Legal Decision concerning the joining of two prayers
due to the time of the Eisha Prayer being delayed until nearly midnight
All Praise is due to the Lord of all the Worlds. I testify that there is no God except Allah alone without partner and I testify that Muhammad is His slave and messenger (Pbuh) and his family.
It is important to understand that the duties imposed by the Religion of Islam are directly related to a person’s ability and strength. Some people are capable of more than others and so there are concessions within Islam which allow for this difference of ability. The proof of this is that Allah, the Almighty says: Allah doesn’t burden any soul with more than it can bear. Each soul receives the reward for the good it has earned and is punished for the evil it has done (2:286). And Allah, the Almighty says: Allah puts no burden on anyone beyond what He has given him (65:7). So sincere fear of and obedience to Allah and sincere struggling for His sake is in accordance with the ability of each slave. Allah the Exalted says: And strive sincerely for His sake He has chosen you and has not burdened you with any difficulty in the religion (22:78).
There can be no doubt that the delaying of the Eisha Prayer until nearly midnight. This would mean that on some days there would only be three hours between the Eisha and Fajr Prayers would cause, in many people’s opinion, some difficulty and hardship. It is true that Islam strongly encourages that the prayer be performed on time and the basic rule is that the rulings for the times of the prayers have been made clear and that through these rulings the time of each prayer can be known by certain signs. The time of Eisha for example does not begin until the red twilight disappears from the sky, And so, according to Islamic law if the red twilight doesn’t disappear until twelve o’clock at night then the time of Eisha doesn’t start until that time.
However our position concerning this matter is not normal in that generally speaking it is not within most people’s capability because most people usually go to sleep before midnight. Although some people might remain awake during the early hours of the morning this is not used for the purpose of analogy upon which a legal judgment is made. The Prophet Pbuh once delayed the Eisha Prayer until midnight and the people were waiting in the mosque for him to come out of his room and lead them in prayer. They slept and woke up, slept and woke up until Omar, may Allah be pleased with him, finally called out “The Prayer! The people and children have fallen asleep”. So the Prophet (Pbuh) came out and said “If it wasn’t for the trouble I fear for my community, I would have ordered them to pray at this time.” So for this reason the Prophet didn’t use to delay the Eisha Prayer. Although our situation is different in that the specific time of Eisha hasn’t begun, the reason for not wanting to delay the prayer, difficulty and hardship is the same. So do we find within the religion provision to pray Eisha early at the time of Maghrib?
It is affirmed in the sunnah that it is acceptable for the traveler to join prayers in order that hardship might be alleviated for him. This is also the case for the resident who, because of circumstances, rain or fear for example, finds it difficult or suffers hardship in attending the prayer at the mosque. It is also true for a woman who is suffering from continual bleeding. In fact. it has been narrated by Ibn Abbas that the Prophet. (pbuh) joined Dhuhr and Asr and Maghrib and Eisha while he was resident in Medina neither traveling nor afraid of the enemy nor was it raining. Ibn Abbas was asked why he did this He replied “In order that his community would not suffer hardship”.
It would appear that the Prophet (pbuh) did this without any reason except to show that it was permitted in order to alleviate hardship from his community. Using this and similar hadith as proof. one group of scholars are of the opinion that it is permitted to join Maghrib and Eisha or Dhuhr and Asr if hardship would be suffered by the people if they had to pray each prayer at its specific time. And they have given many examples of what normally causes difficulty and hardship sickness, enuresis (the inability to control the discharge of urine) or flatulence (the excessive passing of wind). Some scholars have even said that any reason that allows a person, who would normally attend, to miss the congregational prayer in the mosque also allows him to join his prayers.
One man came to Saeed ibn Al-Musayyeb and said “I tend camels I milk them until evening comes then I pray Maghrib, I then lie down and sleep through the time of Eisha”. Saeed said “Don’t sleep until you have prayed it and if you fear that you will fall asleep then join the two prayers together”. (Related by ibn abi Shayba in his “Musannaf’ 2/459 with a good chain of narrators).
In short we can say that joining two prayers because of need is acceptable and permitted and this is the most correct position of the scholars and it is what the provision of concessions within the religion dictates – the joining of either of the two prayers with the other at either of the two times, for example joining Maghrib with Eisha at the time of Eisha or joining Eisha with Maghrib at the time of Maghrib.
So our situation whether we are referring to the Eisha Prayer in congregation in the mosque or prayed by the individual at home can be judged using analogy according to what has been described previously. So long as there is difficulty and hardship the concession is there. And concession within the law exists so long as the reason for it remains, even if it is for a long period of time,
Concerning the second half of the issue connected to missing the correct time for the Eisha Prayer. The best thing to do is to pray Eisha with Maghrib together at the time of Maghrib because there is no point in delaying it since by delaying it won’t mean that you are praying it at its time. I have made this issue clear in a paper which can be found on the following link on ECFR Site: http://www.e-cfr.org/PDF/4-5/09Joudi1.pdf (link broken) . In it I have mentioned the opinions of the scholars and made clear with evidence which is the most correct opinion.
It is important to understand that in this case, joining the prayers is not due to hardship but because of necessity since no time for the Eisha prayer exists, the time of Eisha having begun at the time of Maghrib. This is what is known as “the time when one is excused” by followers of Al-Shafi’ and others.
Having said that to join the prayers is correct and acceptable, we should know that the correct way of performing it is as follows: There should be no break between the two prayers, as is the case when joining because of travel or rain. However, should a break occur it doesn’t affect the prayer but it is better that no break occurs. It is also acceptable to pray those sunnah prayers normally prayed after Maghrib, after you have prayed Eisha if the time allows and should you so wish. The sunnah prayers performed after Eisha and Al Witr can also be prayed following the joining of prayers, as well as all those prayers which a person usually performs. This has been documented by a number of scholars and it is in accordance with the evidence.
Written by Abu Muhammad Abdullah Ibn Yusuf Aljudai
In the month of Dhul Qi’da 1415 (April 1995) Leeds
This article was given to me by a malay-muslim doctor who have being working in plymouth, England for more than 6 years. I am yet still have less information about this particular practice, it is good if we all can share more information regarding this ‘ibadah’. As far as I concern, The Mosque at Leeds does take this into practice for thier congregational pray for maghrib and isya. Hope this information would help us to increase our knowlegde of how easy Islam are made for human being. Islam is suitable for any circumstances. Proud to be a muslim in England..Wallahua’lam