The Seventh Day Sabbath in the Qur'anRead Dutch

by Ingrid A. Wijngaarde

As I was revising my book on the Sabbath[i] it was very interesting to realise that there might well be a common ground in the Sabbath for Jews, Christians and Muslims. In this article I want to explore the Muslim heritage of the Sabbath, As-Sabt.

Muslims, Christians and Jews believe that God[ii] created the world and all that there is in six days. All three monotheistic religions claim a joint origin in the Garden of Eden. All three claim Abraham, Muslims call him Ibrahim, as their father and example of faith. And all three speak about the Sabbath of the 7th day! Like the Christian world diverted their ways from the 7th day Sabbath to Sunday, so did the Muslim world to Friday.

Mainstream Christians, like Muslims, claim that the Sabbath is not important for their religion because they both say, it is for the Jews only. In my book I give evidence that the change from Sabbath to Sunday was the result of a deliberate ecclesiastical act. History testifies that the same has happened to the Muslim claim of Friday over

It is very significant to understand that all three religions agree that before there were Jews; even before Abraham's time, the Divine One had a people who worshipped Him in truth. And we may understand that if this Divine One did create our world in six days - all three religions claim this as truth - and if He rested from His creation work on the 7th day, and thus making it a special memorial, that this memorial does not belong to a special group of people, but to the Divine One Himself.

It is His day and He had appointed it to be a special memorial and gave it to His true servants to keep it in honour to Himself. The 7th day Sabbath is not Jewish, because it originated more than 2,000 years before there was a Jew. The word Jew is derived from the name Judah, one of the sons of Jacob, a son of Isaac, brother of Ishmael, sons of Abraham. The origin of Sabbath is from before man’s Fall(Genesis 21-3)[iv].It was given to commemorate a perfect creation and provides men with an abundance of blessings and an abundance of joy (Isaiah 5813,14).

It is a new revelation to many to understand that all three religious books, Tenach, Bible and Qur’an speak about this Sabbath of Elohim, the Lord and the Divine One.
As the Christian world is leading its believers away from the claims of the Sabbath, the Muslim world is doing to its Mu'mins[v],for Sabbath is clearly mentioned in the Qur’an. The Christians have made Sunday the 7th day of the week when in fact it is the 1st; the Muslims have made Friday the 7th day, when in fact it is the 6th. All this is done to lead the faithful away from honouring the holy day of the Divine One.

God is the One who established time for us and He is the One who has appointed the week of 7 days as a fundamental portion of time, not relating it to any solar, lunar, mathematical or physical system. But from ancient times until today man in his stubborn rebellion has made Sabbath a point of dispute. Among Jews, Christians and Muslims people are challenging God's authority over His Sabbath.

Many people do not realise that the word As Sabt in Arabic is the same as Sjabbat in Hebrew meaning rest as in ceasing from work, stopping from Creation work; it does not denote rest from being tired. All agree that there is nothing that can wear God out (Isaiah 4028).

The word Sabt or Sabbath is used five times in the Qur’an, and every time referring to the violation of the Sabbath and the punishment by God for this transgression. Of course, the common interpretation gives no suggestion to Muslims of the validity of the Sabbath command. And because Muslims are dependent on the clergy like Catholics, few mu’mins will accept those texts as important for the Muslim practice.
And then there are two more significant ayat[vi] that relate to work and rest.

In this article I give myself the liberty to read and understand the texts as they are written, You have the liberty not to agree with me.

[vii]Surah Al Bakarah, S. 265,66
ولقد علمتم الذين اعتدوا منكم في السبت فقلنا لهم كونوا قردة خاسئين
"And you already know of (the ones) of you who transgressed the Sabbath; so We said to them "Be apes, (miserably) spurned."
فجعلناها نكالا لما بين يديها وما خلفها وموعظة للمتقين
"So We made it (i.e. the city "and its population") an (exemplary) torture for their own (Literally: between its two hands) and what is behind it (i.e. succeeding "generations") and an admonition for the pious."

According to the above ayat whosoever transgresses in the matter of the Sabbath is qualified to be rejected, and despised. This shows that if Allah is as God, He is not a God who compromises in the matter of His Sabbath. Muslims interpret these ayat in such a way that it pertains to Jews; they say that Jews became literal apes because they transgressed their Sabbath and the Lord destroyed their city as an admonition to the godly. But the example for the pious lies therein that everyone who transgresses as they did, will bring upon himself the same punishment, or the warning will be of no avail and we might as well erase these ayat from the Qur'an.

