Imam al-Ṭaḥāwī on combining two prayers
11 Dec, 2020
Preface by Shaykh Dr. Abul Hasan Hussain Ahmed
Praise be to Allah that is due from all grateful believers, a fullness of praise for all his favours: a praise that is abundantly sincere and blessed. May the blessings of Allah be upon our beloved Master Muhammad, the chosen one, the Apostle of mercy and the seal of all Prophets (peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all); and upon his descendants who are upright and pure: a blessing lasting to the Day of Judgment, like the blessing bestowed upon the Prophet Ibrahim (alaihissalam) and his descendants. May Allah be pleased with all of the Prophetic Companions (Ashab al-Kiram). Indeed, Allah is most worthy of praise and supreme glorification!
Allah ta’ala said (Surah al-Ahzab, 33: 21):
لِمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا
This lowly being was asked by the brother known as Abu Humayd from England to write a preamble for his translation of a significant legal issue from the work known as Sharḥ Maʾānī ‘l- Āthār of the greatly learned Egyptian scholar par excellence, Imām Abū Jaʾfar al-Ṭaḥāwī (d. 321 AH). The legal issue (mas’ala) at hand is a pertinent one and somewhat related to the times we live in due to some revisionists and autodidactic personalities endeavouring to add their own two pennies worth in. A host of these types of personalities have attempted to do this in order to satisfy their own personal inclinations and justifications on an array of jurisprudential matters which were primarily left to the remit of the highest ranking and authoritative scholars of the past. It was this latter class of scholarship which was trusted and looked up to when delivering and accepting a qualified verdict using the putative sources of Islamic law (Qur’an, Sunna, Ijma and Qiyas), as well as their use of the validated and acknowledged legal methodologies (Usul) to interpret the named sources.
In these times of confusion and at times asinine behaviour emanating from the hands of mainly unqualified and self-declared spokesmen for Islam, as well as some looked up to as scholars but their outward colours have demonstrated the diametric opposite of tangible scholarship by being superficial or even charlatanistic in nature, the following hadiths come to mind and the honourable reader would do well to take heed of them when taking authentic knowledge of the Islamic sciences:
The Prophet ﷺ said: “This knowledge will be carried by the trustworthy ones of every generation. They will expel from it the alteration made by those going beyond bounds; false claims of the liars and the false interpretations of the ignorant ones.” [Related by al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan-ul-Kubra (10/209), Ibn Abi Hatim in al-Jarh wat-Ta’dil (2/17) and Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr in at-Tamheed (1/57-58), from the Hadith of Ibrahim Ibn ‘Abdur-Rahman al-‘Udhari (ra). It was authenticated by Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal – as occurs in Sharaf Ashabul Hadith (p. 29, no. 56) of al-Khatib al-Baghdadi].
Abu Dharr (ra) narrated that while he was walking with the Prophet ﷺ, he (ﷺ) said three times: ‘Indeed, there is something I fear for my Ummah more than the Dajjal.’ Abu Dharr asked him: ‘What is this that you fear for your Ummah more than the Dajjal?’ He replied: ‘The misguiding Imams/scholars.’ [ أئمة مضلين] – (Musnad Ahmed (35/222, no. 21296, declared Sahih li-ghayrihi by Shaykh Shu’ayb al-Arna’ut)
Bearing all this in mind, the legal matter at hand has been sufficiently discussed and dispensed with by the well qualified and recognised Muhaddith and Faqih, al-Imām Abū Jaʾfar al-Ṭaḥāwī, with his mastery of hadith and more so how to draw conclusions from apparently conflicting reports of various types. In order for the reader to feel assured and at ease with the scholarly research presented by Imām Abū Jaʾfar al-Ṭaḥāwī, it is germane to finish with a quotation from the leading Egyptian Hanafi Muhaddith known as al-Imām Badrud-Din al-Ayni (d. 855 AH) who had written a multi volume commentary on Imām Abū Jaʾfar al-Ṭaḥāwī’s Sharḥ Maʾānī ‘l-Āthār. Allama al-Ayni said about Imām Abū Jaʾfar al-Ṭaḥāwī in his Nukhab al-Afkar fi Tanqih Mabani al-Akhbar fi Sharḥ Maʾānī ‘l-Āthār:
“Nobody possessing intellect and a sense of justice would doubt that al-Ṭaḥāwī was most assertive in deriving legal decisions from the Qur’an and the Prophetic ahadith; most penetrative in Fiqh among all those authorities of al-Sihah and al-Sunan (two types of hadith collections) who shared his time or age, or were associated with him in narration (riwaya) as is surely manifested only by looking into his discourse and into the discourses of others, our claim having been ascertained and strengthened by his useful works which abound in various branches of the sciences of revelation and reason.
