Chapter Ten: Combining the Prayers


Prayer timings according to the Qur’an

Allah (swt) says in His glorious book:

“Establish regular prayers at the Sun’s decline till the darkness of the night, and the recital of the Quran in the morning prayer; for the recital of the dawn is Witnessed.”
Qur’an 17:78

Prayers times from the Qur’an are three, not five.

  1. Sun’s Decline
  2. Darkness of the Night
  3. The Morning Prayer.

Imam Fakhruddin Razi, the famous Sunni commentator on the Qur’an, wrote regarding the verse quoted (Chapter 17, Verse 78):

فإن فسرنا الغسق بظهور أول الظلمة كان الغسق عبارة عن أول المغرب وعلى هذا التقدير يكون المذكور في الآية ثلاثة أوقات وقت الزوال ووقت أول المغرب ووقت الفجر وهذا يقتضي أن يكون الزوال وقتاً للظهر والعصر فيكون هذا الوقت مشتركاً بين هاتين الصلاتين وأن يكون أول المغرب وقتاً للمغرب والعشاء فيكون هذا الوقت مشتركاً أيضاً بين هاتين الصلاتين فهذا يقتضي جواز الجمع بين الظهر والعصر وبين المغرب والعشاء مطلقاً إلا أنه دل الدليل على أن الجمع في الحضر من غير عذر ولا يجوز فوجب أن يكون الجمع جائزاً بعذر السفر وعذر المطر وغيره

“If we interpret the darkness (ghasaq) as being the time when darkness first appears then the term ghasaq refers to the beginning of Maghrib. On this basis, three timings are mentioned in the verse: ‘the time of noon, the time of the beginning of Maghrib and the time of Fajr’. This requires that noon be the time of Zuhr and `Asr, this time is shared between these two prayers. The time of the beginning of Maghrib is the time for Maghrib and ‘Isha’ so this time is also shared between these two prayers. This requires allowing the combining between Zuhr and `Asr and between Maghrib and ‘Isha’ at all times. However, there is proof to indicate that combining whilst at home without any excuse is not allowed. This leads to the view that the combining be allowed when travelling or when there is rain etc.”
Tafseer Kabeer, Volume page 107

Whilst we shall inshallah refute Razi’s comments on combining prayers separately what we do so is the times of the obligatory prayers are only three:
1). The time of the two obligatory prayers, Zuhr (noon) and Asr (afternoon), which is shared between the two.
2). The time of the two obligatory prayers Maghrib (dusk) and ‘Isha’ (night) which is also shared between the two.
3). The time for the Fajr (morning) prayer which is specific to it.

We offer the Zuhr and Asr prayers and then Maghrib and Isha prayers at a time. We do not act this way as per our own judgement, in fact this is done in the light of Holy Prophet’s (s) Sunnah. It is reported in Sahih Bukhari that Ibn Abbas [r] said:

“I offered eight rakahs (Zuhr and Asr) and seven Rakahs (Maghrib and Isha) at a time with Holy Prophet (s) (with no non-obligatory prayers in between.)” Umru says that he said to Abul Shaqa: “I think Holy Prophet (s) offered Zuhr a bit late and Asr a little earlier, and Isha a little earlier Maghrib a bit late, Abul Shaqa replied that he felt the same thing.”

We read in Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 10, Number 537, Chapter Times of the Prayers:

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:
the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) observed in Medina seven (rak’ahs) and eight (rak’ahs), i. e. (combined) the noon (Zuhr) and afternoon (`Asr) prayers (eight rak’ahs) and the dusk (Maghrib) and night (‘Isha’) prayers (seven rak’ahs).

Tayseer Al-Bari, Vol. 2 Page 187, By Waheed Al-Zamaan

Tayseer Al-Bari, Vol. 2 Page 187, By Waheed Al-Zamaan

While commenting on this tradition, on the same page of Tayseer al-Bari, Allamah Waheed uz Zaman says:

“The tradition is quite clear that two prayers can be offered at a time. A second tradition tells us about an incident in Madina when neither there was any fear nor any compulsion. It has already been mentioned above that Ahl e Hadeeth consider it permissible, and in the books of Imamia there are many traditions from Imams of Hadeeth in the chapter of joining [prayers] and there is no reason for these traditions being incorrect”
Tayseer al Bari Sharh Sahih Bukhari, Volume 2, Book of Tahajjud, page 187, published by Taj Company Limited, Karachi

We also read in Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 10, Number 518:

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:
“The Prophet prayed eight Rakat for the Zuhr and ‘Asr, and seven for the Maghrib and ‘Isha prayers in Medina.” Aiyub said, “Perhaps those were rainy nights.” Anas said, “May be.”

In the Urdu commentary Tayseer al-Bari Sharh Sahih Bukhari, while commenting on the last phrase of Jabir wherein he guessed that it could have been a rainy night, Allamah Waheed uz-Zaman writes:

“Jabir’s words are based on probability, its falsehood has been proven by Sahih Muslim’s tradition which states that neither was it rainy nor did any fear exist.”

Tayseer Al-Bari, Vol. 1 Page 370, By Waheed Al-Zamaan

Tayseer Al-Bari, Vol. 1 Page 370, By Waheed Al-Zamaan

Maulana Waheed uz-Zaman further writes:

“Ibn Abbas in another tradition says that Holy Prophet (s) did that in order to save his Ummah from any sort of difficulty.”
Tayseer al-Bari Sharh Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, page 370, Book of Prayer times, published by Taj Company Limited.

