Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. MB ChB, MPH, DrPH (Harvard) Professor of Medicine & Director, Training Center, International Islamic University PO Box 70 Jln Sultan PJ 46700 Telephone 60 3 755 3433 fax 60 3 757 7970 paper at 7th Regional Leadership Training Program Durban, South Africa 1-31 July 1996

The weekly Friday khutbah is the most common form of public speaking among Muslims. It differs from other types of public speaking in  only 2 ways (a) the khutbat is part of worship and the audience is more attentive and respectful than in other situations (b) questions from the audience are not customarily allowed.


Public speaking serves several purposes that help in leadership situations: informing, entertaining, inspiring, convincing, motivating, teaching, training, and convincing. Speech can be used to define issues and bring about a change. Public speeches make a major impact if made well. Speaking is metaphorically a type of magic. If the khutbat al juma fulfilled its role properly the ummat would have been different from what it is now.


The elements of public speaking are: Speaker, Message, Delivery Technic, Audience, Feed-back


Very few people are gifted speakers. Many people are afraid of public speaking. With good preparation, practice, and building self-confidence, you can overcome your stage fright. Stop being pessimistic. Do not procrastinate. If you have a speaking engagement prepare early. Train in speech-making. Taking care of your physical appearance builds your self-confidence


The speaker must have integrity, knowledge, positive attitude, sensitivity to the audience and the situation, oral skills, self-confidence and self-control. A successful speaker must have a purpose. Repeat of some one else's great speech verbatim may turn out to be a dismal failure. A tired exhausted speaker with a well-prepared speech may not do as well as one in good mood. You may be a poor speaker because of lack of commitment to the topic though it may be well prepared. As the speaker you must be in control. Acknowledge tension as a normal phenomenon. You should remember that tension reduces as you start speaking. When tense think about things that interest you. You must be yourself and avoid an artificial disposition. Look at the audience. Establish eye contact. Communicate with both body and voice. As a speaker you must have interest and commitment to what you are communicating to talk well about it. You must in short be sincere and real. A good message delivered with superb technique but with no sincerity may leave the audience unimpressed. The audience can feel the speaker's sincerity and attune to him. You must be able to establish your credibility for your message to have an impact. The physical appearance, posture, gestures, movements and voice quality establish credibility and determine the success of the delivery. They should be appropriate to the audience being addressed and must fulfill the audience’s expectations. As a speaker you must understand that your appearance has a big impact on the audience; they may judge you even before hearing you. Dress appropriately. Maintain proper posture. Use natural gestures, maintain eye contact with the audience and avoid bad mannerisms such as fidgeting, meaningless movements, licking lips, picking your nose etc. Your voice must be confident, mature, and serious. You must appear accessible, be sincere and genuine, and be enthusiastic. Speak as long as there is interest. Do not bore the audience. Watch out for signs of audience disinterest such as sleeping, yawning, or walking out. Cut your talk short if the audience is clearly not interested. Learn from the current speech to improve the next one.


The audience is very important. A great speech to one audience may bore another to sleep.  You may have a good topic and deliver it is a masterful fashion to an uninterested audience. A less well-prepared speech delivered in less than perfect style may go well with a positive and expectant audience. The speech must be related to the audience, the speaker, and the topic. The speech must be adapted to the audience as individuals and as a group. Adapting a speech to an audience does not mean pandering to their vanities.


The audience benefit depends on: purpose of listening, knowledge of the subject, listening skills, and attitudes. As a speaker you must choose your audience carefully. There is no point in speaking to an audience you know is not interested. If you are in the audience you must know that listening is more than hearing. Listen for ideas and not words. Take notes. Suspend judgment


Three parameters concern the message: content, structure, and style. You can learn a lot of technics of speaking effectively, being interesting and captivating the audience. All of these are necessary but can never be a substitute for substance. You must have a useful message to communicate to others. Each speech must have a clear mission. Do not talk for the sake of talking. Talk if you have something to achieve.


