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Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

The five obligatory prayers which are the Subuh, Zohor, Asar, Maghrib and Isya’ should be performed in their respective prayer times. This is according to the statement of Allah SWT:

إِنَّ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَـٰبًا مَّوْقُوتًا

“Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times.”

Surah al-NIsa’ (103)

Syeikh Mustafa al-Maraghi said that Allah SWT has sanctioned the obligatory prayers at specific times. This means that this is the ruling set by Allah SWT and this obligation should be fulfilled as early as possible at the specific times. Among the wisdoms is that if there are no set specific times for prayer, then surely, people would leave or neglect the obligation. (Refer Tafsir Al-Maraghi, 5/143-144)

In the hadith narrated by Buraidah, there was a man who asked the Prophet PBUH regarding the specific times of prayer. Thus, the prophet PBUH replied:

صَلِّ مَعَنَا هَذَيْنِ ، يَعْنِي الْيَوْمَيْنِ ، فَلَمَّا زَالَتِ الشَّمْسُ أَمَرَ بِلاَلاً فَأَذَّنَ ، ثُمَّ أَمَرَهُ ، فَأَقَامَ الظُّهْرَ ، ثُمَّ أَمَرَهُ ، فَأَقَامَ الْعَصْرَ وَالشَّمْسُ مُرْتَفِعَةٌ بَيْضَاءُ نَقِيَّةٌ ، ثُمَّ أَمَرَهُ فَأَقَامَ الْمَغْرِبَ حِينَ غَابَتِ الشَّمْسُ ، ثُمَّ أَمَرَهُ فَأَقَامَ الْعِشَاءَ حِينَ غَابَ الشَّفَقُ ، ثُمَّ أَمَرَهُ فَأَقَامَ الْفَجْرَ حِينَ طَلَعَ الْفَجْرَ ، فَلَمَّا أَنْ كَانَ الْيَوْمُ الثَّانِي أَمَرَهُ فَأَبْرَدَ بِالظُّهْرِ ، فَأَبْرَدَ بِهَا ، فَأَنْعَمَ أَنْ يُبْرِدَ بِهَا ، وَصَلَّى الْعَصْرَ وَالشَّمْسُ مُرْتَفِعَةٌ أَخَّرَهَا فَوْقَ الَّذِي كَانَ ، وَصَلَّى الْمَغْرِبَ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَغِيبَ الشَّفَقُ ، وَصَلَّى الْعِشَاءَ بَعْدَ مَا ذَهَبَ ثُلُثُ اللَّيْلِ ، وَصَلَّى الْفَجْرَ فَأَسْفَرَ بِهَا ، ثُمَّ قَالَ : أَيْنَ السَّائِلُ عَنْ وَقْتِ الصَّلاَةِ ؟ فَقَالَ الرَّجُلُ : أَنَا ، يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ ، قَالَ : وَقْتُ صَلاَتِكُمْ بَيْنَ مَا رَأَيْتُمْ

“Pray with us these two, meaning two days. When the sun passed the meridian, he gave command to Bilal who uttered the call to prayer. Then he commanded him and pronounced Iqama for noon prayer (Then at the time of the afternoon prayer) he again commanded and Iqama for the afternoon prayer was pronounced when the sun was high, white and clear. He then commanded and Iqama for the evening prayer was pronounced, when the sun had set. He then commanded him and the Iqama for the night prayer was pronounced when the twilight had disappeared. He then commanded him and the Iqama for the morning prayer was pronounced, when the dawn had appeared. When it was the next day, he commanded him to delay the noon prayer till the extreme heat had passed and he did so, and he allowed it to be delayed till the extreme heat had passed. He observed the afternoon prayer when the sun was high, delaying it beyond the time he had previously observed it. He observed the evening prayer before the twilight had vanished; he observed the night prayer when a third of the night had passed; and he observed the dawn prayer when there was clear daylight. He (the Holy Prophet) then said: Where is the man who inquired about the time of prayer? He (the inquirer) said: Messenger of Allah, here I am. He (the Holy Prophet) said: The time for your prayer is within the limits of what you have seen.”

Sahih Muslim (1334)

This means that if the prayer is performed not according to the specific time, then it is invalid even if it fulfils all the other requisites. The reason is among the obligatory valid conditions of prayer is it is performed during its specific time. If it is performed before the time for prayer starts, then the prayer is invalid.

Among the facilitation (rukhsah) Allah SWT has given for this ummah is that it is permissible to jamak two obligatory prayers in certain situations such as when a person is travelling, sick, when it is raining heavily and others. This is based on the statement of Allah SWT in the Quran. Allah SWT states:

وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِى ٱلدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ

“…and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty.” 

Surah al-Hajj (78)

The same is stated in another verse of the Quran:

يرِيدُ ٱللَّـهُ بِكُمُ ٱلْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ ٱلْعُسْرَ

“Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship,”

Surah al-Baqarah (185)

Coming back to the main issue, jamak means assembling or joining two prayers in one prayer time. It is either combining the Zohor and Asar prayers or Maghrib and Isya’ prayers. Imam al-Nawawi said:

In our madhhab (madhhab al-Syafie) it is permissible to jamak Zohor and Asar prayers or Maghrib and Isya’ prayer at either time that he prefers. This is also what has been agreed by scholars.” (Refer Al-Majmu’ Syarh Al-Muhazzab , 4/249)

Basically, in madhhab al-Syafie, jamak of two prayers are permissible for three reasons:

  • Travel
  • Heavy rain
  • On the day of Arafah

(Refer Minhaj Al-Tolibin Wa ‘Umdah Al-Muftin, 1/ 417-423)

This is the final opinion in madhhab al-Syafie regarding the reasons that make it permissible to jamak one’s prayers. However, some scholars of madhhab al-Syafie and jurists ruled it permissible to jamak the prayers for other reasons that has been stated above if there is a necessity.

