Question # 255: As-salaamu Alaykum was Rahmatullahi was Barkatuh… Is joining dhuhr & Al-asr prayers allowed? And if so, what should the basic reasons be according to shari’a? And did our Prophet (PBUH) at any given time join the two earlier mentioned prayers without any reason. Wa salaam

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: A Muslim should do all that he can, that is, to look for means that will enable him to perform salah (prayer) at the right time. If he does all that he can, but is not able to offer the prayer on time, then in that case, there is nothing wrong with combining / joining two prayers (Dhuhr and Asr or Maghrib and Isha). In fact, hardship and difficulty that a person may face make it permissible.  The list of such difficulties is broader in scope and may include sickness (such as for a woman, who suffers from istihaadah (non-menstrual bleeding), or someone suffering from urinary incontinence), bad weather conditions (such as rain, snow, severe cold, violent winds or mud), busy with some work that cannot be delayed (such as a student taking an exam or a doctor who is doing surgery) and so on. Next, the prayer must be offered in full and not in shortened form. The essential point in the issue of the permissibility of combining the prayers to eliminate a great difficulty, as long as one does not make it a habit; otherwise combining prayers without any excuse is a major sin.

Long Answer: Prayer is enjoined on all Muslims and is to be offered regularly on time; we are encouraged to do that and warned against taking this matter lightly. For example, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “Verily, As‑Salah (the prayer) is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours” (Soorah an-Nisa’a, 4:103). Also, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, when asked which deed is most beloved to Allah: “Prayer offered on time.”  (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Hence, a Muslim should do all that he can, to look for means that will enable him to perform this great duty at the right time. If he does all that he can but is not able to offer the prayer on time, there is nothing wrong with joining two prayers, so he may join Dhuhr and ‘Asr, and Maghrib and ‘Isha’, because of the report narrated by Muslim from Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) who said: The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) joined Dhuhr and ‘Asr, and Maghrib and ‘Isha’ in Madeenah when there was no fear and no rain. According to the hadeeth of Wakee’ he said: I said to Ibn ‘Abbas: Why did he do that? He said: So that his ummah would not be subjected to hardship, i.e., so that they would not face any difficulty.

This indicates that there was an excuse for putting prayers together in this hadith, and were it not for putting the prayers together it would have caused hardship for the people. Ibn Abi Shaybah narrated from Abu Moosa al-Ash‘ari and ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (رضي الله عنها) that they said: “Putting prayers together without any excuse is a major sin.” While answering a similar question, Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “…These words of Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) indicate that the hardship and difficulty that a person may face make it permissible for him to join the two prayers which may be joined together at the time of either of them. This comes under the heading of Allah making religion easy for this ummah, the basis of which is seen in the verses: “Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you” (Soorah al-Baqarah, 2:185) and “Allah does not want to place you in difficulty” (Soorah al-Maa’idah, 5:6) “and has not laid upon you in religion any hardship” (Soorah al-Hajj, 22:78).

Also, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: ‘Religion is easy”. And there are many other texts which indicate that this religion is easy. (Majmoo’ah Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen)

Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) said in his comment on Fath al-Bari: “The correct way to interpret the hadith mentioned is that he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) put together the prayers mentioned because of some difficulty that occurred on that day, such as widespread sickness, severe cold or mud and the like. This is indicated by the fact that when he was asked about this putting the prayers together, Ibn ‘Abbas said: “so that he would not make things difficult for his ummah.” This is a clear answer which indicates that there was an excuse.”

There is a concession allowing [Dhuhr and ‘Asr or] Maghrib and ‘Isha’ prayers to be joined at the time of [Dhuhr or] Maghrib [as the case may be], with one adhan and iqamah for each of them, when there is rain that soaks people’s clothes, when going back to the mosque will cause hardship. This is according to the more correct of the two scholarly opinions…  Abaan ibn ‘Uthmaan (رضي الله عنه) joined Maghrib and ‘Isha’ on rainy nights, when there was a group of senior scholars from among the Taabi’een, and it is not known that any of them objected, so that meant there was consensus.  That was mentioned by Ibn Qudaamah in al-Mughni. It is also allowed for a person who is very sick to join Dhuhr and ‘Asr at the time of either of them, depending on what is easier for him, and he can join Maghrib and ‘Isha’ likewise, so as to avoid hardship. (Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah li’l-Buhoot al-‘Ilmiyyah wa’l-Ifta’)

Hence, the reasons which make it permissible to join prayers are broader than those which make it permissible to shorten them. Joining prayers is permissible for every traveler, and for the non-traveler, if it is too difficult for him to offer every prayer on time, such as one who is sick, or if there is rain, or he is busy with some work that he cannot delay in order to pray, such as a student taking an exam or a doctor who is doing surgery and so on.

Next, the prayer must be offered in full and not in shortened form, because the one who intends to stay in a place for more than four days comes under the same ruling as a resident according to the majority of fuqaha’.

Also, there is no connection between joining and shortening prayers. He may join them, as when traveling, or a person may join them when not traveling, because of sickness or istihaadah (non-menstrual vaginal bleeding) or because he fears for himself or his property, or because of heavy rain and other excuses that permit joining prayers, without shortening them, because prayers may only be shortened when traveling. [Ibn Qudamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said that depending on the hadith which we reported, it was also allowed to combine prayer for a woman, who suffered from non-menstrual bleeding, whoever suffered from urinary incontinence, and the like.]

According to Fatwa of Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America: “…combining the prayers… is permissible when traveling and also in times of rain, [snow,] mud, illness or violent winds, that which makes it very difficult to go to the masjid repeatedly – according to the majority of fiqh scholars, from among the Maliki, Shafi`i and Hanbali schools of law, according to the degree of hardship…”

In the end, as Dr. Hatem al-Haj, Member of the Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America, said in fatwa: “The essential point in the issue of the permissibility of combining the prayers to eliminate a great difficulty—as long as one does not make it a habit…”

(Most part of the above reply is based on various answers provided by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on the topic)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam