Huzur gave a discourse on the significance of Friday in Islam. He began by citing the following verses of Surah Al Jummah,
‘O ye who believe! when the call is made for Prayer on Friday, hasten to the remembrance of Allah, and leave off all business. That is better for you, if you only knew.
And when the Prayer is finished, then disperse in the land and seek of Allah’s grace, and remember Allah much, that you may prosper.
But when they see some merchandise or some amusement, they break up for it, and leave thee standing. Say, ‘That which is with Allah is better than amusement and merchandise, and Allah is the Best Provider.’ (62:10-12)
Huzur said praise be to God, he would like to acknowledge that during this Ramadan, each Friday the attendance at Baitul Futuh has been so good that space for worshippers had to be provided in the hallways. In fact some of them had to be moved outside. Previously such attendance was reserved for special occasions or the ‘farewell’ (last) Friday of Ramadan. Ahmadis should remember that coming to Friday Prayers with special effort in itself connotes [the significance attached to] ‘farewell Friday’. That is, one leaves aside all one’s engagements and comes for Friday Prayers to seek all the blessings associated with it. After the Prayers one is commanded to go back and seek prosperity with the prayer and resolve not to overlook remembrance of God. Thus, one Friday leads to welcoming the next Friday with intense fervour, as opposed to waiting for one Friday in the entire year. People tend to forget that there are also 51 odd other Fridays in a year which need to be welcomed in a similar way. Huzur said this Friday should draw the attention of those who have perhaps been negligent during the year that they pledge to welcome the next Friday as they say farewell to it. Huzur said he hoped that with the grace of God the attendance that was evident in Baitul Futuh during Ramadan was also visible in all ours mosques around the world. Huzur prayed that this auspicious inclination to attend Friday Prayers is permanent. He said each Ahmadi should pray for this as it is their great responsibility in the current age as the aforementioned verses demonstrate.
Huzur said when the call for Jummah is made, all else is of secondary significance. The verses preceding the one cited above mention Jews, for whom Torah was revealed. They disobeyed it and also rejected the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) despite his advent being foretold. This rejection was to come to pass as they had forgotten the teachings of Torah for which they used to present many explanations. Indeed Surah Jummah likens them to ‘ass carrying a load of books’ (62:6). They also forgot their special day designated to worship; Sabbath, which falls on Saturday. The Qur’an states, ‘And surely, you have known the end of those amongst you, who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath…’ (2:66). For their disregard of Sabbath the Jews were punished. By citing the Jews who had gone astray here attention of the Muslims is drawn to honour the dues of Friday. This is a clear indication that if the said dues are not honoured, they too can be punished.
Huzur said our Sabbath is Friday. Each Muslim should pray for and make effort to safeguard it and pay its dues. Huzur said one pays its dues by ceasing all work and heading for the mosque. In this day and age where the Adhan may not be heard everywhere there are alternative ways and means to remind oneself of the time for Jummah. For example, the Adhan is sounded through [mobile] telephones. Huzur said he does not have personal experience of this but this should be promoted. If the Adhan for Jummah is sounded via [mobile] telephones it can be most beneficial and can lead to Tabligh opportunities. In any case, Huzur said, one can be reminded via the simple alarm system.
Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I (may Allah be pleased with him) said that in 62:10 ‘O ye who believe!’ can only connote those who believe in the Promised Messiah. The general Muslims are also meant here but as the Surah has associated the significance of Friday Prayers with the time of the Messiah, therefore its significance is that much greater for the followers of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). By rejecting him, the other Muslims have put themselves in the category of, ‘…Do you, then, believe in part of the Book and disbelieve in part?...’ 9”:86). True believers are those who believe in the Holy Qur’an from the start till the finish and who accept all the Prophets from Adam (on whom be peace) to the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). It is thus their obligation to make special efforts for this day, [temporarily] ceasing their trades.
Huzur said the era of the Messiah is associated with trade as well. Trade has branched out in unprecedented ways in this age. The loss and gain of the stock market tells us that those who work there are so occupied that they cannot take their eyes off the market for one moment but incur a loss that may go into millions. Similarly smaller market trades which were not so fiercely organised before, now are. With the electronic means time factor for trade has taken on a greater significance. However, God states no matter how much shortage of time you have, it has no significance compared to Friday Prayers. It is necessary to make an effort for Friday Prayers, regardless. Today, we Ahmadis should be those true believers who are to safeguard Friday, then alone can we be the recipients of God’s pleasure.
Huzur further elucidated the significance of Friday by ahadith. In a Hadith from Bukhari, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that on the Day of Judgement despite being from the latter-ones we will be the earlier ones, in spite of the fact that they were first to be given a Book. A specific day was made obligatory for them but they objected over it. However, God guided us in this matter. Huzur said this Hadith requires explanation. Briefly, Huzur said that in the era of second Ahmadiyya Khilafat the task was given to Hadhrat Syed WaliUllah Shah sahib to compile Bukhari ahadith with brief commentary. A few volumes of this were published but then a long period elapsed without anything. A few years ago Huzur established Noor Fund and under its auspices further volumes of ahadith are now published. In explanation of the aforementioned hadith with reference to the Friday Prayers, Hadhrat Syed Waliullah Shah sahib proved that contrary to the views of some Jurists the Friday Prayer is obligatory. He also expounded the literal meanings of the word Sabbath and proved it from the history of Judaism that once their Sabbath was also Friday, or part of Friday but then it changed into Saturday. Sabbath denotes cutting oneself off completely from other pursuits and engaging in worship of God and it was specific to the Israelites. However, they disobeyed the command and were punished. Muslims are not restricted to Friday in the way that the Israelites were to their Sabbath. He also observes that if the Christians could change their special day from Saturday to Sunday it is not unlikely that the Jews too did the same. Historical incidents show that the Jews adopted many creeds of other people and therefore introduced changes to their faith. Huzur gave further historic details of the alternation of Jewish Sabbath from Friday to Saturday. Moses (on whom be peace) had foretold that irreverence of Sabbath will be the cause of the downfall of the Israelites.
Huzur said today, 1,500 years later, with the grace of God, Muslims, no matter what kind, will make an effort for Friday Prayer one way or the other. As long as people will gather for Friday Prayers they will reap the blessings. Huzur said in this age, which is the age of the Messiah, there are particular blessings linked to Friday, therefore, we Ahmadis should make special effort for it lest noncompliance of this commandment makes us the target of any admonition. Huzur said it was Divine decree that the Jews left Friday as their Sabbath for the day was to become specific to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and his people.
Expounding the significance of the day through ahadith Huzur said that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said ‘from all your days Friday is the best day, it is day Hadhrat Adam was born, it is the day he passed away and it is the day the Trumpet will be blown and unconsciousness will be induced. Profusely invoke Durud on me on this day for this is the day your invocation of Durud will be presented to me.’ He also said, ‘Friday is the chief of all days and is the greatest in Allah’s sight. It is the Day that is greater than the Day of Adha and the Day of Fitr in Allah’s sight. It has five significances; it is the day Hadhrat Adam was born, it is the day he was sent down to earth, it is the day he passed away, it is the day during which a moment comes when anything that is asked for, save what is forbidden, will be granted and it is the day when the Day of Judgement will come to pass.’ Huzur said this Hadith also expounds the significance of invoking Durud. We should make special effort to invoke Durud on Fridays as invocation of Durud is closely linked to acceptance of prayers as it is stated in the Qur’an, ‘Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet. O ye who believe! you also should invoke blessings on him and salute him with the salutation of peace’. (33:57). If we engage in it then with its blessings prayers made during other times will gain acceptance.
Huzur said Muslims are not bound by any restrictions on Friday. After Prayers they are commanded to go back to their livelihoods. However, it is conditional that they go and seek God’s grace [in their livelihoods] and while doing so, they do not forget remembrance of God. When God’s grace is sought then all matters should be kept crystal clear and pure. Also, remembrance of God will keep us mindful about safeguarding worship of God and of the fact that whatever successes we have are due to our reliance in God and that God is the only Provider. After accepting the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) in the latter-days worldly spectacles should be a distant matter for us. Otherwise we would be moving away from the objective for which the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) made this Community. His objectives were for us to forge a special connection with God, to adorn our lives with His worship and remembrance and to pay the dues of His creation. It is, as if, God sent us to be tried and tested as to what extent do we have a connection with the Messiah of the latter-days and up to what extent are we true in our assertion that we will fulfil our pledge of Bai’at to the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). For this, attendance at Friday Prayers has been set as the benchmark. Each Ahmadi should remember that attendance at Friday Prayers at a mosque or gathering for it at a place is most essential. This is not just for the Fridays of Ramadan or the last Friday of Ramadan, rather it should be so that all year round our mosques should appear full beyond capacity.
Relating a few more ahadith Huzur said that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said ‘Friday Prayer is obligatory on each person who believes in God and on the Day of Judgement, apart from the ailing, the traveller, women, children and slaves. God will also not care for one who is careless about Friday.’ He also said that on Friday the reward of good deeds is enhanced manifold. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that a person who bathes on Friday, and purifies himself according to his capacity, puts on oil, leaves home wearing scent and does not separate two people (that is, does not forcibly make space for himself at the mosque) and offers the Salat that is obligatory and listens to the sermon of the Imam silently, all his sins between that Friday and the next Friday will be forgiven. He also said that on Friday angels stand by the door of the mosque and they note down the example of one who comes in first as one who sacrifices a camel, the next as one who sacrifices a cow, the next as one who sacrifices a lamb, the next as one who sacrifices a chicken and the next as one who sacrifices an egg. When the Imam comes to the mimber the angels close the register and begin listening to the discourse. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that one who speaks during the sermon of the Imam is like an ass that is carrying books and one who speaks up to quieten him is also not abiding by Jummah. He said one who comes to Jummah during the sermon should quickly offer two rakats of Salat. He also said that on the Day of Judgement people will be seated in accordance to their attendance of Friday Prayers.
In his commentary of part of verse 5:4 ‘…This day have I perfected your religion for you…’ the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said this has two significances, one that God has purified you, second that He has completed the Book. This verse was revealed on a Friday. Later, a Jew said to Hadhrat Umer (may Allah be pleased with him) that the day of the revelation of the verse should be commemorated as Eid. To this Hadhrat Umer (may Allah be pleased with him replied) ‘Friday is indeed Eid’. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said many people are unaware about this Eid and wear unclean clothes on the day. He said for him this Eid was more excellent than the other Eids, for this Eid Surah Al Jummah was revealed. The first man was born on this day and the Qur’an was completed on this day.
In conclusion Huzur said we are the adherents of a most magnificent religion whereas a Jew also had respect for the concluding verse of the Qur’an (5:4). God, Who revealed this verse, also commanded an obligation which is a huge responsibility. May we never be negligent about it. May we and our children be enabled to make special effort for Friday Prayers and fulfil the measure that the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) expected of us.