In a hadith narrated from Ibnu Abbas RA, he said:

جَمَعَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بَيْنَ الظُّهْرِ وَالعَصْرِ ، وَبَيْنَ الْمَغْرِبِ وَالعِشَاءِ بِالمَدِينَةِ مِنْ غَيْرِ خَوْفٍ وَلاَ مَطَرٍ ، قَالَ : فَقِيلَ لاِبْنِ عَبَّاسٍ : مَا أَرَادَ بِذَلِكَ ؟ قَالَ : أَرَادَ أَنْ لاَ يُحْرِجَ أُمَّتَهُ

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) combined the noon and afternoon prayers, and the sunset and night prayers at Medina without any danger and rain. He was asked: “What did he intend by it?” He replied: “He intended that his community might not fall into hardship.”

Sunan al-Tirmizi (187) and Sunan al-Nasaie (1574)

Syeikh Abdurrahman al-Mubarakfuri said that whoever has a valid excuse, then it is permissible for him to jamak his prayers. And whoever has an excuse but refuses to jamak his prayers and this led to him missing his prayers, then without a doubt he is sinful. (Refer Tuhfah Al-Ahwazi Syarah Jami’ Al-Tirmizi, 2/205)

It can be understood from the above hadith that if a person has a valid excuse or a desperate need, then it is prioritized for him to jamak his prayer.

Imam al-Nawawi cited the opinion of several scholars from madhhab al-Syafi’e such as Al-Qadhi Husain, Abu Sulaiman Al-Khattabi, Al-Ruyani, Abu Qasim Al-Rafi’i and others. They state that it is permissible to jamak one’s prayer if he fears for himself or is sick. It can be performed either through taqdim or ta’khir. This choice is given for those who are in involved in or experience something that prevented them from praying. Furthermore, fearful situations are prioritized compared to heavy rain. (Refer Al-Majmu’ Syarh Al-Muhazzab, 4/263)

Imam Abdullah al-Kharasyi al-Maliki stated that jamak is not only for travellers but in any situation that would burden a person to perform ablution and pray in the prayer time. Especially if a person in a situation that would make it harder for him compared to a person who is travelling or if there is heavy rain. (Refer Syarh Mukhtasar Khalil, 5/120)

For madhhab Hanbali the reason of the permissibility of jamak is wider. Syeikh Dr Wahbah al-Zuhaili listed 8 reasons that make jamak permissible according to madhhab Hanbali. Among the listed reasons is when a person is involved in an important matter of which if he does not jamak his prayer then it would lead to greater harm. (Refer Al-Fiqh Al-Islami Wa Adillatuhu, 2/510)

Ibnu Qudamah said:

We have agreed that prayer cannot be jamak unless with an excuse (need/debilitation).” (Refer Al-Syarh Al-Kabir ‘Ala Al-Muqni’ , 2/116)

He further said, it is permissible to jamak the prayers if there is a necessity and it should not be considered as a custom. He based this opinion with the hadith narrated by Ibnu Abbas. (Refer Al-Mughni, 2/121)

Syeikh Abdurrahman al-‘Asimi al-Najdi states, it is permissible to jamak one’s prayers if there is an excuse and necessity such as an important task that if the task is left then it would result to a great harm. (See Hasyiah Al-Raudh Al-Murbi’ , 2/401)

Especially if the task involves human lives, of which he cannot easily just leave his task such as medical personnel in charge of the COVID-19 cases. It is prioritized for him to jamak his prayers to avoid completely leaving his prayers.

In another hadith, the Prophet PBUH said:

مَنْ جَمَعَ بَيْنَ الصَّلَاتَيْنِ مِنْ غَيْرِ عُذْرٍ فَقَدْ أَتَى بَابًا مِنْ أَبْوَابِ الْكَبَائِ

"Whoever combines two prayers without any excuse then he has committed something from the major sins."

Sunan al-Tirmizi (188)

Imam al-Tirmizi said the sanad of this hadith is weak according to hadith scholars, however, it is applied by jurists. Thus, according to this hadith, it is not wrong to jamak two prayers when there is a necessity or excuse. Hence, in our opinion there is a need for medical personnel in charge of the COVID-19 cases to jamak their prayers, for it is an important task and cannot be left because it would result in a greater harm. This is considered as a permissible excuse for them to jamak their prayers.

This is also in accordance with the Islamic legal maxim:

المشَقَّة تَجْلِبُ التَّيْسِيَر

“Burden and difficulty bring about ease.”

To conclude, it is permissible for medical personnel who are involve as front liners in managing the COVID-19 pandemic to jamak their prayers especially in public places such as hospitals and others. This is considering the opinion of some jurists of madhhab al-Syafi’e and Hanbali which state its permissibility when a person has an excuse or important task.

However, there are guidelines for the jamak prayer that should be followed:

  • The shift must cover both prayer times, of which if it is impermissible to perform jamak then one of the prayers would be missed;
  • There are no other shifts available;
  • There is a restriction against taking off the PPE (personal protective equipment) during the shift
  • Perform jamak taqdim if the shift continues until the second time of prayer;
  • Perform jamak ta’khir if the shift starts before the first prayer time and ends after the second prayer time begins;
  • It is only permissible to perform jamak tamam which means each prayer is performed in full without qasar. The reason is qasar which means shortening of four rakaat prayers to two rakaat is only permissible during travels.

May Allah SWT protect us from this pandemic and let’s increase our supplication to Allah SWT asking Him to get rid of this pandemic. May Allah SWT rewards those who are directly involved in managing this COVID-19 pandemic. Wallahua’lam.