nomination of an heir, and the beginning and end of a war. [Lewis p. 82-5]

Related concept

Abu-al-Faraj ibn Al-Jawzi writes in his "Ru'ūs al-Qawārīr" of a similar concept also called "khutbah". Also referred to by the same name as the Sermon, this concept was different. Its primary purpose was not to admonish, instruct or reprove, but rather to exalt and praise God. It invited others to worship and celebrate God's greatness. Ibn al-Jawzi employed a variety of metaphors and alluded to nature frequently. [Hovannisian, p. 41-3]

ee also

*Nahj al Balagha



*Gaffney, Patrick D. "Khutba." "Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World". Edited by Martin, Richard C. Macmillan Reference, 2004. vol. 1 p. 394. 20 April 2008
*Hoiberg, Dale; Ramchandani, Indu. "Student's Britannica India". Popular Prakashan, 2000.
*Hovannisian, Richard G; Sabagh, Georges. "Religion and Culture in Medieval Islam". Cambridge University Press, 2000.
*Lewis, Bernard. "From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East". Oxford University Press, 2004.
*Wensinck, A.J. "Encyclopaedia of Islam". Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis , C.E. Bosworth , E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2008. Brill Online. 20 April 2008

External links

* []
* [ Lectures (Audio and Video) : Light Upon Light]
* [ A collection of Khutbas]
* [ A collection of written, audio and video of Friday Khutbahs]

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