I have been giving a lot of thought to the role of the imam in the lives of American Muslims. I think about how so many portions of our community are under served and the reasons being are plenty with enough blame to be cast on both sides of the minbar. But I thought I would share a hadith from Ibn ‘Abbas, the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم cousin and close companions, may God be pleased with him, in which he made the following statement:
عَنْ عِكْرِمَةَ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، قَالَ حَدِّثِ النَّاسَ، كُلَّ جُمُعَةٍ مَرَّةً، فَإِنْ أَبَيْتَ فَمَرَّتَيْنِ، فَإِنَّ أَكْثَرْتَ فَثَلاَثَ مِرَارٍ وَلاَ تُمِلَّ النَّاسَ هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ، وَلاَ أُلْفِيَنَّكَ تَأْتِي الْقَوْمَ وَهُمْ فِي حَدِيثٍ مِنْ حَدِيثِهِمْ فَتَقُصُّ عَلَيْهِمْ، فَتَقْطَعُ عَلَيْهِمْ حَدِيثَهُمْ فَتُمِلُّهُمْ، وَلَكِنْ أَنْصِتْ، فَإِذَا أَمَرُوكَ فَحَدِّثْهُمْ وَهُمْ يَشْتَهُونَهُ، فَانْظُرِ السَّجْعَ مِنَ الدُّعَاءِ فَاجْتَنِبْهُ، فَإِنِّي عَهِدْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَأَصْحَابَهُ لاَ يَفْعَلُونَ إِلاَّ ذَلِكَ. يَعْنِي لاَ يَفْعَلُونَ إِلاَّ ذَلِكَ الاِجْتِنَابَ
On the authority of ‘Ikrimah: Ibn `Abbas said, “Preach to the people once a week, and if you dislike to then preach to them twice, but if you want to preach more, then let it suffice to be three times a week. Do not make people weary of this Qur’an. If you come to some people who are engaged in talk, don’t interrupt their talk by preaching, otherwise you will bore them. Rather, you should keep quiet, and if they ask you, then you may preach to them at the time when they have a desire to hear what you say. And avoid the use of rhymed prose in invocation for I noticed that God’s Messenger and his companions always avoided it.”
What really grabs me the most about the Salaf, the companions, etc., is their earnestness and their directness. Food for thought.