Is Giving a Lecture Before Jumu'a an Innovation?
It has become a norm in our era to label acceptable practices in religion as innovations. Unfortunately, our Masājid have now become arenas of disputation and debate; luminaries and high-ranking Islamic scholars are branded as innovators. Many issues that have a legitimate basis in religion are rejected under the pretext that they are innovations not found in the early era of Islām. One such issue is the ruling of delivering a lecture prior to the Jumu'a prayer. Many people claim that the prohibition of delivering a lecture before Jumu'a can be inferred from Hadīth. Further, they assert that such a practice was not found among our pious predecessors. Hence, it is an innovation.
The article before you is an abridged translation of the treatise "Mashrū'iyyat al-Dars Qabl Salāt al-Jumu'a" by Shaykh 'Abd al-Wahhāb al-Mahiyya. In this article, Shaykh 'Abd al-Wahhāb has conducted a brilliant research in which he adequately addresses each objection posed by those who assert that the practice is an innovation. He proves that far from being an innovation, numerous Sahāba, Tabi'ūn and people of knowledge have lectured in their Masājid before Jumu'a. In fact, he submits that there a basis for this practice from the blessed Hadīth.
Since this is the most detailed article we have come across on the topic, we felt it appropriate to translate it for the benefit of those interested in the topic. We ask Allāh to accept this effort and make it a means of clarifying any doubts in this regard. Amīn
Rajab, 1435/May, 2014
The Legitimacy of Delivering a Lecture Before The Jumu'a Prayer
By 'Abd al-Wahhāb Mahiyya
All praise is due to Allāh. Peace and salutation be upon the Messenger of Allāh and his family and companions.
Some scholars have taken a harsh approach regarding the lectures that are delivered in some towns before the Jumu'a prayer, such that they accuse those involved in it of sin. Due to sensitivity and importance of the topic, we wish to address it in a manner relevant to the context.
Evidence of Those Who Assert That the Practice Is an Innovation
Shaykh Nāsir al-Dīn al-Albānī [d. 1999 CE] رحمه الله writes:
It is not permissible to have lessons on the day of Jumu'a as this was not found in the era of the pious predecessors, and it will disturb the people in their worship. Further, the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) has prohibited gathering in circles (al-tahalluq) on the day of Jumu'a.
Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Uthaymīn [d. 2001 CE] رحمه الله was asked regarding the lessons conducted prior to the Jumu'a prayer (lectures included). He responded:
When the lesson is general, for example it is delivered on a microphone to all those present, then this is detested and an innovation. As for it being detested, this is because the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon) rebuked the Companions when they prayed in groups and recited Qur'ān in a loud voice, saying, "Each one of you is whispering to his lord, so let him not some disturb the others by recitation."...
As for it being an innovation, this is because it was not found during the time of the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) in spite of him being the most zealous in propagating the message. The reason a lecture was not given was because the attendants will receive advices from the Khutba, which will be delivered when the Imām arrives.
We can summarize the evidences adduced by these scholars in the following:
The Hadīth on the prohibition of gathering in circles on the day of Jumu'a
Disturbing the worshipers present in the Masjid
It was not found in the era of the Prophet صل الله عليه و على آله و سلم and his companions رضي الله عنهم
We will discuss each evidence and ruling, treading the upright path in search of the truth. My only objective is to secure the pleasure of Allāh Most High.
The First Objection: Hadīth on the Prohibition of Gathering in Circles
The Hadīth in reference has been reported on the authority of 'Amr ibn Shu'ayb, from his father, from his grandfather, who said:
"The Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) has prohibited selling and purchasing, recitation of poetry, and announcing lost items in the Masjid, and from gatherings in circles (hilaq) on the day of Jumu'a before the prayer."
There is also a similar Hadīth reported on the authority of Usāma ibn Zayd, who said, "The Messenger of Allāh prohibited selling and purchasing in the Masjid." In this narration, there is no mention of the prohibition of gathering in circles [i.e. before the Jumu'a prayer].
Explanations of the Hadīth in light of the statements of the scholars
The scholars have differed regarding the interpretation of this Hadīth, namely "gatherings in circles." The following are the different views:
Reprehensibility of gathering in [various] circles for lessons
'Allāmah al-Baghawī [d. 516 AH] رحمه الله writes:
We learn from this Hadīth the reprehensibility of forming circles and gathering on the day of Jumu'a before the prayer for delivering lessons. Rather, he should engage in dhikr and Salāh and remain silent for the khutba. Afterwards, there is no problem to gather in circles after Salāh in the Masjid or elsewhere.
