Explanation of the Prophet’s
Opening Sermon

(Khutbatu al-Haajah)

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Assalamu Alaikum

Our Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him (PBUH), always opened his public speeches with khutbatu al-haajah (the sermon of necessity). He (PBUH) also advised his companions to do the same, and this tradition has carried on until today where many Muslims open their speeches and writings with khutbatu al-haadjah. It is called the sermon of necessity because one may ask something from Allaah, subhaanahu wa t’aala, after reciting it such as is the case during a wedding ceremony.

While this sermon is relatively short, it packs a lot of wisdom and therefore it is important that a Muslim understands the messages it conveys and their relevance to our daily lives

The Text of The Sermon

Below you will find the text of khutbatu al-haajah[1] in both Arabic and English.

إن الحمد لله نحمده و نستعينه و نستغفره و نعود بالله من شرور أنفسنا و من سيئات أعمالنا، من يهديه الله فلا مضل له و من يضلل فلا هادي له و أشهد ان لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له و أشهد ان محمد عبده و رسوله۔

﴿يَا أيّهُا الَّذِينَ ٱمَنُوا اتَّقوا اللهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَ لَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا و أنتُم مُّسلِمُون﴾ [ٱل عمران١٠٢]

﴿يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاءً وَاتَّقُوا اللهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ إِنَّ اللهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا﴾ [النساء١]

﴿يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا يُصْلِحْ لَكُمْ أَعْمَالَكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَمَن يُطِعِ اللهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ فَازَ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا﴾ [الأحزاب ٧١-٧٠]

أما بعد، فإن خير الحديث كتاب الله و خير الهدي هدي محمد صلى الله عليه و سلم، و شرالأمور محدثاتها، و كل محدثة بدعة، و كل بدعة ضلالة، و كل ضلالة في النار

All hamd is due to Allaah. We praise Him, seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allaah from the evil of our souls, and the adverse consequences of our deeds. Whomsoever Allaah guides cannot be misguided, and whomsoever Allaah leads astray cannot be guided.

I bear witness and testify that there is god that is worthy of worship except for Allaah, alone without any partners or peers. I further witness and testify that Muhammad (PBUH) is his slave and messenger.

”O you who believe! Have taqwa of Allaah, as He alone deserves, and die not except in a state of Islaam.” [Surat: Aal-Imraan 3:102]

* * *

”O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single soul, and from it He created its mate, and from them He dispersed many men and women; and have taqwa of Allah through Whom you demand your mutual rights, and do not sever the ties of kinship. Indeed, Allaah is Ever-Watchful over you.”
[Surat: an-Nisaa’a 4:1]

* * *

”O you who believe! Have taqwa in Allaah, and speak righteous speech. He will direct you to do righteous deeds and will forgive your sins. And whosoever obeys Allaah and His Messenger (SAW) he has indeed achieved a great victory.” [al-Ahzaab 51:79-71]

To proceed, the best speech is the Book of Allaah, and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (PBUH). And the worst of affairs (in our religion) are the unauthentic invented matters, for every innovation is a bidah, and every bidah is a misguidance, and every misguidance is in the hell fire.

Explanation of Khutbatu al-Haajah

First Paragraph

The Prophet (PBUH) starts his speech by stating “al-Hamd is due to Allaah.” Historically, the word Arabic al-hamd has been translated into English as either praise or thanks. Both of these substitutes are inaccurate when it comes to highlighting the importance of the word al-hamd.

While al-hamd encapsulates thanks and praise it also signifies boundless gratitude for the One who posses The Best Names and Attributes, and the Sole Provider to mankind for His enumerable favors and bounties. None other than Allaah deserve al-hamd, while it is possible to thank of praise humans. al-Imaam Ibn Katheer makes a clear distinction between thanks and al-hamd in his tafseer:

“al-Hamd is more general, in that it is a statement of praise for one’s characteristics, or for what one has done. Thanks are given for what was done only.”[2]

The Virtues of al-Hamd

There are numerous narrations and Quraanic verses related to the virtues of giving our hamd to Allaah. We will list a couple below.

Jaabir bin Abdullah narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said:

The best dhikr (remembering Allaah) is Laa ilaha illa Allaah (no god but Allaah,) and the best du’aa (supplication) is al-hamd lil’ Allah. [Recorded by at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasaa’i, and Ibn Maajah.]

Anas ibn Maalik narrated that the Messenger of Allaah (PBUH) said:

No servant is blessed by Allaah and says ‘al-hamd lil’ Allaah’ except that what he has given is better than which he has himself acquired. [Collected by Ibn Maajah 2:1250]

Finally, most of you are aware that Allaah subhanahu wa taa’la opened surat al-Faatihah by: “al-hamd lil’ Allaah Rabb al-alameen…” (All hamd is due to Allaah, the Rabb of the worlds). The opening chapter of the Quraan is known as Umm Al-Kitaab (the mother of the Book), it encapsulates the meanings of the entire Quraan. Furthermore, it was recoreded by at-Tirmidhi that the Prophet (PBUH) said concerning the status of Al-Faatihah:

“By Him in Whose Hand is my soul! Allaah has never revealed in the Tawrah, the Injeel, the Zabur, or the Furqaan a surah like it (surat Al-Faatihah). It is the seven repeated verses that I was given.”

