What Indeed is the day of Congregation?

Responding to Sam Shamoun's inquiry

 By Sami Zaatari


 

http://answering-islam.org/Quran/Incoherence/friday.html 

Sam Shamoun has written an article discussing what the Quran means when it talks about the day of congregation in Surah 62:9. Shamoun believes that the day of congregation refers to the Sabbath day:

In fact, if one were to stick to the Quran closely one would come to the conclusion that this day would have to be the Sabbath:

 

And for their covenant we raised over them (the towering height) of Mount (Sinai); and (on another occasion) we said: "Enter the gate with humility"; and (once again) we commanded them: "Transgress not in the matter of the sabbath." And we took from them a solemn covenant. S. 4:154 Y. Ali

 

We shall now discuss what the day of congregation is, and later on see if this day can really be referring to the Sabbath.

We first off by clarifying what this day means, let us first post the verse:

062.009
YUSUFALI: 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!

PICKTHAL: O ye who believe! When the call is heard for the prayer of the day of congregation, haste unto remembrance of Allah and leave your trading. That is better for you if ye did but know.

As you can see, the day of congregation is referring to Friday, however so Shamoun has a problem with this when he writes:

The Arabic, yawmi al-jumuati, literally translated means "day of the assembly/congregation," and refers to the day which Muslims are to gather together to pray. Hence, of all the translations Pickthall, Arberry and Rodwell are the most accurate.

Moreover, Ali, Hilali-Khan, Shakir, Sher Ali, and Khalifa have inserted the word "Friday" into their versions without any Quranic warrant to do so since the Quran nowhere specifies the exact day Muslims are supposed to gather. This information is taken from the Islamic narrations or hadiths.

Shamoun has a problem with some of the translations in putting the day Friday in the verse. However so there is no problem at all, since the verse is referring to the Friday prayer. The title of the Surah itself is titled:

Surat Al-Jumu`ah

The word Jumu'ah in Arabic means Friday, as Ibn kathir correctly points out:

Al-Jumu`ah (Friday), and the Orders and Etiquette for Friday

Friday is called Al-Jumu`ah because it is derived from Al-Jam`, literally, gathering. The people of Islam gather weekly, on every Friday in the major places of worship

So as you can see, the Surah is undoubtly referring to the Friday prayer, the Surah title makes this very clear.

Ibn Kathirs tafsir explains the verse:

Necessity of the Remembrance of Allah on Friday, by attending the Khutbah and the Prayer

Allah commanded the believers to gather to worship Him on Friday,

(O you who believe! When the call is proclaimed for the Salah on Al-Jumu`ah (Friday), then hasten (Fas`aw) to the remembrance of Allah) meaning, go to it and head for it. The meaning of Sa`y (hasten) here does not refer to walking quickly. It only refers to the importance of it. `Umar bin Al-Khattab and Ibn Mas`ud - may Allah be pleased with them - recited it;

 ("Then proceed to the remembrance of Allah.'') As for walking in haste to the prayer, that was indeed prohibited, since it was recorded in the Two Sahihs from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said,

 (When you hear the Iqamah, proceed to offer the prayer with calmness and solemnity and do not rush. And pray whatever you catch, and complete whatever you have missed.) This is the wording with Al-Bukhari. Abu Qatadah said, "While we were praying behind the Messenger of Allah he heard commotion. At the end of the prayer, the Prophet said;

 (What is the matter with you) They said, `We hastened to the prayer.' The Prophet said,

 (Don't do that. When you come for prayer, there should be tranquility upon you. Pray what remains of the prayer and complete what you have missed.)'' The Two Sahihs collected this Hadith. Al-Hasan commented, "By Allah! Hastening to the prayer is not accomplished by the feet. Indeed they were prohibited from coming to prayer without tranquility and dignity. Rather it is about the hearts, the intention, and the submission.'' Qatadah said,

"(then hasten to the remembrance of Allah) means that you have to hasten to the prayer with your heart and actions, and walk to it.'' It is recommended for those coming to the Friday prayer to perform Ghusl (taking bath) before they come. It is collected in the Two Sahihs that `Abdullah bin `Umar said that Allah's Messenger said,

 (When one of you comes to the Friday prayer, then let him perform bath.) The Two Sahihs recorded that Abu Sa`id said that the Messenger of Allah said,

 (Ghusl on the day of Jumu`ah is Wajib (required) from every Muhtalim. ) Abu Hurayrah narrated that Allah's Messenger said,

 (It is Allah's right on every Muslim to bathe during every seven days, by washing his head and body.) Muslim collected this Hadith. Jabir narrated that Allah's Messenger said,

 (Within every seven days, every Muslim man has the obligation to perform Ghusl at least one day, the day of Jumu`ah.) Ahmad, An-Nasa'i and Ibn Hibban collected this Hadith.

