In Part 1 we looked at the mindset of a Muslim when mentally preparing for the weekend. Now it’s time
for some practical suggestions for what to actually do with your time.
We start with Q2 activities – the important things in life that are likely to slip away as they don’t have
urgent deadline pressures.
So What Q2 Activities Should You Do?
Here are my top 5 suggestions for Q2 weekend activities, which are all in line with Islamic virtues.
#1 Increase Your Worship
Free time at the weekend is a blessing. We all would love more free time. A secret of the pious is
that whenever they want to increase a blessing they give shukr for it, due to Allah’s (glorified and exalted be He) promise in the Qur’an:
‘If you are grateful to Me, I shall certainly increase you (in favour).’ [Quran: Chapter 14, Verse 7]
What better way to give thanks for our free time than to increase our worship in it? Through this,
we will be blessed with more quality time. Throughout the week we may skip our Sunnas, read
very little Qur’an and have poor concentration in salah. Now we’ve hit the weekend, let’s make
up for lost ground.
#2 Visiting Family
Living in Leicester, a city where hundreds of Muslims migrate to for the Islamic environment, it can be
exasperating trying to find your friends in the weekend. Why? They’re busy travelling to Preston,
Bolton,and London or across the city visiting relatives The weekend is the traditional time for Muslims, especially
in the West, where families tend to be dispersed, to visit in-laws, parents, siblings and call relatives back in
the Muslim heartlands. And such customs are excellent Q2 habits to maintain as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) informed us:
‘Anyone who desires the expansion of his provision or to have the best of his life prolonged, should maintain ties of kinship.” [Al Adab Al Mufrad]
#3 Spending Quality Leisure Time with One’s Spouse and Children
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) urged us in the most unequivocal words to take care of our families:
“The best of you are those who are the best to their families, and I am the best to my family” [Ibn Majah].
As a teacher, I’ve seen the terrible consequences of ‘absentee fathers’ who work long shifts at the weekend,
sometimes living for long stretches abroad, spending hardly any time with their kids. It doesn’t
long one’s beard is or how outwardly pious you may look, if you’re not spending quality time
with your children – especially if they are in their teens – then don’t be surprised if they start
acting up in all sorts of un-Islamic ways.
Boys in particular, in our times, need strong male role models if they are to avoid succumbing to
a myriad of
dangerous temptations. Two books which give fantastic advice about raising families in modern
Stephen Covey’s ’7 Habits of Highly Effective Families’ (the concepts of emotional bank accounts
time are very powerful) and Sue Palmer’s ‘Toxic Childhood’ (I believe every parent should read this important
book as it explores aspects of modern life which are ruining our children).
Activities with family and children should be varied and stimulating. Regular trips to museums,
shared outdoor adventures can create immense bonding, revive spirits and provide cherished
memories to last a lifetime. Such outings help refine teenagers, cushioning them away from the
worryingly prevalent ‘rude boy’
or gangster culture which tends to attract a lot of Muslim youth.
#4 Studying Islam and Attending Gatherings of the Pious
Alhamdulillah, there is an abundance of courses, ranging from one-day conferences to 5 year ‘alimiyya’
programmes, locally, nationally and online, that can be undertaken solely on weekends. Also,
gatherings of the ‘ulema or pious for the sake of learning sacred knowledge or remembrance
of Allah are
‘groves of Paradise’ which should be attended as much as possible:
“No people sit remembering Allah, the Mighty and Exalted, without the angels surrounding them and mercy covering them and tranquillity descending on them and Allah mentioning them to those who are with Him.” [Ibn Majah]
I personally have come across dedicated students who, through their hard work at weekends,
Arabic to a high level, some graduating to scholarly levels. May Allah (glorified and exalted be He) grant us such aspiration and inspire
us to put in the time.
# 5 Wholesome Recreation
The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his Companions (may Allāh be pleased with them) were incredibly fit. Even a cursory browse of some of the
accounts of their military campaigns, shows an astonishing level of physical endurance. Similarly,
we often read about the well known sacrifices of scholars from the early generations, such as
Imam al-Bukhari or Baqiyy ibn Makhlad
and countless others, who thought nothing of walking thousands of miles to learn hadith. Aside
from the stirring example of dedication to knowledge, these great men must have been at a high
level of health to undertake such lengthy journeys – in an age well before modern transport or
advances in medicine. Life in those times involved
daily physical exertion – more than even daily trips to the gym would provide – and kept people healthy.
Modern conveniences and lifestyles can mean for most of the week we can be confined to
limited office space,
driving everywhere and eating processed or junk food. For inspiration to get healthy and realise
the potential of our bodies, I recommend John Robbins’ eye-opening book ‘Healthy at 100′. The
weekend is a perfect time to get healthy: cook organic, wholesome home-cooked meals; go on long
walks, hikes or camping; participate in weekly football or basketball (my wife enjoys ‘sisters-only
basketball’ twice a week). Such activities can be combined with an
intention to raise money for charity. For example, last summer a group of friends and I organised
a family trip to Snowdonia. One of the brothers suggested getting sponsored for climbing Mount
Snowdon and sending the money to Syria. We were going to climb anyway and it was fun, but by
getting sponsored we managed to raise £5,000, alhamdulillah, for the refugees
Start Your Weekend on Friday!
