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The Ruling on Translating Khuṭbahs into Other Languages

  Shaykh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn ʿAbdullāh ibn Bāz

An important clarification about khuṭbahs, translations and the languages they are delivered in.

bismallah

  

  If the aim of conveying knowledge and Islamic teaching to the people can only be achieved among non-Arabs by translating the khuṭbahs into their languages, then the view that it is permissible to translate the khuṭbah into the prevalent language of the audience so that they may understand what is being said takes precedence and should be followed, especially if not translating the khuṭbahs will lead to conflicts and arguments. Undoubtedly translating the khuṭbah in such a case becomes essential to serve the people’s interests and avoid mischief.
Shaykh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn ʿAbdullāh ibn Bāz

 

Some of the scholars said that it is not permitted to translate the khuṭbah given from the minbar on Friday and the two Eids into foreign (non-al-ʿArabīc) languages. Their intention (may Allāh have mercy on them) was to maintain and preserve the al-ʿArabīc language, and to follow the way of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his companions (may Allāh be pleased with them), which was to give the khuṭbah in al-ʿArabīc in the lands of the Persians and others, and to encourage the people to learn al-ʿArabīc and pay attention to it.

Other scholars said that it is permissible to translate khuṭbahs into other languages if most of the people being addressed do not know al-ʿArabīc, based on the reason for which Allāh enjoined the khuṭbah, which is to teach the people about the rulings that Allāh has prescribed for them and to tell them of the sins which are forbidden, to guide them towards good characteristics and to warn them against bad characteristics. Undoubtedly paying attention to the aims and purposes is more important and takes precedence over paying attention to the words used, especially when the audience does not understand al-ʿArabīc and the khuṭbah does not have any effect on them and does not motivate them to learn al-ʿArabīc. (Especially in these times when the Muslims have fallen behind and others have advanced, and the language of the dominant people has become widespread and the language of the defeated is in a weaker position).

If the aim of conveying knowledge and Islamic teaching to the people can only be achieved among non-Arabs by translating the khuṭbahs into their languages, then the view that it is permissible to translate the khuṭbah into the prevalent language of the audience so that they may understand what is being said takes precedence and should be followed, especially if not translating the khuṭbahs will lead to conflicts and arguments. Undoubtedly translating the khuṭbah in such a case becomes essential to serve the people’s interests and avoid mischief.

If there are some people in the congregation who do understand al-ʿArabīc, then the khaṭīb should comibne the two languages, giving the khuṭbah in al-ʿArabīc then repeating it in the other language which the other people understand. In this manner he will achieve the two purposes, avoiding mischief and conflict among the people whom he is addressing.

 There is a great deal of evidence to support that in the pure sharīʿah, such as the āyah (interpretation of the meaning):

 “And We sent not a Messenger except with the language of his people, in order that he might make (the Message) clear for them.” [Ibrāhīm 14:4]

And the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) commanded Zayd ibn Thābit to learn the language of the Jews so that he might send letters to them in their language and establish proof against them, and so that he might read their letters when they were sent, and explain to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) what they said. And when the Ṣaḥābah (may Allāh be pleased with them) attacked the Romans and Persians, they did not fight them until they had called them to Islām by means of interpreters. When they conquered the foreign countries they called the people to Allāh in al-ʿArabīc and commanded the people to learn it. Whoever among them did not know al-ʿArabīc, they called him in his own language and made him understand what was meant in the language that he did understand. Thus proof was established. Undoubtedly this is the only way, especially at the end of time when Islām is like a stranger and every people is clinging to its own language. There is a very real need for translation now, and the dāʿīyah cannot convey his message without it.

The khaṭīb should do that which best suits the interests of the people he is addressing. If the best is to give the khuṭbah part by part, in al-ʿArabīc and then translated, then he should do that. If the best is to translate the entire khuṭbah, after giving the khuṭbah (in al-ʿArabīc) or after the prayer, then he should do that. And Allāh knows best.

Shaykh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Ibn Bāz (raḥimahullāh)

Fatāwá al-Lajnah al-Dāʿimah, 8/251-255

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Tags: Fatāwá, Ibn Bāz , Khuṭbah

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