Friday (Jumuʿah in Arabic) is the holy day for Muslims. Jumuʿah comes from the same root word as gather and congregation. On Fridays, Muslims attend a special prayer in the afternoon, the Jumuʿah prayer. The Friday prayer is a command of God:
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! (Quran 62:9)
Although Friday is part of the weekend in most Muslim majority countries, it is not like Sabbath in which Muslims cannot work or go to school. The next verse highlights this fact:
And when the prayer is ended, then disperse in the land and seek of Allah’s bounty, and remember Allah much, so that you may be successful. (Quran 62:10)
What is the Significance of Friday?
Friday is the holiest day of the week. There are narrations in which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
The best day on which the sun rises is Friday. On Friday Adam was created, on it he was admitted to Paradise and on it he was expelled therefrom. (Muslim)
In another instance, the Prophet (peace be upon him) noted that the Day of Judgment will occur on Friday. He also said:
The five daily prayers and from one Jumu’ah to the next is an expiation for whatever sins come in between them, so long as one does not commit a major sin. (Muslim)
Muslims are encouraged to take a shower on Friday mornings and wear their best clothes.
How is the prayer performed?
The Friday prayer consists of a sermon followed by two short prayer cycles. The prayer begins with a call to prayer, followed by the sermon, and ends with the prayer.
Sermons in America are usually given in English, but almost always contain some Arabic in them when a verse of Quran is recited, or a prayer is said.
During the sermon, everyone is required to listen to the imam, hence there is no talking that takes place. The imam usually stands on a pulpit and the congregation sit on the floor and listen. The topics of the sermons usually revolved around spiritual reminders, current events, social issues, and family.
What time is the prayer?
The Friday prayer always takes place in the afternoon. It replaces the afternoon prayer. Many mosques in the West have fixed times in which the prayer is offered. The prayer in most mosques will usually fall in between 12-3pm.
How long is the prayer?
Although each mosque is different, the sermons of the Friday prayer usually last between 30-45 minutes. This is followed by a short prayer that will last for another 5-10 minutes.
Do Muslim students and employees need special accommodations on Fridays?
Because the Friday prayer takes place during the afternoon, it sometimes conflicts with a work or school schedule. Although some might use their lunch hour to attend the prayer, some might need special accommodations from the school or employer so that they can attend the prayer. Some workplaces or universities that have a significant Muslim population allow their employees to organize their own prayer services on site.
Are all Muslims required to attend the prayer?
The Friday prayer is mandatory for all Muslim males who are of age. Although many women and children attend the prayers as well, it is not mandatory.