Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- A khutbah (sermon) is meant to convey the message in the language of the people to whom it is delivered. The purpose of the khutbah cannot be achieved if it has been delivered in a language other than that of the audience.
2- If the audience knows no language other than English, then, there is nothing wrong in delivering the Friday khutbah in English.
In his response to your question, prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Muhammad Iqbal Nadvi, director and imam of Al-Falah Islamic Center, Oakville, Ontario, Canada, states,
In my understanding, there is no condition that the Friday khutbah must be delivered in Arabic; it is different from the daily Prayers that are supposed to be said in Arabic. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) delivered the Friday khutbahs in Arabic because the audiences were Arabs.
During the long history of Islam, the Friday khutbahs have been delivered in other languages because they are meant to convey the message in the language the people understand.
Having said this, the Friday khutbah should contain words of dhikr (remembrance of Allah) such as praising Allah, praying for peace for the Prophet, and reciting some verses from the Qur’an.
So, if the imam did those in Arabic, he would be already fulfilling the minimum requirements of the khutbah, and therefore the mainstream language could be English, without any problem.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.