بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
Some words related to this topic used in Quran and their meanings are given below:
The word ‘Yom’ (يوم )in Quran is used in two meaning; one is ‘Day’ and the other is ‘Time period’. In Arabic both meanings are commonly used. Word ‘Hoot’ حوت in Arabic means big fish. ‘Sabt’ in Arabic means rest. The ‘Yom ul Sabt’ means ‘Saturday’, however, the word, Yom ul Sabt/Saturday is not used in Quran. The word Yasbatoon (يسبتون ) is verb meaning ‘they rest’. Yoma Sabtehim ( يَوْمَ سَبْتِهِمْ) means, their rest period (of time).
Allah tells us about a dwelling which was situated on a sea shore. These people apparently transgressed in their rest habits i.e they exceeded in laziness. Allah has made night for rest period and day for work. The mention of big fish in below Ayat is with reference to the times of the day the fishes manifest themselves in the sea. Normally big fishes come in a manifest way during early morning at the sea. So, the Ayat tells that when it is the time for the fishes to come in a manifest manner (i.e early morning) these people were still resting and were not at work. And when the fishes were gone, at that time they probably were awake and started their businesses (much later than normal expected time of start of businesses). Al-Sabt in this Ayat, does not mean Saturday as normally understood.
7:163 وَاسْأَلْهُمْ عَنِ الْقَرْيَةِ الَّتِي كَانَتْ حَاضِرَةَ الْبَحْرِ إِذْ يَعْدُونَ فِي السَّبْتِ إِذْ تَأْتِيهِمْ حِيتَانُهُمْ يَوْمَ سَبْتِهِمْ شُرَّعًا وَيَوْمَ لَا يَسْبِتُونَ ۙ لَا تَأْتِيهِمْ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نَبْلُوهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْسُقُونَ
Ask them about the town present by the sea, when! they transgressed in (the matter of) the Rest. Their big fishes did come to them in a manifest manner, at the time of their rest, but at the time they were not resting, they (big fish) did not come. Thus did We test them, for they used to transgress.
7:164-170 وَإِذْ قَالَتْ أُمَّةٌ مِّنْهُمْ لِمَ تَعِظُونَ قَوْمًا ۙ اللَّهُ مُهْلِكُهُمْ أَوْ مُعَذِّبُهُمْ عَذَابًا شَدِيدًا ۖ قَالُوا مَعْذِرَةً إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ فَلَمَّا نَسُوا مَا ذُكِّرُوا بِهِ أَنجَيْنَا الَّذِينَ يَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ السُّوءِ وَأَخَذْنَا الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا بِعَذَابٍ بَئِيسٍ بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْسُقُونَ فَلَمَّا عَتَوْا عَن مَّا نُهُوا عَنْهُ قُلْنَا لَهُمْ كُونُوا قِرَدَةً خَاسِئِينَ وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكَ لَيَبْعَثَنَّ عَلَيْهِمْ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ مَن يَسُومُهُمْ سُوءَ الْعَذَابِ ۗ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَسَرِيعُ الْعِقَابِ ۖ وَإِنَّهُ لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ وَقَطَّعْنَاهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ أُمَمًا ۖ مِّنْهُمُ الصَّالِحُونَ وَمِنْهُمْ دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ ۖ وَبَلَوْنَاهُم بِالْحَسَنَاتِ وَالسَّيِّئَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ فَخَلَفَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ خَلْفٌ وَرِثُوا الْكِتَابَ يَأْخُذُونَ عَرَضَ هَٰذَا الْأَدْنَىٰ وَيَقُولُونَ سَيُغْفَرُ لَنَا وَإِن يَأْتِهِمْ عَرَضٌ مِّثْلُهُ يَأْخُذُوهُ ۚ أَلَمْ يُؤْخَذْ عَلَيْهِم مِّيثَاقُ الْكِتَابِ أَن لَّا يَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ إِلَّا الْحَقَّ وَدَرَسُوا مَا فِيهِ ۗ وَالدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لِّلَّذِينَ يَتَّقُونَ ۗ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ وَالَّذِينَ يُمَسِّكُونَ بِالْكِتَابِ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ إِنَّا لَا نُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُصْلِحِينَ
When some group of them said. “Why do you preach to a nation whom Allah will destroy or inflict with a terrible punishment?”- they said .” To discharge our duty to your Lord, and perchance they may fear Him.” Thus when they forgot the warnings with what they had been reminded with, We rescued those who forbade evil; but We caught the wrong-doers with a grievous punishment because they were given to transgression. Thus when they transgressed in their prohibitions, We said to them. “You be despicable monkeys, ” And when your Lord did declare that He would send against them, till the Day of Judgment, those who would afflict them with grievous penalty. No doubt, your Lord is quick in retribution, and He is also forgiving, Most Merciful. We broke them up into sections on this earth. There are among them some that are the righteous, and some other than that. We have tried them with both good and evil, In order that they might turn (to us). After them succeeded a generation, who inherited the Book, but they take (for themselves) the offers of this world, saying (as an excuse). “We will be forgiven.” (Even so), if similar offers came their way, they would (again) seize them. Was not the covenant of the Book taken from them, that they would not ascribe to Allah anything but the truth? and they study what is in the Book. But best for the righteous is the home in the Hereafter. Will ye not understand? As to those who hold fast by the Book and establish regular prayer,- never shall We let go waste the reward of the Saliheen/people who correct themselves.
When this nation exceeded in their laziness and lethargic work habits, Allah punished them. Save the righteous people among them, He made the wrong doers of them to behave like monkeys. That is they imitate/mimic other people and are not able to take a leadership position in the world. Further Allah punished them by inflicting upon them such rulers who will always be exploiting them. Allah keeps on trying these people with good and evil so that they may turn to Allah. They were succeeded by a generation who inherited the Book of Allah. In the Book there is a covenant for them not to ascribe anything to Allah except Haq/truth, but for small gains of the world, they attribute all sort of untrue stories to Allah. Among them, those who hold fast to the Book and establish salat, Allah will not let waste their reward, though.
2:65 وَلَقَدْ عَلِمْتُمُ الَّذِينَ اعْتَدَوْا مِنكُمْ فِي السَّبْتِ فَقُلْنَا لَهُمْ كُونُوا قِرَدَةً خَاسِئِينَ
And well you knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Al-Sabt/Rest. We said to them. “You become despicable monkeys.”
2:66 فَجَعَلْنَاهَا نَكَالًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهَا وَمَا خَلْفَهَا وَمَوْعِظَةً لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ
So We made it an example of their own time and for their posterity, and a sermon to those who acquire taqwa/fear of Allah.
Is it too difficult to recognize these people among us who behave like imitating monkeys, , lazy and procrastinators, they are despised in the world, persecuted by their own rulers, not able to take leadership role in the world? There will be few among them who hold fast to Book of Allah and prayers, who will be saved by Allah from this punishment.
16:124 إِنَّمَا جُعِلَ السَّبْتُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ ۚ وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَيَحْكُمُ بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فِيمَا كَانُوا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ
The Al-Sabt was made for those who disagreed in this matter; But Allah will judge between them on the Day of Judgment, in what they are differing.
Sabt is a period of rest. However, people who differed and invented several innovations in the name of Sabbath. So, these obligation in the name of Sabbath were made by them on themselves, by differing in the understanding of Al-Sabt. Allah will decide among them on the day of Judgment in the matters in which they differ.
Use of word (س ب ت) in Quran:
25:47 وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ اللَّيْلَ لِبَاسًا وَالنَّوْمَ سُبَاتًا وَجَعَلَ النَّهَارَ نُشُورًا
And this is He, who made the night as a covering for you, and sleep as rest, and He made the day as a Rising.
78:9 وَجَعَلْنَا نَوْمَكُمْ سُبَاتًا
And We made your sleep, rest
Other Ayas 4:47, 4:154,