Bismillahi Al-Rahmani Al-Rahim

Joining Prayers For the Non-Traveller
More About Joining Between Madhhabs

Assalamu Alaikum,

It is mentioned in the reliance of the traveller taken from al-Fiqh 'ala al-madahib al-arba'a that it is permissible in the Hanbali school to join prayers if someone fears for himself his property or reputation or who fears harm in earning his living if he does not join his his prayers. Is this accurate? This would be helpful in the west as people get in these situations. Is al-Fiqh 'ala al-madahib al-arba'a accurate in accordance e to hanbali fiqh rulings?

You mentioned [...] that sometimes is it to permissable join between madhabs or have a I misunderstood you?

[added from another message by same reader:]

You mentioned the following
It is permissible to follow another school on a particular issue when the other school is superior or equal. It is also permissible when the other school is inferior according to the majority of Hanbalis, the Hanafis, the Malikis, and most Shafi`is.

How can one know what is superior or equal since all the madhabs have there own usul?

wa `alaykum al-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

[joining prayers]
The statement is accurate but incomplete. It is permissible to join between Zuhr and `Asr, and Maghrib and `Isha during the following circumstances, for someone: And it is permissible to join between Maghrib and `Isha, whether praying at home or in the mosque or even when residing in the mosque, in the following conditions: It is better to do whatever is easiest for the group, whether praying it in Maghrib or `Isha; when they are both equal, it is better to delay.

There are additional conditions for praying in the first time and the second time, quite similar to the Shafi`i madhhab.

[See: Nail Al-Ma'arib]

I have not read much from Al-Fiqh `Ala Al-Madhhahib Al-Arba`, but what I remember reading matches the madhhab pretty well. It, like all books of comparative fiqh, has to be used with great care: you cannot simply pick and choose things you might end up combining actions in a way that it impermissible.

[joining madhhabs]
There are three logical possibilities regarding joining between madhhabs: The first two possibilities are extremes, and the third is a middle ground. And each one of these possibilities has an appropriate time and place: But both of the first two cases really violate the whole idea of joining between madhhabs since the layman has no systematic madhhab and can only follow whatever some random scholar tells him, while the mujtahid can only follow his own.  So unless you are at one of the extremes in your knowledge (a layman or an expert), you must follow the third possibility.

As for following the superior and inferior opinion for a given issue, this is obviously going to go back to the general principles one uses for textual interpretation and determining preponderance. Since there are differences the usul al-fiqh used for each madhhab--and even differences within each madhhab--this too will require somehow determining which program of usul is superior.

[strength of evidence]
Just a side note: There are people today who go around with the intention of following only that which appears to be strongest to them. Some of these people actually have some knowledge on which to base their decision, while others are armed with little more than the words "sahih" and "da`if". These people sometimes get upset, asking how such-and-such madhhab could take a certain position given the evidence that they have. What these people do not realize is that the evidence listed in books is not always the same evidence used by the foundational scholars, and that in many cases a dha`if hadith is being used because it is explicit while the actual evidence of the imam is to reconcile between two sahih hadiths, or one of the other sources in usul al-fiqh.

An example of this is how Imam Ahmad determined that liquid human waste renders water filthy even when the water is more than 212 liters. Many later books that include evidence cite a dha`if hadith that is explicit on this ruling, while the Imam himself also proved it by reconciling between two hadiths.

Another example is where the Hanafis and Hanbalis place their hands under the navel (a dha`if hadith) instead of somewhere on the chest (a sahih hadith). What's really obnoxious is when people claiming to be Hanbalis come along and say that the Hanbali madhhab needs to be fixed. Imam Ahmad had three transmitted opinions on this: In Al-Mughni Ibn Qudamah does not even both to give evidence to prove the superiority of the first or second opinion, even though he agrees with the first opinion in Al-`Umdah and other books. In Kashshaf Al-Qina`` Al-Buhuti even indicates that Imam Ahmad considered it makruh to put them on the chest, and that Al-Qadi Abu Ya`la was asked why put them under the navel when that's part of the `awrah and he replied saying that covering the `awrah is more deserving than covering the chest.

You will find that Imam Ahmad and all of these Hanbali scholars after him were fully aware of the hadith of Wa'il bin Hujr (Allah be well pleased with him), yet they still have all said that the official opinion in the madhhab is that it is best to put them under the navel.

In any case, where the hands are put and how are not consider things essential to the soundness of the prayer, and a quick look through the madhhahib shows that the Hanafis have on basic position while the other three madhhabs each have three positions. And as Imam Ahmad said: this is a matter where there is some broadness.

Why people  make such a fuss about this fiqh-ish issue is beyond me. Muslims being exterminated, starved to death, forced to drink sewage water, and orphaned Muslim babies being offered to non-Muslim foster families are all matters of sound and complete iman. May Allah forgive each and every one of us: essential communal obligations simply are not being met while valuable resources are being spent on the non-essential and superfluous.

[See: Masa'il Imam Ahmad: Riwayat Salih, Mukhtasr Al-Khirqi, Al-`Umdah, Al-Mughni, Al-Raudh Al-Murbi`, Kashshaf Al-Qina, Manar Al-Sabil`]

As always: Allah knows best.

wa al-salamu `alaykum