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Keeping up with Winter Worship

To download your city’s annual prayer timetable click here and scroll to the bottom of the article.

A moment of reflecting upon the way Allāh has created the world and indeed our lives with so much change and alternation of states reveals to us His great wisdom in creation. He says,

‘In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are Signs for people with intelligence.’[1]

Allāh the Most High, out of His divine wisdom, created this life as a constant stream of changing states, altering conditions, and varying environments. One of the wisdoms is that it creates a drive in the heart of a Believer to worship Allāh at certain times over others. If life was merely a monotonous, dim, and unchanging process it would not motivate us to connect with our Creator in worship as this is the nature of people.

Also view: ‘Winter is the Spring of the Believer’ for a video on fasting in winter time

In the northern hemisphere the times of prayer change dramatically during the winter months. The daylight hours in many European countries become increasingly short with prayers times then squeezed closer together. During the shortest days in the UK the Dhuhr, ʿAsr and Maghrib prayers all must be performed within a space of four hours.

The importance of ṣalāh can never be overstated; the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) informed us that the criterion between Muslims and non-Muslims is prayer. He also told us that prayer is the pillar of Islām. Indeed his parting advice before he left this worldly abode was to warn us against missing our prayers. Performing prayer at its allocated time is one of the most important pre-requisites of ṣalāh, a fact which is based on the verse,

‘Verily, the prayer is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours.’

The Sharῑ‘a then facilitated the attainment of this condition in times of difficulty. For instance, a concession is granted for the one who cannot find water for purification; they should perform the dry ablution known as al-tayammum.

In cases of extreme hardship the Sharῑ‘ah has allowed Muslims to combine between certain prayers. However, this concession is given in very limited circumstances and for specific pairs of ṣalāh only, such as Dhuhr and ʿAsr, or Maghrib and ʿIshā’. There is a growing trend amongst some Muslims that during the winter months they adopt this concession completely and regularly combine between Dhuhr and ʿAsr. Some may claim that they are basing this on fatwas that allow them do so. However, it should be pointed out that fatwas which seem to go against well-established legislation in the Qur’ān and Sunnah should be received sceptically. Put simply, the individual fatwa cannot override the divine text and established rulings. Let us also remember that we will all stand before Allāh alone, and the first thing we will be asked about is our ṣalāh. If it was offered acceptably then the onward journey into the Hereafter will be made easy, and if it was neglected, our other deeds will be presented as a form of compensation.

“Whoever leaves the ʿAsr prayer, his deeds will be annulled.”

As stated before, there are some prayers that cannot under any circumstance be delayed beyond their appointed times. The best example is that of the ʿAsr prayer whereby the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) foresaw this problem arising in his ummah and so warned us against missing ʿAsr. Al Bukhāriī collected various authentic hadīth such as the hadīth of Abi Al Malih under the title ‘Chapter: Whoever leaves Asr…’ whereby he said,

“We were with Buraida, a Companion of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), in battle on a cloudy day and he said, ‘Offer the ʿAsr prayer early as the Prophet said, “Whoever leaves the ʿAsr prayer, his [good] deed[s] will be annulled.”’”[2]

However, we find that many people justify delaying ʿAsr by claiming that they were unable to find either a place to perform ablution or a clean place where they could pray. In response to this it must be said that such claims are at best an exaggerated evaluation of the situation. By exerting effort, a person can find various avenues to perform their ṣalāh. Allāh says,

‘And whosoever fears Allāh and  keeps his duty  to Him, He  will make a  way  for  him  to  get  out  [from  every difficulty].’[3]

Another assumption for which there is no basis is that many Muslims think that they can only pray in a mosque or on a prayer mat. In fact, Islām is very particular in allowing prayer anywhere on earth except in a graveyard, a toilet, and before an idol. The Sharῑ‘a also prohibits people from praying in the middle of pathways and avenues as this might cause harm to passers-by or even cause harm for the person performing the ṣalāh.  Besides this, one can pray anywhere, even if they are unsure of its purity from najasah. As a basic principle, if one does not see or smell najasah, they should treat the place as if it is pure. This is because the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) rejoiced at the fact that Allāh had made the entire earth pure for prayer and so the default ruling is that all places are pure for prayer unless we find traces of najasah present. Therefore, if you are afraid that the ṣalāh time might expire, you must pray in any place possible.

