Customs and Rituals

What are Muslim sermons like?

An address called the khutba (pronounced KHUTbah) is a standard feature of every Friday congregational prayer service. Members of the congregation sit on the floor while the preacher stands near the niche (mihrab) or ascends a few steps of a pulpit called the minbar (pronounced MINbar). In larger, more established mosques, the Imam generally delivers the sermon on Fridays at the early afternoon congregational prayer. But either the Imam or some other adult might also offer some reflections at other times when smaller groups gather for salat. Speakers have a wide range of appropriate topics from which to choose. High on the list are ethical concerns such as social responsibility, the need for parents to take an active part in their children’s education, and speaking out in public venues about problems that need attention from concerned citizens. Speakers might also choose any of scores of devotional themes, such as cultivating one’s relationship with God, or the need to set aside time for personal reading and reflection on the Qur’an. Preachers often tailor their sermons to a specific religious season, especially during Ramadan and pilgrimage season. Encouragement during the month-long fast is always helpful and welcome. Scripture naturally plays a major part in sermons, and preachers generally cite Hadiths along with Qur’anic texts to illustrate their themes. Sermons vary in length from five or ten minutes to perhaps a half hour for special occasions.

Faithful entering a mosque in Tangier, Morocco.


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