“Thank God It’s Friday” is probably one of the coolest sentences to scream out. You rarely have a full sentence having an appeal. It’s usually either a single word like the now obsolete “yolo” or a phrase like “y3 wo krom” which gains wide usage. Some sentences do gain popularity occasionally but they are usually fads which phases out in a jiffy like the haramttan.
The long lifespan of “Thank God It’s Friday” is understandable. For those dragging themselves through a 9-5 weekly schedule, Friday heralds a break from early morning hustle to board rickety trotros, spending eons in a traffic and listening to an overbearing manager. It is a promise of sleeping beyond the cock’s crow and joining fun clubs to jog the pot bellies away. Friday is what minimum wage workers work for and students stressed from lectures dream of.
For some of us, Friday represents that and more. Every Muhammad, Abdullah, Fatima and Aisha sees Friday in a different light. It is one of the most important days on a Muslim’s week. It is the one day all Muslims in a locality convocate at the largest Mosque in their neighbourhood to renew their piety.
In Islam, piousness can be achieved on any day at any time. In fact, Allah appreciates it more when a servant remembers Him in everything he does and constantly seeks to have that reconnection. But Friday prayers, known as Jummah, has symbolic significance. It is a huge gathering of likeminded folks who congregate with none other goal but seeking Allah’s pleasure and His forgiveness. So when the mu’azzin’s calls out Allaaaaahu Akbar Allaaaaaaaahu Akbar, Muslims are commanded to leave every activity they are in and head to the mosque for the sermon for that surely is better for them in the sight of Allah.
The sermon usually lasts for about 30 minutes is usually delivered in Arabic and the most common language in the community. In most communities in Ghana, Hausa is that language. That is one the most intriguing thing about Muslim communities. The Hausa tribe is not the most dominant tribe in Muslim communities. In fact, it is most likely nowhere in the top 5 tribes. However, it is the most widely spoken in Zongos. Northern Ghana is the exception. Even up north, there are some mosques who use the Hausa language. So if you are one of those who think speaking Hausa is a must for all Muslims or it is the official language of Muslims, newsflash, it is not.
Like every other gathering, Friday prayers has interesting acts and subtleties, independent of the actual sermon which is true in almost every mosque you go to.
The Head Nodding Squad
The first part of every sermon (khutbah) is in Arabic and usually takes place for about 10 minutes. This is the part which gets most people distracted. The average Muslim’s grasp on the Arabic language is the basic salamun alaik, bismillah, Alhamdulilah and other words used to exchange pleasantries and call out on Allah. And then there is the ability to read Arabic texts and not necessarily understand it. Most of us unfortunately drop out of Makaranta (Islamic School) the minute we can read the Quran on our own.
The head nodding squad are those who you know very well cannot string a comprehensive sentence if they find themselves in Egypt yet they nod throughout the Arabic part of the Khutbah. It is very baffling when they do that. Sometimes you wonder if they get imbibed by some Rosetta Stone spirit in the middle of the Khutbah which makes them make meaning of the Imam’s classical Arabic.
You’re sitting in my spot old men
This usually happens only in mosque with petulant old men. The type with hunchbacks who tend to have a beef to pick with everyone around them. As you might know, worshippers in mosques sit on mats and not benches and chairs like in churches. Sitting on the ground with no back support can be a little hurting for even a young fella. Imagine the case for old men.
Not all old folks hurt so bad to the extent that they fight you for a spot next to a back support but when you find yourself in a mosque with the petulant hunching type, you should know better than to sit next to one of the pillars in the mosque.
I WILL WALK OVER EVERYONE TO GET TO THE FRONT
Sitting in the first row during Friday prayers is a highly recommended thing. The blessings of those in the first row exceeds that of those in subsequent rows. However, this blessing is for those who do come early and sit in the front row. Not those who come late and shove their way to the front, walking over people bowing in prayers or steady listening to the Imam’s sermon.
This is one I am guilty of. 30 minutes is not too long to sit through a sermon extolling the virtues of God, lecturing on key Islamic principles and the life story of prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) but someway somehow, you sometimes find yourself dozing off. Some imams do have a very drab style of delivering the sermon and that might be the cause. But sometimes you find yourself listening to fiery preacher and occasionally transporting yourself to dreamland.
Maybe it is the mat we sit on. They probably have some lethargic qualities. What I do know for certain is, almost every mosque has a dozer or two during Friday prayers.
THE INCESSANT GREETERS
Talking during the sermon is high reprehensible. Rapt and full attention is required of worshippers during the sermon. Breaking your silence denies/diminishes the blessings you get from listening to the sermon. So the folks who come in late and proceed to greet everyone sitting next to them are the worst of the worst. Exchanging greeting is a great thing. Allah commands us to spread the salam (greeting) as much as possible. But of course every good thing becomes a bad thing given the place and time.
What sucks the most is, the people who usually extend the hand to greet are the type who once you refuse to greet, will look at you with askance and before you step out of the mosque, the whole community would know you as the disrespectful boy who does not greet his elders and worse, refused to greet them back when they forget about their elevated status and greet you first.
The list cannot be exhausted though. There are the charity box holders who will stare you in the face for long so you drop a cedi in the box and the ones who magically forget the colour and shape of their slippers and end up taking yours home.
If you have never been to the mosque on a Friday, this should be a fair Jummah 101 lesson.