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
Answer: 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.