What is prohibited in Islam is the joining of all five prayers at one time. You cannot do that. You cannot do that. Some people wait until the end of the day and pray them altogether. No. You have to pray in the times that the fuqaha have allowed for in the joining of the times. [This should not be an excuse for people to say, "Oh great! The shaykh just gave me a fatwa, and now I don't need to worry." He is talking about situations that are really difficult for people. He is not just saying go out and do what you want. No. You know your deen is your most important thing that you have; and your prayer is the most important thing in your deen after your tauheed; and whoever does not guard the prayer has not guarded his deen. The prayer has times, and they are prescribed times. But what the shaykh is saying simply is there are situations where people really do have a difficult time, and the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, in a sahih hadith in Bukhari according to Ibn 'Abbas, radi Allahu 'anhu, joined the prayers. They said to Ibn 'Abbas, "Why did he do that?" He replied, "So that his ummah would not have difficulty and feel bad about doing this later," and he said, "the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, was concerned about even the last of his ummah." The Messenger, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, in a hadith, said, "Ikhwaani, ikhwaani: my brothers, my brothers!" at the Kabah, and Abu Dar, radi Allahu 'anhu, said, "Aren't we your brothers?" But he replied, "No, you're my sahaba (companions)." He said, "My brothers come after me. They believe in me and they've never seen me."]
[The shaykh had given me permission to add anything that I had thought was important, so he just reiterated what I had added about the importance of prayer.] You should not make the joining of your prayer a norm, but in certain excruciating circumstances, that is a valid position which is recognized, and it becomes an option for people having difficulty. Another thing to remember is the importance of your neighbors. Your neighbor has rights over you. These rights are inclusive of the Jewish, Christian, and other neighbors you may have. There are many examples of that, but a story that comes to my mind is that of Abu Hanifa, radi Allahu 'anhu, who is called imam al-'aadham: the greatest imam.
It is well known that Abu Hanifa, radi Allahu 'anhu, did tahajjut every night. He would spend his night reciting the Quran. He had a neighbor who was an alcoholic, and he used to drink a lot and sing love poems. This used to bother the imam. But one day, the imam did not hear this man's revelry, so he went and asked about him. They said, "Oh, so-and-so. They took him to jail." So, the very well respected imam went to the jail. He was the most respected imam and qaadi at the time in that place. When the ruler found out the imam went to the jail, he asked for the reason and was told that the imam was concerned about his neighbor who had been arrested. So, the ruler said to release the man, and he was released. The neighbor then asked Abu Hanifa why he did that, and he replied, "Because you have a right upon me as a neighbor, and I have not been neglectful of that." That was the reason that the neighbor made tauba to Allah subhaana wa ta'aala.
Next, there is another subject that may be a little difficult for some people to understand, even for some people of knowledge, but I am not in any way claiming to have more knowledge than those people, and I am certain there are people who have come here who have greater knowledge than me. This subject concerns the difference between ahlu l-dhimma and ahlu l-'aahad. Ahlu l-dhimma are people who are in a minority status in the Muslim lands. Ahlu l-'aahad are Muslim people in minority status in non-Muslim lands. Each of these groups has different rules that apply to it. In relation to the people of 'aahad, there are things that we have to understand. [The shaykh explained that he is giving you his personal opinion, and it is the amaanah (trust) of the translator to relate that.] I feel it is important that people are concerned with political candidates in this country. If we support the candidates who are known to have positive attitudes towards the Muslims and who are supportive of Muslim causes and even those who are just better people than the opposing candidates, in the usooli knowledge, this would be considered taking the lesser of two evils. In a non-Muslim situation, voting and not voting are both not good situations, but as a community that does not engage themselves and yet is affected by the political instruments, the lack of participation can end up being a greater evil than the participation itself. This is something that has to be looked at and balanced. In my opinion, it is probably a greater evil not to be participating at all and to simply be disengaged from the process. So, as Muslims, people should come together as one hand and create blocks to where they can try to have some influence to the best of their ability.
Finally, I ask that Allah subhaana wa ta'aala, in sha' Allah, gives me taufiq in what I have said and that I have not said anything inappropriate. I ask that that it benefits me and also benefits you in sha' Allah. [Then the shaykh made a du'ah that Allah subhaana wa ta'aala, in sha' Allah, accept this from us and give us taufiq. Jazakum Allahu khairan.]
About Shaykh Abdallah
Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, hafidhu Allah, is an extremely well-known and well-respected scholar amongst scholars. In fact, he is a scholars' scholar since many of his students are actually considered scholars now in the Muslim world. His students study extremely difficult texts with him that even very well qualified scholars are not capable of understanding with any facility. Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah grew up in one of the eastern provinces in West Africa in Mauritania. From a very young age, he showed extreme gifts intellectually and a profound ability to absorb a lot of information and a lot of the text. During his studies, he memorised an extraordinary number of texts. Then, at a very early age, he was appointed with a group of people to study legal judgements in Tunis and went there for a period of time. When he returned to Mauritania, he became a minister of education and later, a minister of justice. He was also one of the vice-presidents of the first president of Mauritania. However, due to the conditions in Mauritania and the military change of governments that took place, he began to teach, and he ended up going to Saudi Arabia and becoming a distinguished professor at The University of Usul al-Fiqh. The shaykh is presently involved in several organizations in the Muslim world, such as the organization which is known as Al Majma' al-Fiqhi, which is comprised of a body of scholars that come together from all over the Muslim world and from all the different madhhabs and different viewpoints; they analyze and study a lot of the modern issues to come up with Islamic solutions to the issues confronting modern Muslims in the modern world. Shaykh Abdallah is also involved in writing. He has written several books and has delivered lectures all over the world. He has expertise in a lot of areas that have been unfortunately ignored by the vast amount of contemporary scholars. One of the areas of expertise that he has is in what is know as fiqh al-aqaliyaat which is the fiqh or juristic rulings related to Muslims living as a religious minority with a dominant alien territory. Because the Muslims tended to prefer hijra to countries where Muslims were the majority, there are not a lot of scholars that work in the area of dealing with how Muslims in minority areas should actually live their lives and how they should behave when confronted with issues that often are in contradistinction to their din.