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How To Attend a Muslim Friday Prayer Service (Jum'ah)

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Published on Sep 19, 2012

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For Muslims, Friday's the big day when believers gather to hear a sermon and participate in ritual prayer. Attendance is religiously mandated for healthy adult Muslim males, encouraged for Muslim women, and usually open to curious non-Muslims.


Step 1: Find a Friday prayer service
Use Muslim acquaintances or a Website to find a Friday prayer service near you. Most are held around lunchtime.

Tip
Friday prayer services do not always happen in a mosque. University students often arrange Friday prayers in an empty hall or auditorium. Mosques in urban areas host prayers in satellite locations, such as downtown office buildings or even churches.

Step 2: Purify your intention
As with all acts in Islam, take a quiet moment to purify your intention, affirming that you plan to attend Friday prayers for God's sake alone.

Tip
While Friday is usually a holiday in Muslim-majority countries, it's a regular workday elsewhere, and some men are not able to attend as a result. Do your best to fit Friday prayers into your work schedule.

Step 3: Take a shower or bath
If you are able and you have time, take a shower or bath on Friday morning, as this practice was recommended by the Prophet Muhammad, who advised his followers to keep clean.

Step 4: Dress in clean, modest clothes
Dress in clean, modest clothes. For men, this means no shorts. For women, this means covering the arms and legs, avoiding tight or revealing clothing, and bringing along a headscarf.

Tip
Cologne is recommended for men, but perfume for women should be avoided.

Step 5: Remove your shoes
When entering the mosque or prayer area, remove your shoes. This is the moment of truth for your socks!

Step 6: Enter prayer area with right foot first
Enter the prayer area with your right foot first. If the mosque is segregated according to gender, women should enter the women's area, and men should enter the men's area.

Tip
If you have small children, you may prefer to leave them at home. If you need to, however, you can bring them. Children of all ages are a common sight at Friday prayers. If a child is very disruptive, or if a baby can't stop crying, however, you may have to leave with them.

Step 7: Offer voluntary prayer
If you are Muslim, offer two cycles of voluntary prayer, known as tahyatul masjid salah, which means literally, 'the prayer to greet the mosque.'

Tip
If you are not Muslim, take a moment to sit quietly and offer your own prayers.

Step 8: Sit next to other congregants on the floor
Sit next to other congregants on the floor. Choose the available space closest to the front of the room. In other words, the front rows should be filled first, particularly because the back rows should be left open for latecomers.

Step 9: Listen to adhan
Listen as a fellow congregant gives the adhan, or call to prayer. This means the Friday prayer service has begun; refrain from talking at this point.

Step 10: Sit quietly & listen to imam
Sit quietly and listen while the imam, or prayer leader, offers a sermon, or khutbah. The first half the khutbah is the longest, followed by a brief period when the imam will sit down and offer silent prayers. Then he will stand again to deliver the shorter final section of the sermon.

Tip
A sermon will always open and close with words in Arabic. Hopefully, the language of the sermon itself will be one you understand. If not, be patient and ask someone near you for a translation when it is over.

Step 11: Listen to iqaamah
After the sermon, a man will stand to give the iqaamah, a shortened version of the call to prayer, which indicates the prayer itself is about to commence.

Step 12: Line up shoulder to shoulder
Stand up and move so you are standing shoulder to shoulder with the people on your left and right, forming a straight line that faces the qibla, or direction pointing to Mecca. Your shoulders, arms or feet can be lightly touching other people's.

Tip
If you are not Muslim, ask someone where you can sit to observe the prayers. Generally, non-Muslims should not join in the prayer.

Step 13: Perform salat
Perform two cycles of the ritual prayer, or salat, following along with the imam.

Step 14: Greet other people
When the prayer is over, be sure to greet the people praying on either side of you when they are finished, either by shaking their hands and saying, 'May Allah accept your prayers,' or by simply smiling.

Step 15: Make a charitable contribution
If you wish, make a charitable contribution as you leave. Boxes for contributions are generally available near the exit.

Did You Know?
The Prophet Muhammad was known for giving short sermons, but don't expect everyone to follow that lead—

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