Can you combine salah?
The default position is to pray at the prescribed time. This is because Allah commanded us to pray at designated times. He did not say that we could pray all our salah for one day in one go.
When there are exceptional circumstances, we are permitted to combine Dhur and Asr, or Maghrib and Isha salah. (You cannot combine Asr and Maghrib or Isha and Fajr). However, the exception is not the norm. An exceptional circumstance means for instance, sickness or travelling. It does not mean being in a meeting, but it would include being in an operating theatre.
Salah should be performed in its designated time
There is divine wisdom in how Allah divided the time for salah. Moreover, when we follow this wisdom, it opens up blessings for us from the Unseen, so it is not in our interests to miss out on these blessings by trying to take a shortcut with salah by combining it.
Allah Almighty said in Surat an Nisa:
Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers at specified times. (4:103)
When the Prophet (peace be on him) was asked about the best deed he said to pray on time. It is an obligation. Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported:
I said, “O Messenger of Allah, which deeds are best?” The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Prayer on time.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
When can you combine salah?
According to the Hanafi school of thought it is not permitted to combine any salah with one exception which is during Hajj when travelling from Arafah to reach Muzdalifah, the Hajji combines Dhur and Asr and Maghrib and Isha behind an Imam of Hajj. Some scholars said that it is not permissible to join prayers anywhere except in these two places.
The majority of scholars is that it is permissible to join prayers if there is an excuse for doing so, because it is proven that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did that in places other than ‘Arafah and Muzdalifah
It is permissible for every traveller, and for the non-traveller 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 if a student taking an exam or a doctor who is doing surgery and so on.
However the exception does not mean we can do this in normal circumstances. If that was the case, we would not need to perform salah in their designated times. The exception is not the norm.
We believe that Allah is the merciful and caring Lord and He obligated the prayers because He loves us and wants us to be close to Him, to know Him and become better people in our character and conduct. The prayers put us back on the map of righteousness.
Unseen blessings and virtues of time
Among the blessings of the time we know that the angels come down during Fajr and Maghrib and there are special blessings of Duhr time, and Asr. These are small glimpses of the treasures of the Unseen. If we combine our salah we miss out on these golden moments.
Salah is a mercy
عَنْ أَبي قَتَادَةَ بْنِ رِبْعِيٍّ – رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ – أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ: «قَالَ اللَّهُ – عَزَّ وَجَلَّ – افْتَرَضْتُ عَلَى أُمَّتِكَ خَمْسَ صَلَوَات، وَعهِدْتُ عَندي عَهْدا – أَنَّهُ مَنْ حَافَظَ عَلَيْهِنَّ لِوَقْتِهِنَّ أَدْخَلْتُهُ الْجَنَّةَ، وَمَنْ لَمْ يُحَافِظ عَلَيْهِنَّ، فَلاَ عَهْدَ لَهُ عِنْدي”. ابن ماجه.
Abu Qatadah bin Rib’i (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
Allah said: ‘I have enjoined on your Ummah nation five prayers, and I have made a covenant with Myself that whoever maintains them, I will admit them to Paradise, and whoever does not maintain them, has no such covenant with Me.’ (Ibn Majah)
This hadith is saying that the five prayers which punctuate our day have been made an obligation out of Allah’s mercy – to keep us connected to Him and protect us from shaytan, dunya and delusion. Left without this link we are weak and vulnerable to attacks by shaytan and our whims and desires and can go astray.
Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
“The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to devote himself to four cycles [of ritual prayer] at high noon, so I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, you devote yourself to these four cycles at high noon!’ He explained: ‘The gates of heaven are opened at high noon, then they are unlocked until the midday ritual prayer is performed, so I love to have a good deed ascend on my behalf during that time!’ I said: ‘Is there a Qur’anic recitation in each of them [the four cycles]?’ He said: ‘Yes!’ I said: ‘Do they contain a separating salutation of peace?’ He said: ‘No!’” (Shamail Al-Tirmidhi)
Though this hadith is referring to the four Rakat Sunnah before Dhuhr, it shows us the hidden barakah in the timings of the salah.
