A Muslim prays five times a day, not only on Fridays. He can pray in congregation or individually, not only in the mosque but anywhere, in the home or at the workplace, in the field or even in the desert – so long as the place is clean and does not pose any form of interference (noise or smell) to his concentration. Prophet Muhammad said: “The whole earth is a mosque.” However a mosque building is preferred because Islam wants Muslims to get together in a congregation in order to know one another better and build up rapport. Congregational prayers foster and enhance Islamic brotherhood.
A good Muslim must have a congenial relationship with his surroundings – his family members, neighbours, friends and relatives. Islam enhances the importance of brotherhood among all races. The best way of initiating and maintaining this objective is by coming together during the worship of the Creator. Thus, if Muslims are unable to come for the congregational prayers everyday, at least they should do it once a week on Friday, as ordained by God.
God says: “When the call is proclaimed to prayer on Friday (the Day of Assembly) haste earnestly to the remembrance of God…” (62:9)
The importance of congregational prayers was expressed by the Prophet thus: “It is good to do your prayers in the mosque. If you are within the hearing distance of the azan (prayer call) from the mosque, go to the mosque; but, if by performing the prayer at home (other than the Friday midday prayers) your family members can join in together with you, then do the prayer at home.”
God, knowing that it is difficult for Muslims to pray in congregation at every prayer session of the day because of their work commitments, has made it obligatory to do it only once in the 35 prayer sessions of the week (5 x 7 days) and He has chosen the noon prayer of Friday as the time and day for the congregational prayer. The Friday prayer replaces the afternoon (Zuhur) prayer of the day.
Thus, God did not choose Friday for the day of congregational prayer because He rested on this day after creating the universe. Muslims do not believe in a tired or resting god. Indeed it is mentioned in the Quran that God created the universe in six days but that does not mean that He rested on the seventh day after completing His work. God does not become weary. In the Islamic belief, the “six days” is a metaphorical expression for six stages or periods. God says: “We created the heavens and the earth all between them in Six Days, nor did any sense of weariness touch Us.” (50:38)
If a man misses the Friday congregational prayer because of some unforeseen circumstances, he prays the afternoon (Zuhur) prayer instead, which can be performed anywhere till the time of the next prayer of the day, the late afternoon (Asar) prayer.