Coming Last To Take The Lead
Islam was the final message God sent to mankind. Before it a long line of prophets and messengers gave guidance to mankind in various ways and places. However, the divine message maintained its essence in all its forms. The essence is the belief in God’s oneness and His being the only one to whom worship may be addressed and from whom help is to be solicited. He is the sole Creator and everyone in the universe submits to His will, whether willingly or unwillingly. The messages given by prophets differed in details of worship requirements and in certain laws, but the essential moral values remained the same. An earlier message might be complemented, or amended, through a later messenger, as in the case of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) who relaxed some of the restrictions God had imposed on the followers of Prophet Moses (peace be upon him). Jesus declared that he did not come to abrogate the message, but to endorse and complement it.
Earlier messages were often distorted, with some divine legislations undergoing change, abrogation or neglect. At times, learned men of religion disagreed on certain principles, with the disagreement leading to great divisions that continued over the centuries. Islam came to set the record straight and purge the divine message of all distortions that crept into it. God has guaranteed to preserve the message contained in His last revelation, the Qur’an. Muslims are required to make this message known to mankind, telling them that God wants them to follow it and then leave people to make their free choice, whether to follow this message or not. No one should be compelled in any way or form to follow it. Faith is a matter of choice. Hence, the Qur’an declares the everlasting principle: “No compulsion is admissible in matters of religion.” (2: 256)
One aspect of the divine faith is that people have a day every week when they are required to perform a special type of worship, and to be a day of relaxation and renewal of their resolve to follow divine guidance. To Muslims, this day is Friday. The following Hadith tells us that it was also applicable to earlier nations.
Abu Hurayrah says that he heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he said: “We are the last community, but we will be ahead of all on the Day of Resurrection. They, however, (i.e. other nations) were given the divine book before us. Then, this (i.e. Friday) is the day that has been made obligatory to them, but they differed concerning it, while God has granted us His guidance. Therefore, others come on our trail concerning it: the Jews tomorrow and the Christians the day after.” (Related by Al-Bukhari).
This statement by the Prophet tells us that Friday was always the day God wanted people to assign for special worship. Muslims offer a congregational prayer at midday, starting with a speech by the imam who should remind people of their duties toward God and that they will have to answer for all their deeds on the Day of Judgment. They then offer a short prayer. God has given us an hour on that day when all our prayers are answered.
It appears from other Hadiths that Moses informed his followers that they should make their special worship on Friday, but they said to him that God did not create anything on Saturday, and they would prefer to make Saturday their special day. He left them to carry on with their choice. The Christians, on the other hand, chose Sunday because it was the day on which God started to create His creation. Both groups erred by not following the guidance given them by their prophets. Muslims on the other hand followed God’s messenger and observed Friday as their special day. On the Day of Judgment they will be the first to be assigned their places after they have submitted their accounts of what they did in this present life.
– By Adil Salahi