Allah Almighty is saying that He has made a covenant that whoever preserves the prayers will be admitted to Jannah. Conversely those who do not perform regular salah do not have the same protection from hellfire because they chose not participate in that covenant. This is reiterated again in the following Hadith narrated by ‘Ubadah bin Samit (may Allah be pleased with him):
عَنْ عُبَادَةَ بْنِ الصَّامِتِ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ يَقُولُ “ خَمْسُ صَلَوَاتٍ افْتَرَضَهُنَّ اللَّهُ عَلَى عِبَادِهِ فَمَنْ جَاءَ بِهِنَّ لَمْ يَنْتَقِصْ مِنْهُنَّ شَيْئًا اسْتِخْفَافًا بِحَقِّهِنَّ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ جَاعِلٌ لَهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ عَهْدًا أَنْ يُدْخِلَهُ الْجَنَّةَ وَمَنْ جَاءَ بِهِنَّ قَدِ انْتَقَصَ مِنْهُنَّ شَيْئًا اسْتِخْفَافًا بِحَقِّهِنَّ لَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ عَهْدٌ إِنْ شَاءَ عَذَّبَهُ وَإِنْ شَاءَ غَفَرَ لَهُ ” . ابن ماجه.
I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: ‘Five prayers that Allah has enjoined upon His servants, so whoever does them, and does not omit anything out of negligence, on the Day of Resurrection Allah will make a covenant with him that He will admit him to Paradise. But whoever does them but omits something from them out of negligence, will not have such a covenant with Allah; if He wills He will punish him, and if He wills, He will forgive him.’ (Ibn Majah)
The highest form of ibadah is salah
In Surah Muminoon, Allah Almighty praises those who maintain their prayers. It is so important. It is not something light. We can’t say, ‘So what? I missed my salah. It’s not a big deal’. No. It is a big deal. Those who are khashioon, (pray with khushoo) in salah will be successful.
وَالَّذينَ هُم عَلىٰ صَلَوٰتِهِم يُحافِظونَ
Those who safeguard their prayers. (23:9)
In Surah Maarij, Allah Almighty says those who are constantly praying on time daimoon and observant of their prayers yuhafiduun. So Allah is emphasising this in different verses.
Except the prayerful. (70:22)
الَّذينَ هُم عَلىٰ صَلاتِهِم دائِمونَ
Those who are constant at their prayers. (70:23)
وَالَّذينَ هُم عَلىٰ صَلاتِهِم يُحافِظونَ
And those who are dedicated to their prayers. (70:34)
Salah does not benefit Allah, it benefits mankind
In another Holy Hadith Allah Almighty says:
يَا عِبَادِي! إنَّمَا هِيَ أَعْمَالُكُمْ أُحْصِيهَا لَكُمْ، ثُمَّ أُوَفِّيكُمْ إيَّاهَا؛ فَمَنْ وَجَدَ خَيْرًا فَلْيَحْمَدْ اللَّهَ، وَمَنْ وَجَدَ غَيْرَ ذَلِكَ فَلَا يَلُومَن إلَّا نَفْسَهُ
O My servants You cannot harm me… O My servants, it is but your deeds that I account for you, and then recompense you for. So he who finds good, let him praise Allah, and he who finds other than that, let him blame no one but himself. [Muslim]
Therefore our deeds are not done because Allah gains anything from us performing them. We cannot hurt or benefit Him.
عن عُبَادَةَ بْنِ الصَّامِتِ رضي الله تعالى عنه قال: سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ “ خَمْسُ صَلَوَاتٍ افْتَرَضَهُنَّ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى، مَنْ أَحْسَنَ وُضُوءَهُنَّ وَصَلاَّهُنَّ لِوَقْتِهِنَّ، وَأَتَمَّ رُكُوعَهُنَّ وَخُشُوعَهُنَّ، كَانَ لَهُ عَلَى اللَّهِ عَهْدٌ أَنْ يَغْفِرَ لَهُ ، وَمَنْ لَمْ يَفْعَلْ، فَلَيْسَ لَهُ عَلَى اللَّهِ عَهْدٌ، إِنْ شَاءَ غَفَرَ لَهُ وَإِنْ شَاءَ عَذَّبَهُ ” . أبو داود. صحيح.
