Published On:20 April 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Expats want Friday sermon translated at more mosques

By Mariam Nihal

Jeddah: Muslim expatriates here are urging authorities to translate the Friday sermon into foreign languages at more local mosques for the benefit of the non-Arabic speaking public.
Faraz Jehangir, a 43-year-old Indian living in Jeddah, supports the idea. “There are only a few mosques that deliver the Khutba in a language other than Arabic, like the Aziziya Masjid in Jeddah. But I hope the same trend will be followed at other mosques, so that it becomes more convenient for our brothers and sisters to gain a better knowledge of the Khutba.”

Razia Baig, a British expatriate, said her entire family attends the Friday Khutba at their local mosque every week without understanding its meaning or relevance. “It is imperative to make the message easier and clearer for people,” she added.

Sarah Qesbe, a Turkish expatriate living in Jeddah, said neighboring countries, where Arabic is the first language, have mosques that deliver the Khutba in English. “Most expatriate families in Dubai take their children to the mosque every Friday to gain insight and knowledge about Islam. Islam has spread across borders, infiltrating foreign minds and with the rising influx of expatriate Muslims, it is a logical next step that has yet to be implemented at a national level by Saudi Arabia.”

Qesbe said that with “advances in technology, diverse cultures, mixed marriages and globalization, we need to reassess our methods and standing in preserving core Islamic values. The need to diversify our methods to unify Muslims living in the country, be it pilgrims or residents, is absolutely fundamental”.

Abdullah Nazim, a 52-year-old Indian expatriate, believes Islam is not limited to one language. “When I first came to Saudi Arabia in 1992, I was shocked to see nobody spoke English at the mosque. I used to ask people if we can have a translated version of the Khutba or if there was a mosque for expatriates because each mosque I went to was clearly for Arabic speakers only.”
Nazim said one of the men he met at Friday prayers said they were all Muslim brothers and advised him to be patient when listening to the Khutba. “He said we are all Muslim brothers, which to me sounded like an oxymoron. I answered that it was unfair to hear them talk about brotherhood when none of the brothers cared enough to share the message of Islam with me. I said I was there to listen and learn from a sermon that our Prophet (peace be upon him) used as a means to educate and enlighten minds for the well-being of society as a whole.”

Dr. Hassan Harbi, a 42-year-old Lebanese doctor living in Jeddah, told Saudi Gazette that the essence of the Khutba was being lost. “The Friday Khutba was established to bring Muslims together for Dhuhr (noon) prayers, to help them understand Islam in detail, to deal with major problems in society, and to deliberate and pray to Allah.”

“Here we have millions of people who religiously attend the Khutba because of its importance but do not understand a word of it. We should have sections in the mosque for a complete translation or a summary of the Khutba for expats so that everyone understands and benefits from it. I know of mosques that translate the Khutba into Urdu, but why not other languages? You cannot simply choose your language of preference and disregard the rest of the expats.” Turki Al-Sayed, a 46-year-old Saudi engineer, told Saudi Gazette he supports the call for more translations. “The words of the imam fall on deaf ears. Millions of expats from Indonesia, Philippines, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India do not speak our language. I used to get very offended when people used to talk in mosques during the Khutba. So once I asked a young guy why he was disrespecting the sermon. He simply told me he did not understand Arabic.”

“Mashaallah we are blessed to have the world’s fastest growing religion and we should ensure that we spread the message of Islam with precision and compassion. When people hear and do not understand, they cannot act. Hence, no lesson is learnt and the entire Khutba becomes a wasted exercise,” said Al-Sayed.

Saad Al-Mukhtar, a 32-year-old Saudi entrepreneur living in Jeddah, said it is the duty of Arabic-speaking Muslims here to spread the message. “I would love for my Christian friends who visit or come for business to understand what our religion speaks about. Isn’t that our job?”

“In some areas in Jeddah where only foreigners go to pray we should have Khutbas in English. It is a universal language and everyone can understand. Otherwise why not have a section in male and female parts of the mosque where translators can sit with everyone and talk about the sermon in detail. It is our job as a country, as citizens and as Muslims to spread the message.”

Gina Mahmoud, a 27-year-old Serbian who married a Saudi and moved to Saudi Arabia in March 2008, also believes there should be more translations. “I did not know a word of Arabic and when I used to hear the Khutba it used to frighten me. The imam’s voice was loud, sharp and fierce. I never wanted to know what he was saying. But when my husband translated the sermon, I adopted a different perspective.”

“I think like me there are thousands who do not know Arabic and who wish to go to the mosque and listen to the translation to gain the fruits of this knowledge. In mosques where the communities are predominantly from South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Khutbas should be given in Urdu, English and Bengali.”

Dina Alwahab, born to a Saudi father and Pakistani mother, said Da’wa and inviting people with love and compassion toward Islam is what she cherishes the most in the character of a Muslim. “I feel it is our duty to spread the message of peace, in a language everyone understands.

It is the duty of the concerned authorities to ensure they pay everyone equal attention. Education is the most important facet of society and we do not discriminate when preaching our religion. We should cater to others’ needs and create a sense of unity.”

(Courtesy: The Saudi Gazette)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on April 20, 2012. Filed under , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on April 20, 2012. Filed under , , , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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