The Meaning of the Call in the Ayah is the Adhan that precedes the Khutbah

Allah said,

 (When the call is proclaimed for the Salah on Friday,) referring to the Adhan which was called, during the time of the Prophet , when he came out of his house and sat on the Minbar. The Adhan would be called before the Prophet near the door of the Masjid. As for the earlier Adhan that the Leader of the faithful, `Uthman bin Affan added, it was done because the Muslims increased in number during his time. Al-Bukhari recorded that As-Sa'ib bin Yazid said, "In the lifetime of the Prophet , Abu Bakr and `Umar, the Adhan for the Friday prayer was pronounced while the Imam sat on the pulpit. But during `Uthman's later time when the Muslims increased in number, an additional call was pronouced upon Az-Zawra', meaning the Adhan was called upon the house which was called Az-Zawra''' Az-Zawra' was the tallest house in Al-Madinah near the Masjid.

So as you can see, the verse is talking about the Friday prayer.

If Shamoun does not like the tafsir, then let us look at the verse again:

062.009
YUSUFALI: 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!

As you all know, it is specifically Islam that has a call to prayer, with the athan, which is the call to prayer; a person loudly proclaims the athan, calling people to come pray.

So it is without a doubt that this day is referring to the Friday prayer, if anything the linguistics confirm it. As ibn Kathir rightly pointed out, that Friday in Arabic Jumuah derives from Al-Jam, which means the gathering, a congregation. So hence the verse saying a day of congregation, a day of gathering, this is without a doubt referring to the Friday prayer. Shamoun even says this when he writes:

The Arabic, yawmi al-jumuati, literally translated means "day of the assembly/congregation," and refers to the day which Muslims are to gather together to pray. Hence, of all the translations Pickthall, Arberry and Rodwell are the most accurate.

Lastly, notice the word in Arabic says yawmi al-jumuati

Now let us show why this day cannot be referring to the Sabbath. Firstly as I just showed, the verse shows that people are being called to prayers, the Sabbath day has no calling to prayer. There are no passages in the OT when referring to Sabbath show a call being made for people to start praying.

Secondly, the verse is telling the Muslims that when they hear the call to prayer, that they should leave off what they are doing and go join the prayer. The Sabbath day is not simply a prayer day:

Besides abstention from work, special religious observances were prescribed. (a) The daily sacrifices were doubled, that is two lambs of a year old without blemish were offered up in the morning, and two in the evening, with twice the usual quantity of flour tempered with oil and of the wine of libation (num., xxvii, 3-10). (b) New loaves of proposition were placed before the Lord (Leviticus 24:5 <bible/lev024.htm>; 1 Chronicles 9:32 <bible/1ch009.htm>). (c) A sacred assembly was to be held in the sanctuary for solemn worship (Leviticus 23:2-3 <bible/lev023.htm>, Heb. text; Ezekiel 46:3 <bible/eze046.htm>).

So note, people were to offer sacrifices and place loaves before the Lord, showing this is not just a prayer.

Thirdly, on the Sabbath day, all work was completely prohibited, however so, the verse from the Quran indicates that people are working, and when they hear the call to prayer is when they are told to leave their work and join the prayer. The Sabbath day has no call as to when the Sabbath begins, nor does it have a call as to when the Sabbath ends. The Sabbath begins and ends by:

The seventh day of the week among the Hebrews, the day being counted from sunset to sunset, that is, from Friday evening to Saturday evening.

The Sabbath begins from sunset Friday, till Sunset Saturday, hence they are going by the sun, not a call. Once the sun goes down, the people go back to their homes and prepare their offerings. We see nothing of this from the Quran.

Fourthly, for this day to be the Sabbath, the title of the Surah should have been a title to indicate that it was referring to the Sabbath, rather as I showed, the title of the Surah is referring to Friday, and as we all know Friday is the holy day in Islam.

Fifthly, let us read the next verse:

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YUSUFALI: And when the Prayer is finished, then may ye disperse through the land, and seek of the Bounty of Allah: and celebrate the Praises of Allah often (and without stint): that ye may prosper.

So note, the verses are only referring to a PRAYER, the Sabbath is not a simple prayer, rather it is a whole day made for God where you pray, make offerings, and do many other rituals, while also staying at home. As you can see, the Quran is referring to a prayer only; obviously this cannot be referring to the Sabbath.

So therefore as you can all see, this day is without a doubt referring to the Friday prayers, not the Sabbath day. The verse is talking about a prayer meeting, the Sabbath is not a simple one hour event, it is an entire day event.

And Allah Knows Best

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