If the person cannot make ablution out of fear that the time of ṣalāh is about to expire and that the ṣalāh cannot be combined with a ṣalāh after it such as Fajr, ʿAsr and ʿIshā’, then they must use dry ablution (al-tayammum) in order to pray the ṣalāh on time. If the person claims that he cannot do tayammum as he cannot find dry sand, then he can do it on any natural surface.

Fourthly, if the person claims that they find a place where they cannot stand up or move through the motions of prayer properly, then they must pray on time to their utmost ability, even if certain motions are not fulfilled properly. A typical example is praying on a plane or bus where it is not viable that a person stop for performing prayer within its given time.

Women at home should also be extra vigilant in keeping up their prayer timings as they neither hear the call to prayer nor do they go to the mosque, an act that aids in praying on time.

To conclude, these are some temporary solutions and Muslims should make the utmost effort to secure an appropriate place and time for the most important pillar of al-Islām, the ṣalāh. A person should even plan for their ṣalāh once they leave home as this is a plan for their success in both abodes. Allāh says,

‘Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their ṣalah (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness.’[4]

Source: www.islam21c.com


[1] Al-Qur’ān, 3:190

[2] Bukhārῑ Vol. 1:No. 528

[3] Al-Qur’ān, 65:2

[4] Al-Qur’ān, 23:1-2

To download your city’s annual prayer timetable click here and scroll to the bottom of the article.

About Shaykh (Dr) Haitham Al-Haddad

Dr. Haitham al-Haddad is a jurist and serves as a judge for the Islamic Council of Europe. He has studied the Islamic sciences for over 20 years under the tutelage of renowned scholars such as the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia as well as the retired Head of the Kingdom's Higher Judiciary Council. He specialises in many of the Islamic sciences and submitted his doctoral thesis on Islamic jurisprudence concerning Muslim minorities. Shaikh Haitham is highly respected having specialised knowledge in the field of fiqh, usul al-fiqh, maqasid al-shari'ah, ulum al-Qur’an, tafsir, aqidah, and fiqh al-hadith. He provides complex theories which address the role of Islamic jurisprudence within a western environment whilst also critically re-analysing the approach of Islamic jurists in forming legal rulings (ifta’) within a western socio-political context. He has many well known students most of whom are active in dawah and teaching in the West. The shaikh is an Islamic jurist (faqih) and as such is qualified to deliver verdicts as a judge under Islamic law, a role he undertakes at the Islamic Council of Europe as Islamic judge and treasurer. Dr Haitham al-Haddad also sits on various the boards of advisors for Islamic organisations, mainly in the United Kingdom but also around the world.


  1. Prayer
    I would like to thank the Sheikh for this informative article. There is a tendency amongst people to open up Bukhari Shereef and pick out hadiths. We the ummah take our knowledge for the majority of scholars and not one lone wolf. I’ve looked up the following, to demonstrate the folly of reading and making judgements without sitting with a traditional teacher of knowledge. Jazak Allahu Khair

    ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud relates:

    I never observed the Messenger of Allah perform any prayer out of its time except at Muzdalifa. He combined Maghrib and ‘Isha at Muzdalifa (Sahih al-Bukhari 1:227, Sahih Muslim 1:417, Sharh Ma’ani ‘l-athar 1:164).

  2. Folly of anyone opening up Hadith books and infering rulings
    I would like to thank the Sheikh for this informative article. There is a tendency amongst people to open up Bukhari Shereef and pick out hadiths. We the ummah take our knowledge for the majority of scholars and not one lone wolf. I’ve looked up the following, to demonstrate the folly of reading and making judgements without sitting with a traditional teacher of knowledge. Jazak Allahu Khair

    ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud relates:

    I never observed the Messenger of Allah perform any prayer out of its time except at Muzdalifa. He combined Maghrib and ‘Isha at Muzdalifa (Sahih al-Bukhari 1:227, Sahih Muslim 1:417, Sharh Ma’ani ‘l-athar 1:164).

  3. Sheikh Haitham
    A much needed reminder. I agree entirely with the Sheikh and always respect him for his forthrightness in speaking about the deen. May Allah bless him, preserve him and grant him Firdaws, ameen.

  4. The real neglect of salat
    Please read the short sura 107, Maun, then you will know what is the real meaning of neglecting salat.

