Is it preferable to give a talk in the local language followed by two Arabic sermons or should one only give the Arabic sermon?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate,
The purpose of the Friday sermon (Khutba) is to be a reminder and admonishment for the Believers.
Allah Most High says, “O believers! When the call to prayer is made on Friday, then proceed ˹diligently˺ to the remembrance of Allah and leave off ˹your˺ business. That is best for you if only you knew.” [Qur’an; 62:09]
The remembrance of Allah referred to in the above verse means the Friday sermon (khutba).
Language of the Sermon
For the above reason, it is best to give a reminder that the congregation can understand and go on to implement this. This can be done either by giving a talk prior to the actually Arabic sermon or by giving the sermon in the local language.
It is permissible to perform the Friday sermon in any language even if one is able to give it in Arabic. [Tahtawi/Shurunbulali, Hashiyat Maraqi al-Falah]
Differences of Opinion
There does exist a valid difference of opinion on this issue. There are some who adopt a more strict position.
For this reason, we put this question to Shaykh Hassan al-Hindy, one of the leading Hanafi jurists in our times, and he gave the following guidance.
According to Imam Abu Hanifa, the sermon is valid by anything that can be linguistically referred to as a remembrance/reminder (dhikr). Thus, saying al-Hamdu lillah or the like suffices. If the imam says in Arabic a remembrance of this type and then goes on to give the rest of the sermon in another language, this is sufficient for the validity of the sermon.
The students of Imam Abu Hanifa took the sermon to be valid with the minimum that would be considered a sermon, which would be fulfilled by the recitation of some verses of Qur’an or an admonishment of sorts.
With both of these opinions in mind, if the one giving the sermon opens or closes their talk with the praise of Allah and the recitation of some verses or a short admonishment in Arabic, the sermon is valid according to all.
It is up to the discretion of the mosque to have the Friday sermon either fully in Arabic, in Arabic with a separate talk beforehand, or to have the sermon in the local language.
All of these three choices are valid. However, one should keep in mind the purpose of the sermon and the importance of that reminder for the congregants. Also, one should take care that the one giving the sermon mentions some Arabic remembrance or some verses of the Qur’an so as to get out of the differences of opinion mentioned above.
Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a graduate from Tarim; a student of Habib Umar and other luminaries; and authorized teachers of the Qur’an and the Islamic sciences