What is meant is that as apes are animals that mimic behaviour without understanding, transgressors in the matter of the Sabbath will only show formalistic religious behaviour without spiritual discernment. They will be rejected and despised because mimicry cannot count for reasonable worship. That is where disobedience to the Sabbath commandment, or any other commandment leads one to.

The Sabbath is given for spiritual development through submission to, acknowledgment of the divine precept, and worshipping God through hearing, studying and meditating on the sacred books. Failing to submit oneself to God and denying the sanctity of the Sabbath is to make a mockery of religion and of oneself (a mimicking ape). There is no doubt that animals cannot praise the Creator. So, the rebuke in these ayat pertains to all humans - Muslim, Christian, Jew, and any other - who disregard the truth of the Sabbath of the Lord, and the warning is given to all godly not to follow this bad example.

Surah An-Nisa', S. 447

يا أيها الذين أوتوا الكتاب آمنوا بما نزلنا مصدقا لما معكم من قبل أن
نطمس وجوها فنردها على أدبارها أو نلعنهم كما لعنا أصحاب السبتوكان أمر الله مفعولا
"O you who were brought the Book [People of the Book], believe in what We have been sending down sincerely (verifying) what is with you, before We obliterate faces, (and) so turn them upon their backs, (Literally: hind parts) or curse them as We cursed the Sabbathmen; (i.e. the Sabbathbreakers) and the Command of Allah has (to be) performed."

This aya speaks of a curse on those who break the Sabbath. And admonishes the believers to honour what was revealed to them even before the Qur’an came in sight. Many Muslims understand that the People of the Book are those who honour all what is written in the Tenach and the Bible, the forerunners of the Qur’an. To my opinion, of all others, Seventh Day Adventist Christians are the only true People of the Book, keeping all God's commandments and not eating blood and haraam food, as pork, vile birds, unscaled fish and other crawling animals, according to Leviticus 11.

Surah An-Nisa', S. 4154
ورفعنا فوقهم الطور بميثاقهم وقلنا لهم ادخلوا الباب سجدا وقلنا لهم لا تعدوا

في السبت وأخذنا منهم ميثاقا غليظا
"And We raised above them the Tur, (Mount) (taking) compact [covenant] with them. And We said to them, "Enter in at the gate, constantly prostrating." And We said to them, "Do not be aggressors on the Sabbath," (Mount) and We took from them a solemn compact."

This aya is so clear! It speaks of the making of the covenant on Mount Sinai and the admonition of God not to transgress His commandment of the Sabbath, and the promise of the people that they would be obedient! (See Exodus 20 11-8 and 24 3).

Surah Al-'Araf', S. 7163

واسألهم عن القرية التي كانت حاضرة البحر إذ يعدون في السبت إذ تأتيهم
حيتانهم يوم سبتهم شرعا ويوم لا يسبتون لا تأتيهم كذلك نبلوهم بما كانوا
"And ask them concerning the town which was by the (Literally: present by the sea) sea, as they were aggressors on (i.e. they broke the Sabbath) the Sabbath, as their whales came to them on the day of their Sabbath with their heads up, (i.e. they were swimming shoreward) and on the day they did not keep Sabbath, they did not come up to them. Thus did We try them for they were acting immorally."

This aya speaks of a test to fishermen that they would break the Sabbath or not. The fish swam into their nets on the Sabbath day but not on another day. It was a test from God of their obedience. It is interesting to know that some Jewish leaders thought it to be acceptable to put out the fishing nets on Friday and taking them in after the Sabbath hours, as in Jesus time the maximum travel distance on Sabbaths was approximately 800 meters (a Sabbath journey) except when you came across something that was yours within that distance. That would allow you to travel another 800 meters. If on Sabbath one wanted to go from Jericho to Jerusalem he could lay down several items of his household, to travel many Sabbath journeys.

Surah An-Nahl, S. 16124

إنما جعل السبت على الذين اختلفوا فيه وإن ربك ليحكم بينهم يوم القيامة
فيما كانوا فيه يختلفون
"Surely the Sabbath was made [i.e. set up against] only for the ones who differed [i.e. disputed] about it; and surely your Lord will indeed judge between them on the Day of the Resurrection concerning (the things) about which they used to differ."

This aya says that in the day of resurrection God will dispute with and judge them who disputed over and rejected the Sabbath, as God will judge every sinner, who violates any of His holy commandments.