  5. Prayer before your are prayed upon
    When we are born we hear the adhaan and when we die the funeral prayer is prayed upon us. As if all of life is between adhaan n prayer. Prayer is the only act of Worship that had to be done by the individual himself…. Everything came down in revelations to Our Beloved Prophet SAW. But the Prayer He had to go up to get this is something to reflect upon. Its status is so important. Not only do you Inshallah get rewarded for Prayer but Inshallah our minor sins will be erased. Salah to salah…. Jummah to Jummah. May Allah SWT Forgive Us all for our sins.

    Quote: When Hatim al Asamm was asked about his prayer, he said, “When it is near the time of prayer, I perform a perfect Wudu and go to where I am going to pray and sit down there until I become fully attentive to what I am about to do. I then stand up and pray, imagining that the Ka`bah is in front of my eyes, Paradise to my right, Hellfire to my left and the Angel of Death behind me. I imagine that it is the last prayer I am about to perform, stand up in hope (in Allah, His Paradise and rewards) and fear (from Allah’s torment in Hellfire) and recite the Takbir while having full attention. I recite the Qur’an calmly, make Ruku` humbly, go into Sujud with Khushu’ and then sit on my left leg, with the left food laid on the floor and the right food raised up, all the while praying with sincerity. Afterwards, I do not know (nor feel certain) if that prayer was accepted from me!”

    Scholar: Hatim Al Assam

  6. Vaniffeww1983

    If you would go up high , then use your own legs ! [url=http://www.google.com]UBB[/url]Do not let yourselves carried aloft; do not seat yourselves on other people’s backs and heads
    HTML. (F. W . Nietzsche , German Philosopher)

  7. Consessions
    What can be done for someone who for reasons of disability or otherwise has serious time management problems that he or she can’t utilize the dhunya time well enough between winter prayer times, to avoid combining them? Allaah doesn not burden a soul more than it can bear even if the imaan is weak.

  8. Incorrect Footnote Reference
    I think footnote # 4 is referring to wrong verse, please check

  9. Northern Norway
    Well we in Tromsø in Northern Norway have no choice but to join our prayers before we change to Mecca time. As from the 27th of November the sun does not rise above the horizon if you see here on our time table the salah meet each other. [url]http://www.alnor.no/prayer_times/2010/november.pdf[/url]
    On the 27th sunrise to sunset is only 40 minutes ;D great time for fasting.
    Want more information about us visit our website here [url]http://www.alnor.no/en_index.shtml[/url]

  10. Its very simple.
    “Verily, the prayer has been enjoined on the believers at fixed times.” – Surah Nisa’

    It’s as simple as that. If you can’t hack it, then you need to re-evaluate your relationship with Allah.

  11. “Verily, the prayer is enjoined upon the believers at fixed times.” simple as that. if you cant hack it, then u need to re-evaluate your relationship with Allah The Almighty.

  12. Sinister comments

    Dear brothers and sisters, please note that this is NOT a fatwa, rather it is a sincere piece of well-timed advice. The fact that some people have eagerly moved to censure the Sheikh for incorrectly (as they see it) denying the validity of combing prayers only goes to show that there truly is a misconception out there about when and how to combine the prayers.

    As mentioned in earlier comments there are many narrations from the prophet saw affirming the concession of combining prayers, but the question is: what brings about the use of this concession and what is the correct implementation of it?

    After reading the article I can see that a lack of knowledge about the answers to these questions, combined (no pun intended ) with a general negligence in performing prayers on time, has led to many people adopting this wholesale practice of combining prayers throughout the winter season.

    Allahu A’lam.


  13. Please read the article before commenting
    ‘BOB’ it’s so obvious that you have not read the article properly and have quickly rushed to cut and paste and create a ‘refutation’. I think that your time might have been better utilised if you actually read the article and understood the main point. Please read it again and this time critically analyse what the Sheikh said without jumping to conclusions.

    The Sheikh did not categorically state that combining is not allowed, and nor did our beloved Prophet (SAW) combine as a norm with the exception being not to combine. All he said was that we should try our best to pray at the correct time. Obviously it goes without say that if it’s necessary then there is no harm in combining.

