Combining Prayers; conditions and advices

It is from the wisdom of Allaah that He alternates the days and nights as well as hot and cold seasons, and these are from the signs of His greatness. Allaah Has given us clothing with which to protect ourselves during cold and hot weather, and these are indeed amongst the great favours of Allaah upon us.

One should properly worship Allaah during this cold season, and perform his ablution correctly, despite the cold weather; he must also pray Fajr on time and not abandon it due to the cold weather like some people do – they favour their warm beds and blankets over the reward for Fajr and thus remain sleeping in their beds during its time.

We should remember that punishment in Hell will be in two ways: extreme heat and extreme cold, as the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam informed us saying:

“The (Hell) Fire complained to its Lord saying: ‘My Lord! I have eaten myself up due to my heat’, so He permitted it to have two releases, one during the summer, due to which you experience the extreme heat, and one during the winter, due to which you experience the extreme cold, and this (i.e., extreme cold) is due to the release of the coldness of Zamhareer (i.e., the intensely cold part of Hell).”

It is not at all difficult for Allaah to punish the dwellers of Hell by using different types of punishment, even if it this is by using two extreme opposites (i.e., the heat and cold) so that the punishment is more intense. However, most of the punishment in Hell will be by means of fire, smoke and heat.

Dear brothers! We should also thank Allaah whenever rain falls and appreciate His favours, because He is the Bestower of favours. Before and during rain, one should say: “It has rained by the bounty of Allaah and His Mercy.

O Allaah! (Bring) beneficial rain clouds.” We have to be grateful for the rain that Allaah sends down, because this is a favour that we do not deserve due to our sins, and because of the deviations within the Muslim communities; if it was not for the animals we would not have received rain, but the mercy of Allaah precedes His wrath, as Allaah says in the Qudsi narration:

“Indeed My Mercy prevails over My Wrath.”

Allaah sends down rain in order to test His slaves to see who amongst them will attribute this favour to Allaah and be thankful to Him, and who does not care or appreciate the favour. When rain falls, it is a virtuous time, during which supplications are accepted and responded to by Allaah.

Regarding combining prayers during the time of rainfall, it is proven in the Sunnah of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as in the narration of Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with him, who said: “The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam once prayed Thuhr and ‘Asr combined, and then Maghrib and ‘Ishaa’ combined, neither for the reason of travelling, nor fear.” [Muslim & Maalik]

Imaam Maalik, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: “I believe that this occurred due to rain.”

Many of the scholars of Madeenah and elsewhere adopted the same opinion, such as Imaam Shaafi’i, may Allaah have mercy upon him, and Ibn Az-Zubayr, may Allaah be pleased with him, who said: “I asked Sa’eed, may Allaah have mercy upon him, the reason why the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did this, and he informed me that he asked Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with him, the same question, to which the reply was that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not wish to burden his Nation.”

Many scholars from the followers of the schools of Islaamic Law of Imaam Maalik, Shaafi’i and Ahmad and the scholars of Hadeeth may Allaah have mercy upon them all, have ruled that it is permissible to combine prayers as a resident (i.e., when not travelling) due to rain, based on this narration.

There is another narration that ends differently, stating: “…neither for the reason of rain nor fear.” There is no contradiction between the two narrations, because the second one informs us about the reason for combining the prayer where the circumstances are different.

Moreover, there is no indication in the second narration that combining prayers due to rain is prohibited. These narrations permit a person to combine his prayers if a need arises to do so and do not limit combining for the known reasons of fear or travel only, which is a reflection of how lenient and easy Islaam is.

The consensus of the scholars is that during rainfall people may combine their Maghrib and ‘Ishaa’ prayers, but as for combining Thuhr and ‘Asr, some scholars have ruled that it is not permissible and justified their opinion by saying that the permission is granted only when it is dark and visibility is difficult.

However, as long as there is evidence from the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that he did combine his Maghrib and ‘Ishaa’ as well as Thuhr and ‘Asr, then no one can make a differentiation and restrict the rule, as stated by the followers of the schools of Islaamic Law of Imaam Ahmad and Shaafi’i, may Allaah have mercy upon them, as well as Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah himself, may Allaah have mercy upon him.

Combining may not be done between Fajr and any other prayer, or between ‘Asr and Maghrib. Additionally, no intention is required prior to combining according to the most sound opinion:

Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: “The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam combined prayers many times whilst having tens of thousands of the Companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, around him – without informing them beforehand, so that they could have had that intention before initiating their prayer. Rather, they joined him in these prayers without such an intention.”

If one wants to combine his prayers, he is still obliged to pray these prayers in their correct sequence. However, if one forgets or is unaware of this, such as in the example of one entering the mosque late while the Imaam is combining the Maghrib and ‘Ishaa’ prayers and has finished Maghrib and is praying ‘Ishaa’, and one is unaware of the ruling that the correct sequence must be maintained, and therefore starts praying his Maghrib prayer behind the Imaam who is praying his ‘Ishaa’ prayer, then in this case, due to his ignorance, his prayer is accepted.

