Books · Friday · Worship

The Purpose behind the Friday Prayer

“…Many people are unaware of what the etiquette of a Muslim on Friday should be and most are unaware of its significance. Most do not consider the Friday Prayer as obligatory, hence they miss it intentionally. Many people in Islamic countries are on holiday on this day, so they spend their time sleeping, or in other activities that cause them to neglect the Friday prayer altogether. They do not realize the significance of the Friday Prayer and its sermons, and they come to the mosque according to their own wishes and desires. Most of them are unaware of what is required from a Muslim before or after the Friday Prayer…”

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نُودِيَ لِلصَّلَاةِ مِن يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ فَاسْعَوْا إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَذَرُوا الْبَيْعَ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

“O you who believe! When the call is proclaimed for the prayer on the day of Friday, come to the remembrance of Allah and leave off business (and every other thing), that is better for you if you did but know! [Surah al-Jumu’ah 62: 9]

Islam exhorts its followers to make their social life a visible expression of God-consciousness. Prayer is the most effective means of fostering this virtue in man. This is the reason why it has been made essential for Muslims to observe obligatory prayers in congregation. Jumu’ah is a step forward in this respect. The purpose behind it is to provide opportunities to a greater number of Muslims, to attend larger congregations in the mosque in an atmosphere of religious piety. Apart from prayer, the sermon has also been made an integral part of the Jumu’ah Prayer. The Imam delivers the sermon and instructs people in their religion. He explains to them the day-to-day problems in the light of Islam. Friday is primarily the Day of Assembly. Note the gradations of social contact for Muslims if they followed the wise ordinances of their faith:

1. Each individual remembers Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for himself or herself five or more times every day in the home, place of business, local mosque, or open air, as the case may be,

2. Every week on Friday, there is a local meeting in the central mosque of each locality, be it in a village, a town or a big city,

3. At the two ‘Eids every year, there is a large local area meeting,

4. At least once in a lifetime, when possible, a Muslim shares in the Makkan Pilgrimage, the largest of the all Islamic gatherings in this world.

Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah reported: the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was delivering the Khutbah on Friday in a standing posture when a caravan of merchandise from Syria came to Madina. The Companions of the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam rushed towards it until only twelve persons were left with him, including Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radhiAllahu ‘anhum. It was on this occasion that these ayaat were revealed:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نُودِيَ لِلصَّلَاةِ مِن يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ فَاسْعَوْا إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَذَرُوا الْبَيْعَ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ – فَإِذَا قُضِيَتِ الصَّلَاةُ فَانتَشِرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَابْتَغُوا مِن فَضْلِ اللَّهِ وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا لَّعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ -وَإِذَا رَأَوْا تِجَارَةً أَوْ لَهْوًا انفَضُّوا إِلَيْهَا وَتَرَكُوكَ قَائِمًا ۚ قُلْ مَا عِندَ اللَّهِ خَيْرٌ مِّنَ اللَّهْوِ وَمِنَ التِّجَارَةِ ۚ وَاللَّهُ خَيْرُ الرَّازِقِينَ –

“O you who believe! When the call is proclaimed for the prayer on the day of Friday, come to the remembrance of Allah and leave off business (and every other thing), that is better for you if you did but know! Then when the prayer is completed, you may disperse through the land, and seek the Bounty of Allah, and remember Allah much, that you may be successful. And when they see some merchandise or some amusement they disperse headlong to it, and leave you standing. Say: That which Allah has is better than any amusement or merchandise! And Allah is the Best of providers,” [Surah al-Jumu’ah 62: 9-11].

[Ref: Saheeh Muslim Vol 2, No. 1880]

This was not wilful disobedience on the part of the Companions, they were so attached to the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that one cannot conceive of such a thing. They were in actuality, not fully aware of the importance of the Friday sermon. Furthermore, at this time was a year of drought and famine, thus most of the people were in the grip of starvation. Therefore, they rushed to the place where the caravan had arrived in order to get provisions of food before they were depleted. There were sure they would come back within time and join the prayer. But Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala showed His displeasure by informing them that what is with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is better than sport and merchandise. They should therefore, depend upon Him alone for sustenance. This ayah had the desired effect, as is recorded in the Qur’an,

رِجَالٌ لَّا تُلْهِيهِمْ تِجَارَةٌ وَلَا بَيْعٌ عَن ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَإِقَامِ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ ۙ يَخَافُونَ يَوْمًا تَتَقَلَّبُ فِيهِ الْقُلُوبُ وَالْأَبْصَارُ – لِيَجْزِيَهُمُ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنَ مَا عَمِلُوا وَيَزِيدَهُم مِّن فَضْلِهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ –

“Men whom neither trade nor sale diverts them from the Remembrance of Allah, nor from performing As-Salat, nor from giving the Zakat. They fear a Day when hearts and eyes will be overturned (from the horror of the torment of the Day of Resurrection). That Allah may reward them according to the best of their deeds, and add even more for them out of His Grace. And Allah provides without measure to whom He wills,” [Surah an-Nur 24: 37-38].

In these ayaat, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has praised God-fearing men in general and the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam especially who gave priority to remembrance, regular prayer and giving of regular charity over their trade and sale. They did so because they knew that the success in the Hereafter lies in the Prayer. Wealth and business will not help them on the Day of Resurrection, rather they hoped for the rewards which Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala promised them in these ayaat.

Book: Etiquettes of a Muslim on Friday, Abu Ibraheem Majeed Alee Hassan

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