So if Allaah, subhanahu wa taa’la, chose to open His Quraan with al hamd, it further signifies its importance, and why every Muslim should understand its meaning.

Then he (PBUH) said: “(we) seek His help and forgiveness.” The first part of this statement is also present in surat al-Faatihah and it is the Muslims’ proclamation that they have no power over their affairs because all affairs are controlled by Allaah, subhanahu wa taa’la alone. This is what is known as Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah (the singularity of Lordship,) a key concept in Islaam which we will discuss in detail in subsequent lectures, insh’Allah.

Similarly, we seek Allaah’s forgiveness since He is the only one who can forgive one’s sins, contrary to what other religions claim that a human could absolve one from his/her sins. As Allaah, subhanahu wa taa’la, stated:

﴾ وَمَن يَعْمَلْ سُوءًا أَوْ يَظْلِمْ نَفْسَهُ ثُمَّ يَسْتَغْفِرِ اللهَ يَجِدِ اللهَ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا ﴿

[النساء ١١٠]

”And whoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seeks Allaah’s Forgiveness, he will find Allaah Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. [Surat: an-Nisaa’a 4:110]

We ask Allaah, subhanahu wa taa’la, that He, the Most Generous, Most Merciful forgive our wrong-doings and grant us, along with all the Muslims, al-jannah. Ameen.

Then he (PBUH) said: “We seek refuge in Allaah from the evil of our souls, and the adverse consequences of our deeds. Whomsoever Allaah guides cannot be misguided, and whomsoever Allaah leads astray cannot be guided. Whomsoever Allaah guides cannot be misguided, and whomsoever Allaah leads astray cannot be guided.”

Seeking refuge in Allaah from evil is also the servants’ testimony that they posses no power to help themselves, and the innate belief in such helplessness is a key component of our faith. The reason why Allaah asked us to seek refuge in Him form evil is because evil is unrelenting and will continuously try to lead us astray into shirk (polytheism).

In summary, the first paragraph of khutbat al-haajah is a reflection of surat al-Faatiha, as it teaches us the proper etiquette for supplicating to Allaah, subhanahu wa taa’la. We must start by giving hamd to Allaah, subhanahu wa taa’la, then declare our sincere belief and reliance on Him and finally ask what we would like (in this case, just as in surat Al-Faatihah, it was guidance.)

The Second Paragraph

The second paragraph represents the Muslim’s testimony of faith (as-Shahaadah). In it, the Muslim first denounces all other gods as false deity. Then the Muslim proclaims that he/she will worship Allaah alone as the sole God, who is One and has no partners or peers. The second part of as-shahaadah, has the Muslim testify that he/she believes that Muhammad is the prophet of Allaah and that Allaah should be worshiped only according to what the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) brought us though the Quran and his (PBUH) authentic Sunnah.

The Third Paragraph

The third paragraph is composed of four Quraanic verses having a central theme of taqwa. Taqwa is another Arabic word that has been oversimplified when translated into English as fear or reverence. Mujaahid ibn Jabr defined taqwa as: “It is that you obey Allaah, so that He is never disobeyed, and you are conscious of Him, so that He is never forgotten, and that you thank Him, so that he is never disbelieved.”[3]

Ibn Abi Haatim recorded that Abdullaah bin Mas’ood said on taqwa of Allaah: “That He is obeyed and not defied, remembered and not forgotten, and appreciated and not unappreciated”[4]

In the first of four Quranic verses Allaah, subhanahu wa taa’la said:

”O you who believe! Have taqwa of Allaah, as He alone deserves, and die not except in a state of Islaam.” [Surat: Aal-Imraan 3:102]

This noble verse is addressing the believers commanding them to die only in a state of Islaam, which is a complete and peaceful submission to the will of Allaah. Our Prophet (PBUH) is reminding us that no matter which state we live in, Allaah, subhanahu wa taa’la, will resurrect us in the state we die in. Therefore, if we die on Islaam we will be resurrected as Muslims, otherwise we will be resurrected as Kaafirs. Allaah, subhanahu wa taa’la, warned us agaist Shirk when He said:

 إِنَّ اللهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ ﴿
﴾ وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ افْتَرَىٰ إِثْمًا عَظِيمًا

[النساء ٤٨]

”Verily, Allâh forgives not that partners should be associated with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills; and whoever associates partners with Allâh in worship (Shirk), he has indeed invented a tremendous sin.”
[Surat: an-Nisaa’a 4:48]

 

We seek refuge in Allaah from dieing in any other state than Islaam.

