What is the day of congregation?

Sam Shamoun

In Surah al-Jumu’ah (62:9), we find the following statement:

Pickthall Yusuf Ali Shakir Sher Ali
O ye who believe! When the call is heard for the prayer of the day of congregation, O ye who believe! When the call is proclaimed to prayer on Friday (the Day of Assembly), O you who believe! when the call is made for prayer on Friday, O ye who believe! When the call is made for Prayer on Friday,
Hilali/Khan Rashad Khalifa A.J. Arberry J.M. Rodwell
O you who believe (Muslims)! When the call is proclaimed for the Salat (prayer) on the day of Friday (Jumu'ah prayer), O you who believe, when the Congregational Prayer (Salat Al-Jumu`ah) is announced on Friday, O believers, when proclamation is made for prayer on the Day of Congregation, O ye who believe! When ye are summoned to prayer on the day of THE ASSEMBLY,

The Arabic, yawmi al-jumuati, literally translated means "day of the assembly/congregation," and refers to the day which Muslims are to gather together to pray. Hence, of all the translations Pickthall, Arberry and Rodwell are the most accurate.

Moreover, Ali, Hilali-Khan, Shakir, Sher Ali, and Khalifa have inserted the word "Friday" into their versions without any Quranic warrant to do so since the Quran nowhere specifies the exact day Muslims are supposed to gather. This information is taken from the Islamic narrations or hadiths.

Hilali-Khan and Khalifa are the more blatant in their willingness to add to their translation information taken from extra-Quranic sources detailing specific Islamic beliefs and practices. After all, the Quran nowhere explicitly mentions the five daily prayers which Muslims observe, let alone Salat Al-Jumu`ah or Jumu’ah prayer, which is the technical term given to the Islamic practice of gathering on Friday to pray. Ironically, Khalifa was a Quraani, a term used for those who reject the hadiths and follow the Quran alone, and yet he had no qualms changing the literal meaning of the Arabic on the basis of later Islamic traditions that teach that this specific day falls on Friday!

In fact, if one were to stick to the Quran closely one would come to the conclusion that this day would have to be the Sabbath:

And for their covenant we raised over them (the towering height) of Mount (Sinai); and (on another occasion) we said: "Enter the gate with humility"; and (once again) we commanded them: "Transgress not in the matter of the sabbath." And we took from them a solemn covenant. S. 4:154 Y. Ali

The Quran mentions the fate of those who broke the Sabbath:

And well ye knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath: We said to them: "Be ye apes, despised and rejected." S. 2:65 Y. Ali

And ask them (O Muhammad SAW) about the town that was by the sea, when they transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath (i.e. Saturday): when their fish came to them openly on the Sabbath day, and did not come to them on the day they had no Sabbath. Thus We made a trial of them for they used to rebel (see the Qur'an: V.4:154). S. 7:163 Hilali-Khan

There is no indication in the Quran that Allah abrogated the Sabbath as the day of observance for believers, and gave the Muslim community a different day instead. In fact, we actually find texts which imply that the Sabbath was made binding upon the Muslims:

O ye People of the Book! believe in what We have (now) revealed, confirming what was (already) with you, before We change the face and fame of some (of you) beyond all recognition, and turn them hindwards, or curse them as We cursed the Sabbath-breakers, for the decision of God Must be carried out. S. 4:47 Y. Ali

The Quran comes to confirm the Scriptures of the Jews which contain the command to observe the Sabbath. The above passage also states that the Sabbath-breakers were cursed because God’s decision must be carried out, i.e. that God’s command to rest on the Sabbath must be obeyed. It therefore seems pretty clear that the Quran, by claiming to confirm the previous Scriptures and by exhorting the Israelites to carry out the Sabbath, is in fact exhorting the Muslims to do the same.

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