A day ‘more equal’ than others

The natural course of the solar system gives us seven days a week and about fifty-two weeks in a year. Each of the seven days in a week comes with its own blessings and virtues. However, none of the days of the week is as blessed and virtuous as Friday. According to prophetic traditions, it is indeed unique among other days. Abu Hurayrah (RA) reports that the Prophet (SAW) said “The best day on which the sun shines is Friday: on it (Friday) was Prophet Adam (AS) created, on it was he taken in to the Garden of Bliss, on it was he taken out of it, and on it would Judgment take place”.

“Jumu’ah”, which is the Arabic word for Friday literally means “Day of Assembly”. It is a day on which Muslims traditionally gather at a central mosque of the community. This weekly congregation of common public worship that is preceded by a sermon (Khutbah) reflects Muslim unity and solidarity. In the sermon, the Imam reviews the week’s spiritual life of the community and thereafter offers advice and exhortation on living a righteous life.

Imam Ahmad and Imam Ibn Majah both relate on the authority of Abu Lubanaah Al-Badri (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) described Friday as the most virtuous among other days in the sight of Allah (SWT). The Prophet (SAW) further adds, “It is on Friday that Prophet Adam (AS) was brought down from the heavens to the earth; on it was his soul taken, and within it also lies a period during which all requests made by believers are granted by Allah (SWT) as long as such requests are not about prohibited (Haram) things in Islam”. Imam Muslim also relates on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) said: “whoever performs ablution correctly and according to laid down rules, and then goes to the Juma’ah mosque and listens to the Khutbah of the Imam, would be forgiven the sins committed between two Fridays…”

The period during which supplications made by believers are granted by Allah (SWT) is one of those virtues that make Friday special and unique among other days of the week. The question to be asked now is: What specific time on Friday does this particular period of spiritual fulfilment comes up? Abu Sa’eed, Abu Hurayrah and Jabir all report from the Prophet (SAW) that this special period comes after the late-noon (Asr) prayer. Similarly, Abu Salmah and Imam Ahmad bn Hanbal are both of the view that most traditions reported on the matter favour the opinion which narrows this special period to the time after Asr prayer.

However, Imam Muslim and Abu Daud on the authority of Abu Musa reports that the Prophet (SAW) said, “The spiritual hour of Friday lies in the period between when the Imam sits on the pulpit (Mimbar) to deliver Khutbah and the time when the Juma’ah prayer terminates”. Many scholars opine that the spiritual hour we are searching for is concealed in the period during which the Imam sits in-between the two segments of the Khutbah while on the pulpit.

Ibn Umar (RA) reports from the Prophet (SAW) that believers are enjoined to take ritual birth (Ghusl) on Friday as a way of glorifying the day. Other meritorious acts of this holy day, Friday, which the Prophet (SAW) recommends for believers include shaving, cutting fingernails, wearing beautiful dresses and the use of perfume. Imam An-Nisai, Al-Baihaqi and Al-Hakim all relate on the authority of Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri that the Prophet (SAW) recommends the recitation of Surat ul-Kahaf of the Holy Qur’an every Friday. Abu Daud relates on the authority of Aws bn Aws (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) said “The best of (your) days is Friday. Therefore, invoke many blessings upon me (on Fridays) for your prayers of peace and blessings (would always) reach me”.

We are encouraged by prophetic traditions to be early at the Friday Jum’ah congregational prayer. Alqamah reports that he once went out along with Abdullahi bn Mas’ud to observe Jum’ah prayer. They met three persons when they got to the mosque. Ibn Majah relates on the authority of Ibn Mas’ud (RA) who said, “I am fourth of the four and verily the fourth of the four is not far from Allah (SWT)”. He continued “I heard the Prophet (SAW) say “People on the judgment day will sit according to when they (used to) arrive at the mosque for congregational Jumu’ah prayer”. Early arrival at the mosque will avail us with the opportunity of benefiting from the message of the Khutbah delivered by the Imam.

Chapter 62 of the holy Qur’an is named after this blessed day, Jumu’ah. Allah (SWT) commands us that whenever it is time for Jum’ah prayer, we should close our doors to all business transactions until the prayer is over. Islam enjoys its believers to devotedly and earnestly answer the call to Jumu’ah prayer. Allah (SWT) charges in Qur’an 62:9 “O ye who believe! When the call is proclaimed to prayer on Friday (The Day of Assembly), hasten earnestly to the remembrance of Allah, and leave off business (and traffic): that is best for you if ye but knew”.

The common craze for wealth, power, influence, relevance or amusement should not be allowed to ‘steal’ from us the time we need to honour a day like no other, Jumu’ah. The things our eyes covet should not distract us from using most part of Friday for devotions. Allah (SWT) states in Qur’an 63:9 “O ye who believe! Let not your riches or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. If any act thus, the loss is theirs” Let us strive to engage in every virtuous act which the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) recommends for Muslims to perform on this special day that is ‘more equal’ than other days of the week.

We would be seen to be honouring this special day when our mode of dressing looks special every Friday; when our recitation of the Qur’an is longer every Friday; and when we spend more time glorifying Allah every Friday. Let us also appreciate the power of the ‘special hour’, which Allah has concealed in the noon hours of Friday by exploring it to overcome all the challenges confronting us, collectively and individually. May the Almighty Allah, the Irresistible, the Omnipotent, the Just, guide us to take full advantage of the virtues that this unique day holds for us, amin.

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