Edited excerpts from  Heavenly Ornaments by Imam Ashraf Ali al-Tahanawi

The Friday prayer is personally obligatory upon men who are not traveling. It has been established from the Quran, Hadith and the consensus of the ummah. It is one of the most salient features of Islam.

Allah Most High says in the Quran: “O you who believe! When the call for Friday prayer is made, hasten towards the remembrance of Allah Most High and leave all transactions. This is best for you if only you know.” In this verse, “remembrance” refers to the Friday prayer and khutbah. “Hasten” means that one should go with great concern and care.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “The person who has a bath on Friday, purifies himself as far as possible, applies oil to his hair, applies perfume, leaves for the mosque, when he arrives at the mosque he does not sit down by removing anyone from his place, offers as many nafl prayers as possible, when the imam delivers the khutbah he remains silent – then his sins from the previous Friday till now will be forgiven.” (Bukhari)

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “The person who has a bath on Friday and goes early to the mosque on foot, and not by a vehicle, listens to the khutbah and does not do any foolish act while it is being delivered, will get the reward of one year’s worship, one year’s fasting, and one year’s prayer for every step that he takes.” (Tirmidhi)

The Method of Offering the Friday Prayer

  1. After the first adhan of Friday and before the second adhan, four rakats of sunnah prayer should be offered. This sunnah is confirmed sunnah (sunna mu’akkada).
  2. After the khutbah, two rakats fard (obligatory) Friday prayer should be offered with the imam. The Friday prayer should be offered with the following intention: “I intend offering two rakaats fard of Friday prayer.”
  3. Thereafter, four rakats sunnah should be offered. These are also a confirmed sunnah (sunna mu’akkada).
  4. Thereafter, another two rakats of sunna should be offered. According to some ulama these two rakats are also confirmed sunnah (sunna mu’akkada).

Rules for the Friday Khutbah

  1. Once all the people have gathered together, the imam should sit on the minbar and the mu’azzin should call out the adhaan in front of him. Immediately after the adhan, the imam should stand up and deliver the khutbah.
  2. Once the imam stands up to deliver the khutbah, it is prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman) to offer any prayer or to speak with each other. However, it is permissible for the saahib-e-tarteeb to offer his qada prayer at that time. In fact, it is necessary for him to offer his qada prayer. As long as the imam does not complete his khutbah, all these things will be prohibited.
  3. Once the khutbah commences, it is necessary for all those present to listen to the khutbah. This is irrespective of whether they are sitting near the imam or far away from him. It is also prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman) to do such a thing which will distract one from listening. Just as eating, drinking, talking, walking, making salaam, answering to a salaam, reading some tasbeeh, showing someone a masa’ala of the Shariah is prohibited while one is in prayer, it is also prohibited while the khutbah is being delivered. However, it is permissible for the one who is delivering the khutbah to show a issue of the Shariah while he is delivering his khutbah.
  4. If the khutbah commences while one is offering one’s prayer, it is better to complete it if it is confirmed sunnah (sunna mu’akkada). If it is a nafl prayer, one should make salaam after two rakaats.
  5. It is prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman) for the followers of the prayer as well as the imam to raise their hands and make dua in-between the two khutbahs when the imam is sitting. However, it is permissible to make dua in one’s heart without raising one’s hands as long as one does not say anything with one’s tongue – neither silently nor loudly.
  6. It is permissible to deliver a khutbah while looking into a book.
  7. If the Messenger of Allah’s (Allah bless him and give him peace) name is mentioned in the khutbah, it is permissible for the followers of the prayer to send blessings to him in their hearts.

