May I combine prayers during the day because of long night shifts at work?

Answered by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, SunniPath Academy Teacher




I am a hospital specialist trainee doctor. I do 13 hour totally sleepless night shifts and I have to get daytime 6-7 hours sleep.In British winter season, 3 obligatory prayers during the day come is in quick succession and I find it is very hard to wake up three time for prayers during daytime when on nightshift. What shall I do? Can I combine payers like travellers (Shafie madhab)?

Answer:
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate

assalamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

I pray that this message finds you in the best of health and spirits. Scholars explain that there are only two valid reasons for shortening prayers: (1) travel (when it meets certain conditions) and (2) rain (when it meets certain conditions). “Difficulty in waking up” is not a reason that permits one to combine prayers.

The obligatory prayer is the greatest act of worship in Islam. Scholars say that, “the obligatory prayer is the best of all obligatory acts and the non-obligatory prayer is the best of all non-obligatory acts.” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever misses an `asr prayer, it is as if he has lost his family and wealth.” (Muslim) This is a hadith that is worth reflecting on for a moment: let us all pause and imagine that we had lost all of our family and all of our wealth. What huge catastrophe!

It is easy to get lost in the rough and tumble of everyday life and let our prayer become a burden that needs to be quickly performed so that we can return to “more important things”. The true value of our prayers will only be understood when we stand before Allah Most High in the next life, when we will regret every moment that we wasted and didn’t spend in prayer.

Having understood the tremendous value of the prayer, it hopefully becomes easier to understand the great opportunity that one loses whenever one misses a prayer. Here are some measures you can take to make sure that you perform your prayers on time:

(1) Organize the remaining 11 hours of the day around your prayers. Whenever there is a long period of time in between prayers, get to bed immediately and don’t waste your time doing anything else.

(2) It is actually possible to “seemingly” join any two prayers in any of the four schools of Islamic Law. The way to do this is to wake up shortly before one prayer time expires, perform the prayer before the exiting of the time, wait a couple of minutes until the entrance of the next prayer time, perform that prayer immediately, and then get back to sleep. Effectively, this is just like the “actual” joining of prayers. The only difference is that you don’t have flexibility in picking the time to join prayers.

(3) If you have days off in between night shifts, use the extra time you have during those days to get some extra sleep so that you can function with a little less sleep in the coming difficult days.

Scholars mention that “whoever leaves something for the sake of Allah, Allah replaces it with something better.” In-sha’Allah your commitment to the obligatory prayer will bring you unexpected benefits in this life before the next life, and you will find that Allah Most High will place his blessing and acceptance in everything that you do while you are awake.

And Allah Most High knows best.

Hamza.

And Allah Most High knows best.

Hamza.