In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
While you are not allowed to combine Asr and Maghrib, you can, however, combine Zhuhr and Asr in this case.
I would urge you to do so if you have any reasonable doubt that you would not be able to make it home before the expiry of time for Asr. So have no guilt feeling about combining Zhuhr and Asr in this case.
Pray Asr as soon as you have finished praying Zhuhr. While doing so, make the intention to combine the two prayers. While stating this, I must caution you against making it a habit by doing it under normal circumstances.
While mentioning the permissibility of combining prayers, it is important to know that we are not allowed to combine Fajr with Zhuhr, or Asr with Maghrib or Isha with Fajr; rather we are allowed only to combine Zhuhr with Asr (by praying both of them either at the time of the first Prayer or at the time of the second one).
Likewise, we are allowed to combine Maghrib with Isha (by praying them both either at the time of the first or the second).
The permissibility of combining Prayers—besides travel, rain, snow storm, sickness, or war—extends to exceptional circumstances as well. Certain obvious examples are: When one is stuck in a traffic jam, or a surgeon is performing an operation lasting hours, or a person is working in an assembly line and cannot leave his job in time for each prayer, et cetera.
In such circumstances, one is allowed to combine the prayers in the order we have described.
This ruling is based on a report from Ibn Abbas that states that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) combined Zhuhr and Asr, and Maghrib and Isha without any reason of war or sickness, or rain, etc.; when he was asked why he had done so, he replied, “He did so in order not cause undue hardship on his people.”
In other words, he did so in order to teach us that we are allowed to do so in exceptional circumstances.
Let me conclude by saying: Don’t delay Asr until Maghrib; rather pray it after Zhuhr, but don’t do so while sitting comfortably at home.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.