Prohibition of forming gatherings when it encompasses the Masjid
Imām Abū Ja'far al-Tahāwī [d. 321 AH] رحمه الله writes:
Gathering in circles in the Masjid before Salāh is reprehensible when it encompasses the Masjid. However, when it does not encompass and engulf the Masjid, it will not be reprehensible.
'Allāmah al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī [d. 463 AH] رحمه الله writes:
This Hadīth applies to when the gatherings are near the Imām such that their discussion will distract them from listening attentively to the khutba. However, when the Masjid is spacious and the gathering is far from the Imām, such that the voice does not reach him, there will be no problem. I have seen most of my teachers from the jurists and Hadīth scholars doing that. It has also been reported from numerous Sahāba and Tābi'ūn.
Prohibition of forming gatherings to discuss worldly matters
This interpretation is supported by the following narration:
'Amr ibn Shu'ayb narrates from his father, from his grandfather who said, "The Messenger of Allāh prohibited gathering in circles for speaking on the day of Jumu'a before Salāh."
Unconditional prohibition i.e. irrespective of the purpose of gathering
'Allāmah al-Tūrpushtī [d. ca. 650 AH] رحمه الله mentions:
There are two possible reasons for this prohibition. The first is that the gathering will conflict with the gathering of the worshipers. The second is that gathering for Jumu'a is a great event, so whoever is present should not be occupied with anything besides it and gathering in circles before Salāh gives the impression of negligence from what they were instructed to do.
The correct interpretation is the first i.e. reprehensibility of gathering in multiple circles for lessons. This is because the Hadīth is explicit on gathering in circles (al-Tahalluq), and the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon) was the most eloquent and precise in his speech. The word "al-Tahalluq" in the Arabic language refers to sitting in groups in circles. Al-Murtadā al-Zabīdī [d. 1205 AH] writes in Tāj al-'Arūs:
Tahalluqū: refers to when people sit in separate circles. The word was used in the following Hadīth, "He proscribed sitting in circles prior to Salāh."
We learn from the above discussion that the "gathering in circles" that is prohibited is when many such gatherings are formed, spread out. This is clearly mentioned in the Hadīth with the words "prohibited from gatherings in circles" using the plural form. There are several examples of this in the Sunna. For example, Jābir ibn Samura reports:
"The Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) saw us in several gatherings, so he remarked, "Why do I see you spread out in separate groups?" Thereafter, he came to us and told us, "Why do you not form rows just how the angels form rows in front of their lord?" We asked, "How do the angels form rows?" He replied, "They complete the first rows and stand alongside together."
Multiple gatherings and circles, even for Islāmic discussions, will disturb the order of the rows and the tranquility of the Masjid unless it is spacious. Thus, the prohibition mentioned in the Hadīth refers to the manner of gathering and not gathering itself.
In any case, the meaning is logical: to prevent utilizing the Masjid for other than what it was built for. It was for this reason that the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) also mentioned the prohibition of purchasing and selling, recitation of poetry, and announcing lost items as they all cause distraction. In brief, the Hadīth of 'Amr ibn Shu'yab does not apply to the lessons and lectures we are discussing in any way.
The Second Objection: It Causes Inconvenience to Those Engaged in Salāh
They base this on the statement of the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) "Each one of you whispers to his lord, so let not some disturb others with recitation."
Imām Mālik [d. 179 AH] رحمه الله narrates it with the following addition "They were praying and their voices were loud so he told them..."
Imām 'Abd al-Razzāq [d. 211 AH] رحمه الله adds "and a person was leading the congregation..."
Imām Ahmad [d. 241 H] رحمه الله adds "...disturb others with recitation in Salāh."
Imām Musaddad [228 AH] رحمه الله adds "...in separate congregations."
It is incorrect to adduce this Hadith as proof because the inconvenience in reference has three conditions:
Voices are heard from different angles at one time
Excessiveness in raising the voice
Mutual opposition in the situation of whispering (with Allāh)
We can understand from the following Hadīth that simply raising the voice from one angle does not cause inconvenience:
The Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) passed by Abū Bakr (Allāh be pleased with him) who was reciting in a low voice, and by 'Umar (Allāh be pleased with him) who was reciting in a loud voice. When they came to the Messenger of Allāh, he told Abū Bakr, "I passed by and you were reciting in a low voice." Abū Bakr said, "O Messenger of Allāh, you heard who I whispered to." Then, he told 'Umar, "I passed by and you were reciting in a loud voice." 'Umar said, "I woke up the sleepy, and drew away the shayātīn." He then told Abū Bakr to raise his voice slightly and 'Umar to lower his voice slightly.