    May Allah guide us all and alter our intentions so that we become true seekers of the truth and not just followers of a certain way or Tarikah-Ameen

  14. Jazakamullahu Khayran
    as-salamu’alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

    I think if all the people who posted comments believing the Shaykh is saying that making jam’ is not allowed, have not read the article carefully enough. The article IS NOT about the legal aspect of combining the prayer rather it is an advice and a warning to brothers/sisters seeking fatawa which makes their life easier in the aspect of Prayer. It is also clear that from the narrations and the opinions of the majority of scholars, the combining of prayer was not allowed to become something daily, rather it was an exception to be used in exceptional circumstances – not one’s daily routine. We are after all talking about the most important act of worship for a Muslim, the Prayer. The article is more directed to someone taking up these ‘concessions’ out of laziness rather than out of exception. If one regularly combines his prayers out of laziness, then how much closer is he to missing his prayers altogether? I have seen this happen and it is often a major reason why many brothers and sisters are regular with their sunnah and nawaafil prayers as they form a barrier from them missing/delaying their fard prayers. So lets understand the aim of the article before jumping the gun.

    The other matter of the requirement of daleel in answering a question – if someone is a student of knowledge looking to arrive at his own conclusion then go ahead and ask the Shuyookh whom you trust or consult the books that you trust to help you arrive to your conclusion. But there has been enough said over the years regarding making Taqleed. For the majority of us, we ask advice and a fatwa from a person of knowledge whom we trust and we follow that advice. If at a later time another opinion comes to us from someone else we trust, then the task and choice we make is subject to which we believe in our hearts is the closest to the sunnah.

    Chill everyone – the point of the article: Don’t delay your prayers from their best time, don’t shy away from your prayers because you fear what work colleagues, school friends or the public around you, will say. I have seen people make wudhu and pray in all manner of places – just to make sure their prayer is done on time. And I have seen the converse as well – people on journey for Hajj even! They think the sand/tarmac is too dirty to pray on, or that their ihram might have touched some najaasaat – so they delay their prayers till they are out of their time, till they can find a more amenable location (in their minds). Sometimes Shaytan makes us look for reasons to why we should delay our prayers, or combine our prayers, to either make us sin or lose reward. And Allah knows best.

  15. Faraz Choudhry

    Where’s the evidence behind this being acceptable when there’s no time to do proper wudzu? Although I’ve been following the concession some imamms refuted that saying that they’re only limited to ‘Eidh and Jumu’ah prayers. Please reply to my e-mail as I might not be able to log in here to receive replies, thank you.

  16. Oussama Mezoui

    Need to be more academic.
    bob thank you very much for your post

    Sheik Haitham surely it would make more sense to have included all of the hadiths and opinions included in Bob’s post in your argument.

    What we want to see is well thought out academic articles. Your article contains three ayat and one hadith. It does not do justice to the topic. If indeed you want to prove to people that combining the prayer should only be due to necessity then you should go deep into the subject matter, giving arguments for and against the proposition before issuing your own opinion.

    Your writings must acknowledge the opinions of other scholars if you are going to refute them. Your writings must also acknowledge the existence of the ahadith that exist on this subject. For example

    Imam Muslim states: “The Messenger of Allah combined the zuhr and ‘asr and then the maghrib and ‘isha in Medinah without there being any danger or rain.” Ibn ‘Abbas was asked: “What did he desire by that action?” He replied: “He did not want any hardship for his ummah.” Al-Bukhari and Muslim record from him that the Prophet prayed seven rak’at and eight rak’at, i.e., the zuhr and ‘asr together and the maghrib and ‘isha together, in Medinah. Muslim also records from ‘Abdullah ibn Shaqiq that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas addressed the people one day after the ‘asr salah until well after the sun had set and the stars began to appear. The people said to him: “The prayer, the prayer.” A man from the tribe of Taim continuously repeated: “The prayer, the prayer.” Ibn ‘Abbas said: “Are you teaching me the sunnah? May you have no mother.” Then he said: “I saw the Messenger of Allah combine the zuhr and ‘asr and the maghrib and ‘isha.” ‘Abdullah ibn Shaqiq commented: “I felt some uneasiness in my heart about what he had said, so I went to Abu Hurairah to ask him about that, and he confirmed what Ibn ‘Abbas had said.

    What we have in the above article is your own opinion in your own words. It does not allow those of us wishing to learn our deen to form our own opinion. It is as if you are saying “Trust me its wrong, just follow me.” I would love to see more academic articles, where you present all of the evidence, from both sides, before coming to your own islamic opinion.


