Can we join Dhuhr and Asr prayers?

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Question: Did the Prophet and the Imams (PBUT) combine the Dhuhr and Asr prayers? Why do the Sunnis perform the Asr prayer at Asr time? Is it not preferred for us (Shias) to act as they do?

Answer:

The Shia school of thought holds that Dhuhr and Asr prayers can be prayed consecutively at Dhuhr time while observing their respective orders—meaning that there is no problem in praying Dhuhr and Asr consecutively, just as with Maghrib and Isha.

The Sunni school of thought’s reasoning is that according to hadith, the Prophet (PBUH) would put distance between the Dhuhr and Asr prayers. However, according to the Shia this is a tradition and performed tradition cannot be used to establish that the act is obligatory, because when the infallibles practice something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is wajib; it can mean that it is wajib, mustahabb (recommended) or just simply permissible. To say that something they have done is wajib calls for a separate reason than just the fact that they did it

The Shiah school agrees with the Sunni school on the fact that it is better to pray these two prayers separately, but they also have evidence indicating that the Prophet combined the Dhuhr and Asr prayers.

Some of the Sunni narrations regarding this matter are as follows:

Ibn Abbas has said: the Prophet of Islam prayed seven rak’at together and also prayed eight rak’at together.

Saeed ibn Jubayr has quoted Ibn Abbas as saying: The Prophet of Islam, without being in a state of danger or a state of travel, prayed Dhuhr and Asr and Maghrib and Isha together. He asked Ibn Abbas about the wisdom behind combining the prayers, which he answered: The Prophet wanted there to be no hardship and difficulty for his followers.

In a narration, the reason why the Prophet combined the two prayers was inquired, to which Ibn Abbas replied: The Prophet has done this for ease and discount on his nation. Malek and Ahmad ibn Hanbal have recorded these narrations in their books as well.

In addition to these, there are many narrations by the Imams (PBUH) in this regard.

Imam Sadeq (PBUH) has said: “When the sun begins its decline at midday, the time for the Dhuhr and Asr prayers has come, except that the Dhuhr prayer is before the Asr prayer.

There is no doubt that the Prophet of Islam would perform the prayers at three times and would say: “I do this so that my nation can be comfortable.” Imam Sadeq (PBUH) has stated in this regard: “The Prophet of God (PBUH) performed Dhuhr and Asr and Maghrib and Isha with one Adhan and two Iqamah, without having an excuse.”

Imam Sadeq (PBUH) elsewhere has stated: “The Prophet of God, absent an excuse, prayed Dhuhr and Asr at one time. Umar asked the Prophet: Has something new been found in prayer? The Prophet (PBUH) replied: “No, nothing new has come regarding prayer, however I wanted to provide my nation with ease.”

In conclusion it is important to note that based on these proofs Shia scholars only attest to the permissibility of establishing prayers three times a day. Otherwise, there is no argument against praying five times a day being better and we are well aware of this. The permissibility of praying three times a day does not mean that it is obligatory to pray three times a day.

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