Friday Khutbas [Sermons] of Maulana Muhammad Ali

by Mirza Masud Baig

The Light (UK), February 2009 Issue (p. 4)

Editor’s Note: The Ahmadiyya Anjuman Lahore has recently completed the valuable publication, in 24 volumes, of the collected khutbas [sermons] of Maulana Muhammad Ali, which he delivered from the year 1914 to 1951. These were to be found in the weekly issues of the Anjuman’s Urdu organ Paigham Sulh over these years. As relevant to this, we translate below a section from an article by Mirza Masud Baig, then General Secretary of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Lahore, about Maulana Muhammad Ali published in Paigham Sulh, 27 October 1976, on the 25th anniversary of the Maulana’s death.

The institution of the Friday khutba [sermon] is of the highest importance for the reform of the life of the Muslim community and the education of society. Before the Ahmadiyya Movement came into being, the importance of the Friday khutba had greatly diminished among Muslims. The Ulama [clerics] had issued rulings declaring Friday prayers to be non-obligatory under a whole variety of circumstances, as imagined by them. And wherever the Friday service was held, the khutba merely consisted of a reading in Arabic from an ancient published book, from which the congregation did not benefit at all.

Just as the Ahmadiyya community founded the system of dars-i Quran, or teaching sessions in the Quran, to make people interested in acquiring knowledge of the Quran — so that today other Muslims are also holding dars everywhere — in the same way the Ahmadis re-established the importance of the Friday service. The Ahmadiyya Jamaat [Movement] started the practice of the khutba being delivered in the language of the congregation so that the hearers can acquire knowledge, receive moral instruction and are able to apply religion in their lives in the changing times. During British rule, the law that was passed giving Muslims leave for two hours to attend Friday prayers was due to a move made by the Promised Messiah [Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian] and the efforts of the Ahmadiyya community. In short, the Friday service has a very great importance in the practical life of an Ahmadi.

Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali used Friday khutbas to the fullest extent for the purpose of teaching and training the Jamaat. Each of his Friday khutbas brought a new message, and he would address the congregation for about 45 minutes. The subjects of his khutbas were generally: meanings of the Holy Quran, needs of the Jamaat, national issues facing the Muslims, the importance of the propagation of Islam and making the Holy Quran reach all over the world. His delivery of the khutba was like that of a well-prepared teacher in front of his class. The substance of his khutba was always sound and solid, and full of spiritual inspiration. During his khutba there would be no repetition nor would it be a repeat of the previous week’s sermon. Every Friday he came with a new lecture and he presented to the Jamaat a fresh, delicious and new meal. The congregation listened to his every word with rapt attention. Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din once said that whenever he listens to a speaker he knows after hearing a few words what the speaker is going to say next and it is predictable, but with Maulana Muhammad Ali after each sentence you are waiting eagerly to find out what he will say next, as he gives explanations which have not been in the minds of the audience before.

During the summer months when the Maulana stayed at a hill resort, he sent letters from there addressed to the members of the community which were published in Paigham Sulh, substituting for his Friday khutbas. This enabled the teaching and training of the Jamaat to continue all around the year. Before leaving for the hill resort of Dalhousie, he would devote the last one or two khutbas to advising and exhorting the members on the importance of prayer in congregation, attendance at the Friday service, and regular payment of monthly subscriptions, and he would remind the workers to carry out their duties to the best in his absence.