Friday sermons for the faithful

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As I make my way to the mosque for Friday prayers, I often find myself wondering what the sermon of the day will be. The topics of recent times have not been inspiring enough and I must admit that I have found myself becoming increasingly dissatisfied with some of the topics the khateeb (preacher) has chosen to dwell upon.

I am sure that other readers would agree that repetitive sermons on historical incidents, while being informative, do not necessarily address the real-time issues facing us collectively in this country. And besides, there are plenty of well-researched books on religious history that provide a much more thorough analysis.

Nor am I interested in hearing about the goings-on in the Middle East or anywhere else on this planet in the mosque. We have live TV and other organs of the media for that, and they are often descriptive enough to leave any questions unanswered. And along those lines, I do not want our preachers to dwell on the ills of the East or the West, when we have plenty of our own to contend with.

I would, on the other hand, welcome sermons that focus on subjects that residents of this country have to contend with in their everyday life, such as social and civic responsibilities that seem to have been either ignored or forgotten.

I would like to hear a preacher address the evils of corruption and neglect of duty, especially among those in the civil sectors whose duty is to provide efficient service to their customers. While our media often carries such news, very little about such ills on which our religion has a clear stand is addressed in the mosque.

The rights of workers are another theme that I would like to see more preachers dwell on during their speeches. There are many examples of the righteous and humane treatment of those under our guardianship in Islam, and these must be hammered out, week in and week out, to get the message across to some of those who continue with their abuse.

The respect for law and order is a theme that has to be weekly stressed to an undisciplined crowd. Many just pay lip service by nodding their heads during such sermons, only to be observed flinging trash out of their car windows once they have left the mosque.

The protection and cleanliness of our environment is another area our religious scholars should emphasize. A drive around the city makes it clear that this is an area of concern that should be brought up during Friday sermons. Those whose actions pollute the environment should be alerted to the evil of such habits.

Our propensity to promise but to fail to deliver and our lack of discipline and ethics in the workplace should be another topic for our preachers to expand upon. Our lack of respect for traffic laws or for queues should be another subject of discussion. It is Islamic to respect one another in such situations, and yet how often do we actually observe people doing so?

Tolerance of one another, regardless of faith or background, is another teaching of Islam. It could be a focus of such talks by preachers who should be thinking out of their box of tried and true and age-old sermons.

And while we are at it, I would like to see translated copies of such preaching distributed to those attending sermons whose understanding of Arabic is limited. A glance around any mosque during Friday prayers makes it clear that a sizeable percentage of the attendees are expatriates. Copies of sermons in Hindi, Bangla, Malayalam, Indonesian, English, Filipino, and other languages would facilitate a better understanding of Islam and its virtues among expatriates.

Preachers should understand that those who attend Friday prayers come from all walks of life and from various professions. Friday congregations, when the majority of the people in this country have their ears tuned to the exhorting of the pulpit, should thus be more tailored to addressing such present-day issues.

With such a captive audience, it would be a shame not to take full advantage of the situation.

— The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena


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