Prayer Time

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Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) had taught the Bani Israa'il (Jews) to designate one particular day for the worship of Allah. On that day they were to abandon all their business or leisure activities. Originally, the day of Friday was specified, but at the request of the Bani Israa'il, it was changed to Saturday. This day, the Sabbath, became a holiday for the Jews and on Saturdays Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) used to address a special congregation and preach to the people. For many years after Prophet Musa (peace be upon him), the Sabbath was faithfully observed as a religious day. However, in the time of Prophet Dawood (peace be upon him), one group of the Bani Israa'il, who lived at the seaport of Ela, broke the Divine rule. The people of Ela were mainly fishermen and fished the seas every day except Saturday. Allah tested their faith by making the fish become very easy to catch on Saturdays. The Holy Qur'an says:


وَاسْأَلْهُمْ عَنِ الْقَرْيَةِ الَّتِي كَانَتْ حَاضِرَةَ الْبَحْرِ إِذْ يَعْدُونَ فِي السَّبْتِ إِذْ تَأْتِيهِمْ حِيتَانُهُمْ يَوْمَ سَبْتِهِمْ شُرَّعًا وَيَوْمَ لَا يَسْبِتُونَ ۙ لَا تَأْتِيهِمْ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نَبْلُوهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْسُقُونَ * وَإِذْ قَالَتْ أُمَّةٌ مِّنْهُمْ لِمَ تَعِظُونَ قَوْمًا ۙ اللَّهُ مُهْلِكُهُمْ أَوْ مُعَذِّبُهُمْ عَذَابًا شَدِيدًا ۖ قَالُوا مَعْذِرَةً إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ*  فَلَمَّا نَسُوا مَا ذُكِّرُوا بِهِ أَنجَيْنَا الَّذِينَ يَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ السُّوءِ وَأَخَذْنَا الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا بِعَذَابٍ بَئِيسٍ بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْسُقُونَ


" Ask them concerning the town standing close by the sea. Behold! they transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath. For on the day of their Sabbath their fish did come to them, openly holding up their heads, but on the day they had no Sabbath, they came not: thus did We make a trial of them, for they were given to transgression * When some of them said: "Why do ye preach to a people whom Allah will destroy or visit with a terrible punishment?"- said the preachers:" To discharge our duty to your Lord, and perchance they may fear Him *  When they disregarded the warnings that had been given them, We rescued those who forbade Evil; but We visited the wrong-doers with a grievous punishment because they were given to transgression." (Q7:163-165)


The fishermen were tempted by the easy catches to be made on Saturday and they thought of a plan to get around the Divine restriction. They decided to dig trenches and canals to divert the fish. On Saturdays, the canals were opened and the fish would swim into them in large numbers. At night, before the fish could return back to the sea, the canals were dammed. Then on Sundays the fishermen would easily catch all the trapped fish.

The wise and pious people of the tribe advised these greedy fishermen not to violate the command of Allah . They considered it their duty to guide those who were in error, because otherwise they would also be to blame for the consequences. However, the fishermen continued disobeying the Divine commandment and even boasted about their cleverness.

Finally, the punishment of Allah came down and their faces were transformed into those of animals. The Holy Qur'an says:


وَلَقَدْ عَلِمْتُمُ الَّذِينَ اعْتَدَوْا مِنكُمْ فِي السَّبْتِ فَقُلْنَا لَهُمْ كُونُوا قِرَدَةً خَاسِئِين * فَجَعَلْنَاهَا نَكَالًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهَا وَمَا خَلْفَهَا وَمَوْعِظَةً لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

And well ye knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath: We said to them: "Be ye apes, despised and rejected *  So We made it an example to their own time and to their posterity, and a lesson to those who fear Allah.  (Q 2:65-66).


Among the lessons which can be derived from the story are:

1 . The importance and excellence of enjoining goods and forbidding evils, and it is the cause of survival from the punishment of Allah as we can see from the story.

2 . The story points that committing sins is the cause for the descent of Allah's torment on the people. Allah says:

فَلَمَّا عَتَوْا عَن مَّا نُهُوا عَنْهُ قُلْنَا لَهُمْ كُونُوا قِرَدَةً خَاسِئِينَ

" When in their insolence they transgressed (all) prohibitions, We said to them: "Be ye apes, despised and rejected."


3 . The virtue of learning from the experiences of others. It was said that learning from history is the best education for the wise.

4 . The story is another evidence of the ascendancy and watching over of the Holy Quran over the other Holy Books, it seems as if the Holy Quran read all of these discordant books and adjudicated between them and unraveled the hidden facts and information and corrected the mistakes and discarded the superstitions or the impossibilities and then arranged the story by wish it challenged the Jews….no doubt it is a book that is revealed from God and every word is true.

5 . The torment and punishment that this village suffered was a result of indulging in Allah’s prohibitions and their deceit. Hence, those who have Taqwa should be aware of their evil behavior, so that what occurred to this village does not befall them as well.” Also, Imam Abu `Abdullah bin Battah reported that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,(Do not commit what the Jews committed, breaching what Allah has forbidden, by resorting to the lowest types of deceit).

6 . In conclusion, we deduce that the story is also another evidence over the people of the book ( Banu Israeel). It points out the prophet-hood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) because the facts about this story was known only to the Jews, but was being narrated by the noble prophet(peace be upon him) as revealed by Allah, the exalted to him.  



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