Why have Friday sermons failed to make Muslims better human beings?

We Muslims must have heard hundreds, if not thousands, of Friday sermons in our lives, but these sermons have not made us better people.

Fahd Al-Ahmadi


We Muslims must have heard hundreds, if not thousands, of Friday sermons in our lives, but these sermons have not made us better people. Why have we not become the best and most honest people on earth? After all, we have heard countless sermons recounting the virtues of honesty and Islamic ethics.

I asked these questions on Twitter and WhatsApp before writing this article. Some respondents attributed the reasons for this to the imam’s failure to deliver the sermon in the right way. They agreed that most imams of mosques view the Friday sermon as a task they must perform, not as a mission to reform members of the general public.

Some respondents said that the majority of sermons are taken from old religious books and that they do not relate to today’s life. Others called upon imams to adopt a more creative public speaking style. A group put the blame on the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and accused it of choosing the wrong imams. Some said most imams are not honest and that they do not practice what they preach.

All these answers are important and should not be ignored if we want to understand the reasons why the majority of us have not changed for the better although we have listened to hundreds of Friday sermons.

The reason I asked these questions is because the Saudi people are very productive when it comes to writing sermons. They also listen to a lot to sermons of all types. Unfortunately, the sermons do not seem to have had a positive effect on their personalities.

In fact, this is also true of other Muslim communities around the world. It is a sad thing that the Islamic countries are the most corrupt, the poorest, the most racist, and the most discriminatory. If you want  proof of this, then just look at the statistics issued by Transparency International, the World Bank, UNICEF, and Reporters Without Borders.

So, why is it that we, who listen to a lot of sermons, lag behind much less religious people in other countries like Japan and the Scandinavian countries, who hardly ever listen to sermons?

I think one reason is that we have failed to enforce ethics by enacting laws and making them obligatory for everyone. For example, a sermon on honesty and integrity might not deter an official from stealing public funds. What will prevent him from doing that is punishment and the fear of being named and shamed publicly, not sermons. Some of us do not have strong faith and are prone to engaging in negative practices. Sermons can be effective but they cannot eradicate such negative practices. Only laws and regulations can do so.