62. Al-Jumu’ah (The Congregation)
This sūrah of 11 verses takes its name from verse 9, in which the Jumu‘ah Congregational Prayer is made obligatory. Al-Jumu’ah was revealed in the early part of the Madīnan period of the mission of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. It orders the believers to hasten toward the remembrance of God when they are called on the day of Jumu‘ah. It also mentions some fundamentals of the mission of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, and criticizes the Jews who claimed that they alone were God’s friends.
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
1. All that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth glorifies God, the Absolute Sovereign, the All-Holy and All-Pure, the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Wise.
2. He it is Who has sent among the unlettered ones1 a Messenger of their own, reciting to them His Revelations, and purifying them (of false beliefs and doctrines, and sins, and all kinds of uncleanness), and instructing them in the Book and the Wisdom, whereas before that they were indeed lost in obvious error.
3. And (with the same mission, He has sent him) to other peoples than them who have not yet joined them (in faith). He is the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Wise.
4. That is God’s grace. He grants it to whom He wills. Surely God is of tremendous grace.
5. The parable of those entrusted to carry the Torah, who subsequently do not carry it out in practice, is that of a donkey carrying a load of books (it transports what it does not understand). How evil is the example of those who (ignore what their Book teaches and) deny God’s Revelations (sent down for them and containing news of the Last Messenger)! God does not guide the wrongdoing people.
6. Say: “O you who are Jews! If you claim that you are the favorites of God to the exclusion of all other people, then wish for death, if you are truthful (in your claim).”
7. But they will never wish for it because of what they have forwarded (to the Hereafter of sins and offenses) with their own hands. God has full knowledge of the wrongdoers.
8. Say: “Death, from which you flee, will surely meet you in any case. Then you will be returned to the Knower of the Unseen and the witnessed, and He will make you understand all that you were doing (and call you to account).”
9. O you who believe! When the call is made for the Prayer on Friday, then move promptly to the remembrance of God (by listening to the sermon and doing the Prayer), and leave off business (and whatever else you may be preoccupied with). This is better for you, if you but knew.2
10. And when the Prayer is done, then disperse in the land and seek (your portion) of God’s bounty, and mention God much (both by doing the Prayer and on other occasions), so that you may prosper (in both worlds).
11. Yet (it happened that) when they saw (an opportunity for) business or pastime, they broke away for it and left you standing (while preaching the sermon). Say: “What is with God is better (for you) than pastimes and business.3 God is the Best to be sought as provider with the ultimate rank of providing.”
1. The Jews are a people to whom the Divine Book (the Torah) was given. Most of them knew how to read and write during the Prophet’s time. But as will be pointed out in verse 5 below, although they were instructed in the Torah, they acted as if they were unaware of the value of what they had been entrusted with, just as a donkey laden with books does not understand the value of its load. On the other hand, the Arabs, who were unlettered in the sense that they had not been given the Book, or that most of them did not know how to read and write, greatly appreciated the Book sent to them through the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, and made it the guide for their lives.
2. The Friday Congregational Prayer is obligatory and a major Islamic symbol. God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, declared that God seals the heart of one who misses it three consecutive times without a valid excuse (Abū Dāwūd, “Salāh,” 215; at-Tirmidhī, “Salāh,” 359). There are also elements in the Friday Prayer that concern the Muslim community’s political freedom and condition, and it cannot be offered alone.
This prayer is offered during the time of the Noon Prayer, and the normal Noon Prayer is not performed on Friday. Every free, adult, sane, and resident Muslim male who can attend must attend, unless he has a valid reason not to do so. It is not obligatory upon women, children, those with valid excuses (e.g., illness, lack of security, extreme cold), and travelers.
A sermon must be made before the Friday Prayer. (The remembrance of God in the verse includes both the sermon and the Prayer itself.) The imām gives the sermon from a pulpit while standing. He begins by praising God and calling God’s blessings and peace upon God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, and his family. Next, he gives a sermon in which he exhorts Muslims to good deeds, discourages them from evil, advises them, and seeks to enlighten them mentally and spiritually and to guide them. He should not make the sermon too lengthy. After this part of the sermon, he sits for a short while and then, standing up, praises God, calls for God’s blessings and peace upon God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, and his family, and prays for all Muslims. The congregation must listen carefully and silently.
The Friday Prayer consists of two rak‘ahs. It is a sunnah to offer four rak‘ahs before it, just like the four rak‘ahs offered before the Noon Prayer. After the Prayer, another (supererogatory) prayer of four rak‘ahs is recommended.
Particularly the scholars of the Hanafī School of Law have had some doubts about the Friday Prayer’s validity under certain (political) conditions of the Muslim community. In some parts of the world, Muslims are under the general control of non-Muslims (literally and explicitly, or by indirect means), and so do not have the absolute freedom to offer their Jumu‘ah Congregational Prayer and/or give the sermon in the manner that would make the Prayer and sermon valid. Therefore, to be certain that the performance of the prescribed Noon Prayer has been carried out correctly, they have ruled that another Prayer of four rak‘ahs, just like the prescribed Noon Prayer, along with the intention of offering a later noon prayer, should be offered after the four-rak‘ah supererogatory Prayer. They also advise following this with another supererogatory Prayer of two rak‘ahs with the intention of offering the sunnah Prayer for that time.
3. This verse alludes to an event that took place during the time of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings. There had been a famine in Madīnah when a long-expected caravan arrived from Syria. The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was giving the Jumu‘ah sermon, and on hearing the trumpet sound to proclaim the coming of the caravan, most of the congregation left the mosque. So the verse warns all Muslims to be attentive to the remembrance of God during the Prayer.