Why is Friday special in Islam?
The Arabic word “jumu’ah” means, “getting together” and is used for “Friday.” The difference between the Islamic Friday and Jewish Saturday and Christian Sunday is that Muslims do not consider Friday to be “the prayer day of the week.” Another distinction the Friday bears is the noon prayer, which was unequivocally commanded by Allah: “O you who have attained to faith!
When the call to prayer is sounded on the day of congregation [Friday], hasten to the remembrance of Allah, and leave all worldly commerce: this is for your own good, if you but knew it” (Jumu`ah 62:9).
This commandment shows that there is no “the prayer day of the week” concept in Islam unlike in Judaism or Christianity. The Friday prayer is an obligatory prayer along with other obligatory daily prayers (salâh).
What is the Friday prayer?
Fulfilling the noon prayer on Fridays is a divine commandment to all Muslims (Jumu`ah 62:9), which is performed in congregations. The Friday prayer is offered instead of the regular noon prayer, thereby rendering the noon prayer non-obligatory.
The most significant difference between the two prayers is that the regular noon prayer includes four units (raka’ah), while the Friday prayer is twice as short.
The “missing” two raka’ahs are compensated for by khutbah (sermon), which is a well-known platform for disseminating knowledge.
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What is the khutbah (sermon)?
The word khutbah is derived from a root for “appealing, speaking.” Some say the khutbah is “worship in form of enlightening” and “obligatorily gaining knowledge.” It is the most widespread method of “spreading knowledge” in the world.
Allah commands that every adult and conscious Muslim attends such knowledge-gaining sessions until he/she perishes.
The khutbah analyzes issues that the Islamic community is facing from the Qur’anic perceptive and enlightens sane and sober-minded members of that community.
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Thus, the khutbah turns mosques into education institutions; acts of worship become education and lesson; imams are now teachers; finally, parish turns into a body of students.