Jumu’ah and tradition


It’s been half-term this week so I took my ten year old son along with me to the mosque for jumu’ah prayers for the very first time. I was rather proud of him as you can imagine.

A few weeks ago I blogged about the enormous power of the jumu’ah prayer and how some government’s have tried to manipulate it by effectively turning Khateebs (Friday sermon leaders) into civil servants who are paid to read out government propaganda to worshippers. We saw this at work in Libya today where some miserable wretches read out pro-Gaddafi speeches calling on people not to rebel against his rule. Thankfully, we are witnessing a time when huge numbers of people are indeed prepared to sacrifice their lives to rebel against dictatorships and are seeking to realise the true meaning of the statement ‘There is no God but God’. Who can watch such wonderful scenes and not be inspired?

Anyway, the verse at the top of this post is a passage from the Qur’an, specifically from a chapter entitled ‘al-jumu’ah’. You can listen to it in its original Arabic by clicking here. It reads in translation as follows:

“O ye who believe! When the call is proclaimed to prayer on Friday (the Day of Assembly), hasten earnestly to the Remembrance of Allah, and leave off business (and traffic): That is best for you if ye but knew! And when the Prayer is finished, then may ye disperse through the land, and seek of the Bounty of Allah: and celebrate the Praises of Allah often (and without stint): that ye may prosper.” (Qur’an 62:9-10)

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5 Responses to Jumu’ah and tradition

  1. Selim K. says:

    Ma’achallah bro, it just reminded me of my own jumaahs when I was a child, though we were living in Turkey, Istanbul my father never attended to jumaah bec. he considered turkey as dar’ul harb, it was very strange for me to go to jumaah by myself. In turkey state is using sermons for propoganda for the last 80 years, but I think muslims should start making their own (counter)public space (contra capitalist neoliberal or dictatorial tyrannies) by transforming mosques, masjids.

    Do not forget to gift him Milestones of Qutb! He is old enough (at least my dad gifted me one when I was 11)


  2. I was gifted Milestones by a friend of mine – twenty-three years ago! I found the book very heavy going. It is hardly appropriate for multi-faith Britain (or anywhere else to be honest). Qutb suffered greatly at the hands of a dictator but that does not make him free of faults. I think his conception of an Islamic state is unworkable and would rather quickly result in tyranny.

  3. Selim K. says:

    We do not have to submit to his hypotheses, but what is valuable in this book is the commitment to challenge ordinary ways of thinking embedded within the global power structures, ways of arguing about Islam that makes it a victim in the end. And most importantly, nobody reads it for a theory of Islamic state, but his vision of a Muslim community shook the hearts. It was his true novelty.

    Plus, I think this ‘tyranny’ discourse is a bit loaded, like the Allied version of history which condemned socialism and communism to inevitable totalitarianism in order to kick unions’ ass, now a certain way about talking about Islamic politics is invading the space of legitimate discourse. Do you weigh questions according to the British state? Ireland is not far away! UK is the most subtly fascist country, I guess you are old enough to remember Thatcher, or how in bail out they openly undermined working classes’ survival. We can bring hundreds of examples from past and present colonialism. But my point is to question how we talk about Islamism. Is it you who is speaking only? In what ways your articulations partake within a certain vision of society and its truth? Are they really true?

    Sayyid Qutb is tortured, tortured enough to see how power captures our minds and bodies. We may not agree with the conclusions he made from this disclosure, but the method matters. (Isn’t that Fi Zilal opened a new dimension to Islam we knew? Ulama learned the social question for him, a question that is first asked in Milestones)

  4. I have read several books by Sayyid Qutb and I don’t doubt that his works have offered many valuable insights into Islamic teachings. My personal favourite is from his commentary on the final juz’ of the Qur’an which he compares- if my memory serves me correctly – to someone knocking on the door with ever increasing intensity saying ‘Wake up! Wake up!’. I thought that was a very helpful image in describing the purpose of the shorter surahs at the end of the Qur’an.

    However, there are also several aspects of Qutb’s worldview that are troubling and in my view very outdated, particularly his characterisation of Dar al-Harb as being all those countries in which the Shari’ah is not supreme. The UK has many failings not least being the hatred and bigotry whipped up by right-wing papers and directed against immigrants and particularly Muslim communities, however, I don’t agree that it is one of the ‘most subtly fascist’ countries in the world. And, I certainly would not classify the UK as being part of Dar al-Harb and indeed believe the terminology is out-moded. Shaykh Qaradawi has called for a new category called Dar al-Ahd (the land of covenent) where Muslims even though they are a minority are nevertheless free to practise and spread their faith.

    Qutb’s Milestones puts too much focus on the idea of an ‘Islamic State’. I think he probably picked this up from Sayyid Mawdudi who also made the same mistake. States, whether secular or ‘Islamic’ are notoriously corrupt by definition – since they are run by human beings who we know are notoriously corruptible, not least because they are people just like us. I think history teaches us that it is better to put tight limitations on the power of governments and instead allow more freedom for individuals and communities.

  5. 'Uthmān says:

    Masha’Allah, great to hear about your son attending his first Jumu’ah! I suppose the Khutbah was related to the current events going on in the Arab world?

    Quite an interesting discussion you have going on here. I haven’t personally read any of Qutb’s books although I’d certainly like to get hold of one in order to get an insight into his views and ideas.

    Picking up on Inayat’s point about Dar’l Harb and other associated terminology, I asked a question about this to Yasir Qadhi in the comments to his interesting post on Muslims living in Secular Democracies (http://muslimmatters.org/2010/03/01/gods-law-and-man-made-laws-muslims-living-in-secular-democracies/) where he also explores the views of Qutb and Maududi, albeit in a slightly different context. Anyhow, he pointed out that the Qur’an and Sunnah do not themselves explicitly divide the world into specific arenas and that he also thinks the call for a re-categorisation of these terms is appropriate in light of the modern-world situation. Makes sense really – the world is rather a different place today than it was 1000 years ago.

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