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بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن،وَالصَّلاۃ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ الْکَرِيم وَعَلیٰ آله وَاَصْحَابه اَجْمَعِيْن۔

Shari’ah View of Combining Two Prayers Together

In view of the Qur’anic verses and Prophetic statements on offering Salah on its prescribed time, the Holy Qur’an and Hadeeth scholars as well as the jurists unanimously agree that offering Farz (obligatory) Salah on its prescribed time is mandatory. Offering it before or after the prescribed time without any valid excuse is considered to be a major sin.

Some Qur’anic verses on offering Salah on time:

“Surely, Salah is an obligation on the believers that is tied up with time.” (Surah al-Nisa: V. 103)

“Take due care of all the prayers.” (Surah al-Baqarah: v. 238).

In the commentary of this verse, the exegesis scholar IbneKathir says that Allah has commanded to take care of Salah to be offered on time.

“And who (strictly) guard their prayers” (Surah al-Ma’arij: 34).

In the Commentary of this verse, IbneKathir writes that this verse refers to those who protect the timing, fundamental elements, mandatory acts and recommended acts of Salah.

“So, Woe to those performers of Salah, who are neglectful of their Salah” (Surah al-Ma’un: vv. 4, 5)

The exegesis scholars write that not offering the Salah on its prescribed time is included in the warning laid down by this verse.

In Surah al-Nisa (v. 102), the method and etiquettes of offering Salah in the state of fear have been laid down. Many Ahadeeth too speak of how to offer Salah in the state of fear. It is reflected from all these sources that relaxation has been given only in the method of Salah when offering at the time of battle in the battlefield. But ignoring the prescribed time is not permitted even in this case, minding the time is compulsory as much as possible. Thus, offering two prayers together after the time of the first prayer has finished or before the time of the second prayer has fallen is not permitted even while fighting with the disbelievers in the battlefield, where even a least degree of negligence may cause defeat. Prayer should be offered on its prescribed time.Otherwise, it will be mandatory to be offered later as Qadha. On the occasion of al-Ahzab battle, the Prophet (PBUH) offered Qadha Salah, as he was unable to offer it on time.

Some Ahadeeth regarding performing Salah on time

Numerous Ahadeeth on offering Salah on its time are recorded in the collections of Ahadeeth. One of them says: Abdullah bin Masood (RA) narrates: I asked the Prophet (PBUH), "Which of the deeds is loved most by Allah?" Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Salah at its proper time." I asked, ''What next?" He (PBUH) replied, ''Kindness to parents." I asked, ''What next?" He replied, ''Jihad in the way of Allah.", (Sahih Bukhari &Sahih Muslim).

Likewise, Hadeeth that the angel Gabriel (AS) led the prayer is narrated by numerous Companions (RA). Angel Gabriel (AS) led the Prophet (PBUH) in prayer for two days. First day, he led every prayer inthe beginning of its time, and on the second day, he led every prayer towards the end of its time. Then he said, the time for every Salah revolves between these two times (Sunan Abi Dawood & Sunan Nasai).

The Prophet (PBUH) always offered Salah on its time. Ali (RA) narrates that the Prophet (PBUH) missed his Asr prayer as the battle was at its peak on the occasion of al-Ahzab. He performed it after the sunset as Qada. He cursed the disbelievers in harsh words, as they had prevented him from his Asr prayer by engaging in battle, “May Allah fill their houses and graves with fire!” (Sahih Bukhari & Sahih Muslim).

Let us ponder,the Prophet (PBUH) was heavily injured during his journey to Taif. The angels put the proposal of crushing the disbelievers between the two mountains. But as he was mercy for all the creatures, he supplicated for their guidance. On the contrary, the Prophet (PBUH) was so aggrievedon missing his prayer on the occasion of al-Ahzab due to heavy resistance from the disbelievers that he cursed them in harsh words.

Abdullah ibne Abbas (RA) narrates that the Prophet (PBUH) said:

“He, who offered two prayers together without any excuse, committed a major sin.”,(Sunan Tirmidhi: Chapter: What is narrated concerning offering two prayers together).

One of the narrators in the chain of this Hadeeth has been graded as Dha’eef by Imam Tirmidhi. But its content is supported by the texts of the Holy Qur’an and other Ahadeeth. Also, Imam Hakim has classified it as Hasan and Qawi (strong).

Abu Qatadah (RA) narrates that the Prophet (PBUH) said:

“Delaying one prayer up till the time of next prayer is negligence in prayer.”,(Sahih Muslim).

