A khutbah, in the Muslim world, usually refers to the sermon on Friday before the noon prayer. In The Prophet’s Pulpit, Dr. Josef Linnhoff has collected nearly two dozen such writings by noted Islamic academic and jurist Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl.
Linnhoff prefaces this work by detailing his conversion and the impact that the professor’s candid lessons about Islam had on his own spiritual journey. This led to Linnhoff’s quest to translate and share El Fadl’s writings, which he believes show the religion in its truest light: a natural faith free of scholarly excess and burdensome interpretation.
El Fadl’s khutbahs are very approachable to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. In them he carefully illuminates the revelations that he says were detailed originally in the Quran. He isn’t shy about challenging Old World stereotypes or critiquing reactions to controversial current events. For example, he calls out as hypocritical actions by Islamic heads of state who decry breaking of haram (the law) on one hand yet ignore it when it is convenient to build up coffers. He also namechecks recent Islamophobic Western leaders who are willing to stoke unnecessary fears to garner favor in their own countries.
Readers unfamiliar with the Arabic terms woven into the essays need not shy away, as Linnhoff translates them within the text and includes a glossary at the book’s end. Rounding out the collection are a list of texts for further reading and selected biographies of Islamic scholars and other important Muslim figures.
Linnhoff has compiled an intriguing, thought-provoking offering. For those unfamiliar with Islam, it serves as an objective introduction to the basics of the faith. For average Muslims who want to delve deeper into their belief systems, it’s a good springboard for expanded study. Finally, for Muslims who are more advanced in their spiritual journeys, it might be of value in connecting with those who are less far along.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.