Surah Al-Jumu'ah, S. 629-11
يا أيها الذين آمنوا إذا نودي للصلاة من يوم الجمعة فاسعوا إلى ذكر الله
وذروا البيع ذلكم خير لكم إن كنتم تعلمون
"O you who have believed, when it is called out for prayer on Friday, (the Day of Congregation), then endeavor (to hasten) to the Remembrance of Allah and leave out (your) trading (literally: selling). That is most charitable (i.e. best) for you, in case you know."

فإذا قضيت الصلاة فانتشروا في الأرض وابتغوا من فضل الله واذكروا الله
كثيرا لعلكم تفلحون
"So, when the prayer is accomplished, then spread abroad in the land, and seek of the Grace of Allah, and remember Allah much, that possibly you would prosper."

وإذا رأوا تجارة أو لهوا انفضوا إليها وتركوك قائما قل ما عند الله خير مناللهو ومن

التجارة والله خير الرازقين
"And when they see (some) commercial dealing or some diversion, they break away to it, and they leave you (standing) upright. Say, "What is in the Providence of Allah is more charitable (i.e., sealed) than diversion and commerce; and Allah is The Most Charitable of providers."

There is no question that Friday is a work day according to these ayat. God specifically commands to drop all business and go the Salat; and once assembly and prayer is over to enter in the Remembrance of Allah, to seek his grace on As-Sabt, which evidently begins after Friday evening prayer. And even when they would see commercial dealing all around they should stand upright, for Allah would make them prosper for He is their Provider. This is the best attitude for keeping As Sabt – trust that God will provide in all your need on that day. In very old Arabic Friday is called Eve of Sabbath; and Sabbath is Chief or Rejoicing Day - Shi-yar. In ancient and modern Arabic, spoken in Western Asia, East, West and North Africa, Friday is Assembly Day – Muham; and Sabbath is As-Sabt. In Pashto (Afghan language) Friday is Assembly Day; and Sabbath is Khali – Unemployed Day or Shamba.[viii]

Surah Al-Furqan, S. 2547
وهو الذي جعل لكم الليل لباسا والنوم سباتا وجعل النهار نشورا
"And He is the One Who has made the night for you (to be) a garment and sleep for repose [rest] and has made day-time for rising."

Muslims say, that Allah didn’t have to rest because He cannot become tired. They understand very well that the Creator’s rest from His work differs from our rest from ours. His rest can only mean that He stopped with what He was doing during the previous days – Creating the world. Resting of man in the night is because they are tired and in the morning they rise up again refreshed. His blessings to man are that they can go to sleep confidently that they will rise in the morning, because they can trust in His protection of their life.
Christians say, Sabbath is nailed to the cross. But if we are truly honest with the Bible, we will surely understand that with the statement it is finished Christ only concluded the earthly phase of God’s Rescue Plan, that was installed right after the Fall. The Fall of man in sin took place several decades after God had declared everything He had made to be exceedingly good; then He instituted the seventh day as a holy and blessed day to commemorate the solemn act of Creation. If the Sabbath reminds men of God’s perfect work of Creation, how can it be necessary for it to be nailed to the cross as part of what we must be redeemed from? That would make Sabbath part of the Fall, and part of sin, which it clearly is not.

Surah An-Nahl, S. 16116
ولا تقولوا لما تصف ألسنتكم الكذب هذا حلال وهذا حرام لتفتروا على الله

الكذب إن الذين يفترون على الله الكذب لا يفلحون
"And do not say, as to what your tongues describe lying, (i.e., falsely, livingly) "This is lawful and this is prohibited," so you may fabricate lies against Allah; surely the ones who fabricate lies against Allah will not prosper."

God never changed His Sabbath day. Why should He? Its origin is from a perfect time, reminding us of the perfect world that once was and is to come again in the future. Let’s not ascribe false teachings to God, for if we do so we will not inherit the promised Paradise! This is a conclusion that is clearly defined in all three holy books. Let no one fool you. The preparation day is Friday, the 6th day. Jesus resurrected on the Sunday, the 1st day of the week, making the day between the preparation day and the resurrection day the 7th day, Saturday, the Sabbath of the Lord.