As regards his knowledge and narrating hadith, recognition of the transmitting individuals, and having a large number of Shuyukh (teachers), he is, as you see, the greatest leader, firm, reliable and a proof like al- Bukhari, Muslim and other authorities of al-Sihah and al-Sunan, as is indicated by the multitude of his narration, and his association, in this respect, with the well-known Imams of Hadith whom we already mentioned.” (Quoted from his Nukhab al-Afkar in the introduction to Sharḥ Maʾānī ‘l-Āthār of al-Ṭaḥāwī (1/33), Dar ‘l-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyyah, Beirut, 1416 AH)
Peace and blessings be upon our Master Muhammad
Abul Hasan Hussain Ahmed
Ramadan 1437 AH/June 2016
The following is a partial translation of Imām Abū Jaʾfar al-Ṭaḥāwī’s (Raḥimahullāh) discourse on ‘combining between two prayers’ [JamʾBayn ‘l-Ṣalātayn] from his masterpiece; Sharḥ Maʾānī ‘l- Āthār. In response to the many narrations that seemingly indicate towards its permissibility he sets out giving constructive responses to these narrations proving once again his mastery in the field of both fiqh [jurisprudence] and aḥādīth [narrations].
How is it done?
Before setting out to answer the narrations, Imām al-Ṭaḥāwī first quotes many aḥādíth that seemingly support the real combining of two prayers. For the sake of brevity, I have only translated the text and not the full chain as the authenticity of these aḥādíth are generally agreed upon:
From ʿAbdullāh b. Masʾūd (RaḍīAllāhuʿanhu) that the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ used to combine between two prayers whilst on journeys.
From Abī ‘l-Ṭufayl that Muʾādh b. Jabal (RaḍīAllāhuʿanhu) informed him that they once went out with the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ in the year of Tabūk and that the Messenger of Allāh used to combine Ẓuhr and ʿAṣr and then Maghrib and ʿIshā’. He [Abū ‘l-Ṭufayl] said: What made him do this? He [Mu‘ādh] replied: He intended that his ﷺ Ummah not go through hardship.
From Ibn ʿAbbās (RaḍīAllāhuʿanhumā) that he said: The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ prayed eight units in combination and seven units in combination.
Jābir b. Zayd heard Ibn ʿAbbās (RaḍīAllāhu ‘anhumā) say: I prayed with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ eight units in combination, and seven units in combination. I (Jābir) said: O Abī ‘l-Shaʾthā’, I think that he ﷺ had delayed the Ẓuhr prayer and hastened the ʿAṣr prayer, and he delayed the Maghrib prayer and hastened the ʿIshā’ prayer. He (then) said: I also think so.
Ibn ʿAbbās said: We prayed Ẓuhr and ʿAṣr with Messenger of Allāh ﷺ in combination, also Maghrib and ʿIshā’ in combination without being in the state of fear or travel. In another narration he said: Without being in the state of travel or rain.
Ibn ʿAbbās (RaḍīAllāhʿanhumā) delayed the Maghrib prayer one night, so a man said: Prayer, Prayer. He replied: May you he deprived of your mother. Are you teaching us the prayer? Indeed, the Prophet ﷺ used to combine both these prayers in Madīnah.
ʿAbdullāh b. ʿUmar (RaḍīAllāhʿanhumā) was in a hurry in a journey one night when he received the news of some family member, Bint Abī ʿUbayd. So he proceeded until when the twilight was about to disappear, one of his companions called for prayer, but he refused until many of them complained. He (Ibn ʿAbbās) then said: I saw the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ combine between these two prayers, Maghrib and ʿIshā’, and I combine them (also).
Ibn ʿUmar (RaḍīAllāhʿanhumā) said: When the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ was in a hurry whilst on journey he would combine Maghrib and ʿIshā’.
Sālim from his father (Ibn ʿUmar) that the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ would combine Maghrib and ʿIshā’ when he was in a hurry whilst on journey.
