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Aspects of Islamic Faith - 53: Things to do before Friday prayers

Published: 09/04/2010 01:31:00 AM GMT
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By ADIL SALAHI

Published: Apr 9, 2010 02:39 Updated: Apr 9, 2010 02:41

Friday prayer is very special. It is the only weekly prayer that must be offered in congregation at a mosque, or a place known to the local community. As we pray five obligatory prayers every day, it is the only one in 35 prayers that has these conditions. It is at midday, so that everyone is able to attend, even those who work on night shifts. It is preceded by a speech delivered by the imam, who is required to remind his congregation of the Day of Judgment and to address some of the issues that are very important to the community.



Islam attaches particular importance to cleanliness and purity, both physical and spiritual. Since Friday prayer must be in congregation, mosques are always full when it is offered. In order that people do not find at the mosque what makes them dislike attendance there, Islam requires that we observe certain rituals when attending Friday prayer. These are summed up in the following Hadith in which Salman Al-Farisi quotes the Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying: “Whoever takes a bath on Friday, purifying himself as much as he can, and then applies a touch of oil or uses some of the perfume of his household, then goes out to prayer, making sure that he does not separate two people, then prays whatever is assigned to him, then listens when the imam speaks, will have all his sins forgiven between that day and the other Friday.” (Related by Al-Bukhari).

The emphasis on cleanliness and good presentation is clear. The first thing one does on Friday is to take a bath or a shower before going out to the mosque. Then one applies oil or a similar product so as to make himself more presentable: his hair will be tidy and his appearance pleasant. He should also wear some perfume. The Prophet speaks of the “perfume of his household” to indicate that perfume should be in every Muslim’s home so that wearing it is common practice, done by everyone. In another version of this Hadith, the phrase used is “his wife’s perfume,” to indicate that if one does not normally use perfume, then he should borrow a touch of perfume from his wife. In the same version, reported by Abdullah ibn Umar, there is an added phrase: ‘then wears some of his better clothes’, which confirms the Quranic directive: “Dress well when you attend any place of worship.” (7: 31)

When one goes out, heading for the mosque, one should walk normally, without rushing or running. He must not engage in any heated argument or use vulgar language. When he arrives at the mosque, he must not go in between people sitting close to each other. The Prophet expresses this as “separating two people.” We all know that some people come late and yet try to move up to the middle or the front of the mosque, disturbing a few people as they walk through the rows. Instead, one should sit where there is a vacancy.

When the imam delivers his speech, everyone should listen attentively, trying to make the maximum benefit from the sermon. No side talk is permissible when the imam is speaking.

Observing all these simple instructions ensures good attendance at mosques and keeps mosques clean. What is more for the individual is forgiveness of sins for a week. Scholars say that the Hadith could be taken as indicating forgiveness of sins of the week that has already passed, or the forthcoming week. They also indicate that this applies to minor sins. Cardinal sins require more than attending Friday prayers to be forgiven. The first thing required is repentance and appealing for God’s forgiveness. Added to that is a firm resolve that one is not going to commit those sins again. ¬




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