A captivating title must show benefit to the audience. It must reflect objectives relevant to them. It must deal with real problems and must suggest solutions. It must be action-oriented, easy to remember titles that stimulate the imagination, phrased in a 'catchy' way attract audiences. Good preparation is always the key to success. There is no short-cut substitute to knowledge of the subject material to be presented. You must demonstrate that you are the expert. Do not exaggerate. Be honest about limitations in your knowledge. Make sure you tell the audience what are facts, what are opinions, and what are ideas or theories. The message must be innovative and creative


Preparing a good speech takes time and effort. Some estimate that one minute of speaking requires one hour of preparation. Familiarity with the subject matter or experience in delivering similar speeches help reduce the time of preparation. Start by planning a time-table and setting specific goals. The following are steps in speech preparation: selecting and narrowing down the subject, determining the general and specific purposes, determining the central idea, analyzing the audience and the occasion, gathering material for the speech, making an outline, and practicing the speech. Narrowing a topic involves selecting 2-3 points that you can discuss well in the time allocated. You must have the purpose of the speech very clear in your mind. Choose a title for the speech that is relevant to you, the audience and the occasion. The title should be provocative and brief. When planning a speech start by deciding what you will speak on. Choose what to talk about being guided by subjects you know about, ideas you believe in, or what interests you and the audience. Audience interest is evoked by: concerns over health, security or happiness; solutions to recognized problems; controversy of conflict, a subject appropriate to the occasion. Prepare an outline dividing your presentation into three parts: introduction, body and conclusion.


The introduction is an overview of the speech. It is concise. It raises interest and expectations. You must preview background, special terms, and key points at the start. Plan to capture audience interest at the start or risk losing it forever. Humor is one way of capturing audience interest. Other methods are: starting with questions, telling stories, anecdotes, and personal experiences


In structuring the body, outline your ideas. The following approaches may be used in outlining: chronology, questions (what?, where?, how?, when?), cause and effect, narration, process, definition, classification, analogies, illustrations, problem-solving scenarios, deductive logic (general to specific), inductive logic (specific to general), time and place characteristics. A thesis must be developed. The thesis statement is the controlling idea, the central theme of the speech. It must be a single declarative sentence. Since it sets the cue for the whole speech, it should be presented early in the speech. Ideas must be organized as main points and linking ideas or transitions from one idea to another must be included for smooth flow of the speech. The language must be clear and appropriate for the topic, situation, and audience. The conclusion must summarize the material and end with humility.


The best speeches are those that are original ie the central ideas are from the speaker. Supporting material is needed to make the speech more effective. Examples of support material include: opinions (public or expert), specific examples or instances, comparisons, and statistics. The speaker must research to obtain support material. The following are possible sources of library support material: books, magazines, periodicals, government documents, newspapers, computer data-bases.  Non-library sources include: interviews,


Rehearsing a speech before delivery increases the speaker's confidence, helps find difficult parts, assists in identifying mistakes, and helps time the duration of the speech. Rehearsal helps you modulate your voice, improve your gestures, and check visual aids. The most important benefit from rehearsing is the feeling of self-confidence in the knowledge that you have prepared well and have rehearsed and are sure you can deliver a good speech. The following are methods of rehearsal that can be used: reciting aloud, using a tape recorder, silently talking to yourself,


Delivery involves both physical and vocal aspects. The physical aspects include: gestures, posture, facial expression. The vocal aspects include: pitch, volume, rate, fluency, and pronunciation. A good presentation must be natural, dynamic, articulate, and displays emotion. As a speaker you must aim at getting and maintaining audience interest. You must capture the attention of the audience from the start if you are to keep it through the speech. Make your topic specific and unique. Either establish yourself as an authority on the topic or quote authorities. To keep the audience interest, tell them what interests them but not in a hypocritical way. Do not pander to their vanities. You must convey your message even if you differ from them. Show interest in your audience by mentioning facts that indicate you did take the trouble to find out about them. The following also help maintain audience interest: activity, reality, proximity, familiarity, novelty, suspense, conflict, humor, issues that affect vested interests. Reinforce and repeat your main points throughout the presentation. Be human, personal and accessible. Try to link your personal experiences with the presentation. When speaking, define technical terms and avoid jargon as much as possible. Use anecdotes & examples, give details, speak as if you are in conversation, use simple everyday language. Use natural gestures and maintain eye contact. Talk only when there is interest. Stop talking as soon as there is a distraction. A good conclusion summarizes the key ideas, gives a sense of completeness and appeals to the audience.


