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Is it acceptable to translate the Jumuah Khutbah, from Arabic to any language or not?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

Jumuáh Khutbah ? unlike ordinary lectures ? the Jumuáh Khutbah holds a special position in Islam hence the necessity for it being delivered in the Arabic language. Its importance is recorded in the books of Fiqh. One such quotation reads, ‘There is no doubt in the fact that the Khutbah in a language other than Arabic is contrary to the Sunnah transmitted from Nabi (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) and the Sahaaba (Radhiallaahu Ánhum).

Therefore, to deliver the Khutbah in any language other than Arabic is strictly forbidden. (Umdatur Ridaaya, footnote Sharah Wiqaayah vol. 1 p. 200)

The question may arise that in many parts of the world (apart from Arab countries), the congregation for Jumuáh do not understand Arabic. It should be understood that the Khutbah is not a lecture ? it is a Dhikr. Allah Taãla says in the Noble Qurãn, ‘?Hasten towards the Dhikr of Allah?’ (Jumuáh 9)

Therefore, the validity of Jumu’ah does not depend upon that audience understanding the Khutbah. Furthermore, the Khutbah is from the Shaãir of Islam (salient features of Islam). Like Hajj, Éid-ul-Adhaa and the Adhaan, the Jumuáh Khutbah too is from the distiguished symbols of Islam, hence, the added emphasis on maintaining it in the manner it was carried out during the lifetime of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam). It is of utmost importance to maintain the Shaãir of Islam in their original form so that its beauty can become manifest throughout the world. Can you imagine the Adhaan called out in any other language? It would not be called Adhaan, neither would it qualify for Adhaan.

Similarly, the Jumuáh Khutbah, if delivered in Arabic ? the official language of Islam ? will make manifest the essence of Islam. Hereunder is a brief view of the four Imaams regarding the topic under discussion:

1. Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal ? the Khutbah is incorrect in any other language but Arabic, and only if no one present knows Arabic or no one can read it then only will it be permissible in another language.

2. Imaam Muhammad bin Idris Shaafée ? it is a pre-requisite that the beginnings of both Khutbahs be in Arabic. If a person who knows Arabic cannot be found then at least one Aayat of the Qurãn be recited and if this too is not possible then some Tasbeeh or Dhikr (in Arabic) be mentioned.

3. Imaam Maaliki bin Anas bin Maaliki ? it is a condition that the Khutbah be delivered in Arabic despite the people being non-Arabs. If anyone in the audience cannot speak Arabic or read Arabic, then Jumuáh will fall off and they would have to read Dhuhr Salaat instead of Jumuáh. (Fiqh álal Madhaahibil Arba’)

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

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This answer was collected from Askimam.org, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.