Dhālikum khayrun lakum in kuntum ta‘lamūn
That is better for you, should you know
(Sūrat al-Jumuah, No 62, Āyat 9)
Almighty Allah ‘azza wajall made the system of time, with the passing of day and night, to facilitate life on earth. Out of this He chose certain times for specific blessings, to expend from His grace and mercy on the human being. These become opportunities for mankind to achieve more spiritual growth in a compressed amount of time.
Among the times He has chosen is the day of Friday. Every Friday Allah sends down special blessings on His servants. The verse above comes after the ordinance to rush for Friday prayer and to leave aside worldly work during that time. Although trade or business is mentioned as what should be put aside, ‘Allāma Tabātabā’ī says that is because it is the most obvious aspect of distractions from prayer. It applies to any action that performs the same function. Then Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā tells the believer that doing that is much better than what he can comprehend. This part of the verse is a motivator and reminder of the incomprehensible sanctity of those actions at that time. The effect of connecting with Allah (swt) and putting aside all distractions is huge. Our knowledge of what we gain and lose is limited to what is immediate and understandable to us. But God in His infinite knowledge sees things we do not see. As He says in many places in the Quran: And Allah knows and you do not know (Q 2:216, 2:232 . . .) There is a transcendent world going on around us that is not visible or tangible to us. We effect it and are affected by it. Respecting the sanctity of Friday creates a lot of positive movement in that world around us.
The word dhālikum refers to that which you have been commanded to do; attending the Friday prayer, listening to the sermons, remembrance of Allah, performing the obligations, and putting aside obstructions. Khayrun lakum refers to the fact that it is better for you in the immediate and long term. You may not perceive it now, but it is beneficial to you. In kuntum ta‘lamūn shows that human beings are not completely cognizant of what really benefits and harms them.
According to Tafsīr-e Namūneh the day of Friday was named al-Jum‘uah when a group of Muslims in Madīna, before the Prophet sallal-lāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wasallam migrated there, decided to assign a day of the week to get together and remember Allah (swt) and thank Him. They went to As‘ad bin Zaraāa, one of the elders of Madīna. He suggested they change the name of the day from al-‘Arūba to al-Jum‘uah, from the word ijtima‘h – to gather. He led the congregational prayer for them on that day. After that, a sheep was slaughtered, and a meal was prepared for the group. This was the first Friday prayer in Islam. One of the narrators of Hadith relates from ‘Abd al-Rahmān bin Ka‘b that whenever his father heard the sound of Adhān for Friday prayers he would pray for mercy for As‘ad bin Zarāra, as he was the one who initiated it. Other reports say the Prophet (s) wrote a letter to Mus‘ab bin ‘Umayr to hold the Friday prayer in Madīna. The Prophet (s) himself entered Madīna after Hijrah on a Friday at the time of zuhr. He led his first Friday prayer for the Muslims on that day and gave his first sermon in Madīna.
The day of Friday is a sacred day, bringing down special mercy and grace for the believers. The Prophet (s) has said: Fridays are the master of the days of the week. With Allah – the Honorable, the Exalted, Fridays are even more noble than the days of Eid al-Adhā and Eid al-Fitr because it has five characteristics:
1. God created Adam on that day.
2. God sent down Adam to earth on that day.
3. God took away the life of Adam on that day.
4. There is an hour in that day in which God would grant the human being any legitimate thing he asks for.
5. The angels, the heavens, the earth, the winds, the mountains, the deserts, and the seas, all are worried on Friday since the hour [of Resurrection] might arrive. (Shaykh Sadūq, Al-Khisāl, 5-98)
Today is the first day of the Gregorian Calendar – working new year for millions of people and the blessed day of Friday. We should remind ourselves of the sanctity of the day and beseech Allah for His mercy, for today and throughout the year. May He make it a blessed year for all those who strive in His way.
Sources: Shaykh Tabarsī, Tafsīr Majma‘ al-Bayān; Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh.