How to give A great Eid Khutba
A Message to Imams and Khatibs from Dr. Ingrid Mattson, ISNA President
There are many Muslims who seldom attend congregational prayers other than on the two Eids. The question Imams and Khatibs need to ask themselves is this: Will these people show up on the next Eid, or will this be the last time they pray with us?
This is a serious concern in our community. We have heard far too many stories about Muslims struggling to hold onto their faith finally being driven away by angry, depressing or demoralizing khutbas.
It is understandable that some Khatibs feel that they have just this one chance to give a strong message to those attending Eid prayers. What they need to realize is that this very well could be the one and only chance if the sermon is a disaster. On the other hand, a well-delivered, thoughtful and encouraging message will make people want to come back for more.
The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him said, “Give good news, and do not drive people away.” This should be the guiding principle for the Eid prayer.
Here are some guidelines for fulfilling the Prophet’s directive:
Encourage people to do even more good by identifying and praising what they are already doing well –even small things. If you message is, “Muslims are not doing enough, everyone is apathetic and divided,” you will discourage and demoralize them.
Make everyone feel welcomed and a valued member of the community by focusing on our obligations of brotherhood in Islam; do not berate some members of the congregation for not living up to certain dress and behavioural standards. The best way to change people’s behaviour for the better is to have them spend more time with positive role models and to have them establish warm and friendly relationships with good people. They will not be able to do this if they are made to feel like outcasts because of particular bad behaviours.
Give a realistic and balanced picture of the challenges we face as Muslims. It is true that there are many injustices perpetrated against Muslims in today’s world, but it is also true that many self-sacrificing individuals, as well as faith-based and secular human and civil rights organizations, are fighting for the rights of all people, including Muslims. We do not live in a world in which Muslims are on one side and non-Muslims are on the other. Injustice is perpetrated by people of all faiths and nationalities, and justice is advocated by people of all faiths and nationalities. Let your congregation feel motivated and energized to seek out people of good will of all faiths to work for justice in the world.
I pray that you and your community will enjoy all the blessings of this Eid.