A final, rather novel point, I’d like to make in this article is that we should realign our weekend – or ‘days off’ - to include Friday. Earlier I discussed how Western attitudes to the weekend can
influence us. The rhythms of our
week, from 9-5 working hours and the weekday/weekend pattern, do not really beat to the tune
of traditional Muslim culture. For one thing, the Western work-cycle (which unfortunately prevails
in most of the Muslim world) cares little about salah times whereas the early Muslims would work
around them. This is why it would be the practice of early Muslims to start work soon after Fajr
and work until Zuhr before enjoying the relaxing qaylula (siesta-style afternoon nap).
One way to maximise productivity on weekends and thumb your nose at capitalist/consumer
forces is to start your weekend on Friday. Think about it: Saturday and Sunday being days of rest
is from the Jewish and Christian traditions respectively. But Friday is the most sacred day of the
week for Muslims and deserves to be part of our ‘weekend’ psychologically, even if we have
The Status of Friday
The virtues of Jumu’a are so numerous that books have been written on the subject. Two
authentic sayings of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) suffice for this article:
‘Among the best of your days is Friday’ [Abu Dawud]
‘On Friday, there is an hour when, if a Muslim slave asks Allah (glorified and exalted be He) for something at that time, He will give it to him.’ [Abu Hurairah]
And of course there is the obligatory Jumu’a prayer to make. Alhamdulillah, many observe that
whereas only the truly practising Christians tend to go to church on Sundays, nearly all Muslim
men – no matter how sinful otherwise - attend Jumu’a prayers when they can. A useful treatise in
English is Shaykh Ibrahim Madani’s ‘The Essentials of Jumu’a’ (Madania Publications) and one can
easily find hadiths about Jumu’a in any reliable
collection. Indeed in this book (p8-9) he makes a profound point about the difference between how
Muslims observe Jumu’a compared with Christians/Jews observing the Sabbath:
“Firstly, the People of the Book believe that one day of the week is for rest because God created the skies and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. Secondly, they have become inured to the belief that the Sabbath is the only day of worship and [thus] they do not have to worship on any other day of the week. On the other hand, Jumu’a is an existentially blessed day in Islam. It is a time for Muslims to come together (for worship) and to increase worship more than on other days. At the same time one may continue to do business or go to work (after salah has been concluded) ”
Jumu’a is ‘Eid!
A fact that I didn’t learn until quite late in my life is that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) referred to Friday as ‘a day
of celebration (‘Eid)’ and therefore commanded that it should not be singled out for fasting.
Indeed in another hadith reported in Ibn Majah Friday is given even more precedence: “Friday is
the ‘mother’ of all days and the most virtuous in the sight of Allah Ta’ala. In the sight of
Allah Ta’ala it has more greatness than Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Ad’haa.”
This is why the Sunnahs of this day, to wear one’s best clothes, bathe,
etc. are similar to that of ‘Eid ul-Adha or ul-Fitr.
The practical point is this. What would you do if one of the two ‘Eids fell on a work day? You’d
take a dayoff, wear your best clothes, attend the communal prayer, have a feast, do some extra
worship, visit loved ones and enjoy the day. Well you can now do this every week! This is why
many Arab countries keep their weekends on Thursday/Friday (don’t forget that night
precedes the day in Islam and so the night of Friday
actually starts from Maghrib on Thursday) or Friday/Saturday. Even in Leicester I meet many
who are either self-employed
or part-time and they manage to keep Friday off. Alhamdulillah the Islamic-Montessori school
I work for is closed on Fridays.
If your work situation makes it unfeasible to have a complete day off on Fridays, then you can
still honour this leader of days as follows:
- Try to work half-day or reduce your hours on Friday. For example, if you control your work
through appointments (like a plumber or tutor) then schedule them for the morning so you’re
freed up as much as possible from Jumu’a time onwards.
- If you’re a man, do not miss Jumu’a Salah under any circumstances. Make sure you explain to
your boss, early on, ideally before you sign a contract, that your religion requires you to
attend Friday Prayers. Many can make it in their lunch break.
- Attend the mosque early so you can hear any talks, recite Qur’an and pray Sunnah or voluntary
prayers. It was the practice of the Sahaba and Tabi’een to arrive for Jumu’ah as early as Duha
time (early morning)!
- Observe as many Sunnahs of Friday as possible such as bathing, wearing especially smart
clothes, applying scent, reciting Surah al-Kahf, using siwak, etc.
- Send abundant salat and salam upon the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).
- Have a special meal on this day. I remember when I used to work for a solicitors’ firm in
Manchester, the boss would generously take us all out for a special lunch on Fridays.
- When you get home make sure you unwind and relax with family in celebration of Friday.
The weekend is sanctioned in labour laws as a legal period of rest from work, in Judo-Christian tradition as the
time of the Sabbath, and in Western consumer-capitalist culture as the time for entertainment and fun. While
Muslims can comfortably share some aspects of these traditions, we are also distinct in
honouring Friday and maintaining productivity. We use the extra time to do more good for Allah (glorified and exalted be He) and we intend, even with our
relaxation, the pleasure of Allah (glorified and exalted be He)
“Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds.” [Quran: Chapter 6, Verse 162]
How do you maintain productivity on your weekends? Share your tips in the comments section.
About the Author:
Tushar Imdad-ul-Haque Bhuiya is Assistant Director of Manara Academy, Leicester, where he teaches Islamic Studies and English (www.manara-education.co.uk). He also delivers workshops, coaches and writes articles on time management.