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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Virtues of Friday: Surprising observations from the Qur'an and Sunnah

[ The following is an edited version of the Friday Khutbah delivered 10/14/16 at Toledo Masjid Al-Islam. The opening Hamd has been omitted.]

Judgement day

The Prophet Muhammad [Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam] is reported to have said "And the hour [i.e. judgement] will not be established except on Friday." [Saheeh Muslim].

There are many other ahadeeth which outline the virtues of Friday, such as one which states that Allah accepting the supplication of a supplicant on this day, about it being the leading day in God's sight [ Inna Yaumal Jumu'ati Sayyidul Ayyami wa A'athamuhaa 'IndaLLaah], and we are even told in the hadeeth literature in at least two narrations that Adam was created on a Friday!

Why do we have all of this emphasis on Friday [Yawmul Jumu'ah]? The answer to this is found in the Qur'anic command

O Believers! When the call is made for Friday prayers, rush forth to the remembrance of Allah, and leave off trade. That is best for you, if you do but know." [Q 62:9].

Thus, remembering Allah, being reminded via the Adhaan, Khutbah, prayer and Qur'an references the speaker inevitably makes, all of this has the power to transform!

"And the remembrance of Allah is the greatest [source of inspiration and power], and Allah knows what you manufacture." [Q 29:45]

So the experience of Jumu'ah is supposed to be empowering!

Empowerment to do what?

What should experience of Jumu'ah empower us to do? We have to return to the first hadeeth mentioned. "The hour of Judgment will be established on the day of Jumu'ah."

At foremost, Jumu'ah reminds us of the reality of standing before Allah. Sir Francis Bacon said "Knowledge is power".

Knowledge is itself power, knowledge or awareness of being in the future standing in the presence of God.

Another benefit would be empowerment in thinking. Allah's reminders create a transformed thinking, mentality, worldview!

In every single way, authentic Islam as presented in the Qur'an and the life of Allah's Messenger promotes balance, healthy interactions and community feeling.

The one reminded of Allah should be reminded to abandon the terrible ways of thinking and acting that included misogyny, sexism, racism and xenophobia.

The reminders of Allah even are displayed in the small areas of the Prophetic Sunan that are emphasized on Fridays. The Friday 'Sunan' [plural of Sunnah] include bathing before Jumu'ah, dressing in nice clothing, cutting nails. Before the start of the Khutbah, we engage in personal reflections on Allah, reading the Qur'an, and even after the congregational prayers, we pray two Rak'ahs.

So we have in these -both great and small- expressions of authentic spirituality.

Being reminded about Allah has an impact on the here and now.

"[Believers are ] those when afflicted by calamity, say :"Indeed, we belong to Allah, and to him is our return". It is such people that have on them blessings [salawaat] from their Lord, and mercy [as well]. and it is they who have received guidance." [ Q 2: 156-157]

So while we are to take Friday prayers seriously, we should take the deen seriously in general. Use the Qur'an as it is supposed to be used, to examine but also to reform one's own actions and worldview. The opportunity to become serious exists so long as you have life.

Standing in prayer [Qiyaam] and Standing before Allah [Qiyaamah]



In Salaah, we recite Al-Faatihah, the first Quranic chapter. In that Soorah's recitation, we pray not only for religious guidance, but we pray that which produces Ni'mah [grace, bounties] in the real world, and avoiding that which produces Divine anger and takes us away from that Ni'mah!

We begin our Salaah by Qiyaam. We are standing as the first act of the prayer. That act of Qiyaam should remind us standing before Allah on judgement day, known as Yawmul Qiyaamah, the day of standing or resurrection.

"Our Lord, Verily, You are the Gatherer of Mankind on a day in which there is no doubt. Indeed, Allah does not fail in his promise." [Q 3:9]

So Prayer, be it on Fridays or other days, should inspire us to become more aligned with what is authentic and healthy, which in turn will court Divine Mercy.

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