The Friday sermon and the Sunday sermon

The government of Malaysia spends billions to build mosques. And hundreds of millions to train, deploy and support Muslim clerics and officials.

The chief organ for such work is JAKIM, the Department for Development (“promotion” may be more accurate) of Islam, with a budget of RM1.4 billion in 2021.

JAKIM is at the Federal level. There are many similar institutions at the state level. They have their own budgets.

Every week, JAKIM publishes a document called Khutbah Jumaat (Friday Sermon). It’s intended to be read as the sermon at Friday lunchtime prayers. The Selangor state Islamic institution (JAIS) also publishes its own Khutbah Jumaat. I suppose other states do too.

I sometimes read the Khutbah Jumaat. Especially when there are important developments in our nation. For example, the convictions of former Prime Minister Najib and then of his wife Rosmah.

I read the Khutbah Jumaat to compare what Muslims are hearing from their pulpits with what Christians are hearing from their pulpits.

I’m often impressed by some aspects of the Friday Khutbah. For example, the one for Friday past, by JAIS was very practical. Titled “Protect your wealth, beware of scammers,” it included data about scams:

For 2022 alone, up until July, the total number of overall cases reported are 13,137. While, the total number of arrests are 6,947 cases. The total loss incurred is recorded at over RM427 million, which is very troubling.

It also included data about people who allowed others to use their bank accounts. Such misused accounts are called akaun keldai, meaning “mule accounts”:

A total of 205,544 mule accounts have been discovered since 2014. More than 34,000 arrests have been made between the year 2016 until March 2022. The majority of those accused are the owners of those accounts, while the syndicates are scot-free and continue to search for other victims that would provide mule accounts.

The sermon cautions listeners – Muslims – against greed, which it treats as the root cause of the crime of scamming, cheating people by making false promises or allegations.

I’m disappointed that the sermon said nothing about the convictions of Najib and Rosmah.

Going by what judges wrote – three judgments in the case of Najib (High Court, Court of Appeal and Federal Court) and one in the case of Rosmah (High Court) – the judiciary has clearly concluded that Najib, Rosmah and certain other, named political leaders are also scammers![1]

Christians don’t have centrally prepared sermons designed to be read in all congregations every Sunday – although occasionally a letter from a Bishop or Council of Bishops will be read from the pulpit in some churches. This is especially true when churches are persecuted – I can cite examples in Germany, South Africa, El Salvador, Uganda.

Perhaps mosque pulpits score well on the crime of scamming, and poorly on corruption and judicial findings. How do Christian pulpits score? Who decides what should be on the report card? Who’s doing well? Who’s not?

As taxpayers who fund JAKIM, JAIS and so on, how should we regard Khutbah Jumaat?

Lectionary readings for Sunday.

[1] The JAKIM Khutbah Jumaat for 9 September include this: “Second: Islam exalts justice. All offences must be prosecuted fairly, in the right place.” (My translation – unlike JAIS, JAKIM doesn’t provide an English version.)

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