AsSalamu Alaykkum My question is related to some practices seen in the month of Ramadan. I hope that you can save many people from corrupted practice in the coming month of Ramadan. In many Mosques in India soon after the Taraweeh prayer a preacher comes and sits on the Minber and explains the gatherings about the importance of the verses that they heard in the Taraweeh prayer of that particular night. Before explaining the important verses to the gathering he the preacher airs many questions to the gathering concerning some matters to be explained in the verses, if the answer goes wrong the gathering and the preacher laughs at the answerer. The preacher says that it was the ways of our Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who used to ask his companions before He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) explains any matters to them. Also the preacher cracks many jokes while explaining the Quran to the gathering. This kind of preaching will last for 30 minutes in the first 20 days of Ramadan and one to two hour in the last ten days of Ramadan. In between explaining the tafseer al Quran the preacher asks the gathering to interact with the dozing guys to find out what kind of up to date wahy (revelation) they received while they were sleeping, also he takes many ahd (oath) from the gathering that from today onwards they will not listen to music, they will not watch TV, they will be strict in Isbaal, will not smoke, will not lie and much more, and the gathering says Insha-Allah to his demand, and he the preacher never told the gathering about the importance of the Ahd and the expiation for breaking an Ahd (promise) a) Listening to the preaching can be counted as worship (Ibaadha) in the nights of Ramadan? b) Occupying the Minbar to preach the gathering is okay? c) Pausing questions to the gathering to test their knowledge and subsequent laughing by the gathering inside the Mosque is allowed? d) Cracking jokes on the Minbar while explaining the
All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.
Attending the gatherings of Thikr (i.e. Remembering Allaah The Almighty) and listening to preaching are among the acts of worship. Many evidences were reported regarding the virtue of that and encouraging it. However, we do not know of any specific evidence regarding the legislation of sermons during the nights of Ramadan. But it is something included in the general evidence that supports the great status and honor of attending the gatherings of Thikr. For more benefit, please refer to Fatwa 88049.
Standing on the pulpit in other than Friday prayer is something permissible and there is nothing wrong with it for the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, used to do that. One of the proofs of that is that Anas ibn Maalik said: "The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, came out as the sun declined at mid-day and offered the Thuhr prayer. He then stood on the pulpit and spoke about the Hour (Day of Judgment)." [Muslim]
As for asking questions of the gathering, then it is something permissible in principle. It is one of the methods that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, used in teaching his companions. It was reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar that: "The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: 'Amongst the trees, there is a tree, the leaves of which do not fall and is like a Muslim. Tell me the name of that tree.' Everybody started thinking about the trees of the desert; and I thought of the date-palm tree but felt shy to answer; the others then asked, 'What is that tree, O Messenger of Allaah?' He replied, 'It is the date-palm tree.'"
Al-Bukhari included this Hadeeth in a chapter entitled "The Imaam asks his companions to test their knowledge."
However, mocking and laughing at the answers of the gathering is something denounced. It is also a reason for making people dislike good deeds and turning them away from benefiting from such gatherings. Hence, laughing at the answers of the gathering or mocking their falling asleep (in the mosque) or the like should be stopped.
On the other hand, cracking jokes and laughing in the mosque or on the pulpit is something permissible in principle if the used words are lawful and decent. The Companions would talk about matters pertaining to Jaahiliyyah (the pre-Islamic period of ignorance), and they would laugh while the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would only smile. [Muslim]
However, we do not know that telling jokes during sermons or lessons is part of the guidance of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. For more benefit, please refer to fatwa 87027.
As for asking the gathering to take oath to renounce sins, then it was not reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, did that with his companions and thus one should stop doing that. Anyway, the gathering's answer to him saying: 'Allaah Willing' is not an oath; so they do not have to make expiation for it.
Allaah Knows best.
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