Combining two prayers together

Every prayer should, as the entire Ummah unanimously agree in the light of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah, be offered at its proper time. This is required by the Shari’ah. One should act upon this view in his entire life and recommend the same to others as well. But the opinions of the scholars and juristsvary, if a person wants to offer two prayers together due to journey or any other excuse. A group of scholars and jurists has permitted to combine the two Zuhr and Asr prayers together and likewise Maghrib and Isha prayers together as Jama’ al-Taqdim (preceding combination) as well as Jama’ al-Ta’khir (delayed combination) while travelling or in case of heavy rain. On the contrary, another group of scholars and jurists, in the light of the prophetic Ahadeeth, has denied al-Jama’ al-Haqiqi(real combination of two prayers together in the time of one prayer). Born in eightieth year of Hijrah, renowned Tabi’ee (successor to the Companions) and jurist Abu Hanifa(RHA) holds the same view. The scholars from India and Pakistan too are of the same opinion. The Ahadeeth which mention combining of two prayers together according to the Hanafi approach of interpretation speak only of Jama’ al-Suri, the apparent combining. It means offering Zuhr prayer, for example, towards the end of its time and Asr prayer immediately after, i.e. at the beginning of its time. For example, the time for Zuhr prayer spans from 1 O’ clock pm uptill 4O’ clock pm, while the time for Asr prayer spans from 4 O’ clock up till the sunset. Thus, performing Zuhr Salah a short while before 4 O’ clock sharp and Asr prayer at sharp 4 O’ clock is Jama’ al-Suri. In this case, every prayer would be said to be offered at its own time, but they apparently seem to be offered together. Likewise, offering Maghrib towards the end of its time and Isha in the beginning of its time is called Jama’ al-Suri, al-Zahiri or al-Amali. This way, every Hadeeth would possibly be practiced as well as the actual motive of the Holy Qur’an and Hadeeth (offering each prayer at its actual time) would be materialized.

The reasons for the latter opinion to be preferable

Offering the prayers atits prescribed times is absolutely compulsory as established by some verses from the Holy Qur’an and as well as numerous Mutawatir Ahadeeth ('successive' narration, the one conveyed by narrators so numerous that it is not conceivable that they have agreed upon an untruth thus being accepted as unquestionable in its veracity). Moreover, this notion is unanimously agreed upon by the entire Ummah. In sharp contrast, the Ahadeeth mentioning the combining of two prayers together are Ahaad (singular narrations, any hadith not classified as mutawatir) The Ahaad Hadeeth, when clashed with the Qur’anic verses or Mutawatir Hadeeth, should be interpreted differently. Therefore, all these AhaadAhadeethwill be taken to refer to Jama’ al-Suri (offering the first prayer towards the end of its time and subsequent prayer in the beginning of its time), so that there remains no discrepancy and all the Ahadeeth should come into practice.

Some Ahadeeth clearly establish that the Prophet (PBUH) has combined two prayers collectively only two times during Hajj. Abdullah bin Masood (RA) says:

“Inever saw the Prophet (PBUH) offering any prayer not at its stated time except twice, he prayed Maghrib and Isha together (in Muzdalifahon the occasion of the farewell Hajj).” (Sahih Bukhari: Chapter: At what time is Fajr prayer to be offered at Jam', Sahih Muslim)

Abdullah bin Masood (RA) says: “The Prophet (PBUH) would always offer Salah on itsprescribed time. But he offered Zuhr and Asr prayers together at the time Zuhr Salah in Arafat and Maghrib and Isha prayers at the time of Isha Salah in Muzdalifahat the occasion of farewell Hajj (SunanNasai).

Combining Zuhr and Asr prayers together in the MasjideNamrah in the plain of Arafat and Maghrib and Isha prayers in Muzdalifahis proved by numerous Mutawatir Ahadeeth for Hajj pilgrims, and therefore its permissibility is unanimously agreed upon by the entire Ummah.

The texts of some Ahadeeth clearly point out to the fact that the Ahadeeth establishing the combining of two prayers together refer to the merely apparent combining. For example:

Ayesha (RA) narrates that the Prophet (PBUH) used to offer Zuhr prayer towards the end of its time, while Asr prayer in its beginning.Likewise, he would offer Maghrib prayer towards the end of its time and Isha prayer in its beginning (Musnad Imam Ahmad, Tahavi & Mustadrak Hakim).

