The issue of a weekly holiday has unfortunately assumed too much
importance. Our religious clergy insist that Friday should be declared a
weekly holiday. In this regard, what needs to be appreciated is that the
Shari ‘ah is absolutely silent on this issue. It has left the matter of
weekly holiday on the discretion of human beings.
The important thing for a Muslim to realize is that even in the regular five
daily prayers, the assigned times have special significance, and they are
not just coincidental. For Fajr, one is supposed to wake up from sleep in
order to praise and thank His Lord for blessing him with the opportunities
of another day, and thus, starting his day with the name of Allah. The time
of Zuhr coincides with the time for afternoon naps for some or parting from
professional obligations for others, as does ‘Asr. Maghrib marks the setting
of the sun, when darkness prevails over the skies, and again, remembrance of
Allah is essential to realize the wisdom behind changing of days and nights.
The ‘Ishā prayer, then again, calls upon the believer to return to Allah
before finally heading for sleep.
The point to dwell on is that Allah does not require His people to leave
aside all worldly affairs and indulgences throughout the day. It is just the
prescribed times at which He expects us to remember Him through the
ritualistic salāh. Same is the case for Jumu‘ah prayers – the difference
being the obligation of offering these prayers in congregation. As Allah
says, that is best for you, if ye but knew! One very important benefit is
the stress laid on the importance of good relations among Muslims, in the
larger interest of the community.
Aside from the above-mentioned, it is up to the state to decide whether it
supports a holiday on Fridays or not. The institutions set-up for making
socio-economic decisions are best equipped to gauge the advantages and
disadvantages resting with each opinion. As long as Islamic ideals are not
sacrificed, and the sanctity of Jumu‘ah prayers is maintained, one cannot
complain on religious grounds, to the best of my knowledge. In Pakistan, the
idea of observing a holiday on Sundays instead of Fridays was to facilitate
trade relations with Western countries, all of which operate fully on