Avoid powerless talk that loses you audience interest. Powerless talk makes you lose authority and credibility in front of the audience. Matters may become so bad that they ask themselves even why you came to talk to them at all! Do not hesitate. Hesitation indicates lack of knowledge or confidence. Do not hedge by using phrases like 'I guess' or 'I think'. Do not use tag questions like 'isn't it?' or 'wouldn't it?'. Do not make any disclaimers like 'I am not the most knowledgeable on this topic', 'I did not prepare'.  Do not make any excuses like 'I was not the scheduled speaker; I am substituting', 'I do not know the subject well' etc


Choose a method of presentation (memory, reading manuscript, ex-tempore, impromptu) and rehearse. Try to personalize the delivery method. Know what works best for you. The most effective delivery would be from memory. There is however a high risk of being confused, forgetting some parts, or saying things you did not plan to say. The very effort of memorizing a speech is also not easy. Memorization is appropriate for short oft-repeated speeches such as election campaign speeches or toasting. Success requires constant practice. It is a good precaution to keep a piece of paper in case you get stuck. Use of a manuscript is precise but interferes with active interaction with the audience and could be boring.  Use a written speech should be used only for the most important and sensitive matters especially when details are important. Try to memorize certain sections and do not read every word. Try to speak in as natural a way as is possible. The favored delivery is ex-tempore. Extempore delivery uses notes as points to guide the speaker and this is the best. You should have a manuscript with which you are very familiar but you however speak from notes and outlines. Direct quotes should be written out in full to avoid making mistakes. Practice is needed for a perfect delivery. There is no impromptu speech. What does for impromptu speech has usually been planned and thought about a long time ago and is not spontaneous to the speaker. An impromptu presentation must be brief. Essentially it involves stating a main idea, developing an argument, and stating a conclusion. Practice is mandatory. Impromptu delivery should be avoided except for very experienced speakers who are very knowledgeable about the subject and have delivered a similar speech before.


Try to make your speech unique so that it can be remembered. The following can be used to increase retention: audio-visuals, repetition, periods of silence, audience participation.. The following speech characteristics also help retention: short and simple, use of examples and stories to illustrate, appropriate language use. The following speaker characteristics help retention: sincerity, appropriate body language,  and emotion


A good speech is usually simple, short, and to the point. The importance of the message conveyed can not be judged by the length of time it took to convey it. Use repetition instead of giving too much information. Do not overlord the audience with information. Concentrate on a few main points but present them well and effectively


The following measures help improve language use. Words must be used parsimoniously. Be accurate in your word use. Choose words carefully. Avoid loaded words, slang and colloquial expressions. Use vivid language by employing analogies, allusions, alliterations, parallelisms, metaphors, and similes. Verbosity and pompous language should be avoided. Your language must be clear. Use appropriate abstract or concrete language depending on the audience and the topic. Your voice must be active.


Professional speakers and politicians tell the audience what the audience wants to hear and sometimes get away with it. Specific packaging or customizing a speech is of paramount importance to them. You are not in that league. You may only customize the delivery techniques, the intellectual level, or even content of the message. You however can never compromise the truth just to please the audience. You are a leader and the audience are followers. It is a failure of the leadership process if you tell then what pleases their ears instead of talking as a leader and showing them the way ahead. Pleasing audiences is the work of performers and entertainers.


Speaking with emotion captivates the audience. They may share in the emotion. However too much emotionalism may be negative. You must know the audience and its culture. Some cultures are associated with high emotions whereas others are more subdued. The language employed must be appropriate to the emotional level. The emotion must be appropriate to the subject of discussion and to the audience.


