Days of the week: Sunday

This article is also available in: Italiano

Lacking exactly one week at the end of Ramadan, I thought it was very interesting to discover something banal, almost obvious: the days of the week. It starts with Sunday, the first (but no longer the sacred) according to several Muslim scholars

Sunday according to Zakariyya ibn Muhammad al Qazwini

The feast day of Christians. Biographers said: “The first of the days is Sunday, and it is the first day of Earth, the day on which God began to create things.” It is said, then, that Jesus ordered to celebrate on Friday, but that they objected: “We do not want the feast day of the Jews to follow after ours”; and so they chose Sunday. Sunday is believed to be a good day to start business.

“The wonders of Creation”, Zakariyya ibn Muhammad al Qazwini
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The first day of the week?

With this short text by Qazwini, we are immediately shown one of the most interesting and controversial aspects of this day, that is: its order within the week. As said by the great encyclopaedist, in fact, in most of the Arab world it is Sunday to represent the beginning of the working week, something very particular given that the holy day for Muslims is Friday; this is however confirmed by the name, or الأحد / al ahad which in Arabic means “the first”. Where then does this curious peculiarity come from?


There are several theories about it but none of them seem to have sufficient guarantees to represent “the truth”; then let’s analyze the three most famous, let us know which one you think is the most correct and if you have several, we are very interested.

The 3 “classic” theories

The first states that the first Muslims spent Friday night with vigil and prayers, thus being destroyed on Saturday and starting to work only on Sunday which, for this reason, would become the “first working day”.


The second and third are instead connected and see in the choice a discourse strongly connected to the Jewish community, historically linked to the Islamic one and present in the Muslim world both from its beginnings. According to the first of these, given the large Jewish presence in Yathrib / Medina, Muslims would have liked to take this into account so as not to create inconvenience to the “cousins”, thus allowing the working week to start only once the latter’s shabbat was over (day in which, according to Jewish orthodoxy, the believer must do absolutely nothing). The last theory, instead, goes back to the fact that “God created the earth and the heavens in 6 days”, creating Adam the 6th, which for Muslims corresponds to Friday; according to this logic, Saturday would become the 7th, naturally transforming Sunday into the first day of the week.

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