Fatwa ID: 87732
Title: Combining prayers due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic
Category: Prayer
Scholar: AMJA Resident Fatwa Committee
Date: 03/23/2020


Is it allowed to combine prayers due to Coronavirus pandemic?


In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Grantor of Mercy

All praise is due to Allah and may His peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah. 

The issue of combining prayers is a matter about which the scholars have differed. Some legal schools are more restricting in this regard, such as the Hanafis, and others are more flexible, such as the Hanbalis. The majority of scholars, namely the Mālikis, Shāfi’is, and Hanbalis, agree that it is permissible to combine prayers due to an excuse, while differing over which type of excuse is valid.

A group of scholars mentioned fear as a legitimate excuse to combine prayers. This is the position of the Mālikis, Hanbalis, and some Shāfi’is. They used as proof that which was narrated in Saheeh Muslim from Sa‘eed ibn Jubayr from Ibn Abbās (may Allah be pleased with them), who said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) performed the noon and afternoon prayers together in Madinah without being in a state of fear or on a journey. Abu al-Zubayr said: I asked Sa‘eed why he did that. He replied: I asked Ibn Abbas as you have asked me, and he replied that he [the Prophet] wanted that no one among his Ummah should be put to [unnecessary] hardship.

This indicates that during their time fear was a legitimate excuse to combine prayers, or else Ibn Abbās (may Allah be pleased with him) would not have mentioned it. Similarly, this hadith clarifies the reason that allows for combining prayers: alleviating hardship due to a need, as was mentioned by Ibn Abbās.

Among those who allowed combining prayers due to a need were Ibn Seereen and Ibn al-Mundhir, as long as one does not make it a habit. This was also chosen by Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah from the Hanbalis.  He said: “The most flexible of the madhhabs with regard to combining prayers is the madhhab of Imam Ahmad, for he stated that it is allowed to combine due to hardship and work…”(Majmoo’ al-Fatāwā, 24/30).

Based on this, if joining prayers is a means to limiting the spread of infection amongst people, as well as a means for people to get the reward for congregational prayer -- since in some countries/locations there are restrictions from going out at night or limitations to the number of congregants -- then there is no problem with combining prayers in the mosque. Similarly, if there is a curfew in a country/location and combining prayers will allow people to get the reward of congregational prayer, or combining prayers will alleviate the hardship of moving about, or there is fear about coming to the masjid, then they can join prayers.

If there is no apparent need or preponderant benefit to combining prayers, people can pray at home on time and they will be excused from attending the congregation. Prayers are not to be combined except in the mosque.

And Allah knows best.

Related fatawa: 22010, 77520