Answered by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, SunniPath Academy Teacher
If someone trying to follow the Shafi’i madhab lives near a predominantly Hanafi masjid where they delay ‘Asr, is it better to pray alone as soon as ‘Asr starts or is it better to wait and join the jamaa?
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
wa ‘alaykum as salam wa rahmatullah
The general rule is that it is best to pray the obligatory prayers at the first of their times. There are about forty exceptions to this rule, as mentioned in Sharawani’s Hashiyah, and among them is someone who is certain of obtaining a group prayer later on during the prayer time, even if it means delaying the prayer to the very end of the time such that only enough time remains to perform the prayer.
The optimum way to tackle the situation, however, is to pray the obligatory prayer at the first of its time at home and then repeat it with the group in the mosque when they pray. If one wants to confine oneself to one prayer, one just delays the prayer and prays it with the group.
(Tuhfa + Hashiya)
And Allah knows best.