Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Islamic weekend

In most of the Arab world, business runs according to the Islamic Sunday-Thursday workweek, with a Friday-Saturday weekend and a Friday Sabbath. (Exceptions to this rule include Turkey and Lebanon, which operate on a Saturday-Sunday weekend with a Sunday Sabbath.) I used to like the Islamic weekend more than the American one, for the following reasons.

1. You get a really meaningful Sabbath day. It's an immediate rest from the busy workweek because it comes right on the heels of Thursday (Friday, American style). Plus, the next day, Saturday, isn't a workday, so you can really kick back and enjoy the Sabbath on Friday because it has a nice cushion after it.

2. Then, Saturday is nice because you can use it to get ready for the workweek if you want. Do homework, go shopping, whatever it is you need to do before heading into another week.

However, there are some disadvantages to the Islamic weekend. Namely,

1. It's almost impossible to take any kind of overnight trip on the weekend. You could head out after work on Thursday, but then what about church on the Sabbath? The only other available weekend night to spend away is Friday night, and depending on your Sabbath observance policies, that may or may not be OK.

2. Saturday sometimes kind of sucks. You spend the whole day knowing that you have to go back to work the next day so that takes some fun out of almost anything you do. You certainly can't stay out very late.

I think what I miss the most about the American weekend is the existence of a day that is pure FUN, i.e., Saturday. You can go camping (or whatever) on Friday night, sleep in on Saturday, go on an adventure or just laze the day away, and still have a whole day (Sunday) to get back into the swing of things in time for Monday. That is not possible with the Islamic weekend, and it's why I think I would like the American weekend better if I let myself.

However, since we live with the reality of a Friday-Saturday weekend, I really try to embrace it. I love how the Friday-Saturday weekend really highlights the Sabbath: Friday afternoons are my favorite part of the week. Sunday afternoon in the US doesn't compare because you have that pesky Monday coming up with all its attendant cares.

Have you ever given much thought to the days of the week and the ways in which the activities of your life revolve around them? Here's a parting thought: with the Islamic weekend, we say stuff like "that class is on Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday" a lot. Or just "Monday/Wednesday," without the Friday part. People sometimes ask me if we call it "Friday School" at church (instead of Sunday School), and I think the answer is that we don't. But we do call it "Fast Friday," or at least our family does. I think it has a nice ring to it.

PS - As recently as 2006, the UAE observed a Thursday-Friday weekend, which, WOAH. I'm glad they changed it, because it is hard enough being out of sync with the rest of the world for two extra days each week (Friday because it's my Sabbath, and Sunday because it's theirs). I guess what would be really ideal - the best of both worlds - would be a Thursday-Friday-Saturday weekend. OH YEAH.

2 comments:

breanne said...

Morocco is also on the French/Western system (at least church is on Sunday there). It gets weirder if you ever live in Israel, where they have a Friday/Saturday weekend but Mormons have church on Saturday. Then you can talk about when you had church on Friday, and when it was on Saturday, and when it was on Sunday.

I do have to admit, though, that the weekends felt the most strange when I lived in Jordan. I would call my mom after church on Friday and her weekend hadn't even started yet. I'd be talking about church and she still had two full days before Sunday. After living with all 3 options, I too prefer the Sunday Sabbath with a Friday night/full day Saturday of weekend before Sunday!

Jeremy Palmer said...

I no likey the weekend arrangement here. Saturdays are supposed to be fun, knowing that you don't have to return to work the next day. But not here, where we really do have to return to work the next day. And Saturdays are supposed to be specials days, right? To get ready for Sunday...

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