Ismāʾīl b. Abī Dhu’ayb said: I was with Ibn ‘Umar (RaḍīAllāh ‘anhumā) when the sun had set, we feared reminding him of ṣalāh (out of awe). He continued travelling until the darkness of the night appeared and we saw the whiteness of the horizon. [At this point,] he dismounted [from his camel] and performed 3 units of Maghrib and 2 of ʿIshā’, he then said: This is how I saw the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ do it.
Jābir b. ʿAbdullāh said: The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ combined Ẓuhr, ʿAṣr and Maghrib, ʿIshā’ in Madīnah for the purpose of ease without fear or any problem.
From Jābir b. ʿAbdullāh, that the sun set in Makkah, and the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ combined both prayers.
From Anas b. Mālik that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to combine Maghrib and ʿIshā’ on journeys.
Imām al-Ṭaḥāwī begins after quoting the above narrations:
“So a group of scholars are of the opinion that the time for praying Ẓuhr and ʿAṣr is one. They say: This is why the Prophet ﷺ combined both of them (prayers) in a timing of [any] one of them, and in a similar fashion, [he combined] the Maghrib and ʿIshā’. According to this opinion, the prayers times are one – the first will not be [deemed] missed until the time of the latter is over.
Against this opinion are another group of Scholars, and they say: Rather, every [prayer] from these prayers has its individual timing from the other, and thus say: As for what you narrated regarding it from the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ from his combining between two prayers, then it was narrated from him ﷺ as they mentioned [individual timings].
There is no real proof that he ﷺ combined them both in a time of either one of them (whether in Ẓuhr or ʿAṣr time). It is a possibility His ﷺ combining is what you have mentioned (real combining), and yet it is also a possibility that he ﷺ prayed all of those prayers separately in its actual timing (apparent combining, praying Ẓuhr just before the time expires, and praying ʿAṣr as soon as it enters), as was alluded to by Jābir b. Zayd, and he is the one who narrated it from Ibn ʿAbbās and ʿAmr b. Dīnār. So the people of the first group have replied: We have found in some narrations that indicates how the combination [of the two prayers] had taken place by him ﷺ [and it] is [precisely] as what we have stated. So they narrated in this regard (the following narrations);”
What was narrated to us from Ibn Marzuq, who said ʿĀrim b. ‘l-Faḍl, narrated to us who said Ḥammād b. Zayd narrated to us from Ayyūb from Nāfiʾ that Ibn ʿUmar (RaḍīAllāhuʿanhumā) was informed about the death of Safiyyah (the wife of the Prophet ﷺ) when he was at Makkah. He proceeded till the sun set and the stars shined. He said: When the Prophet ﷺ was in a hurry about something while on a journey, he would combine both these prayers. (The narrator said) I wanted to combine the two prayers, so he proceeded till twilight had disappeared. So he (Ibn ʿUmar) then combined both of them (the prayers).
Ibn Abī Dāwūd narrated to us, who said Musaddad narrated to us, who said Yaḥyā narrated to us from ʿAbdullāh from Nāfiʾ from Ibn ʿUmar (RaḍīAllāhu ‘anhumā) that when he was in a hurry whilst on journey he would combine Maghrib and ʿIshā’ after the disappearance of the twilight. Ibn ʿUmar would say; Indeed, when the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ was in a hurry whilst on journey he would combine them both.
Al-Ṭaḥāwī then says: “They say (those that allow the actual combining); In this [narration] is proof regarding the characteristics of how his ﷺ combining of both these prayers took place. However, the argument that is against them from those that disagree is that the narration of Ayyūb in which he says: ‘He proceeded until twilight had disappeared and thereafter he descended’, then all Companions [students] of Nāfiʾ did not mention this [wording], ʿUbaydullāh did not mention this, Mālik and al-Layth also did not mention it, neither have those whom we narrated the ḥadīth of Ibn ʿUmar (RaḍīAllāhuʿanhumā) in this chapter.
