Answered by Ustadh Shuaib Ally
Question: I travel for work and was under the impression that combining the prayers meant performing Dhur and Asr as either 8 cycle of prayer successively or 4 (if shortening) and then performing tasleem. Is this correct? Should I be performing 4 rakats(or 2 when shortening), salam out and then repeat?
I found this hadith in Sahih Muslim:
Book 004, Number 1521:
Ibn ‘Abbas reported: I observed with the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) eight (rak’ahs) in combination, and seven rak’ahs in combination. I (one of the narrators) said: O Abd Sha’tha’, I think that he (the Holy Prophet) had delayed the noon prayer and hastened the afternoon prayer, and he delayed the sunset prayer and hastened the ‘Isha’ prayer. He said: I also think so.
Book 004, Number 1522:
Ibn ‘Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) observed in Medina seven (rak’ahs) and eight (rak’ahs), i. e. (be combined) the noon and afternoon prayers (eight rak’ahs) and the sunset and ‘Isha’ prayers (seven rak’ahs).
There are various permissible scenarios for performing prayer when traveling, in the Shafi’i madhhab:
– Combining without shortening: in your scenario, that would entail performing Dhuhr (four rak’ah) followed immediately by ‘Asr (four rak’ah). Both would then be performed within the time for Dhuhr, or the time for ‘Asr
– Shortening without combining: Dhuhr (two rak’ah) in its time, then ‘Asr (two rak’ah) within its own time period
– Combining and shortening: Dhuhr (two rak’ah) followed immediately by ‘Asr (two rak’ah).
The narrations you mentioned are not related to combining prayers due to travel, but rather have to do with the Prophet (peace be upon him) combining prayers while still in Medina. Scholars have interpreted these narrations in various ways. Imam al-Nawawi, for example, held that the prayers were combined due to illness. Other interpretations include the view that they were combined due to rain, or that the combining was in form only, in that the Dhuhr prayer was performed close to the time of ‘Asr, and the latter was performed as soon as its time began, such that it appeared that the prayers were being combined. Discussion of these interpretative positions can be found in commentaries on the narrations in question.
Sources: Tuhfat al-Muhtaj, al-Hawashi al-Madaniyyah, Sharh al-Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim