The Concept of Holiday and Islam
Why was the last updated
version of the Divine Message to humanity revealed to the Arab
psyche of the 7th century? Why was it not revealed to
the Greek psyche-- the psyche used to abstract thinking and
speculative reasoning. The only answer that promptly comes to my
mind is the pragmatic approach of the 7th century Arab
psyche to human life—the psyche had no other interests but the
practical aspects of life in the desert governed by unexpected
weather conditions. The imagination of their poets was stirred by
lightning and rumbling, to prompt their audience of workings of
nature and be prepared for managing their cattle and tents. There
was no split between word and meaning. They said what they meant,
and meant what they said. The opposite was nothing but hypocrisy.
Their sports, mainly running and target-hitting, prepared them for
real life situations. The sports sharpened their physical and
mental skills for taking part in real life.
This pragmatism attracted the
Divine. Because this pragmatism had the capability to know,
understand, and implement it without wasting time and energy on
speculative considerations. That is why the simple message of
“there is no deity but Allah” worked so well and brought drastic
changes in their practical approach to life as for meaning is
concerned. They did not waste their intellectual energies on the
philological aspects of the sentence. They got it and applied to
their lives. The divine statement did not break them from their
ties to their surroundings, both social and natural, but added the
Divine Dimension to it, the sense of responsibility and
answerability and self-auditing. The tribes which were usually
involved in biological feuds became united under one Divine
The Quran never splits “faith
and deed,” substantiating my position. Unlike the Bible, the Quran
does not give even a slightest verbal clue to Divine Rest after
creating the universe. The Quran is precisely clear on how Allah
In the name of Allah,
the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Allah! There is no God but He,
the Living, the Self-subsisting, the Eternal.
No slumber can seize Him, nor sleep.
All things in heaven and earth are His.
Who could intercede in His presence without His permission?
He knows what appears in front of and behind His creatures.
Nor can they encompass any knowledge of Him except what he wills.
His throne extends over the heavens and the earth,
and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them,
for He is the Highest and Most Exalted.
Allah, the Most High,
speaks the truth. (trans. Kabir Helminski,
The underlined segments in the
above verse make it crystal clear that Allah is never constrained
by the weaknesses experienced by humans, or any other creation.
However, the Bible is verbally clear on the concept of Divine
Thus the heavens and the earth
were completed, and all their hosts.
By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and
He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it
He rested from all His work which God had created and made
The underlined segments are
verbally clear on assigning “rest” to the Divine. The concept of
holiday in Europe and America has its root in this verse.
In Islam, there is no such
theological foundation for observing holidays. The same view needs
further research for legislation. I found no formal research in
this regard. No Hadith book assigns a separate section to
“holiday,” and no book of Islamic Jurisprudence has a separate
chapter on it. This absence of record must open our eyes to the
way political managers are playing with this lethargic nation whose
youths are more interested in chatting nonsense than doing
something serious and pragmatic.
The history of Islam is
replete with the names heroes and heroic figures. If we, under the
pressure of denominational politics, which had nothing to do with
the Divine Message, began observing holidays in the name of Muslim
heroes, then the numbered days of life would be enough to cover
The need of the hour is that
we must know the principle-driven character of the Muslim heroes. I
think it would be a disservice to their cause if we waste our
working hours on observing holidays in their holy names. We must
follow their message in letter and spirit.
Instead of politicizing our
affiliations for power, money, and public recognition, we must
motivate our youth to work hard for self-reliance, both at
individual and national level.
Dr. Ismail Wali