Moreover, in such a case, one may also depart the prayer after the third Rak’ah (i.e., when the Imaam is moving onto his fourth Rak’ah) and then pray his own ‘Ishaa’, as was stated by Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allaah have mercy upon him.

As regards to the extent of rain due to which combining prayers is permissible, the scholars have differed on this; some have said that it has to be heavy rain which forces people to cover their heads; others have said that it has to only wet their clothes lightly; a third group has said that the rain should be so heavy that it is harmful.

Therefore, there can be no doubt that when rain is continuous and it causes people’s clothes to become wet, then it is permissible to combine prayers. However, if rain is so light that it does not wet people’s clothes or cause the ground to become slippery or muddy, then one may not combine.

To conclude, if it is evident that it is raining (i.e., it is heavy enough for people to see it and it is not for a short period of time) and it causes one’s clothes to become wet, then one may combine his prayers.

Another condition that the scholars have set for combining prayers is that it must continue to rain from the time that the first of the two combined prayers ends, until at least the beginning of the second one.

For example, if it begins to rain during the Maghrib prayer, then for combining to be correct and acceptable, it must continue to rain until the prayer finishes and people begin praying the ‘Ishaa’ prayer – which follows immediately after – while rain is still falling.

Imaam Shaafi’i, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: “If it stops raining just before the second combined prayer begins, then combining is not allowed. However, if it was raining when people began their second prayer, but then stopped whilst they were praying, then they may continue and their combining is valid.”

The scholars have also stated that it is permissible to combine prayers when the paths or roads are muddy or slimy, due to the danger of slipping, even if it is not raining at the time, because of the difficulty and dangers expected – and this is more so for the prayers that are performed during darkness.

It is true that in our time the streets are asphalted, but sometimes rain gathers around the entrances of the mosques and form swamps which prevent people from entering, in which case it is permissible to combine prayers, even if the rain has stopped; whilst for those who pray in other mosques where this is not the case, then they may not combine their prayers – this is dependant on the situation and condition of each mosque.

Also, strong or very cold winds are other factors which allow the combining of prayers.

Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allaah have mercy upon him, was asked about when one could combine prayers, so he answered saying: “It is permissible to combine if the pathways are very muddy or if there is a strong cold wind on a dark night, or for other similar conditions, even if it is not raining. This is better than men praying in their homes, because abandoning the combining of prayers and praying at home is an innovation and a contradiction of the Sunnah.”

Therefore, if thunderstorms or strong cold winds blow, people may combine their prayers, but if it is simply a case of cold weather, then people may not combine their prayers.

The scholars have agreed that men may combine their prayers in any mosque regardless of its size.

However, in schools, businesses, and governmental buildings which have temporary prayer rooms or areas and have a mosque nearby, men must stop praying in these temporary prayer rooms or areas and perform their prayers in the nearby mosque.

In cases where the mosque is too far, and the men therefore have no other place to pray in except these prayer rooms or areas, then they may pray in them.

However, the question which now arises is, can they combine prayers in these temporary prayer areas or rooms when combining is applicable?

Some scholars have stated that if people usually finish work after praying Thuhr and before ‘Asr is due, then they may combine due to the difficulties that may otherwise result; moreover, these people may miss any other congregational prayer elsewhere because people in the mosques would have combined ‘Asr with Thuhr at the time of Thuhr already; Therefore, in this case such people may combine their prayers in their workplaces.

If however they finish work after ‘Asr, then they may not combine, because they are staying in the same place and do not have to leave to attend the congregation, so they should pray each prayer at its due time.

One whose house is next to a mosque, or who walks under a roof-covered area in order to reach it, or whose car is inside a garage which is not difficult to get to, or who walks through a roof-covered market to reach the mosque, may also combine.

This is because the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not differentiate between those who were close and those who were far from the mosque for this ruling; moreover, his own house was adjacent to the mosque and he would lead the prayers and combine them whenever applicable.

It is permissible to pray Thuhr with the congregation whilst they are praying ‘Asr, but in the case of Maghrib and ‘Ishaa’, one may not pray the last Rak’ah of the congregation’s ‘Ishaa’ because one would then be praying his own Maghrib, which he should conclude after three Rak’ahs – as explained earlier.

If one arrives after the congregation has finished its combined prayers, then he may combine alone according to the opinion of Imaam Ahmad, may Allaah be pleased with him, and others.

The regular optional prayers that come after the obligatory prayers also have to be prayed in their correct sequence; therefore, when applicable, people should combine the Maghrib and ‘Ishaa’ prayers and then pray the optional two Rak’ahs for Maghrib and then the two for ‘Ishaa.’ It is also permissible to combine between the Jumu’ah and ‘Asr prayers, according to the most authentic opinion of the scholars.

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