Liberal use of relevant examples helps illustrate points and also increase retention. The examples must be relevant and not offensive. The example must not become a point if controversy or introduce a new idea that distracts from the topic


A story especially if humorous helps understanding and retention. The story helps build a visual image; visual images are better retained. The story should be simple and brief and should not itself become the focus of interest. The story should be relevant to the speech and should only emphasize one of the points already made. The story should present only one non-controversial idea that does not allow more than one interpretation. The standard used is that any story told in a speech should be understood by a child even before the telling is completed.




            "Jabir b Samura reported: I used to pray with the Messenger of Allah ( may peace be upon him ) and both his prayer and sermon were of moderate length.". Muslim 2:410, Chapter 39, Hadith #1883



            "Ammar b Yasir said: The Apostle of Allah ( may peace be upon him ) commanded us to shorten the speeches". Abu Daud 1:285, Chapter 382, Hadith # 1101



            "Hadrat Abu Umamah said " The Hadith of the Holy Prophet ( Salam ) was the Qur'an indeed. He remembered Allah too much, and delivered short sermons. He made lengthy recitations (of the Qura'nic verses) in his prayer. and never frowned or scowled at any one. He always accompanied a needy person till that person's need was over " Hayat 2:609



On the eighth day of Dhu al Hijjah, the day of al Tarwiyah, Muhammad went to Mina and spent the day and night in that locality. There, he performed all the prayers incumbent during that period. The following day, Muhammad recited his dawn  prayer and, at sunrise, proceeded on his camel, al Qaswa', to the Mount of 'Arafat, followed by all the pilgrims. As he ascended the mountain, he was surrounded by thousands of his companions reciting the talbiayah and the takbir The Prophet naturally heard their recitations but made no effort either to stop them or to encourage them. He commanded some of his companions to put up a tent for him on the east side of the mountain at a spot called Namirah. When the sun  passed the zenith, he ordered his camel to be saddled, and rode on it until he reached the valley of ' Uranah. It was there that he, while sitting on his camel, delivered his sermon in a loud voice to his people. Rabiah ibn Umayyah ibn Khalaf repeated the sermon after him sentence by sentence. He began by praising God and thanking Him, and then turning to the people, he said:


"O Men, listen well to my words, for I do not know whether I shall meet you again on such an occasion in the future. O Men, your lives and your property shall be inviolate until you meet your Lord. The safety of your lives and of your property shall be as inviolate as this holy day and holy month. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. Thus do I warn you. Whoever of you is keeping a trust of someone else shall return that trust to its rightful owner. All interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer inequity. God has judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to 'Abbas ibn 'Abd al Muttalib shall hence­forth be waived. Every right arising out of homicide in pre‑Islamic days is henceforth waived. And the first such right that I waive is that arising from the murder of Rabi'ah ibn al Harith ibn 'Abd al Muttalib. O Men, the devil has lost all hope of ever being worshipped in this land of yours. Nevertheless, he still is anxious to determine the lesser of your deeds. Beware of him, therefore, for the safety of your religion. O Men, intercalation or tampering with the calendar is evidence of great unbelief and confirms the unbelievers in their misguidance. They indulge in it one year and forbid it the next in order to make permissible that which God forbade, and to forbid that which God has made permissible. The pattern according to which the time is reckoned is always the same. With God, the months are twelve in number. Four of them are holy. Three of these are successive and one occurs singly between the months of Jumada and Sha'ban. O Men, to you a right belongs with respect to your women and to your women a right with respect to you. It is your right that they not fraternize with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to commit adultery. But if they do, then God has permitted you to isolate them within their homes and to chastise them without cruelty. But if they abide by your right, then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them,for they are.your partners and  committed helpers. Remember that you have taken them as your wives and enjoyed their flesh only under God's trust and with His permission. Reason well, therefore, O Men, and ponder my words which I now convey to you. I am leaving you with the Book of God and the Sunnah of His Prophet. If you follow them, you will never go astray. O Men, harken well to my words. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legit­imate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to your own selves. O God, have I conveyed Your message ?" . As the Prophet delivered his speech, Rabi'ah repeated it sen­tence by sentence and asked the people every now and then whether or not they had understood the Prophet's words and committed them to memory. In order to make sure that the people understood and remembered, the Prophet used to ask his crier to say: "The Prophet of God asks, 'Do you know which day is this?" The audience would answer, "Today is the day of the greater pilgrimage." The Prophet then would say, "Tell them that God has declared inviolate your lives and your property until the day you will meet your Lord; that he has made the safety of your property and of your lives as inviolate as this day." At the end of his speech, the Prophet asked, "O God, have I conveyed your message?" And the people answered from all corners, "Indeed so! God be witness."


