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Question Summary:
Is it permissible to look up Arabic words during the Jumuah Khutbah?

Question Detail:

Is it permissible to look up Arabic words in a dictionary during the Khutbah on Friday (either in book form or on the mobile phone) in order to better understand the Khutbah?

Answer :

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. 
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
On the blessed day of Jumu’ah, instead of performing Zuhr salaah, one performs the Jumu’ah salaah. An essential part of the Jumu’ah salaah is listening to the Khutbah delivered before Salaatul Jumu’ah. The Khutbah of Jumu’ah holds great sanctity and significance. The Khutbah of Jumu’ah takes the place of two raka’ah which is performed normally through the 4 raka’ah of Zuhr salaah.[1] Some commentators have explained the Ayaat of Quran;
وَإِذَا قُرِئَ الْقُرْآنُ فَاسْتَمِعُوا لَهُ وَأَنْصِتُوا لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ
“When the Quran is recited listen to it and give heed so that you may be shown mercy.” (Al-A’rāf 204)
to be in reference to the Khutbah given by the Khatīb on the day of Jumu’ah.
Another reference is made to the Khutbah of Jumu’ah in the Quran;
وَإِذَا رَأَوْا تِجَارَةً أَوْ لَهْوًا انْفَضُّوا إِلَيْهَا وَتَرَكُوكَ قَائِمًا
“When they see merchandise and diversion they dispersed to it and left you standing.” (Al-Jumu’ah 11)
In the time of Nabi salallāhu alayhi wasallam a caravan carrying goods for trade had arrived whilst the Khutbah of Jumu’ah was being delivered. The Sahabah on hearing about the caravan left during the Khutbah, on this Allah Ta’āla revealed these verses in rebuke of such an act.[2] Through this revelation Allah Ta’āla showed the significance of the Khutbah of Jumu’ah.
One Hadith speaks about the tremendous virtue in going early and listening to the Khutbah attentively.
مَنْ غَسَّلَ يَوْمَ الْجُمُعَةِ وَاغْتَسَلَ وَبَكَّرَ وَابْتَكَرَ وَمَشَى وَلَمْ يَرْكَبْ وَدَنَا مِنَ الْإِمَامِ وَاسْتَمَعَ وَلَمْ يَلْغُ كَانَ لَهُ بِكُلِّ خُطْوَةٍ عَمَلُ سَنَةٍ: أَجْرُ صِيَامِهَا وَقِيَامِهَا
“Whosoever takes a bath and leaves early and doesn’t ride but walks and he sits close to the Imam and he listens attentively and does not speak anything futile he will receive for every step the reward of one year’s worth of standing in salaah and fasting.” (Mirqaatul Mafaateeh vol.3 pg.1034)
Amongst the etiquettes of the Khutbah is that one should not engage in any other act whilst listening to the Khutbah. This is to the extent that even when the name of Nabi salallāhu alayhi wasallam is mentioned instead of verbally reciting Salawaat(salutations of Rasulallah) one should recite it in his heart. If one sees others speaking during the Khutbah one should not prevent them since this would lead to oneself being engaged in an act besides listening to the Khutbah.
It is reported that Ibn Umar and Ibn Abbas radiyallāhu ‘anhum disliked salaah and speech after the Imam had come out to deliver the Khutbah.[3] Just as in Salaah it is not permissible to do anything which is outside the acts of salaah, similarly during the Khutbah it is not permissible to do anything besides listen to the Khutbah.[4] If you wish, you may record the Khutbah and look up the meanings of the Arabic later.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Mawlana Ali bin Cassim
Student Darul Iftaa
Los Angeles, CA (USA)

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

[1]حاشية الطحطاوي على مراقي الفلاح شرح نور الإيضاح (ص: 509)

ولأنها شرعت على خلاف القياس لسقوط الركعتين مع الإقامة

[2]تفسير ابن كثير ت سلامة (8/ 123)

يُعَاتِبُ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى عَلَى مَا كَانَ وَقَعَ مِنْ الِانْصِرَافِ عَنِ الْخُطْبَةِ يَوْمَ الْجُمُعَةِ إِلَى التِّجَارَةِ الَّتِي قَدِمَتِ الْمَدِينَةَ يَوْمَئِذٍ

[3]مصنف ابن أبي شيبة (1/ 458)

حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ نُمَيْرٍ، عَنْ حَجَّاجٍ، عَنْ عَطَاءٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، وَابْنِ عُمَرَ «أَنَّهُمَا كَانَا يَكْرَهَانِ الصَّلَاةَ وَالْكَلَامَ يَوْمَ الْجُمُعَةِ بَعْدَ خُرُوجِ الْإِمَامِ»

[4]حاشية الطحطاوي على مراقي الفلاح شرح نور الإيضاح (ص: 519)

وفي الخلاصة كل ما حرم في الصلاة حرم حال الخطبة

الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (1/ 545)

كُلَّ مَا حَرُمَ فِي الصَّلَاةِ حَرُمَ فِي الْخُطْبَةِ

فتاوى محمودية 8/276

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