Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Laborers and common folk from the subcontinent work in Arab countries. they are taught to do wudu and Salah according to the Hanafi law whence they come from. now, their wuDu is according to Hanafi madhhab; their Salah is according to Hanafi madhhab (silent on fatiha etc..) BUT, they do the `aSr prayer according to the shafi`yi madhhab because in the masjids the `asr prayer so early that the Hanafi opinion doesn’t even consider this time as `asr. In fact, this time is Dhuhr (as is acceptable). What would the Salah of such a commoner be? does this fall in the realm of talfiq? It is in these circumstances where you cannot expect a common man to be able to understand the situation, that we are forced to accept the excuse…
There is great difference of opinion within the Hanafi school about the time of Asr. This arose from the fact that both of Abu Hanifa’s main students, Qadi Abu Yusuf and Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, held Asr to come in at one shadow length, contrary to their teacher’s position of two shadow lengths.
As a result of this, though the majority of the texts of the Hanafi school followed Abu Hanifa’s position, there are many major texts that chose the position of his two main students, which is also the position of the other three schools. Of the early Hanafi imams, Imam al-Tahawi is the most notable person who chose their position. And many later works did so too, even saying that the fatwa was on their position! This was, however, dismissed by Ibn Abidin.
However, it is permitted to follow their position in cases of need, such as when the area you live in only has congregational Asr prayers at the earlier time.
This is the case in the Arab lands: Syria, Jordan, and other countries, even with the presence of Hanafis, have been following the earlier Asr time for a long, long time. The Hanafi scholars of Damascus and the Levant (Sham) act on the position of Abu Hanifa’s students.
So in the case mentioned, it would not be ‘mixing and matching’ between different madhhabs.
There is an important principle we should not forget, however:
It is a generally accepted principle in legal systems that ignorance of the law is not an acceptable excuse. I can’t break the speeding limit in a country and then try to get away by claiming I was unaware of it. It was my duty to find out. Similarly, every morally responsible Muslim has the duty to learn that which they need of the rulings of the sacred law in their daily life….