When the Prophet finished his sermon, he dismounted and waited until noon, at which time he performed both the noon and the midafternoon prayers. He then mounted his camel and proceeded to al Sakharat where he recited to the people the con­cluding divine revelation: "Today I have completed for you your religion, and granted you the last of my blessings. Today I have accepted for you Islam as the religion." When Abu Bakr heard this verse he realized that with the completion of the divine message, the Prophet's life was soon to come to a close. ( Muhammad pp 485-487 )




"Narrated Ibn Umar: The Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) said, " Allah will not punish ( people ) because of the tears they shed ( over the dead ) but He will punish ( them ) because of this," pointing to his tongue. Kab bin Malik said: The Prophet gestured to me with his hand, ordering me to take half ( my due ). Asma said: Once the Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) offered the eclipse prayer. I asked Aisha while she was offering the prayer, " What is the matter with the people ?" She pointed towards the sun with her head. I asked, " Is there a sign?" She nodded, agreeing. Anas said: The Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) signalled to Abu Bakr with his hand to lead the prayer. Ibn Abbas said: The Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) waved his hand, indicating that there was no harm ( in a certain matter ).Abu Qatada said: The Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) said ( to his companions ) regarding hunting by a Muhrim, " Did anyone of you ( while in the state of Ihram ) order him ( a non Muhrim ) to attack the game, or did anyone of you point at it ( to draw hi attention)? They said, " No." On that the Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) said: " Then eat of it."

Bukhari 7:163-164, chapter 24



"Abd Allah b. Umar said: When two men who came from the east made a speech and the people were charmed with their eloquence, the Apostle of Allah ( may peace be upon him ) said: In some eloquent speech there is magic"

Abu Daud 3: 1393, Chapter 1801, Hadith # 4989



"Narrated Ibn Umar: Two men from the east and delivered speeches, and the Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) said, " Some eloquent speech has the influence of magic ( e.g. some people refuse to do something and then a good eloquent speaker addresses them and then they agree to do that very thing after his speech).". Bukhari 7:57, hadith # 76



"One day when a man got up and spoke at length Amr b. al-As said: If he had been moderate in what he said, it would have been better for him. I heard the Apostle of Allah ( may peace be upon him ) say: I think ( or, I have been commanded that I should be brief in what I say, for brevity is better". Abu Daud 3: 1393, Chapter 1801, Hadith # 4990



"Narrated Ibn Masud: The Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) used to take care of us in preaching by selecting suitable time, so that we might not get bored. ( He abstained from pestering us with sermons and knowledge all the time)". Bukhari 1:60, hadith # 68



"Abd Allah b Buraidah reported on the authority of his father: The Apostle of Allah ( may peace be upon him ) delivered a speech to us; meanwhile al-Hasan and al-Husain came upon there stumbling, wearing red shirts. He came down from the pulpit, took them and ascended it with them. He then said: Allah truly said: Your property and your children are only trial" Qur'an I saw both of them, and I could not wait. Afterwards he resumed the speech". Abu Daud 1: 285-286, Chapter 384, Hadith # 1104



"Abu Huraira reported the Apostle of Allah ( may peace be upon him ) as saying: When you tell ( your brother on Friday ) to be silent while the imam is giving the sermon you are guilty of idle talk". Abu Daud 1:286-287, Chapter 386, Hadith # 1107



