“God accepts more prayers on Fridays”: Marking God’s Time in Our Muslim and Orthodox Jewish Families
“How do I find the opportunity to celebrate the day as different?”
This is a column about parenting and faith coauthored by Saadia Faruqi and Shoshana Kordova.
The first column centers on their families’ activities and observances on Friday, the Jewish Sabbath (beginning at sundown) and, for Muslims, a day traditionally dedicated to midday prayers and a sermon at the mosque. Shoshana and Saadia discuss the significance of this day, and contrast their own experiences growing up (Saadia in Pakistan, Shoshana in New Jersey) with how their own children and families observe the day in Texas and Israel, respectively.
Friday is the day Muslims visit the mosque for a special sermon and congregational prayers. Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad remind us of the special nature of this day, and make it a cause of reward and celebration. At the mosque, I sometimes hear the words “Jummah Mubarak” (happy Friday) from my more devout friends. Many families I know get together for lunch or afternoon tea to welcome the coming weekend and offer thanks for the week behind them.
My own parents were not very religious, but sometimes my mother would take us to the mosque for Friday prayers. I remember dozing during the Imam’s sermon, and my mother giving me a lecture on the way back. Now my daughter does the same thing when we attend Friday prayers during summer vacations or other unexpected holidays. I resist the urge to lecture, because I know the experience will stick with her regardless of how much of the sermon she understands.
Making sure Friday is a day of personal significance can still be a major challenge. How do I make sure no appointments are scheduled from noon to two p.m.? How do I remind my children to pray extra because our tradition says God accepts more prayers on Fridays? How do I find the opportunity to celebrate the day as different?
As the glowing numbers on the oven clock begin to match the numbers on the magnetic calendar on the fridge telling us the times Shabbat begins and ends every week, I make a quick dash to check that the bathroom lights are lit and the bedroom lights are not. Since we don’t turn electricity on and off during Shabbat, that’s how they’ll stay the entire twenty-five hours. I make sure the hot water urn has boiled and is on Shabbat mode, so we’ll be able to drink tea and coffee, and set the timer for the hot plate. “Girls!” I call. “Come light candles now!”
Saadia Faruqi is a Pakistani American writer. She is the editor of Muslim literary journal Blue Minaret and author of the short story collection Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan. She lives in Houston with her husband and children. @saadiafaruqi
Shoshana Kordova is an Orthodox Jewish writer and editor raised in NJ and living in Israel. She has written for Smithsonian, Prevention, Quartz, NYT's Motherlode, and The Daily Beast. She has four daughters. @shoshanakordova
Shoshana and Saadia are co-founders of Have Faith, Will Parent, a meeting place for parents of all religions.
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