Rather, he [Ayyūb] narrated that to be from the practice of Ibn ʿUmar (RaḍīAllāhuʿanhumā), mentioning from the Prophet ﷺ the combining but did not mention how the combining took place (whether out of its stipulated time or within its time). As for the narration of ʿUbaydullāh that the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ combined both of them thereafter mentioning the combining of Ibn ʿUmar (RaḍīAllāhuʿanhumā), how it was done and such that it was done after the disappearing of the twilight, then it is possible that he intended to perform his ʿIshā’, which he was going to combine, after the twilight disappeared, even though he had already performed Maghrib before the twilight disappeared, because he was not going to combine between them.
So upon that reason he combined Maghrib and ʿIshā’. Others besides Ayyūb have explained that which we have said.”
Fahd narrated to us, who said Ḥammānī narrated to us, who said ʿAbdullāh b. ‘l-Mubārak narrated to us from Usāmah b. Zayd, who said Nāfiʿ informed me that Ibn ‘Umar (RaḍīAllāhuʿanhumā) was in a hurry whilst in journey and proceeded forward, he did not descend except for Ẓuhr and ʿAṣr he delayed Maghrib until Sālim shouted; ‘Prayer’, Ibn ʿUmar (RaḍīAllāhuʿanhumā) remained silent up until when the twilight was about to disappear, he then descended and combined them both, and then said; I saw the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ exactly that, whilst in a hurry on a journey.
“So in this narration his descending for Maghrib (prayer) was before the disappearing of the twilight. It is possible that the statement of Nāfiʾ “after the twilight disappeared”, as appears in the ḥadīth of Ayyub, was intended to mean “close to the twilight disappearing”, in order that it not contradict with what had been narrated regarding it. This narration was narrated by other than Usāmah from Nāfiʾ with the same wording as that of Usāmah’s.”
Rabīʿ al-Mu’addhin narrated to us, who said Bishr b. Bakr narrated to us, who said Ibn Jābir narrated to me, who said Nāfiʾ narrated to me who said: I went out with ʿAbdullāh b. ʿUmar (RaḍīAllāhuʿanhumā) on a journey to some of his land. Then someone came to him and said: ‘Ṣafiyyah bint AbīʿUbayd is sick, try to get there before it is too late.’ He set out quickly, accompanied by a man of the Quraysh. The sun set but he did not pray, although I knew him to be very careful about praying on time. When he slowed down I said: ‘The prayer, may Allāh have mercy on you.’ He turned to me but carried on until the twilight was almost gone, then he stopped and prayed Maghrib, then he said the Iqāmah for ʿIshā’, at that time the twilight had totally disappeared and led us in prayer. Then he turned to us and said: ‘If the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ was in a hurry to travel he would do this’.
Yazīd b. Sinān related to us, who said AbūʿĀmir al-ʿAqadī related to us, al-ʿAṭṭāf b. Khālid al- Makhzūmī from Nāfiʾ who said: We came back with Ibn ʿUmar (RaḍīAllāhuʿanhumā) [from Makkah] when the news of the Prophet’s ﷺ wife; Bint Abī ʿUbayd’s death arrived, he hurriedly moved on until when the sun was about to set, so the call for (Maghrib) prayer was made but he (Ibn ʿUmar) did not descend [from his mount] until the evening was about to enter, so we thought that he must have forgotten, so I said: ‘Prayer’, and he still remained silent until just before the twilight was about to disappear, [he then] descended and prayed Maghrib, and then when the twilight disappeared he prayed ʿIshā’. He then said: This is what we used to do with the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ when we used to be in a hurry whilst on journey.
“Hence, all of them narrated from Nāfiʾ that the descending [from the mount to combine] of Ibn ʿUmar (RaḍīAllāhuʿanhumā) was before the disappearing of the twilight. We also mentioned the possible meaning of the [singular] report of Ayyūb from Nāfiʾ: “after the twilight disappeared”, which he could intend [to mean] “close to the twilight disappearing”.
The preferred method according to us is to take all these narrations and bring them in to harmony, rather than have them conflict [with each other], so we have taken what was narrated from Ibn ʿUmar that his descending for Maghrib “after the disappearing of the twilight” to mean that it was close before the disappearing of the twilight, [especially] when it was [also] narrated from him that his descending [for Maghrib] was before the disappearing of the twilight. Were there to be any conflict (with these narrations) then the narration of Ibn Jābir would be given preference of the two [reports].