The Virtues of Friday

  1. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “There is such an hour on Friday that if any Muslim makes dua in it, his dua will definitely be accepted.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
  2. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Of all the days, Friday is the most virtuous. It is on this day that the trumpet will be blown. Send abundant blessings upon me on Fridays because they are presented to me on that day.” The Companions (Allah be pleased with them) asked: “O the Messenger of Allah! How will they be presented to you when even your bones will not be present after your death?” The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) replied: “Allah Most High has made the earth forbidden upon the prophets forever.” (Abu Dawud)
  3. On one Friday, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “O Muslims! Allah Most High has made this day a day of eid. So have a bath on this day, whoever has perfume should apply it, and use the miswaak.” (Ibn Majah)

The Adab of Friday

  1. Every Muslim should make preparations for Friday from Thursday. After the asr prayer of Thursday, he should make a lot of istighfaar. He should clean his clothes and keep them ready. If he does not have any perfume in his house, then if it is possible he should try and obtain some and keep it ready so that he will not get distracted with these things on Friday. The pious people of the past have stated that the person to receive the most benefit on Friday will be that person who waits for it and who makes preparations for it from Thursday. The most unfortunate person will be he who does not even know as to when Friday will fall, so much so that he will ask the people in the morning as to which day this is. Some pious people used to go and stay in the congregational mosque from the night of Friday in order to make full preparations for the following day. (Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din, vol. 1, page 161)
  2. On the day of Friday, ghusl should be made and the hair of the head and the rest of the body should be thoroughly washed. It is also very virtuous to use the miswaak on this day.
  3. After making ghusl, a person should wear the best clothing that he possesses, and if possible he should also apply some perfume (for men only – women should not wear perfume outside of their homes). He should also clip his nails.
  4. He should try and go very early to the congregational mosque. The earlier a person goes, the more reward he will receive. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “On the day of Friday, the angels stand at the entrance of that mosque in which Friday prayer is to be offered. They write down the name of the person who enters the mosque first, and thereafter the name of the person who follows, and they continue doing this. The person who entered first will receive the reward of sacrificing a camel in the path of Allah, the one who followed him will get the reward of sacrificing a cow, thereafter a chicken, thereafter the reward of giving an egg as charity in the path of Allah. Once the khutbah commences, the angels close the register and begin listening to the khutbah.” (Bukhari and Muslim)In olden times, the roads and alleys used to be extremely busy in the mornings and at fajr time. All the people used to go so early to the congregational mosque and there used to be such a large crowd that it used to look like the days of eid. Later, when this habit was given up, people began saying that this is the first innovation in Islam. After writing this, Imam Ghazali (Allah have mercy on him) says: “Aren’t the Muslims ashamed of themselves that the Jews and Christians go so early in the morning to their synagogues and churches on Saturdays and Sundays. Those who are businessmen go so early to the bazaars in order to do their buying and selling. Why don’t the Muslims do the same?” the reality of the situation is that the Muslims have totally reduced the value of this blessed day. They do not even know what day this is, and what a high status it has. How sad it is that the day which was more valuable than eid in the eyes of Muslims of the past, which the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) was proud of and the day which was not granted to the previous nations has become so dishonoured at the hands of Muslims today and it is such a great ingratitude to the favour of Allah Most High that the consequence of all this can be seen with our very eyes.”
  5. By going walking for the Friday prayer, one gets the reward of fasting for one year for every step that he takes. (Tirmidhi)
  6. On Fridays, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to recite Surah Alif Laam Meem Prostration and Surah Hal Ataa, in the fajr prayer. These Surahs should therefore be occasionally recited in the fajr prayer on Fridays. Occasionally, they should be left out so that people do not regard their recitation as necessary.
  7. For the Friday prayer, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to recite the following Surahs: al-Jum’ah and al-Munaafiqun, or al-A’la and al-Ghaashiyah.
  8. There is a lot of reward in reciting Surah Kahf either before the Friday prayer or after it. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “the person who recites Surah Kahf on Fridays, a nur will appear for him from below the arsh as high as the skies. This light will help him in the darkness of the day of resurrection. And all the sins which he may have committed from the last Friday till this Friday will be forgiven.” (Sharh Sifrus-Sa’aadah) the ulama have written that this Hadith refers to minor sins because major sins are not forgiven without making taubah.
  9. There is more reward in reciting blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) on Fridays than on other days. It has been mentioned in the Hadith that blessings should be recited abundantly on Fridays.