Muslims are required to pray five times daily at fixed times.

Islam places great emphasis on performing the obligatory prayers in congregation or jama’ah.

The Divine Command to the Believers is to “bow with those that are bowing.” [2:43]

The Prophet [pbuh] valued the prayer in congregation to be 27 times superior to that preformed by a person alone. [Bukhari]

When a man asked special permission to pray at home because he was blind, lived far away and did not have a suitable guide, Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] replied, ”I cannot find an excuse for you.” [Muslim]

The Imam and one other person is the minimum for a congregational prayer.

The greater the number of persons in a congregation, the more blessed is the jama’ah. [Abu Dawood]

Though the congregational prayer can be preformed in any clean place, Muslims should make the effort to perform it in the Mosque if one is nearby.

The Friday prayer is a specially ordained congregational prayer that replaces the zohor or the daily mid-day prayer.

It is the greater congregation of the Muslims, as indicated in its name yaum al-jumu’a which means ‘the day of gathering.’

The Believers do not have the option to perform this jumu’a prayer alone under any circumstance.

If this prayer is missed, it cannot be made up. Instead, the Believer has to perform the four rak’a zohor or mid-day prayer.

The Qur’an commands the Believers to stop all business and go to the remembrance of Allah when the azan is called for the Friday prayer. [62:9]

Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] urged Muslims to go early to the Mosque on Friday to reap the full benefit of this prayer. [Bukhari]

Muslims should therefore ensure that none of their activities on Friday stands in the way of performing this special obligatory prayer.

The jumu’a prayer is not obligatory for woman.

It is Sunnah to take a bath (ghusl), apply scent, wear one’s best clothes and brush one’s teeth for this prayer. [Bukhari]

These practices are meant to make this big gathering of Believers as pleasant as possible.

They also demonstrate the importance Islam places on cleanliness and good dress habits.

A special feature of this Friday prayer is the sermon (khutbah) by the Imam.

As soon as the Imam sits down after wishing to everyone peace and blessings of Allah The Merciful, another azan is called to indicate that the prayer will begin.

The Imam addresses the gathering for about ten minutes while standing on the pulpit, then sits for a minute or two before standing again to continue his khutbah.

The Imam’s begins the khutbah with the Testimony of Faith that “there is none to be worshipped except Allah and Muhammad is the final Messenger of Allah.

The khutbah must include recitations in Arabic that praises Allah The Merciful, urge the Believers to be God-fearing and send salutations to the Prophet [pbuh].

In non-Arab environments, the rest of the khutbah is delivered in the local languages to ensure that all understand the sermon.

The Imam recites and explains some verses form The Qur’an that are relevant to important issues in society.

Any subject relating to the welfare of the community may be addressed by the Imam, in addition to advice of a general nature.

The main aims of the khutbah are to educate the Believers by pointing them to ways that will bring them true happiness and prosperity, and to warn them about ways that will bring loss or ruin to them.

When the Prophet [pbuh] led the jumu’a prayer, the time he took for prayer was longer compared to the time for his khutbah.

One who enters the Mosque when the Imam is delivering the khutbah is not exempted from performing the two rak’a Prayer of the Mosque. This prayer should be short so that there is time to listen to the khutbah.

The Believers must avoid this situation by going early to the Mosque so that they do not miss listening to a part of the khutbah.

According to a tradition recorded by Bukhari, on Friday, the Angels stand at the entrance and record the names of those entering the Mosque. When the Imam comes out to deliver the khutbah, the Angels close their register and listen to the khutbah.

Go early to the Mosque to have your names in the Angels’ register of attendance! Don’t fit the jumu’a prayer into your schedules. Fit your schedules into the time for this prayer!

After the completion of the khutbah the Iqamah [which means causing to stand] is recited to announce the start of the jumu’a prayer which consists of two rak’a.

It is Sunnah to perform two rak’a of Sunnah prayer after the jumu’a prayer.

After the prayer has ended, The Qur’an commands the Believers to disperse and seek Allah’s bounty. [62:10]

The jumu’a prayer is a great blessing to be unity and solidarity of the ummah. Be a part of it and benefit from it.

By Dr Y Mansoor Marican, Ph. D