It is clear that the sound did not exceed the point of moderation and it was from one angle. Therefore, it was not reprehensible because generally that does not cause a commotion on the basis that the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) would make dhikr in a loud voice after Salāh even though there were those who missed rak'āt. 'Abd Allāh ibn al-Zubayr (Allāh be pleased with him) mentions that after Salāh, the Messenger of Allāh would make dhikr in a loud voice.
There are other examples that demonstrate that simply raising the voice will not be regarded as inconvenience.
'Ā'ishah (Allāh be pleased with her) mentions:
The Messenger of Allāh prayed tahajjud in my house and he heard the voice of 'Abbād praying in the Masjid, so he asked, "O 'Ā'ishah, is that the voice of 'Abbād?" I said, "Yes." Then he said, "O Allāh, have mercy on 'Abbād."
Ibn 'Abbās (Allāh be pleased with him) mentions:
During the time of the Messenger of Allāh, dhikr would be recited loudly after the people would complete their prayers. I would realize when they completed by hearing it.
The narrations in this regard are numerous. The point of inference is that raising the voice in not regarded as inconvenience in every situation; therefore, a general ruling of prohibition will not be given.
They further object:
The following addition is found in some narrations, "let not some disturb others by raising their voice above others which will disturb the believers." Undoubtedly, to cause annoyance is unlawful on the basis of the Qur'ān, and over here the inconvenience is due to distraction; therefore, giving lessons (lectures before Jumu'a) should be impermissible.
We can answer this objection with the following:
The inconvenience mentioned in the Hadīth is caused by "raising the voice over others [al-Jahr 'alā al-Ghayr]." That is why the preposition "'alā" was used, so it refers to excessive raising of the voice
It refers to disturbing them when they are praying as we learn from the above narrations. Hence the ruling it is not general.
If the lecture is an obstacle for the remembrance of Allāh and it distracts the worshipers, it will not be considered a "lecture", hence not part of our discussion. On the other hand, if the lecture consists of dhikr, advices, and Islāmic education, how could it cause inconvenience?
They further object:
The speaker imposing himself upon the worshipers when among them are those engaged in Salāh, recitation of Qur'ān, and dhikr is a cause of inconvenience.
There are several problems with this assertion:
A blanket ruling cannot be given that the lecture causes inconvenience [as we mentioned above].
If the speaker is a scholar, then he did not impose himself, rather he was appointed from the side of sharī'a for the task. Further, it is incorrect to say that he should wait until after Jumu'a, because he might not find the same opportunity where such a large crowd is gathered.
Those who wish to engage in dhikr, Salāh, and recitation of the Qur'ān should come earlier because sharī'a has prescribed coming early on the day of Jumu'a. Furthermore, a lecture, in the correct context, is also a good action so the attendants can engage themselves in that.
Talks and advices should be given according to the need and is not restricted to a particular time. Accordingly, if a scholar cannot find an appropriate time in the course of the week besides Jumu'a, and there is a need, then what is wrong if he delivers the lecture at that particular time after informing people that it is not a Sunna or a recommended practice of Jumu'a?
The Third Objection: It Was Not Found in the Era of the Prophet and His Companions
In this section, we will show that this practice was found in the early generation in contrast to those who claim otherwise.
From the Sahāba رضي الله عنهم
Abū Hurayrah (Allāh be pleased with him)
'Āsim ibn Muhammad narrates from his father:
On the day of Jumu'a, I saw Abū Hurayra stand beside the pulpit saying, "Abū al-Qāsim, the Messenger of Allāh, the truthful and the attested, narrated to us..." He would continuously narrate Hadīth until the Imām would come out.
Since Abū Hurayrah is also the one who narrates the Hadīth that encourages coming early for Jumu'a, we can understand the falsity of the claim "we were encouraged to come early for Jumu'a, not to listen to a lesson or lecture" because Abū Hurayrah himself would lecture.
'Umar, 'Uthmān and Tamīm al-Dārī (Allāh be pleased with them)
The first person to give a lecture was Tamīm al-Dārī during the reign of 'Umar. He requested a session [to lecture] every Jumu'a. 'Umar granted him permission, so he would lecture. Thereafter, he asked for another session so he permitted him. Thereafter, he requested 'Uthmān for a third session [and he was granted permission]. Therefore, he would lecture three times.
