Friday Prayer in Islam

men kneel in mosque
Palestinian men kneel in mosque for Friday prayers. (Simon Rawles/The Image Bank/Getty Images)

Muslims pray five times each day, often in congregation at a mosque. While Friday is a special day for Muslims, it is not considered a day of rest or a “Sabbath.”

The word “Friday” in Arabic is al-jumu’ah, which means congregation. On Fridays, Muslims gather for a special congregational prayer in the early afternoon, which is required of all Muslim men. This Friday prayer is known as salaat al-jumu’ah which can thus mean either “congregational prayer” or “Friday prayer.” It replaces the dhuhr prayer at noon.

Directly before this prayer, worshippers listen to a lecture delivered by the imam or another religious leader from the community. This lecture reminds listeners about Allah, and usually directly addresses issues facing the Muslim community at the time.

Friday prayer is one of the most strongly emphasized duties in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, even said that a Muslim man who misses three Friday prayers in a row, without a valid reason, strays from the straight path and risks becoming a disbeliever. The Prophet Muhammad also told his followers that “the five daily prayers, and from one Friday prayer until the next, serves as an expiation for whatever sins have been committed between them, provided one does not commit any major sin.”

The Quran itself says:

“O you who believe! When the call to prayer is proclaimed on Friday, hasten earnestly to the remembrance of God, and leave aside business. That is best for you if you but knew” (Quran 62:9).

While business is “set aside” during the prayer, there is nothing to prevent worshippers from returning to work before and after the prayer time. In many Muslim countries, Friday is included in the weekend merely as an accommodation for those people who like to spend time with their families on that day.

It is not forbidden to work on Friday.

It is often wondered why attendance at the Friday prayer is not required of women. Muslims see this as a blessing and solace, for Allah understands that women are often very busy in the middle of the day. It would be a burden for many women to leave their duties and children, in order to attend prayers at the mosque. So while it is not required of Muslim women, many women do choose to attend, and they cannot be prevented from doing so; the choice is theirs.