If the majority of worshippers are Arabic speakers, then the Khutba should be in Arabic. If not, there should be a khutba in the language most commonly understood between them. The importance of a Khutba is to guide the believers/ worshippers in Islam; how can they be guided if they do not understand the language?
The Quran states that Allah sent messages to people in their own language. In Surat Ibrahim 14:4:
- "We sent not a messenger except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people, in order to make (things) clear to them. Now Allah
leaves straying those whom He pleases and guides whom He pleases: and
He is Exalted in power, full of Wisdom."
If Allah sent His messengers in the languages of their respective peoples, then it would follow that the guidance of a Khutba, on a lesser scale than the revelations and guidance of prophets/ messengers, should likewise be in the language of the khateeb's audience. Or in the case of mixed-language audiences, the predominant language, provides the khateeb himself speaks it.
Another point illustrates that what is most important is that people understand the message, more than the language itself in which it is delivered. From Surat Fussillat 41:44:
- Had We sent this as a Qur'an (in the language) other than Arabic, they would have said: "Why are not its verses explained in detail?
What! (a Book) not in Arabic and (a Messenger) an Arab?" Say: "It is a
Guide and a Healing to those who believe; and for those who believe
not, there is a deafness in their ears, and it is blindness in their
(eyes): They are (as it were) being called from a place far distant!"
This aya illustrates that because Arabic was the language of Prophet Mohammad and his immediate community, the Quran was sent in Arabic, just as previous revelations were sent in the languages of the receiving community. And Allah knows that this book is a guide to all nations, many of whom do not speak or understand Arabic. But in modern times, translations are more accurate, printing and scholarship are more prevalent, and at the same time the original is preserved unlike prior messages. Since we keep the original, translations can always refer back to it for accuracy and study. A Khutba, on the other hand, is given to Muslims to enhance their understanding of Islam, and help explain both Quran and hadeeths; since the Quran makes it clear that what is important is understanding and clarity, and that even for divine revelations Allah could send them in any language, how much more permissible such direct explanations in non-Arabic languages could be.
Even though the Quran is in Arabic, and it is important for Muslims to learn Arabic to better study the Quran, this does not mean the Khutba must necessarily be in Arabic. The message of Islam can be understood in any language. Understanding is the most important thing in this case.