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The Islamic Legislation Concerning Joining Prayers Due to Hardship

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn, Imām Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī

An explanation on the permissibility of joining Ẓuhr and ʿAṣr, and Maghrib and ʿIshāʾ in events of perceived hardship, whether it be due to inclement weather, fear over loss of wealth, or otherwise.

Joining between Ẓuhr and ʿAṣr, and between Maghrib and ʿIshāʾ, is legislated whenever there is difficulty and hardship in performing each prayer at its appointed time. Muslim narrates with an authentic chain on the authority of ʿAbdullāh ibn ʿAbbās (رضي الله عنهما) that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) combined the performance of Ẓuhr and ʿAṣr, and Maghrib and ʿIshāʾ, in Madīnah, while not travelling, nor was it raining. They asked: “O Ibn ʿAbbās! What did he intend from this?” He replied: “Not to cause hardship on his ummah.”

Shaykh Ibn ʿUthaymīn comments:
“This points to the reason behind combining (prayers) which is: the presence of difficulty or hardship. Whenever a people are met with difficulty or hardship in performing each ṣalāh at its appropriate time, then they may combine whether this be in relation to the presence of rain, or cold winds during cold nights, or sickness, or fear over the loss of wealth, or its destruction, to the extent that some scholars even say: It is permissible for bakers to combine their ṣalāh if they fear that their bread will burn!”1

Shaykh al-Albānī comments:
Essentially, what is considered a difficulty or hardship differs from one person to another, such that if a people feels the occurrence of hardship upon them, they may combine the prayers. As for describing exactly what is considered hardship for each group of people, or what they specifically have the ability to do—which is used as a measure in many Islamic legislative rulings—this represents an attempt to attain the impossible. There is no way to go about it due to the differences among people in their perception of these matters. Rather, every group of people should fear their Lord and attempt to implement His legislative rulings while not following their own desires or being constrictive [i.e. by not taking advantage of what He has made permissible from combining ṣalāh].”2

Particularly relevant to the Muslims of colder climates like Canada, Shaykh al-Albānī also said:
“Combing between the prayers due to cold weather is not related in legislation, but it has been postulated by some scholars upon acquaintance with evidence regarding the types of valid excuses. From which, they have come to the conclusion that it is permissible to join prayers in such circumstances. Cold weather is a matter of perception that differs between people, even if they are similar to one another in age. This is because, despite this similarity, they differ with one another in their rearing and what they were subjected to as a result of it. For example, one of them is brought up doing hard, manual labour, exposed to extreme heat, cold, discomfort, and fatigue while another was brought up in finery, raised as a pampered youth, soft. The two can never be the same even if they are the same age. Likewise, their perception of cold weather will differ. Now, if there was an imām who wished to lead a people who differ among themselves in their perception of cold weather, then I do not ever see anything wrong with him choosing to combine prayers upon him seeing the elderly among them. However, this decision requires an understanding of jurisprudence, and true fear of Allāh insofar as this wording has been confirmed from Ibn ʿAbbās: “Not to cause hardship on his ummah”. So if the imām has both an understanding of jurisprudence and truly fears Allāh to where he does not detract people with falsehood, but rather governs among them in accordance with Islamic legislation and sees that combining is for the goodness of the congregation, then he may do so. As long as he truly fears Allāh—the Exalted in Might—and takes the allowance as related in the ḥadīth of Ibn ʿAbbās as aforementioned.”3

Endnotes:
[1] Source: Al-Liqāʾ al-Shahrī 4:32
[2] Source: Jāmiʿ Turāth al-ʿAllāmah al-Albānī 6:304.
[3] Source: Jāmiʿ Turāth: 6: 307-308.

Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: January 1, 2024
Edited: January 1, 2024

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