The rights of salah
Ubaydah ibn as-Samit (may Allah be pleased with him) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: Allah, the Exalted, has made five prayers obligatory. If anyone performs ablution for them well, offers them at their (right) time, and observes perfectly their bowing and submissiveness in them, it is the guarantee of Allah that He will pardon him; if anyone does not do so, there is no guarantee for him on the part of Allah; He may pardon him if He wills, and punish him if He wills. (Abu Dawoud)
The salah has rights upon us haqihina. And we have been told not to neglect the rights of the salah. One of the rights is wudu, (performed comprehensively not in a manner that is either supersonic or super lengthy). Also it is to offer prayers at the right time and perform the ruku perfectly with khushoo, then it is guaranteed the Allah will pardon Him. But for the one who did not pray, there is no guarantee for that person.
Along with the importance of performing wudu properly we have to pray on time. Don’t miss the time.
Prayers are obligatory
The five prayers were made an obligation during the journey of al Isra wal Meraj, Isra was from Makkah to Bait al Maqdis and Meraj was from Bait al Maqdis to the seven heavens in the company of Jibril and taken by Buraq.
The Prophet (peace be on him) is saying that Allah Almighty enjoined 5 prayers on us. So we can see that the prayers are not optional. They are obligatory. We all know that establishing salah (aqeemus salah) is part of the pillars of salah.
قَالَ أَنَسُ بْنُ مَالِكٍ رضي الله تعالى عنه قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ فَرَضَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ عَلَى أُمَّتِي خَمْسِينَ صَلاَةً فَرَجَعْتُ بِذَلِكَ حَتَّى أَمُرَّ بِمُوسَى عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ فَقَالَ مَا فَرَضَ رَبُّكَ عَلَى أُمَّتِكَ قُلْتُ فَرَضَ عَلَيْهِمْ خَمْسِينَ صَلاَةً . قَالَ لِي مُوسَى فَرَاجِعْ رَبَّكَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ فَإِنَّ أُمَّتَكَ لاَ تُطِيقُ ذَلِكَ . فَرَاجَعْتُ رَبِّي عَزَّ وَجَلَّ فَوَضَعَ شَطْرَهَا فَرَجَعْتُ إِلَى مُوسَى فَأَخْبَرْتُهُ فَقَالَ رَاجِعْ رَبَّكَ فَإِنَّ أُمَّتَكَ لاَ تُطِيقُ ذَلِكَ . فَرَاجَعْتُ رَبِّي عَزَّ وَجَلَّ فَقَالَ هِيَ خَمْسٌ وَهِيَ خَمْسُونَ لاَ يُبَدَّلُ الْقَوْلُ لَدَىَّ . فَرَجَعْتُ إِلَى مُوسَى فَقَالَ رَاجِعْ رَبَّكَ فَقُلْتُ قَدِ اسْتَحْيَيْتُ مِنْ رَبِّي عَزَّ وَجَلَّ ” . النسائي وابن ماجه.صحيح.
Anas bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, enjoined fifty prayers upon my Ummah, and I came back with that until I passed by Musa, peace be upon him, who said: ‘What has your Lord enjoined upon your Ummah?’ I said: ‘He has enjoined fifty prayers on them.’ Musa said to me: ‘Go back to your Lord, the Mighty and Sublime, for your Ummah will not be able to do that.’ So I went back to my Lord, the Mighty and Sublime, and He reduced half of it. Then I came back to Musa and told him, and he said: ‘Go back to you Lord, for your Ummah will not be able to do that.’ So I went back to my Lord, the Mighty and Sublime, and He said: ‘They are five (prayers) but they are fifty (in reward), and the Word that comes from Me cannot be changed.'[50:29] . I came back to Musa and he said: ‘Go back to your Lord.’ I said: ‘I feel too shy before my Lord, the Mighty and Sublime. (Nasa’i and ibn Majah)
Five prayers – the number and the timings of the prayers
The number of salah and their timings are significant. It is divinely prescribed, tawqifi. You cannot pray when you like or how you like, you have to do them as prescribed.