"Abd Allah b Amr reported the Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) as saying: Three types of people attend Friday prayer: one is present in a frivolous way and that is all he gets from it; another comes with a supplication, Allah may grant or refuse his request as He wishes; another is silently and quietly without stepping over a Muslim or annoying anyone, and that is an atonement for his sins till the next Friday and three days more, the reason being that Allah, the Exalted, says: " He who does a good deed will have ten times as much". Abu Daud 1: 1108, Chapter 386, Hadith # 1108



"Abu Al Zahiriyyah said: We were in the company of Abd Allah b. Busr, the Companion of the Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) on a Friday. A man came and stepped over the people. Abd Allah b. Busr said: A man came and stepped over the people while the Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) was giving the sermon on Friday. The Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) said: Sit down, you have annoyed the people". Abu Daud 1:288, Chapter 387, Hadith # 1113



"Ibn Umar reported the Apostle of Allah ( may peace be upon him ) as saying: When any of you dozes in the mosque ( on Friday ) he should change his place". Abu Daud 1:288, Chapter 390, Hadith # 1114



            "Umara b. Ruwaida said he saw Bishr b. Marwan on the pulpit raising his hands and said: Allah, disfigure there hands! I have seen Allah's Messenger ( may peace be upon him ) gesture no more than this with his hands, and he pointed with his forefinger.". Muslim 2:412, Chapter 309, Hadith #1895



"Narrated Abu Huraira Allah's Apostle ( may peace be upon him ) said: " the example of a miser and a generous person is like that of two persons wearing iron cloaks from the breast upto the neck. When the generous person spend the iron cloak enlarges and spread over his skin so much so that it covers his fingertips and obliterates his tracks. As for the miser, as soon as he thinks of spending every ring of the iron cloak sticks to its place ( against his body ) and he tries to expand it but it does not expand. The Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) pointed with his hand towards his throat". Bukhari 7:167, hadith # 219



"Narrated Sahl bin Sad As-Said, a companion of Allah's Apostle ( may peace be upon him ) Allah's Apostle ( may peace be upon him ) holding out his middle and index fingers, said, " My advent and the Hour's are like this ( or like these) namely, the period between his era and the Hours is like the distance between those two fingers, i.e. very short". Bukhari 7:170, hadith # 221



"Narrated Ibn Umar: The Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) holding out his two fingers thrice ) said, " The month is thus and thus and thus," namely thirty days. Then ( holding out his ten fingers twice and then nine fingers) he said, " It may be thus and thus and thus," namely twenty nine days. He mean once thirty days and once twenty nine days.". Bukhari 7:170, hadith # 222



"Narrated Sahl: Allah's Apostle ( may peace be upon him ) said, " I and the one who looks after an orphan will be like this in Paradise," showing his middle and index fingers and separating them". Bukhari 7:171, hadith # 224



"Narrated Abu Masud al Ansari: Once a man said to Allah's Apostle ( may peace be upon him ) " O Allah's Apostle! I may not attend the ( compulsory congregational ) prayer because so and so ( the Imam ) prolongs the prayer when he leads us for it. The narrator added: " I never say the Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) more furious in giving advice than he was on that day. The Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) said. " O people! Some of you make other dislike good deeds ( the prayers ). SO whoever leads the people in prayer should shorten it because among them there are the sick, the weak and the needy ( having some jobs to do". Bukhari 1:75, hadith # 90



"Narrated Ibn Umar: A man asked the prophet ( may peace be upon him ) " What ( kind of clothes ) should a Muhrim ( a Muslim intending to perform Umra or Hajj ) wear? He replied, " He should not wear a shirt, a turban, trousers, a headcloak or a garment scented with saffron or Wars ( kinds of perfumes ). And if he has no slippers, then he can use Khuffs ( leather socks ) but the socks should be cut short so as to make the ankles bare". ukhari 1:99-100, hadith # 136



            "Narrated Ibn Umar: The Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) said, " A man should not make another man get up from his ( the latter's ) seat ( in a gathering ) in order to sit there". Bukhari 8:191, hadith # 286


Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr July 1996