The Quran itself says:
“O you who believe! When the call to prayer is proclaimed on Friday, hasten earnestly to the remembrance of God, and leave aside business. That is best for you if you but knew” (Quran 62:9).
When I was young and wondering why Islam celebrates Friday as a holy day, I had to come up with my own idea. As little as I knew any Jewish people I never wanted for resources about their culture. I grew up with the Bible always available to read. The movies drew me in. I loved the movies about Jewish people to the point that when I was young I wanted to convert. I didn’t mainly for the simple reason that, even as an adult I never really knew any Jewish people. The few I had met were quite standoffish and I was far too shy to press. So it seemed kind of ridiculous to convert.
But as for Islam, prior to the internet, I had no source at all to ask. All I knew was that the one Muslim boy in my sixth grade class could not come to school on Fridays because of his religion.
I came up with a number of ideas, my favorite is a result of the very Jewish movie Yentl. In the movie, there is a part where a wife says she is exhausted, she was up before dawn that day preparing for the Sabbath which began that night at sundown. I realized that Friday would have been a day of extra work for Jewish women. They would have not only made extra food and the best meal they could for the Sabbath, but likely they would have done extra cleaning too.
Having been married, I know the one thing that got in my way the most when I had a long list of things to do was my husband. Whether he was trying to tell me how to do things, trying to be affectionate or worst of all trying to help me. When it comes to getting a lot done quickly, I’d rather do it myself.
While I recently read that Friday was celebrated by Muslims because it is the last of the six days in which God created the Earth? I like my theory better. I think Muslim men who were kicked out of the house by their busy wives got together at the Mosques to pray to stay out of the way. From a spiritual point of view it makes sense. Praying is a way to cleanse the soul in a meditative way. Cleaning, sweeping washing and kneading bread are also meditative arts when done mindfully without other people interrupting. Thus men and women would have each been preparing themselves spiritually for the Sabbath the day before with the men/ wage-earners going to Mosques and the women/ homemakers cleaning the homes. Each would be worshiping, being thankful for the gift of life, in their own way.
I found this on the tradition at islam.about.com
It is often wondered why attendance at the Friday prayer is not required of women. Muslims see this as a blessing and solace, for Allah understands that women are often very busy in the middle of the day. It would be a burden for many women to leave their duties and children, in order to attend prayers at the mosque. So while it is not required of Muslim women, many women do choose to attend, and they cannot be prevented from doing so; the choice is theirs.
I like this very much. It show respect to the unending duties of the traditional woman/ the homemaker. And there is a certain beauty to the idea of a day to be separate from the opposite sex. A day for purity and cleansing both soul and home.