Al-Sā'ib ibn Yazīd (Allāh be pleased with him)
Yusuf ibn al-Sā'ib narrates from al-Sā'ib that he said, "We would sit in gatherings on the day of Jumu'a before the prayer." In another report he mentions, "We would sit in gatherings on the day of Jumu'a before the first adhān. When the adhān was given for prayer, we would terminate [our gathering]."
'Abd Allāh ibn Busr (Allāh be pleased with him)
Abū al-Zāhiriyya reports, "I was in the gathering of 'Abd Allāh ibn Busr on the day of Jumu'a. He continued narrating Hadīth until the Imām came."
Salmān al-Farsī (Allāh be pleased with him)
On the day of Jumu'a, Salmān al-Fārisī would instruct Zayd ibn Sūhān, "Go and advise your community."
Thirty Sahāba from Muzayna (Allāh be pleased with them)
Mu'āwiya ibn Qurra mentions:
I saw thirty Sahāba from Muzayna on the day of Jumu'a. They would shower, wear their best clothing, applied the perfume of their wives, come for Jumu'a, pray two raka'āt thereafter they would disseminate knowledge and Sunna until the Imām would come.
From the Tābi'ūn رحمة الله عليهم
Mahdī ibn Maymūn [d. 172 AH] رحمه الله mentions:
I saw Abu al-'Alā', al-Jarīrī, Abū Nu'āma al-Sa'dī, Abū Nu'āma al-Hanafī, Maymūn ibn Siyāh, and Abū Nadra gathering in circles before prayers on the day of Jumu'a." 'Affān says, "Mahdī ibn Maymūn mentioned more names but I cannot remember them.
All of these personalities are from the Tābi'ūn and some are eminent figures who sat in the company of the Sahāba.
Scholars of Hadīth and the people of knowledge
Yahyā ibn Ma'īn [d. 233 AH] رحمه الله mentions:
On the day of Jumu'a, I saw Yahyā ibn Sa'īd al-Qattān, Mu'ādh ibn Mu'ādh, and Hammād ibn Mas'ada gathering in circles before prayer. Alongside them were thirty people speaking while others were praying...
Ibn al-Qāsim [d. 191 AH] رحمه الله mentions:
On the day of Jumu'a while the Imām was sitting on the pulpit, I saw [Imām] Mālik in a gathering with his students before the Imām came. After the Imām came, he and his students continued their discussion without turning to the Imām until the Imām stood up for the khutba."
He further mentions, "[Imām] Mālik رحمه الله informed me that he saw the people of knowledge of the past gathering in circles and discussing."
Answering the Claim That This Practice Is an Innovation
To assert that this practice is an innovation simply because the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) did not do it is incorrect, because a practice that the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) did not do will only be classified as an innovation when the following two conditions are met:
The absence of the incentive for the practice in the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)
The absence of an obstacle to the practice in the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)
However, we do find in authentic narrations an origin and basis for this practice. Abū Rifā'a (Allāh be pleased with him) narrates:
I came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) while he was delivering the khutba. I said to him, "O Messenger of Allah, [I am a] stranger who does not know his religion and came to ask about it." He abandoned his khutba and faced me. A chair was brought so he sat down and began teaching me what Allāh taught him. Thereafter, he resumed his khutba until he completed it.
This Hadīth has a great lesson: the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) did not suffice with advising him while continuing with the khutba, which would have been an easier task. Instead, he descended from the pulpit and asked for a chair to give the impression that this setting is different to that of the khutba.
When this was done in between the khutba, then to a greater extent it should be permissible before the khutba. Moreover, when this was done to educate a single person, then to a greater extent it should be permissible to educate a community that is ignorant of the essentials of their religion.
Al-Qurtubī [d. 656 AH] رحمه الله comments on the aforementioned Hadīth:
The Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) did this because in that moment he was specified for that task, there was a fear that the questioner might not get another opportunity, and it was not contrary to the khutba.
Contemplate over the remarkable commentary of al-Qurtubī رحمه الله, as there are three points that concern the discussion at hand:
The responsibility is on the shoulder of the Imām to educate those who seek knowledge from him
To consider the possibility that the audience might not find another opportunity, as negligence in this regard is misappropriating Allāh's trust
The lecture does not conflict with the khutba. Rather, in some instances the khutba may not suffice for the lecture because in a lecture there is explanation and details
In the above discussion, we have seen the invalidity of the claim that delivering a lecture before the Jumu'a prayer is an innovation. We have seen how the Hadīth on the prohibition of "gathering in circles" does not apply to the topic at hand. Moreover, the claim that it disturbs the worshipers in the Masjid is also incorrect, because the lecture cannot be termed as "disturbance."
