Khateeb's Salam on the Pulpit Before the Sermon
  • Question:

    What is the ruling on greeting salam for the khateeb (imam) to the congregants on the pulpit prior to commencing the Friday khutbah (sermon)? In some cases I have seen imams render the salam greeting. Most Hanafi imams do not say salam on the pulpit prior to starting the khutbah. What is the reason for this?

    Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh

    Thank you for your question.

    The variance in practice you see is based on the difference of opinion originating from weak hadiths suggesting the Prophet's (pbuh) practice.

    All narrations found in Ibn Majah, Tabraani, Musannaf Abd Al Razzaq and Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaibah, that report the Prophet (pbuh) making salam on the pulpit (mimbar) before commencing the khutbah are of a weak nature in terms of authenticity (see I'elaa Al Sunan).

    For this reason, according to the Maliki and Hanafi methodologies, this practice cannot be considered an established, authentic sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh). However, if an imam does render the salam on the pulpit, the validity of the khutbah will not be affected.

    Another reason for the variance of the opinion is that once the khateeb ascends the pulpit, the instruction to the congregants is to listen silently. Responding to salam or talking would be against this principle.

    Numerous mufassiroon (commentators) of the Holy Quran, including Imam Jalaal Al Deen Al Suyuti (ra) state that the following verse was revealed regarding the Friday sermon:

    "When the Quran is recited, listen to it, and remain silent" (Holy Quran 7:204)

    The following is the opinion of the four schools:

    Shafie School:
    The khateeb is to greet people with salam when entering the masjid or before ascending the pulpit. The khateeb will also greet the audience with salam before sitting after ascending onto the pulpit.

    Hanbali School:
    The khateeb is to greet the congregation when appearing in the masjid and also after ascending the pulpit.

    Maliki School:
    The khateeb is to greet the congregation with salam when appearing in the masjid for the khutbah. The sunnah salam is whilst appearing in the congregation for the khutbah. It is considered makruh (disliked) for the khateeb to delay the greeting of salam up until the time of ascending the pulpit. If the khateeb does delay the salam to this point, it is not necessary for the congregants to respond to the salam (as they are to be listening rather than talking or responding).

    Hanafi School:
    It is makruh (disliked) to greet the congregation with salam from the mimbar (pulpit). In the well known Hanafi fiqh manual, Nur Al Idah, it is stated, "The khateeb should not make salam to the people when he ascends the pulpit"
    (Fiqh Ala Madhaahib Al Arba'a)

    And Allah knows best.

    Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Badat
    Hadith of the Day Imam
    Imam of the Islamic Foundation of Toronto and Director of Mathabah institute
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