Non-scholars delivering sermons and lectures.

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by DarulUloomTT.net

Q. Many Masjids allows non scholars to give the Friday sermon and at times lectures on Islamic topics; by non scholars I clearly mean someone who is not trained or qualified in Islamic prudence etc. In my humble view and limited knowledge I believe that this act is unacceptable. If yes, can you please advise or give guidance on this matter, if possible providing some proof for verifying this decision? If it is not viewed or considered wrong can you also provide some form of explanation as to why not?

A. In our view, it is not proper that non-scholars deliver lectures on Islamic topics for Friday sermons and other Islamic lectures. Those who are not trained in the Islamic sciences normally make a number of mistakes which at times, mislead the innocent Muslims. From our experience, we see that unqualified people who go about giving lectures/sermons etc. read articles written by different authors, and accept information from the net, without verifying the truth and acceptability of these articles. Sometimes they read according to their own understanding, which at times contradict the accepted ‘understanding’ of Islamic laws, Quranic verses, ahadith and opinions of the great scholars. The Holy Quran categorically states that the job of warning and providing teachings to the Muslims is given to those who have studied and gained a proper understanding of Islam. In this regard Allah says, ‘And it is not for the believers to go out to fight all together. Of every troop of them, a group should go forth in order to achieve the understanding of religion (Islam), so that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may refrain from wrong doings. (Sura At Taubah(9) verse 122).

In the above verse, Allah advised the Muslims that all of them should not go out in defense of Islam by stopping the enemies of Islam from their mischief and evil deeds. Instead, there must always be groups of Muslims who will go out in search of knowledge, to get the proper understanding of Islam. When they have achieved this, their task will be to return back to their communities and preach the religion of Islam. The verse therefore shows that in order to preach Islam to the people, one is required to firstly go out in search for knowledge, and then after having received a proper understanding, he may go on to preach the deen of Islam. It is to emphasize this same point that Imam Bukhari wrote a specific chapter under the heading. ‘The chapter that (seeking) knowledge comes before speech and practice’ (Saheeh Al Bukhari vol. 1 pg. 16 (Arabic text).

While commenting on the above ‘Chapter’ of Sahih Al Bukhari, the great scholar, Hafiz Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani (AR) writes, ‘Ibn Al Muneer states that through this chapter, Imam Bukhari wishes to show that knowledge is a condition for the soundness of speech and action. So both of these will not be given any consideration, except, that they are with knowledge. Knowledge therefore, is an antecedent and is a fundamental requirement for speech and actions’ (Fathul Baari Commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari vol. 1 pg.212).

The gist of this answer is that when it comes to discussing or speaking on matters of Islam, as in khutbahs, lectures etc., only the qualified ones in Islamic sciences should be taken.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan

This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.