The Qur’an calls the believer to honour God's previous revelations.[ix] Those previous revelations are, to their own interpretation, the Jewish Tenach and the Christian Bible. All the prophets of old and even Jesus are acknowledged in the Qur'an. If God is to be trustworthy and changeless, a latter revelation cannot contradict a previous one. This applies likewise to interpretations. How, then, can a Muslim begin a jihad against his own brothers, children of Ibrahim, on claiming that they violate the commandments of Allah, when he himself violates what Allah had commanded, namely the Sabbath; when God specifically say that He will judge violators in the Day of the Resurrection?; when he himself violates the commandment not to murder? Will those who commit murder be allowed to enter Paradise? This is a great misconception for even in the Qur'an it is written that murder is a great sin. How can Isa Ibn Maryam be a great prophet if He calls unto believers to behave differently and to love their enemies Matthew 543-47), but they deny His call and murder their enemies?

According to the Qur’an Isa will come again to defeat His enemies and to live as a righteous Muslim together with the Mu’mins.[x] What will Isa say to transgressors when He comes? Shall He affirm or condemn their deeds? Saying murdering people is no sin, is lying against Allah. This applies to everyone.

The God I know is a God of peace and He wants His children to show peace and mercy towards each other, not to coerce anyone into whatever faith. It is God who judges and condemns faith, not man. He promises Paradise to the persecuted, not to the persecutors; to the murdered, not to the murderers; to the sword less and not to those who rattle their blades (Mathew 510-12). Jesus (Isa) warned that Gods kingdom is not defended with swords, but with love (Matthew 2651-53). The time of the Crusades is over. For everyone! God fights His own battles and He wants those who say that they are believers to trust His judgment. We are assured that He never fails (See 2 Chronicles 2015 and Revelation 127-9).

If one sees truth he should immediately embrace it disregarding the people it reminds him of. Christians substituted Sunday for Sabbath; Muslims substituted Friday for Sabbath. Both mainly, because of anti-Semitic sentiments. It is very important to see that Jews do not own the Sabbath. The Sabbath is owned by God alone, and every man and woman, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Jew or other, can enjoy the blessings therein, if they want to please God first and above all. For God’s commandments are for everyone (Ecclesiastes 1213-14).

Final Remarks
Not everyone who calls upon God's name is offering the Most High a true worship. Not every religious book claiming to be holy, is that from God's point of view. Holiness is an assertion attributed by God himself, and is not dependent on human's claim. Then how to distinguish between the several holy books; which one is sanctified by the only true and Almighty God? To me, it is the book …
• that stands the scrutiny of time, consistency and coherence[xi], prophetic claims, and which reflects the great love and patience of our Lord in the broadest sense;
• that teaches real peace and real freedom of choice;
• that is clear about what is sinful in God's eyes and not in the eyes of men;
• that teaches us to offer total and loving forgiveness towards our fellowmen, as we hope to be totally forgiven by a loving God;
• that teaches us to love our enemies – the only strategy for peace and love to become a reality! See Matthew 544 and Romans 1217-21.
• that teaches that the solution is God taking upon Himself the punishment for our sin; the Judge who sentences the culprit, then He takes of his magistrate coat, steps down from His seat and accepts the punishment for the transgression and takes it upon Himself, because He knows that we would not be able to endure it, how many good deeds we would want to put against it;
• in which the heroes and prophets are common sinful beings, whose life’s stories are not polished up to present only good deeds, and even the greatest under the prophets were ever aware of their fallibility;
• that teaches that because no man is without sin, no man may sit on his own judgment seat to harshly condemn his fellowmen, even if he is a kafir, but that he realises that he is privileged to teach him gently and if he refuses, he can leave him to live their own life until God’s final Judgment Day.

These are to me the pilars[xii] of true religion. They are the pillars of Christianity and the Bible. They are about what God does to make humans worthy citizens of Paradise and not about what man has to do to enter in. Normally a child doesn't have to work to inherit his fathers wealth. He must accept it only.

Jews, Christians, Muslims and other people do not have to fight each other, for they share a common ancestry and can come to a clear understanding of truth when they concentrate on the patient loving kindness of God and His great prophets, Abraham, Moses, and His just response to sin by the substitutionary sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, in our behalf. It may be difficult for a Muslim and a Jew to accept Isa, Joshua for who He is, but when they would want to lay aside all prejudice and want to see Him for what He is, they will discern Him – their personal Redeemer.

Yes, there are some serious problems, but those exist mainly in man’s various interpretations of the sacred words, in all three books. God, of how you might call Him, is the final Judge of all, in all three books. He does not need partners to execute judgment in this world; on His judgment seat there is surely no room for man. He is doing and will do quite well by Himself. It is as Joshua, Jesus, Isa said plainly, "Let he that is without fault, cast the first stone." If there are truly honest and godly men, no stone will be cast.