Because the report of Ayyūb has in that the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ used to combine between both prayers, thereafter mentioning the action of Ibn ʿUmar how it was done, [but] in the narration of Ibn Jābir the description of how the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ did it was mentioned, hence his [the latter] is given preference. If they (those that disagree) say: It has been narrated from Anas regarding the explanation of how the combination [of two prayers] took place. Hence they narrate regarding that, that which Yūnus narrated to us,”
Who said Ibn Wahb informed us, who said Jābir b. Ismāʾīl informed me from ʿUqayl b. Khālid from Ibn Shihāb from Anas b. Mālik (RaḍīAllāhu ‘anhu) similar to it, meaning that the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ one day was in a hurry on a journey, he combined both Ẓuhr and ʿAṣr likewise at night when he intended a journey he would combine Maghrib and ʿIshā’ and would delay Ẓuhr into the first part of ʿAṣr [in ʿAsr time] and combine both [these prayers], he would also delay Maghrib until he would combine both in ʿIshā’, after the disappearing of the twilight.
“So they say: In this narration is proof that he ﷺ prayed Ẓuhr and ʿAṣr in the time of ʿAsr and his combining was [thus] explained like that. Then the argument against them by the second ﷺ group is that this narration could possibly mean what we have previously explained [that it was close to the end of the waqt of the first prayer and not past it].
Another possibility is that the characteristics of the combining (mentioned in the above narration) maybe from the words of al-Zuhrī and not from the Prophet ﷺ because he [al-Zuhrī] would do that many times, [he] would join narrations with his words [to explain them] to the point that it was falsely understood as being part of the hadith. [Or as explained already] Another possible meaning could be, his saying: “Into the first part of ʿAṣr”, to be “close to the beginning of ʿAṣr” [but not in ʿAṣr].
So if the meaning of the ḥadīth is in fact as we have provided showing some of the interpretations [in explaining of جمع], then it does not necessitate that he prayed them [the prayers] in the time of ʿAṣr then there is no argument by those who say he prayed it in the time of ʿAṣr, and if the origin of the narration was that he did pray it in the time of ʿAṣr then that would be a [real] combination [of prayers]. Then surely disagreeing with him [Anas] in this regard is ʿAbdullāh b. ʿUmar in what we have narrated from him from the Prophet ﷺ, those have disagreed also in this regard is ʿĀ’ishah (RaḍīAllāhuʿanhā).”
Fahd narrated to us, who said al-Ḥasan b. Bishr narrated to us, who said al-Muʾāfī narrated to us from Mughīrah b. Ziyād al-Mawṣūlī from ʿAṭā’ b. Abī Rabāḥ from ʿĀ’ishah (RaḍīAllāhu ‘anhā) that she said: During journey the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ used to delay Ẓuhr, hasten ʿAṣr and delay Maghrib hasten ʿIshā’.
“Here we have a narration from ʿAbdullah b. Masʾud also, we have already narrated from him from the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ that he would combine between two prayers [only] during journeys. Thereafter it was also narrated from him what;”
Ḥusayn b. Naṣr narrated to us, who said Qabīṣah b. ʿUqbah and al-Firyābī both said Sufyān narrated to us from al-Aʾmash from ʿUmārah b. ʿUmayrʿAbd ‘l-Raḥmān b. Yazīd from ʿAbdullāh [Ibn Masʾūd] who said: I have not seen the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ pray a prayer ever outside of its time except for the combining of the two prayer at Muzdalifah, and where he prayed the Fajr prayer before its stipulated time on that day.
So it is established with proofs which we have mentioned that, that which he [Ibn Masʾūd] observed of the combining by the Messenger ﷺ is in contrast to the interpretation of it given by our opponents. Therefore, this is the ruling of this chapter from the route of authenticating the meanings of the narrations regarding the combining of the prayers of the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ.
 Sharḥ Maʾānī ‘l-Āthār (1/160-164) Beirut; Dar ‘l-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyyah.  A recent argument is the notion that ʿAbdullāh b. Masʾūd did not see the combining of prayers by the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ outside of Ḥajj, their argument being; just because he did not see the combining other than in Ḥajj does not necessitate that it (real combining) did not take place outside of Ḥajj.
However, al-Ṭaḥāwī previously to this narration quotes a narration which he mentioned right at the beginning of the chapter that the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ used combine between prayers during journeys. This proves that combining on journeys was not done outside of the prayers allocated times and the only prayers that were done outside of their time were the prayers during Ḥajj as explained by none other than himself.
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