Nevertheless, the benefits of these lectures cannot be denied. Due to these lectures, many negligent people changed their ways, good was instilled in dead hearts, and hope was filled in despondent souls.
 Muhammad Mūsā, Al-lum'a fī Hukm al-Ijmā' lī al-Dars Qabl Salāt al-Jumu'a, 71
 Al-Uthaymīn, Fatāwā Nūr 'alā al-Darb, 2:8
 Ahmad, Musnad, 257:11 #6676 [Mu'assisa al-Risāla]; Abū Dāwūd, Sunan, 306:2 [al-Risāla al-'Alamiyya]among others. Muhammad ibn 'Ajlān is alone in transmitting this narration from 'Amr ibn Shu'ayb, and both of them have been criticized (wa Kilāhumā fīhī Maqāl).
 Ahmad, Musnad, 569:11 #6991 [Mu'assisa al-Risāla]
 Al-Baghawī, Sharh al-Sunna, 374:2 [al-Maktab al-Islāmī]
 Al-Tahāwī, Sharh Ma'ānī al-Athār, 359:4 ['Alam al-Kutub]
 Al-Khatīb, al-Faqīh wa 'l-Mutafaqqih, 272:2 [Dār Ibn al-Jawzī]
 Ibn Abī Shayba, al-Musannaf, 467:1 [Maktaba al-Rushd ed. Kamāl al-Hūt]
 'Alī al-Qārī, Mirqāt al-Mafātīh, 616:2 [Dār al-Fikr]
 Al-Zabīdī, Tāj al'Arūs, 197:25 [Dār al-Hidāya]
 Muslim, Sahīh, 322:1 [Dār Ihyā' Turāth al-'Arabī]
 Mālik, al-Muwatta', 80:1 [Dār Ihyā' Turāth al-'Arabī]
 'Abd al-Razzāq, al-Musannaf, 498:2 [al-Maktab al-Islāmī]
 Ahmad, Musnad,523:8 [Mu'assisa al-Risāla]
 Al-Būsīrī, Ithāf al-Khiyara al-Mahara, 239:2 [Dār al-Watan]
 Abū Dāwūd, Sunan, 492:2 [al-Risāla al-'Alamiyya]
 Al-Tabrānī, Kitāb al-Du'ā', 216:1 [Dār al-Kutub al-'Ilmiyya]
 Ibid., 172:3
 Al-Bukhārī, al-Jāmi' al-Sahīh, 168:1 [Dār Tawq al-Najā]
 Al-Hākim, al-Mustadrak, 585:3 [Dār al-Kutub al-'Ilmiyya] Al-Hākim has classified this report authentic and al-Dhahabi has concurred.
 'Abd al-Razzāq, al-Musannaf, 219:3 [al-Maktab al-Islāmī]. This report is authentic. For more details on the grading of this report, refer to p. 20 of Mashrū'iyyat Dars al-Jumu'a
 Ibn Abī Shayba, al-Mussanaf, 468:1 [Maktaba al-Rushd]
 Abū al-Shaykh, Tabaqāt al-Muhaddithīn bī Asbahān, 190:4 [Mu'assisa al-Risāla]
 Al-Hākim, al-Mustadrak, 424:1 [Dār al-Kutub al-'Ilmiyya]Al-Hākim has classified this report authentic and al-Dhahabi has concurred.
 Ibn Sa'd, al-Tabaqāt al-Kubrā, 177:6 [Dār al-Kutub al-'Ilmiyya]
 Al-Baghdādī, al-Faqīh wa 'l-Mutafaqqih, 272:2 [Dār Ibn al-Jawzī]; Ibn 'Asākir, Tārīkh Dimashq, 269:59 [Dār al-Fikr] This Hadīth is sound (Hasan). Although there is some criticism on the narrator Shaddād, his Hadīth will not go below Hasan.
 Al-Baghdādī, al-Faqīh wa 'l-Mutafaqqih, 274:2 [Dār Ibn al-Jawzī]
 Al-Baghdādī, al-Jāmi' lī Akhlāq al-Rāwī, 63:2 [Maktaba al-Ma'ārif]
 Al-Tanūkhī, al-Mudawwana al-Kubrā, 148:1 [Dār Sādir]
 Muslim, Sahīh, 597:2 [Dār Ihyā' Turāth al-'Arabī]
 Al-Qurtubī, al-Mufhim, 515:2 [Dār Ibn Kathīr]