بسمالله الرحمان الرحيم
In the name of Almighty God, the most Gracious, the most Merciful. All praise be to he that created us into many nations and tribes, and into many tongues. All praise be to he that created man with the ability to reflect, and contemplate the wonders of creation in remembrance of God. May God's peace and mercy be upon all of his messengers, and may He be merciful on us all, on the Day of Judgement.
There is undoubtedly one common practice amongst almost all major religions, and that is the practice of gathering, or congregating for worship. God almighty created us as social creatures. We need companionship and fellowship almost as much as we need food and water. This need for fellowship extends into every aspect of our existence. In our careers we need others to complete most tasks. We need others in our romantic lives, obviously. Faith, is no different, and Islam is one of the few faiths that make gathering or congregating for worship, an obligatory part of the faith.
The three major Abrahamic faiths, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, all have a concept of the "Sabbath". "Sabbath" in Hebrew, literally means,"seven", and refers to the seventh day of the week, Saturday. The Torah instructed the children of Israel, the Jews, to keep the Sabbath or "seventh day" holy. To not work or engage in worldly activity, and it was and still is common for Jews to congregate for worship on that day. Christians, originally kept Saturday as the holy day of the week, just as Jews did, because early Christians didn't see themselves as a "new" religion but rather as a continuation of the Jewish faith, recognizing Jesus Christ, peace be upon him, as the Messiah. It was later in Christian history that because of the story of the Resurrection on the "third day" after the crucifiction, meaning Sunday, that the holy day was moved to Sunday. Christians still recognize that the "Sabbath" is Saturday, but because they have become a separate religion from that of Judaism, they no longer consider themselves bound to the laws of the Torah.
In Islam, we recognize the story of the Sabbath and recognize the necessity of the Jewish people to maintain it's sanctity, but this was only a law given by Moses to the children of Israel. It was not a law set forth by Abraham to all believers of God. In the Qur'an and the Torah, it is recorded that God, almighty, created all that is in creation in six periods (not necessarily days), and the Earth was one of those things created in the sixth period. It is also recorded in Islamic scripture that the Day of Judgement will also fall on the sixth day of the week, Friday. So without a doubt, Friday is a significant day for us as part of God's creation. It is reported that the prophet Muhammad said, “Friday is the master of days, and the greatest of them before Allah. It is greater before Allah than the day of al-Adha and the day of al-Fitr (the two major Islamic holidays). It has five characteristics: on this day Allah created Adam, on it He sent Adam down to the earth, on it Allah caused Adam to die, on it there is a time when a person does not ask Allah for anything but He gives it to him, so long as he does not ask for anything haraam (forbidden), and on it the Hour will begin. There is no angel who is close to Allah, no heaven, no earth, no wind, no mountain and no sea that does not fear Friday.” This reported saying of the prophet Muhammad, illustrates to us the importance of holding Friday to a higher esteem than other days, and the necessity to not be lazy in our worship on this day.
Friday is called in Arabic, "yawm ul-Jum'ah", or "day of gathering". Likewise it is also on this day that we as Muslims are required to attend congregational prayers. God almighty says in the Qur'an, “O you who believe (Muslims)! When the call is proclaimed for the Salaah (prayer) on Friday (Jum'ah prayer), come to the remembrance of Allah [Jum'ah khutba (sermon) and Salaah (prayer)] and leave off business (and every other thing). That is better for you if you did but know!” In this verse we have a clear command from God that we as Muslims must attend the jum'ah prayer on Fridays. The only exception is given for women. Women are not required to attend Friday services, but if they are not busy it is very strongly recommended that they go.
As Muslims living here in America, attending jum'ah on Fridays is even more crucial to the survival of our communities. In many small towns such as Ashland, Ohio, where I'm from, the jum'ah is the only time that Muslims in the community come together. For many Muslims in small communities like this, jum'ah offers the only group Islamic education available. It is a time when we as a community come together in fellowship and discuss the issues that are important to our situations. This will be a relatively short post on this blog but my hope is to encourage all my brothers and sisters in Islam, DO NOT NEGLECT JUM'AH. I know that in my small home town, only maybe a third of the Muslims of the community actually attend jum'ah, and I venture to believe that it's probably the same in most communities. Remember all the blessings you could be missing out on by not being there. For those that work, remember that Allah has made it haram to work during the time of the jum'ah, so the money you are making during that time is haram and will not benefit you. For those that attend classes, I know it is sometimes difficult to schedule around things like this, however you must do all you can to be at jum'ah. Whatever education you are getting during this time will also be of no benefit to you if you are neglecting your obligations to God. This is just a friendly reminder to all my brothers and sisters in Islam to always try to attend Friday jum'ah, for the sake of yourselves and your akhirah (afterlife), and also for the sake of our community.
...And Allah Knows Best...