Salah (prayer), which is 2nd pillar of the religion Islam, is obligatory for all Muslims to offer five times a day on fixed times. The Friday prayer has a greater status in this regard, which is carried out by the male Muslims (who are free, healthy, sane and not travelling) in mosque in the afternoon instead of the regular Duhur Namaz, having different format in terms of number of Rakats. The distinction of Salah on this day is evident from the fact that there is a separate Surah “Al-Jumu`ah” (the congregation, Friday) in the Holy Quran, in which Allah SWT has mentioned about strictly maintaining it.
“O you, who have believed, when [the adhan] is called for the prayer on the day of Jumu’ah [Friday], then proceed to the remembrance of Allah and leave trade. That is better for you, if you only knew.” (Quran, 62: 9)
The first adhan for prayer on this particular day is given by Muadhin (caller for Namaz) about one hour ago before the start of actual congregation, and when Khatib (orator) ascends pulpit and starts Bayan (consisting of religious and social instructions etc). This is the time when Muslims are directed to leave their private dealings and move towards the mosque. The essential component of this occasion is the sermon which is a form of lecture that is delivered from Imaam (person leading the prayers in mosque), that is done after second adhan and before performing Iqamah for Namaz. The roots of Friday address goes back to days when Hazrat Muhammad (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was on his way towards Madina while immigrating from Makkah. He delivered his first formal speech in the very first masjid built by Him, i.e. Quba at the adjoining place of Madina. During that lecture, He (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) mainly talked about Oneness of the Almighty, and testifying of the only One worth worshiping. Apart from Friday, it is also observed on the events of two Islamic festivals, i.e. Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha, but is executed after Salah.
The huge importance of Friday sermon can be observed in the following points:
Blessings for entering mosque before address:
While majority of us Muslims know about taking bath, wearing clean clothes, use miswaak (brushing teeth), applying scent, also that one earns great blessings of Allah for each step towards mosque. But only few of us take care in reaching masjid as early as possible, and come at last minute nowadays. The real implication of reaching the House of the Almighty Lord holds in entering it before the start of Khutba (sermon) as described in the following Hadith:
“On the day of Jummah, the angels stand at the entrance of that Masjid in which Jummah salaat is to be offered. They write down the name of the person who enters the Masjid first, and thereafter the name of the person who follows, and they continue doing this. The person who entered first will receive the reward of sacrificing a camel in the path of Allah; the one who followed him will get the reward of sacrificing a cow, thereafter a chicken, thereafter the reward of giving an egg as charity in the path of Allah.
Once the khutbah commences, the angels close the register and begin listening to the khutbah.“ [Muslim and Bukhari]
Such is the great standing of this lecture that the ones who join the congregation prior to beginning of this process get noticed by the angels of Allah, the Exalted. They also get the rewards equal to spending for the sake of the Almighty. The ones, who reach after sermon has already started, are left in despair, as they are void of these great blessings. So, this address plays a big role in making the true disciples earn Allah`s bounties, which is not the case with any other instruction.
Recitation from the Holy Book:
Khutbah on Friday is considered as Dhikr (rememberance) of Allah, and Imam has to read out lessons from Fuqan e Hameed, so it becomes a very vital process, which needs to be complied with great reverence and attention by the attendees of this gathering. And it is the foremost requirement for every Muslim to listen to the Quran recitationcarefully for gaining wisdom and knowledge of the Islamic teachings, which is also covered in this lecture.
“Because when the Imam comes out (to deliver Khutbah), the angles come to listen to the Dhikr.” [Bukhari]
The above stated Hadith shows that the angels of the Almighty God also pay attention to the words of preacher, and since it contains the references from the Holy Book, so it adds more to the significance of this address. It also means that this speech is different from other normal speeches, and has a much greater spiritual impact on one`s heart and soul by remembrance of the Merciful Lord..
Listening to speech carefully:
Just like we are directed to observe silence while praying, or listening to Quranic verse, the oration on Friday also comes in the same context that is why we are bound to follow the same pattern of behavior during this course of action. The Messenger (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) of the Exalted Lord has greatly stressed on keeping soundless during this lecture, and even forbad telling others not to talk.
“Whoever says to his friend while Imam is delivering Khutbah on Friday “keep quiet” also commit absurdity.” [Muslim and Bukhari]
Although it is a virtue to inform others about goodness, which also appears to be the purpose of one who tells someone else to be attentive towards this address, but Hazrat Muhammad (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) has prohibited us from doing so, as one can lose its own concentration and might miss an opportunity to seek the mercy of the most Gracious, the most Beneficent during this process.
Part of Friday Salah:
As the Friday sermon is not similar to any other regular lectures, and is mandatory on Khatib of the mosque to convey, without which Namaz is not considered complete, it is evident that this address is a prerequisite to Salah on this day, which in turn means that it is part of Friday prayer. It also has a specific format of deliverance and consists of two parts: first one starts with praising the Lord, sending peace and blessings upon Muhammad (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), and saying Shahadah (completion of faith), while the second one deals with recitation of Quranic verses and asking for mercy upon the fellow believers. This set pattern is the witness of its great place in the religion of Islam.
So, to conclude, we can say that the Friday sermon is not only an integral component of Friday prayers, a great source of getting closer to Allah SWTthrough recollection of His Greatness, and earn countless bounties from Him, but also makes us counted among the high ranks of the believers.