Wa `alaykum As-Salamu waRahmatullahi 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:
Answering your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic Scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
If the language most members of the congregation understand is English, then that is the language to be used. If however, on the other hand, they know Arabic, then it should be in Arabic.
Jumu`ah is the biggest weekly assembly, and it is, therefore, important to use the sermon to enlighten and educate people. It is no wonder then that the Prophet (peace be upon him), as well as the righteous caliphs, used the khutbah for the purpose of education, motivation, and inspiration.
In light of the above considerations, the majority of imams belonging to all of the four schools find no objection in using the language of the people in delivering the Friday sermon.
Imam Abu Hanifah was the most vocal exponent of this view.
According to the Hanafi school as authenticated by the eminent jurists of school, Arabic is not one of the requirements for the validity of khutbah – regardless of whether people understand Arabic or not.
According to the Shafi`i and Hanbali Schools, it is fine to deliver the message of khutbah in the language other than Arabic, if people do not understand Arabic. They, however, insist that the main integrals of khutbah should be in Arabic, including verses from the Arabic and the words of hamd (praising of God) and salah (benedictions), and the verses of the Qur’an.
Imam Malik alone is the one who insisted that khutbah should be in Arabic.
However, even the scholars belonging to his school in modern times have eagerly endorsed the view of the majority on this issue – thus they agree that khutbah should be in the language that the people understand.
Based on such considerations, the scholars of Al-Azhar as well the World Fiqh Council authenticate this position as well.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.