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Monday, December 28, 2009

Does the Friday congregational prayer benefit us?

This is a question that I have been asking myself for many months. Each Friday goes past and it still seems like there was a missed opportunity. 

The real point that I am getting at is how we can benefit from the prayer and most of all, the rest of the day.

Speaking for myself, I seem not to use the day to attain maximum reward. We seem to dither about with trivial matters instead of going to masjid on time (we are not talking about going early!) then we get there in time for the prayer and the final supplication, then we run away like the build is on fire!

Many of us try to squeeze the prayer in our lunch times and leaving early is not possible. One of the real problems of the Jumma’ prayer is the sermon, the khutba. There are very few people giving sermons that help people.

Most sermons fall into these categories:

1) Repeat information - The same info delivered as last week, the week before...

2) Irrelevant information - Disputes that have no relevance in our time.

3) Unqualified instructors - this can occur almost everywhere.

4) Complex information - Information given is too complicated to be understood.

5) Offensive information – people or groups are attacked unnecessarily.

I know of people who attend the prayer and miss the sermon deliberately, so they do not have to hear it. This is really upsetting and depressing to know all these are going on. The sermon should be uplifting and full of glad tidings for the believers. Instead, the opposite is true.

In some Masjids we have endless set of names that have given monies and request supplication. This is part of the times we live but can the amounts be omitted to save time?

One of the best sermons that I heard was from an Imam who has now passed away. Even though it was seven ago, I still remember the words that he said. He talked about how the media were attacking Muslims by accusing them of forcing a way of life into western lands. He spoke very passionately and eloquently about how this was the same refrain that the pagan Meccans used. He spoke mainly in Urdu but gave the meanings in English and Arabic. As the people in the masjid were either Pakistani or Arab. So no one was left out and everyone got something. We were praying in the spaces inbetween the feet of those infront of us. But never since that time I  have heard a better sermon. 

Allah (the Exalted) sent every Prophet on the tongue of the people. But masjid committees are not bothered about the Quran so they suffice with their native language which excludes everyone who does not understand.

One of the things that I find really strange, after prayer, is when you see people supplicating to Allah (Ta'ala) and they are looking around at the people moving about. I wonder if we were talking to someone directly and we kept moving our heads looking side to side, would they not get annoyed? I would and this is Allah (ta'ala) who we are asking for forgiveness. It seems so insincere to me.

What is the cure?

The sermon should be uplifting, eloquent and concise. Full of inspiring information that infuses the attendant. There should be no attacks on people or on groups unless it is about a tribulation that becomes common knowledge and not an issue that only a few of the audience can understand.

The time of the prayer should be when the most people can attend as sometimes 2pm is a little late! The speaker needs to be able to speak English (or the common language of the area) if he cannot then other Imams should assist him on a rota basis. It should contain some practical information that the attendant can take away with them.

Concerning the individual

We should try to bathe on Friday this means after true dawn, clean ourselves up by trimming and shaving. Imam Ghazali recommends that people begin preparing for the Friday prayer on Thursday. One of the amazing habits of the Moroccans was that they attend the masjid early and recite the Quran together for over two hours before the sermon. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) recommended reading Surah the Cave (Surah eighteen).

We should be attentive when listening to the sermon and be silent. No one should be speaking or causing some sort of distraction that can draw the attention to him and not the speaker. I used to get annoyed when I saw  this but now it does not bother me. Why? because no one is listening. It is disliked to say anything when the Imam is speaking and its disliked to tell people to be quiet. When are we going to change?

We hope this benefits people and provides food for thought.

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