Is it permissible to speak during the Khutbah (sermon) of Jumu‘ah even if only to ask about the Qiblah (direction of prayer) for someone who wants to pray when entering the Masjid or even if only to return the greeting? If this speech is not permissible, please provide the Hadeeths and such that prove that. Thank you very much for this service.
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.
Paying attention to the Khateeb (the person delivering the Khutbah) is an obligation according to the majority of scholars, due to the saying of the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: "If you say to your companion: "Pay attention!" while the Imaam is delivering the Khutbah of Jumu‘ah, then you have engaged in idle speech." [Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daawood, At-Tirmithi and An-Nasaa’i]
He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, also said: "If you hear your Imaam speaking then pay attention until he finishes." [Ahmad and others]
He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, also said: "Whoever said "Shh (pay attention)!" has engaged in idle speech." [Ahmad]
So, he made saying "Pay attention!" something that should not be said, even though it is a command to do something good. Other speech is then more worthy of being deemed invalid unless there is a need for it, like assisting the Khateeb when he makes a mistake in his recitation or notifying someone of some imminent harm, peril or similar trouble.
There is no need to ask questions like asking about the Qiblah on the day of Jumu‘ah while the Khateeb is speaking, since it is normal for the Khateeb to be in the direction of the Qiblah.
As for returning the greeting, then the preferred opinion is to not do so, due to the generality of the Hadeeths regarding paying attention. This is the opinion of the Hanafis and Maalikis, and it is one of the opinions of the Shaafi‘is and of Ahmad.
Imaam An-Nawawi said about supplicating for the one who sneezes while the Khateeb is speaking: "There are three opinions. The correct view is that it is forbidden just like returning the greeting, though some scholars held the opinion of responding by moving one`s hand. This is as you would do if someone greeted you while you were praying; that is, you would return the greeting by moving your hand, as such was verified from the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and this is closest to the right answer."Allaah Knows best.
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