Friday as Holiday

    Question: Every now and then the weekly holiday issue in Pakistan comes up. My questions are: Why is it Islamically important to have a holiday on Friday? Surah Jumu‘ah also tells us to spread to find the ‘bounty’ after the Jumu‘ah prayer. Which social and economical factors support the opinion for having holiday as Friday? What is main disadvantage or loss if there is of a weekly holiday on Sunday?
The issue of a weekly holiday has unfortunately assumed too much importance. Our religious clergy insist that Friday should be declared a weekly holiday. In this regard, what needs to be appreciated is that the Shari ‘ah is absolutely silent on this issue. It has left the matter of weekly holiday on the discretion of human beings. 
    The important thing for a Muslim to realize is that even in the regular five daily prayers, the assigned times have special significance, and they are not just coincidental. For Fajr, one is supposed to wake up from sleep in order to praise and thank His Lord for blessing him with the opportunities of another day, and thus, starting his day with the name of Allah. The time of Zuhr coincides with the time for afternoon naps for some or parting from professional obligations for others, as does ‘Asr. Maghrib marks the setting of the sun, when darkness prevails over the skies, and again, remembrance of Allah is essential to realize the wisdom behind changing of days and nights. The ‘Isha prayer, then again, calls upon the believer to return to Allah before finally heading for sleep. 
    The point to dwell on is that Allah does not require His people to leave aside all worldly affairs and indulgences throughout the day. It is just the prescribed times at which He expects us to remember Him through the ritualistic salah. Same is the case for Jumu‘ah prayers – the difference being the obligation of offering these prayers in congregation. As Allah says, that is best for you, if ye but knew! One very important benefit is the stress laid on the importance of good relations among Muslims, in the larger interest of the community. 
     Aside from the above-mentioned, it is up to the state to decide whether it supports a holiday on Fridays or not. The institutions set-up for making socio-economic decisions are best equipped to gauge the advantages and disadvantages resting with each opinion. As long as Islamic ideals are not sacrificed, and the sanctity of Jumu‘ah prayers is maintained, one cannot complain on religious grounds, to the best of my knowledge. In Pakistan, the idea of observing a holiday on Sundays instead of Fridays was to facilitate trade relations with Western countries, all of which operate fully on Fridays.

(Saadia Malik)