Abdullah ibne 'Umar (RA) (in one of his journeys) got off from his mount a short while before the evening twilight (shafaqeahmar) disappeared and offered Maghrib Salah. Then he waited until the evening twilight had completely disappeared and performed IshaSalah and then he said, 'Whenever the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) was in a hurry for some reason, he would do as I have done' (Sunan Abi Dawood, Chapter: Combining two prayers together& Dar Qutni).

Mu’adh bin Jabal (RA) says,we set foot on the journey to Tabuk along with the Prophet (PBUH). He would combine Zuhr and Asr prayers by offering the earlier towards the end of its time and the latter in the beginning of its time (Al-Majma’ al-Awsat by al-Tabrani).

Abu Uthman al-Nahdi narrates that he along with Sa’d bin AbiWaqqas (RA) were on their way from Kufa to Makka (for the purpose of Hajj). Sa’d bin AbiWaqqas (RA) would combine Zuhr and Asr prayers together by offering Zuhr towards the end of its time and Asr in the beginning of its time.Likewise, he would combine Maghrib and Isha prayers together by offering Maghrib towards the end of its time and Isha in the beginning of its time (MusannafibneAbiShaibah: Chapter - Concerning those who opine for combining of two prayers together for the travelers).

It was narrated that Ibne ‘Abbaas(RA) that hesaid: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) once prayed Zuhr and Asr together in Madinah, at a time when there was no fear and he was not travelling. Abu al-Zubayr said: I asked Sa’eed bin Jubayr (RA), why did he do that? He said, I asked Ibne ‘Abbas (RA) the same question, and he replied, the Messenger of Allah(PBUH) did not want anyone among his Ummah to suffer hardship (Sahih Muslim: Chapter: Combining two prayers together when at home).

Combining two prayer together mentioned in this Hadeeth refers to Jama’ al-Suri, i.e. he offered Zuhr prayer towards the end of its time and Asr prayer in the beginning of its time. Hadeeth scholars including Shaukani (RHA) have interpreted this Hadeeth with the same meaningof Jama’ al-Suri.

All these Ahadeeth clearly establish Jama’ al-Suri is permissible in every case, while the Jama’ al-Haqiqi is allowed only on two occasions.

In the entire collections of Hadeeth, the Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have combined only these two prayers together whose times mix up and there exists no makrooh (detestable) period between them. Therefore, these narrations can be interpreted as speaking of Jama’ al-Suri. That is, Zuhr along with Asr and Maghrib along with Isha. The times for another pair of Salahs do not mix up together like Fajr and ZuharSalahs. There are yet other pairs of Salah whose times mix up together but they are parted due to occurrence of makrooh time between them, for example, Asr and Maghrib prayers and Isha and Fajr prayers, as the time after half night is makrooh for Isha Salah. Had the real combining of two prayers together been permissible, it would not have been specified only with the pair of Zuhr and Asr prayers and the pair of Maghrib and Isha prayers. Instead, Isha and Fajr and Fajr and Zuhr would also have been combined together in the real sense of meaning. The fact is that no one is there to opine such combining. Thus, Ahadeeth which speak of combining two prayers together in the state of journey or other cases mainly refer to offering the first prayer towards the end of its time and the second prayer in the beginning of its time.

Some Ahadeeth state that the Prophet (PBUH) had sometimes combined two prayers together without the excuse of fear, rain or journey. Had the real combining of two prayers together been permissible, such Hadeeth would have allowed it even without any excuse. But the fact is that no one among Ahlis-Sunnah wal-Jama’at holds such opinion. Therefore, it is learnt that all such Ahadeeth refer to offering the first prayer towards the end of its time and the second prayer in the beginning of its time. On the way to Tabuk, the same method was practiced, as the journey was so long. The weather was too hot. There was lack of water for making ablution. The Muslim army consisted of nearly thirty thousand soldiers. It had been too difficult for such a large number of people to mount and get off it again and again. Therefore, Jama’ al-Suri was practiced, i.e. the first prayer was offered towards the end of its time and the second prayer was offered in the beginning of its time.

In short, the prayers should be offered at their proper prescribed times. However, on ninth Dhil-Hijjah, Zuhrand Asr prayers are combined together to be offered in Masjide Namrah in the plain of Arafat at the time of Zuhr, while Maghrib and Isha prayers are performed in the plain of Muzdalifah at the time of Isha prayer. But in case of excuse, like in a journey wheretaking a halt time and again is difficult, two prayers can apparently be combined, i.e. the first prayer to be offered towards the end of its time and the second prayer is offered in the beginning of its time.

May Allah enable us all to care for offering Salah at its prescribed time and protect us from all sorts of negligence in Salah, Amen!

Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi (www.najeebqasmi.com)