I was recently talking to a friend of mine, and he brought up the fact that he hates going to Friday prayers these days because he feels he doesn’t learn anything from them anymore. Instead of talking about Islam, imams tend to go on and on about Americans, Israel and the Jews (apparently a subject ALL Egyptians love to go on and on about, even though 99% have never met a Jew).
When I hear the khutbas sometimes, I’m pretty shocked at how aggressive they are. The imam is usually yelling at the top of his voice about how Israel has raped all Arabs and needs to be wiped off the face of the earth (to use Ahmedijinad’s diplomatic phrasing). Then they move on to ALL Jewish people, without making a distinction between Jews, Israeli Jews, and the Israeli government. It’s sad because in the 50s Cairo used to be very cosmopolitan: Jews, Christians, Muslims, everyone got along. Jews used to call themselves Egyptians, not Jews. Then the Jews were pressured into leaving, and so they all left (leaving behind a few old ladies). Synagogues that remain in Cairo today are full of security, and I doubt they are used often.
There’s also the fact that the Qur’an is NOT anti-Jewish. The Qur’an speaks about specific Jewish tribes at the time who were against the Prophet (pbuh). I don’t get how this applies to all Jews at all times. Seriously! They are people of the book, and imams shouldn’t be spreading hatred against them, or for that matter spreading hatred against anyone.
Anyway, I’ve heard complaints about khutbas several times from different people. When did imams become political experts as opposed to religious scholars? Why not discuss Islam? Or at least discuss current affairs without inciting violence and preaching hate. Like my friend said, he wants to learn something new about his religion, not get a hate-filled lecture.
I wonder whether the changing nature of khutbas has started attracting new kinds of men to the mosques. Men who want to hear these hate-filled sermons, as opposed to all kinds of men who want to hear about Islam. I know of many men (mostly older) who have stopped attending Friday prayers altogether because they can’t listen to what the imams are saying.
One annoying thing must be that one goes to prayer to meditate, find peace, and connect with God. Then you hear a hate-filled khutba, and the peacefulness probably disappears. Instead of educating young Muslims and teaching them Islam, imams are filling them with hatred and violence. This can’t end well.
I wonder if this is limited to Egypt, where many people have started using the mosque as a political tool? Does this happen in mosques you go to?
Note: I’m not saying all imams in all mosques in all countries do this. I am talking about imams in mosques people I know frequent. These include many mosques and many imams, which is why I decided to write a post about it.