Next, the Prophet (PBUH) recited:

”O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single soul, and from it He created its mate, and from them He dispersed many men and women; and have taqwa of Allah through Whom you demand your mutual rights, and do not sever the ties of kinship. Indeed, Allaah is Ever-Watchful over you.” [Surat: an-Nisaa’a 4:1]

In this verse, Allaah reminds us that He is the Creator of this world, by telling us the origins of humans. It is important to note that we must believe, with certainty, that Allaah created mankind by first creating Aadam, then from him He created Hawaa (Eve). This is ayah is the Islaamic refutation of evolution, in terms of the explanation of the origins of human life on earth. It is equally important, that a Muslim not philosophize about how did Allaah create Aadam or Hawaa. We should only say that they were created as Allaah, subhanahu wa taa’la, informed us in the Quraan and His prohpet’s (PBUH) Sunnah.

He, subhanahu wa taa’la, then commands us to to preserve the ties of kinship, which means to preserve our family relations no matter how distant these family members may be.  Finally, Allaah warns us that if we do not obey his commands (by having taqwa of Him and persevering at keeping our family relations intact,) He, subhanahu wa taa’la, is always aware of our actions and intentions. As the authentic hadeeth states:

Worship Allaah as if you see Him, for even though you cannot see Him, He sees you.[5]

To conclude the third paragraph, the prophet (PBUH) recited:

”O you who believe! Have taqwa in Allaah, and speak righteous speech. He will direct you to do righteous deeds and will forgive your sins. And whosoever obeys Allaah and His Messenger (SAW) he has indeed achieved a great victory.”
[Surat: al-Ahzaab 51:79-71]

These noble verses, emphasize that speaking the truth and righteous speech will lead to doing righteous actions, which in turn will wipe out one’s sins, by Allaah’s Will. These verses are of special importance to us, since we must stand up against all the slander against our religion and we are obligated to spread the true message of Islaam. The verses end by reminding the believer that the only way to achieve the greatest victory on this earth (which is entering Jannah) is to obey Allaah and His messenger’s commands by doing what they want us to do and stay away from what they forbade.

The Fourth Paragraph

In the final paragraph, the prophet (PBUH) defines the sources of Islaamic knowledge namely, Allaah’s speech which is the Holy Quran and the Prophet’s (PBUH) collection of authentic accounts, which is the Sunnah.  The Sunnah of our beloved prophet Muhammad (PBUH) came to clarify matters present in the Quran and to expose us to others that were not described in the Quran.

This means that in order to be a complete Muslim, one must gather one’s knowledge from both the Quran and the Sunnah. Belittling either is a form of shirk as Allaah subhanahu wa taa’la said in His Holy Quran:

﴾ قُلْ أَطِيعُوا اللهَ وَالرَّسُولَ فَإِن تَوَلَّوْا فَإِنَّ اللهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْكَافِرِينَ ﴿

[ ٱل عمران ٣٢]

”Say (O Muhammad PBUH): “Obey Allah and the Messenger (Muhammad PBUH).” But if they turn away, then Allah does not like the disbelievers.” [Surat: Aal Imraan 3:32]

﴾ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَلَا تُبْطِلُوا أَعْمَالَكُمْ ﴿

[محمد ٣٣]

”O you who believe! Obey Allâh, and obey the Messenger (Muhammad SAW) and render not vain your deeds.”
[Surat: Muhammad 47:33]

So as you can see from the above-mentioned verses, it is considered shirk to discredit any of the two authentic sources of Islaamic knowledge: the Quraan and the Sunnah.

Finally, the Prophet (PBUH) highlights the most dangerous of matters in our religion, which are unauthentic innovations into the religion or bida’a (single bida’ah). Any aspect of, or act of worship that was not brought by the Prophet (PBUH) is considered an innovation. These innovations no matter how big or small they may be should be condemned because all innovations in the religion lead to the hell fire. We seek refuge in Allah from being innovators in the matters of religion.

Conclusion

This concludes our explanation of khutabat al-haajah. As you can see my dear brother and sister, this short sermon encapsulates some of the most important concepts of aqeedah, such as tawheed, taqwa, yaqeen (certain knowledge), and imaan.

We ask Allaah,  subhanahu wa taa’la, that He accepts this humble effort solely for his Noble Face and that He grant us its benefits in our scale on the day of judgment. Ameen.

سبحانك اللهم بحمدك، أشهد أن لا إله إلا أنت، أستغفرك و أتوب إليك۔
و الصلاة و السلام على نبينا محمد و على أهله و أصحابه۔

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[1] For a more detailed description and the complete chain of narrations of khutbat al-haadjah, please see Sheikh Naasir al-Deen al-Albaanee’s Khutbat al-Haajah on al-ibaanah.com

[2] The Abridged Version of Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers & Distributors 2000), Vol. 1:pp. 70.

[3]    Qadhi, Y., An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’aan (Birmingham: Al-Hidaayah Publishing and Distribution, 2003), 13.

[4]    The Abridged Version of Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers & Distributors 2000), Vol. 2: pp. 227.

[5]    The Abridged Version of Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers & Distributors 2000), Vol. 2: pp. 370.