This Medinan surah begins by reminding Muslims of God’s grace in giving them a prophet: “It is He who raised a messenger, among the people who had no Scripture, to recite His revelations to them, to make them grow spiritually and teach them the Scripture and wisdom.” This is significant because it was Muhammad who helped to unify the disparate polytheistic Arabs into a community of faith in the 7th century C.E.
This surah gives a criticism of Jews who went astray from obeying the Torah. This is significant because, throughout the Qur’an, Muhammad is seen as a successor to Jewish prophets like Abraham, Moses, and (later) Jesus. Muhammad did not claim to invent a new religion, but to bring people back to the truth of a very old spirituality, which had its roots in Judaism and Christianity, plus some uniquely Arab elements.
The title of the surah comes from the traditional Muslim call to Friday prayer, called Jumu'ah. Muslims are encouraged to place spirituality above other pursuits like business and entertainment: “What God has is better than any entertainment or trade: God is the best provider.”
|Jumu'ah at a university in Malaysia.|