  17. Combining prayers is permitted.
    We read in Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 10, Number 537, Chapter Times of the Prayers:

    Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:
    the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) observed in Medina seven (rak’ahs) and eight (rak’ahs), i. e. (combined) the noon (Zuhr) and afternoon (`Asr) prayers (eight rak’ahs) and the dusk (Maghrib) and night (‘Isha’) prayers (seven rak’ahs).

    While commenting on this tradition, on the same page of Tayseer al-Bari, Allamah Waheed uz Zaman says:

    “The tradition is quite clear that two prayers can be offered at a time. A second tradition tells us about an incident in Madina when neither there was any fear nor any compulsion. It has already been mentioned above that Ahl e Hadeeth consider it permissible, and in the books of Imamia there are many traditions from Imams of Hadeeth in the chapter of joining [prayers] and there is no reason for these traditions being incorrect”
    Tayseer al Bari Sharh Sahih Bukhari, Volume 2, Book of Tahajjud, page 187, published by Taj Company Limited, Karachi

    We also read in Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 10, Number 518:

    Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:
    “The Prophet prayed eight Rakat for the Zuhr and ‘Asr, and seven for the Maghrib and ‘Isha prayers in Medina.” Aiyub said, “Perhaps those were rainy nights.” Anas said, “May be.”

    In the Urdu commentary Tayseer al-Bari Sharh Sahih Bukhari, while commenting on the last phrase of Jabir wherein he guessed that it could have been a rainy night, Allamah Waheed uz-Zaman writes:

    “Jabir’s words are based on probability, its falsehood has been proven by Sahih Muslim’s tradition which states that neither was it rainy nor did any fear exist.”

    Maulana Waheed uz-Zaman further writes:

    “Ibn Abbas in another tradition says that Holy Prophet (s) did that in order to save his Ummah from any sort of difficulty.”
    Tayseer al-Bari Sharh Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, page 370, Book of Prayer times, published by Taj Company Limited.

    In this connection Sunni traditions also eliminate any suggestion that the combination may have been on account of adverse weather conditions:

    The Prophet (s) prayed in Madinah, while residing there, not travelling, seven and eight (this is an indication to the seven Raka’t of Maghrib and ‘Isha’ combined, and the eight Raka’t of Zuhr and `Asr combined).
    Ahmad ibn Hanbal, al-Musnad, Volume 1, page 221

    “The Prophet (s) prayed Zuhr and `Asr in combination and Maghrib and ‘Isha’ in combination without a reason for fear or travel.”
    Malik ibn Anas, al-Muwatta’, Volume 1, page 161

    Now let us have a look at a tradition from Sahih Muslim:

    Ibn ‘Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah (s) combined the noon prayer with the afternoon prayer and the sunset prayer with the ‘Isha’ prayer in Medina without being in a state of danger or rainfall. And in the hadith transmitted by Waki’ (the words are): “I said to Ibn ‘Abbas: What prompted him to do that? He said: So that his (Prophet’s) Ummah should not be put to (unnecessary) hardship.”

    We have relied on this tradition from the following Sunni sources:

    1. Sahih Muslim (English translation), Kitab al-Salat, Book 4, Chapter 100 Combination of prayers when one is resident, hadith no. 1520;
    2. Jami al-Tirmidhi, volume 1, page 109, translated by Badee’ uz-Zaman, published by No’mani book store, Urdu bazaar Lahore.
    3. Sunan Abi Daud, volume 1, page 490, Chapter: ‘Combining of Salat’, translated by Maulana Waheed uz-Zaman

    In his commentary of this tradition, Zaman states:

    There are two types of combination of prayers, Jama’ e Taqdeem and Jama’ e Takheer, the earlier one means to offer Asr at the time of Zuhr and Isha at the time of Maghrib, and the later type is to offer Zuhr at the time of Asr and Maghrib at the time of Isha, both the types are proven to be valid from Prophetic Sunnah.
    Sunan Abu Daud, volume 1, page 490, translated by Maulana Waheed uz-Zaman, published in Lahore

    Maulana Waheed uz-Zaman concludes the discussion on the same page by stating:

    “The arguments against combining the prayers are weak, whilst those permitting it are strong.”
    Sunan Abu Daud, volume 1, page 490, translated by Maulana Waheed uz-Zaman, published in Lahore

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