We have to pray 5 times, not 3 or 2 or 1 or none. It is 5. Is there a significance in the number? Yes. Allah is All Wise and He decided this for us. The timing is important. It is not haphazard. It has been designed to be performed at a particular time.
Jibril came and taught the Prophet (peace be on him) how to pray and when to pray. As narrated in the sunan, the first day he prayed with him, they prayed at the beginning of Fajr, Dhur, Asr, Magrib and Isha time, and the next day he came at the end of Fajr, Dhur, Asr, Magrib and Isha time and then he told the Prophet (peace be on him) between those two times was the time for him and the ummah to pray.
Jabir bin ‘Abdullah said:
“Jibril, peace be upon him, came to the Prophet (ﷺ) when the sun had passed its zenith and said: ‘Get up, O Muhammad, and pray Zuhr when the sun has passed its zenith.’ Then he waited until a man’s shadow was equal to his height. Then he came to him for ‘Asr and said: ‘Get up, O Muhammad, and pray ‘Asr.’ Then he waited until the sunset, then he came to him and said: ‘Get up, O Muhammad, and pray Maghrib.’ So he got up and prayed it when the sun had set. Then he waited until the twilight disappeared, then he came to him and said: ‘Get up, O Muhammad, and pray ‘Isha’.’ So he got up and prayed it. Then he came to him when dawn broke and said: ‘Get up, O Muhammad, and pray.’ So he got up and prayed Fajr.’ So he got up and prayed Fajr. Then he came to him the next day when a man’s shadow was equal to his height, and said: ‘Get up, O Muhammad, and pray.’ So he prayed Zuhr. Then Jibril came to him when a man’s shadow was equal to twice his length and said: ‘Get up, O Muhammad, and pray.’ So he prayed ‘Asr. Then he came to him for Maghrib when the sun set, at exactly the same time as the day before, and said: ‘Get up, O Muhammad, and pray.’ So he prayed Maghrib. Then he came to him for ‘Isha’ when the first third of the night had passed, and said: ‘Get up and pray.’ So he prayed ‘Isha’. Then he came to him for Fajr when it had become very bright, and said: ‘Get up and pray.’ So he prayed Fajr. Then he said: ‘The times of prayer one between those two (limits).'” (Nasa’i)
We have 24 hours. Our day starts at Fajr, which is around 5am-6am. If your day starts at that time there are up to 7-8 hours in summer time between Fajr and Dhur. And Duha fills the gap between this long slot.
Fajr means the day starts with dhikr, supplication, purification and submission, khushoo. We receive forgiveness, blessings and mercy, and the company of the angels. When you say ‘ameen’ the angels says ‘ameen’ with you. These aspects are beyond our comprehension sometimes. We need to bring back these meanings and significance to our heart. It is not a tick the box exercise. It rejuvenates our heart and soul and makes our day.
When Dhur comes we need to revive our self again, and reconnect. After Dhur, we have Asr there are nearly 2-4 hours depending on the season. Again because it is a very busy time, the gap is short, not 78 hours. Praying at this time, you polish your heart while you are busy in the market or at work.
Salah brings water to the thirsty soul and light to the dark heart, clouded by dealing with people and all the issues and challenges you have been embroiled with and bogged down by. It gives you clarity again.
The Maghrib prayer comes as your end your work, and you end with gratitude.
Then you have Isha prayer before you sleep.
Do not underestimate the important of the timings.
If I am out should I combine my salah?
Do not combine your salah. Try your best to pray your salah at the appointed time.
In what circumstances can you combine a salah?
If you will miss a salah then it is permissible to combine it.
Can I combine salah if I will be in a meeting?
No. You should take a few minutes out of your meeting politely so you can pray.
Can I combine salah if I will be in the operating theatre?
Do you need to make up a prayer which you combined?
No. Once it has been prayed, you do not need to repeat it.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Course on Hadith Qudsi 14.4.2020
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