Friday sermon and non-Arabs


Makkah newspaper

THE purpose of the Friday sermon is to teach Muslim faithful good morals and advise them to adhere to the teachings of the Shariah including what it has enjoined and what is has forbidden.

In Arab countries, especially in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, there are a substantial number of non-Arabic speaking expatriates. These foreigners find it very difficult to understand the teachings of Islam by listening to the Friday sermon because of the language barrier.

Any communication between the prayer leader and his audience is not taking place here because the sermon is made in Arabic. As a result the purpose of the sermon is not realized with regard of non-Arab expats who are thus unable to understand the God-given rules and regulations, which have been clearly explained in religious texts.

Now let me ask: What is the purpose of non-Arabic speakers going to mosque on Friday if the sermon is delivered in Arabic? They will not be able to understand what the imam says in his speech. Some of them may have a limited knowledge of Arabic and their Islamic awareness may be limited.

We must put ourselves in their place to know the enormity of the problem. We understand that non-Arab expats have the rights and duties like we have to learn the religion and know the boundaries set by the Shariah. There is no difference between us and the expats when it comes to religion because all of us are equal before Allah.

Therefore we have to find the ways and means to help expats attending Friday prayers understand what the imam says in his sermon. We have a good example from the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who asked Zaid Bin Thabit to learn Hebrew to communicate with the Jews and even to read Jewish texts to the Prophet.

Our imams can utilize modern technology with the permission of the learned scholars. Islamic teachings do not stand in the way of using modern inventions and advanced communication tools to help people understand Islamic teachings

If our scholars adopted a positive decision in this respect it would help non-Arabic speaking expatriates understand the religion to a great extent. It would also help strengthen the relations between Saudi Arabia and non-Arab Muslim countries.

In short, non-Arab expats cannot understand Friday sermon, which is delivered in Arabic, and it is essential to find a solution to this problem with the support of modern technology.

One way is to display the translation of the sermon on big screens inside the mosque. This will contribute to achieving the desired goal of conveying the teachings of Islam to non-Arab expats who come to the mosques for Friday prayers.

The translation can be provided in different languages including English, Hindi, Urdu, Tagalog and Indonesian, depending on the number of people attending the prayers from each community.

We can also establish a website to publish sermons from different mosques across the country in advance. This will enable expats to read the translation of sermons before going to the mosque for the prayer.

This system will undoubtedly increase the number of people who benefit from Friday sermons. This will not only make the Friday sermon diverse but also increase the number of listeners. Moreover, the Friday sermons would have greater impact on society.