Answered by Shaykh Abdurrahman ibn Yusuf Mangera
So then are the reports of the Prophet (saws) combining his prayers, whether he was traveling or not, not valid?
In the name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful.
There is a difference of opinion among the scholars regarding this issue. The three great Imams Shafi’i, Malik and Ahmad ibn Hanbal have taken the various hadiths on combining to refer to “real combining,” which is to either delay one prayer into the time of the next (“delayed combining”) or to perform the second prayer before its time in the time of the first prayer (“advanced combining”).
The Hanafis on the hand have primarily relied on the hadith of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud radhiyallahu anhu in which he says, “The Messenger of Allah (upon him be peace) never performed any prayer out of its time except at Muzdalifa and ‘Arafa.… (Sahih al-Bukhari& Muslim)
Hence, the Hanafis only permit “real combining” during the above two occasions in Haj, and interpret the other hadiths which describe the Messenger (upon him be peace) performing two prayers together to be “apparent combining.” Apparent combining is when two prayers are performed one after the other, with the first one at the end of its time and the second immediately at the beginning of its time. Many hadiths from ‘Umar, Ibn ‘Abbas Ibn Mas’ud, ‘A’isha and even Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them all) support this interpretation of the Hanafis.
(Abstracted from the 3rd Edition of Fiqh al-Imamdue out in mid-June insha Allah).
And Allah knows best.
Abdurrahman ibn Yusuf