By Editorial Staff
Islamic Fiqh (Jurisprudence) is practical enough to suit every Muslim. There is no room for hardship or strain because of the flexibility that is there in it. An example of this is combining the Salah (Prayer) which this article will discuss.
The main legal ruling is that every prayer has an allocated time for performance. Here, there are two things. One thing is that a good number of Muslims perform every prayer at the very beginning of its specified time at mosques. The second thing is that many people have legal excuses which may prevent them from performing prayer at its time or at the mosque.
In fact, travel is one of the main legal excuses which allow a Muslim to combine and shorten Prayers. Other important reasons may include fear, sickness, heavy rain, snow, etc.
The Definition and the Legal Ruling
Combining Prayers means to perform the Dhuhr (Noon) and ‘Asr (Afternoon) Prayers at either of the specified time for both of them, namely, whether to perform them at the time of Dhuhr or at the time of ‘Asr. Likewise, you may combine the Maghrib (Sunset) and ‘Isha (Evening) Prayers at either of the specified time for both of them.
The majority of scholars believe that it is permissible to combine only two Prayers, whether Dhuhr with ‘Asr or Maghrib with ‘Isha, at the time of the former or the latter. However, some others think it is reprehensible to perform the two prayers at the time of the former especially for Maghrib and ‘Isha.
On the other hand, Hanbali scholars are of the opinion that it is not permissible to combine the Jumu’ah (Friday) prayer with the ‘Asr Prayer. However, it is apparently permissible because the Jumu’ah prayer is a substitute for Dhuhr prayer. Moreover, combining prayers are allowed for the sake of facilitation.
Evidence of the Permissibility
Anas b. Malik reported:
When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) set out on a journey before the sun declined (from the meridian), he delayed the Noon prayer till the Afternoon prayer, and then dismounted (his ride) and combined them (Noon and Afternoon prayers), but if the sun had declined before his setting out on a journey, he observed the Noon prayer and then mounted (the ride). (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
This hadith supports the opinion that you may not combine two prayers before setting off for a journey.
Another proof which may seem conflicting
‘Abdullah b. Shaqiq reported:
Ibn ‘Abbas one day addressed us in the afternoon (after the Afternoon prayer) till the sun disappeared and the stars appeared, and the people began to say: Prayer, prayer.
A person from Banu Tamim came there. He neither slackened nor turned away, but (continued crying): Prayer, prayer.
Ibn ‘Abbas said: May you be deprived of your mother, do you teach me Sunnah? And then he said: I saw the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) combining the Noon and Afternoon prayers and the Sunset and Evening prayers.
‘Abdullah b. Shaqiq said: Some doubt was created in my mind about it. So I came to Abu Huraira and asked him (about it) and he testified his assertion. (Muslim)
In another narration, Ibn ‘Abbas reported:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) observed the Noon and Afternoon prayers together, and the Sunset and Evening prayers together without being in a state of fear or in a state of journey. (Muslim)
Zaidiyyah, one of the Shia sects, act always according to this hadith and combine prayers without any legal excuse. To do this means to neglect the other authentic legal texts. Consider, for example, the following verse. Allah says,
“…Indeed, the Prayer is (a) prescribed (obligation) for the believers at the (well-known) appointed times.” (Quran 4:103)
That’s why some scholars find this hadith equivocal because it seems to allow a person to combine prayers without any legal excuses such as travel, fear, sickness, etc.
To reconcile, Scholars mention the following explanations:
1. Some scholars believe that combining Prayers in this hadith is nominal. This means Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) performed Dhuhr Prayer at the end of its time and performed ‘Asr Prayer at the beginning of its time. This explanation is related in Sahih Muslim after one of the relevant narrations.
2. Another opinion is that this hadith is Shadh (anomalous) or abrogated.
3. A third opinion allows acting according to this hadith only in cases of necessity. For example, if a person cannot perform prayer before the expiration of its time due to exams or operations etc. he or she can combine Prayers.
4. A further opinion states that you may sometimes act according to this hadith, namely, to combine prayer without excuse out of emulation of Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace).
5. Lastly, some scholars interpret this part of the hadith (without being in a state of fear or in a state of journey) to mean that they are not the only excuses. There may be other excuses which made Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) combine prayers.
May a traveller combine Prayers for one or two days after reaching his or her destination?
So long as a traveller is still on his way to a certain place, he or she may combine Prayers. However, after reaching his or her destination, may he or she continue to combine Prayers?
There are two opinions. The first opinion is that it is apparently permissible to continue combining Prayers after you arrive in your destination. Mu’adh b. Jabal reported:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) combined in the expedition to Tabuk the Noon prayer with the Afternoon prayer and the Sunset prayer with the Evening prayer.
He (one of the narrators) said: What prompted him to do that? He (Mu’adh) replied that he (the Holy Prophet) wanted that his Ummah should not be put to (unnecessary) hardship. (Muslim)
On the other hand, the second opinion is that it is recommended and more preferred to perform every prayer at its specified time. While performing Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makkah), Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) shortened prayer in Mina on the day of tarwiyah, the 8th of Dhul-Hijjah, and the days of Tashriq, the 11th, 12th and 13th days of Dhul-Hijjah. However, He did not combine Prayers on these days. In addition, the prerequisites that allow a person to shorten prayer apply here.
Is it permissible for residents to combine Prayers when there is heavy rain, strong wind or the weather is snowy?
Yes. This is permissible according to the majority of scholars. The hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas and which is mentioned above supports this opinion.