So, let’s reason together, for where men and women are not on speaking terms, where they cannot have some serious debates, they can never be friends and brothers. Remember, Sabbath, and all other commandments, will stand as a standard on that Day, and everyone will find his verdict, good or bad, according to his actions.

Let everyone of us give heed!

updated january 12, 2015
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[i] A Sabbath Journey from Genesis to Revelation, The Significance of the Biblical Sabbath, 1st ed. 1996, rev. 2014, Promise Ministry, order from web shop in hard copy and download the free E-book here.
[ii] It is not the purpose of this article to answer the question whether Jews, Christians and Moslims worship the same God.
[iii] One must understand how the Jews, Roman Catholic Church and the Muslims have turned God's salvation by the finished work of the cross into a works-oriented salvation. Jews dispute that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, God in the flesh; Most (not all) Roman Catholics see Him as God in the flesh, but denounce His redeeming merits by leaning heavy on penance and purgatory; Muslims controvert His divinity by saying, "God has no partner," and although Isa Ibn Maryam is Al-Masih, He is merely a prophet to them, and Muhammad is greater. But Muhammad died and his grave is still around; Jesus rose from the death as the First Born under the living; He has no grave on earth, and He will come again in glory, our hope of living. Muslims believe that this Isa will come again, as Christians believe and Jews are waiting for the Messiah. Still, the Pope and Muhammed, mere men, claim more authority in religious matters than Jesus. Thus the Muslim, and the Christian world, spearheaded by the Roman Church, have usurped God's authority on earth, by changing God's intensions with the human race and teaching the believers to be unfaithful in the matter of keeping the Sabbath, among other things.
[iv] Bible texts are from the King James Version
[v] Mu'min: believer; Kafir: unbeliever.
[vi] Aya, ayah means: proof, evidence, verse, lesson, revelation; ayat is plural.
[vii] from Dr. Ghali translation.
[viii] See my book, A Sabbath Journey from Genesis to Revelation, Appendix, pp. 219-221.
[ix] As dr. Mohsen Haredy puts it, "Islam is the religion of all the prophets and messengers from Adam to Muhammad. All prophets came with one and the same message, i.e. to worship God… Islam calls the Christians and the Jews Ahl al-kitab (People of the Book), i.e. the followers of the scriptures of their prophets, Moses and Jesus … The Qur’an details the purpose of creating people from males and females in the following words: {O people,We have created you from a male and a female and made you into races and tribes so that you may know each other…} (Al-Hujurat4913). The address is given here to all people and not only to Muslims. All people of different backgrounds should work together towards a healthy society in which all members live in peace.
[x]Isa will come again to fight the antichrist. Funny Muslims use this highly Christian word! Muslims do not acknowledge Him as Son of God. The Bible states in 1 John 222,23 that whosoever denies that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God, is an antichrist.
[xi] In Islam the interpretations of the imams seem to be more important that what is actually written in the Qur’an.
[xii]The five fundamental pillars of Islam - shahadah, salat, zakat, sawm during Ramadan, hajj – are all about what the believer must do for himself to make it to Paradise: faith through works. Some extremist divisions within Islam have another sixth pillar – jihad. That pillar calls Muslims to murder in name of Allah, and even kill their fellow Muslim brothers if they stand in their way. Luckily, those are minority groups, giving Islam a cruel face. Shia Muslims have up to twelve pillars. Those pillars stand apart from the regular moral commandments as we have in Christianity. If Allah demands all of this, to be acceptable, I see a complete different God than the one I find in the Bible. Christianity also has works, but those are works based on love for God and fellowmen, believers and non-believers, enemies and friends; works out of faith in the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Isa also says that we ought to do good to all people, because God lets it rain on the good and the bad. If we want to be true followers of God, we must do as He does – be lovers of peace and freedom of choice for all men. Oppression gives us only more reason to pray. The true God is more than able to answer such prayers. See the prayers of Daniel. Although this Jewish prophet is not mentioned in Qur’an, we find records of him in Hadith (Muslim sacred literature) as we find them in the Bible. Look up his life’s story in the Bible book that bears his name. In chapters 2, 7, 8 and 9 the bewildering world we live in now is foretold. And we find the story mentioned in Hadith in chapter 6. The true God answers the prayers of the oppressed.

Erken nu met geheel uw hart en ziel, dat niet een van alle goede beloften die de HERE, uw God, u gegeven heeft, onvervuld gebleven is. - Jozua 23:14

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