In this connection Sunni traditions also eliminate any suggestion that the combination may have been on account of adverse weather conditions:

The Prophet (s) prayed in Madinah, while residing there, not travelling, seven and eight (this is an indication to the seven Raka’t of Maghrib and ‘Isha’ combined, and the eight Raka’t of Zuhr and `Asr combined).
Ahmad ibn Hanbal, al-Musnad, Volume 1, page 221

“The Prophet (s) prayed Zuhr and `Asr in combination and Maghrib and ‘Isha’ in combination without a reason for fear or travel.”
Malik ibn Anas, al-Muwatta’, Volume 1, page 161

Now let us have a look at a tradition from Sahih Muslim:

Ibn ‘Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah (s) combined the noon prayer with the afternoon prayer and the sunset prayer with the ‘Isha’ prayer in Medina without being in a state of danger or rainfall. And in the hadith transmitted by Waki’ (the words are): “I said to Ibn ‘Abbas: What prompted him to do that? He said: So that his (Prophet’s) Ummah should not be put to (unnecessary) hardship.”

We have relied on this tradition from the following Sunni sources:

  1. Sahih Muslim (English translation), Kitab al-Salat, Book 4, Chapter 100 Combination of prayers when one is resident, hadith no. 1520;
  2. Jami al-Tirmidhi, volume 1, page 109, translated by Badee’ uz-Zaman, published by No’mani book store, Urdu bazaar Lahore.
  3. Sunan Abi Daud, volume 1, page 490, Chapter: ‘Combining of Salat’, translated by Maulana Waheed uz-Zaman

In his commentary of this tradition, Zaman states:

There are two types of combination of prayers, Jama’ e Taqdeem and Jama’ e Takheer, the earlier one means to offer Asr at the time of Zuhr and Isha at the time of Maghrib, and the later type is to offer Zuhr at the time of Asr and Maghrib at the time of Isha, both the types are proven to be valid from Prophetic Sunnah.
Sunan Abu Daud, volume 1, page 490, translated by Maulana Waheed uz-Zaman, published in Lahore

Maulana Waheed uz-Zaman concludes the discussion on the same page by stating:

“The arguments against combining the prayers are weak, whilst those permitting it are strong.”
Sunan Abu Daud, volume 1, page 490, translated by Maulana Waheed uz-Zaman, published in Lahore

Shah Waliullah Dehalwi stated in Hujutallah Balagha, page 193:

The timings of prayers are actually three i.e. morning, Zuhr and the time in the darkness of night and this is the meaning of Allah’s statement ‘Keep up prayer from the declining of the sun’. And he stated ‘till the darkness of the night’ because the time to perform Zuhr prayer is spread till sunset as there isn’t any distance between the two, thus, in necessity, it is permissible to combine Zuhr and Asar and Maghrib and Isha prayers’

Now let us provide the testimony of another beloved Sahabi of Ahle Sunnah namely Abu Hurairah regarding the permissibility of combining prayers. We read in Musnad Ahmed:

Abdullah bin Shaqiq narrated that once after the Asr, Ibn Abbas addressed till the sun set and the stars appeared, thus the people said: ‘The prayer’ and among the people there was a man belonged to Bani Tamim (tribe) who said: ‘Prayer, prayer’. Then he (Ibn Abbas) became angry and said: ‘Would you teach me the Sunnah!! I saw Allah’s messenger (pbuh) combining the Zuhr and Asr, and Maghrib and Isha’. Abdullah (bin Shaqiq) said: ‘I had doubt on that matter thus I met Aba Huraira and questioned him and he agreed with him (Ibn Abbas)’.
Musnad Ahmed, Volume 1 page 251 Tradition 2269

Shaykh Shu’aib al-Arnaout said:

‘The chain is Sahih according to Muslim’s standard’.

We shall now also mention the practice of famed Sahabi Anas bin Malik and his testimony regarding the offering of Asr prayers at the time of Zuhr. We read in Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 10, Number 524:

Narrated Abu Bakr bin Uthman bin Sahl bin Hunaif:

that he heard Abu Umama saying: We prayed the Zuhr prayer with ‘Umar bin Abdul Aziz and then went to Anas bin Malik and found him offering the Asr prayer. I asked him, “O uncle! Which prayer have you offered?” He said ‘The Asr and this is (the time of) the prayer of Allah s Apostle which we used to pray with him.”

This tradition provides attestation to the interpretation of the verse 17:78 provided by Fakhruddin al-Razi according to which the time to perform Zuhr and Asr prayers is same.

Offering two prayers with a single Call (Adhan)

When it is established that combined prayers is not an innovation, infact it is the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (s) to save his Ummah from any hardships, we are permitted to utilise this luxury. Naturally the next objection is that the Shi’a Call for Prayer (Adhan) only three times, they should know that since the Prophetic Sunnah allows worshippers to gather inside the mosque for Zuhr or Maghrib Prayers, then the second call for the Asr or Isha prayer is given inside the mosque without the loudspeaker and then the prayers are offered. The same method has also been quoted by the Sunni scholars.

Allamah Abdul Rehman al-Jazeeri writes:

“The correct method to gather people for prayer is to call for the Maghrib prayers in a usual loud voice, and then after the call, time required for three Rakahs to be offered shall be delayed. Then the Maghrib prayers should be offered and then it is desirable to give call for Isha Prayers inside the mosque, the call should not be given from the minaret so that it may not give the impression that the time is for the usual Isha prayers, that is why the call should be given in a low voice and then the Isha prayers may be offered.”
Al-Fiqa al-Al Madahib al-Arba’a, volume 1 page 781, translated by Manzoor Ahmed Abbas, published by Ulema Academy, Charity department Punjab

If the Ahl’ul Sunnah investigate this matter, the attacks on the Shi’a will erode naturally.


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