Why do Shia combine prayers?
Many people question why Shia combine Duhr and Asr prayers and Maghrib and Isha’ prayers and whether this is something that is from the religion or of their own invention. When we review the opinions of the different Islamic schools of thought we see that they all allow combining prayers but they differ on what circumstances makes it okay to do so. The Maliki, Shafi’I and Hanbali schools of Fiqh said combining prayers is allowed if the person is travelling and some said it is also allowed during circumstances of fear, rain or sickness. The Hanafi school of Fiqh said it is only allowed on the day of Arafah (9th of the month of Haj. The school of AhlulBayt (A) said it is allowed in all circumstances. We will examine the verses of the Holy Quran, the Hadeeths of the Holy Prophet (S) and the sayings of AhlulBayt (A) to see which opinion has the most support.
Verses from the Holy Quran:
The verses on the Quran which talk about the times of prayers all indicate only three times for prayers.
- “Establish prayer (regularly) from the declension of the sun till the darkness of the night, and the recital at the morn; verily the recital at the morn is witnessed” (Alisra’, 78) The verse only lists three times for prayer: “declension of the sun” which is Duhr, “darkness of the night” which is Maghrib and “recital at the morn” which is Fajr. One of the the great Sunni scholars says in explaining this verse: “if we interpret the darkness mentiioned to be the beginning of Maghrib then the declension has to be the time for both Duhr and Asr and the beginning of Maghrib is the time for both Maghrib and Isha’…and this establishes the permissibility of combining Duhr and Asr, Maghrib and Isha’ at any time” (Tafseer Alrazi, 5.428)
- “And establish thou, prayer in the two ends of the day, and at the approaches of the night, Verily the good deeds take away the evil deeds; This is a reminder for the (believers who are) mindful (of their lord)” (Hud, 114)
- “so be thou patient on what they say, and celebrate the praise of thy Lord ere the rising of the sun and ere its setting,And in the night glorify Him and after the prostrations” (Qaf, 39-40)
Hadeeths from the Holy Prophet:
- Narrated from Ibn Abbas that the Holy Prophet (S) prayed Duhr and Asr in Madeenah not in time of fear or travel. He was asked: why did you do that? he replied “I did not want to burden my followers.” (Sahih Muslim, Jam’ Bain Alsalatain)
- Narrated from Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood that the Holy Prophet (S) combined Duhr and Asr and Maghrib and Isha’ and he was asked why and the Holy Prophet (S) said “I did that so I would not burden my people” (Tabarani)
- Narrated by Abdullah Ibn Shuffaiq that he heard the Hadeeth from Ibn Abbas (listed above) and it was bothering him so he asked Abu Hurraira about it and he said it is true. (Sahih Muslim)
- Imam Alsadiq (A) was asked about combining prayers without an excuse and he said: “The Holy Prophet (S) did that and he wanted to make it easier for the people” (Wasa’il Alshia, 2.161)
- A man who use to be rich and lost his fortune came to the Imam Alaskari (A) and complained to him. The Imam told him “Combine your prayers and you will see what you like “ (Wasa’il Alshia, 2.162) This is an indication that combining prayers brings fortune and blessings from Allah (SWT).
- It is narrated that Imam Alsadiq (A) said: “The Holy Prophet (S) prayed Duhr and Asr together without a cause and he was asked by Omar: Is there something new in prayer? and the Prophet (S) said: No, but I wanted to make things easy for my people” (Wasa’il Alshia, 2.161)
Which is better?
Now that it is clear the position of the Quran, the Holy Prophet (S) and AhlulBayt (A) is that combining prayers is acceptable in all circumstances, the question becomes whether that is preferred or not? We look a the following evidence for support:
- Narrated that Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood said I asked the Holy Prophet (S) : What is the deed Allah (SWT) loves the most? He said: “Praying on time” (Bukhari 496, Muslim 122)
- “And hurry to mercy coming from your Lord and Heaven as wide as the skies and the earth which we prepared for the fearful (of their Lord)” (Alimran, 133)
- “So race to all that is good” (Ma’idah, 48)
- Narrated that Imam Alridha (A) said: “For every prayer[‘s time] three periods: first, middle and last; The first is acceptance (ridwan) of Allah (SWT) , the middle is mercy (afw) of Allah (SWT) and the last is forgiveness (ghufran) of Allah (SWT) and the best is the first” (Mustadrak Alwasa’il, 5.137)
- Narrated that the Imam Alridha (A) was asked: what is the best time for prayer? He said: “the beginning. The Holy Prophet (S) said: Allah (SWT) loves from the good that which the people race to” (Alkafi, 3.274)
- Imam (A) was asked about the time of Duhr and Asr. He said: “At the time of the solar noon (Zawal Alshams ) it is time for both prayers” (Wasa’il Alshia, 5.146)
It is clear from the evidence presented here and in our previous article regarding the sujood on clay that the position of the Shia is not something made up or invented but it is something that is based on good foundation in Islam. The question asked by many is if the evidence is so clear that combining prayers is (at least) permissible if not recommended why don’t other Muslims do it? As it is said that one of our great scholars S. Abd Alhussain Sharaf Aldeen (author of Muraja’at) when he debated many scholars of other sects they told him they find it permissible to combine prayers but announcing such a position would receive a huge backlash from the people. We thank Allah (SWT) for guiding us to the path of AhlulBayt (A) who continued the teachings of the Holy Prophet (S) and preserved the straight path to Allah (SWT).
This article is a loose translation of portions of “Alsujood Ala Alturbah Wa Aljam’ Bain Alsalatain” (Mohammad Ibrahim Almwahid Alqazwini).