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Ahadiths from 1628 to 1637 mention combining prayers in Sahih Muslim.

I saw scholars on Huda TV and other places discuss some of these ahadiths, but I never heard of sahih muslim 1636 before:

'Abdullah b. Shaqiq reported: Ibn 'Abbas one day addressed us in the afternoon (after the afternoon prayer) till the sun disappeared and the stars appeared, and the people began to say: Prayer, prayer. A person from Banu Tamim came there. He neither slackened nor turned away, but (continued crying): Prayer, prayer. Ibn 'Abbas said: May you be deprived of your mother, do you teach me Sunnah? And then he said: I saw the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) combining the noon and afternoon prayers and the sunset and 'Isha' prayers. 'Abdullah b. Shaqiq said: Some doubt was created in my mind about it. So I came to Abu Huraira and asked him (about it) and he testified his assertion. (See also here)

Recently someone told me of this hadith. They made a convincing case for why combining Zhur and Asr prayers and Magrib and Isha prayers is allowed.

However, As a sunni muslim, I wanted to ask if sunni scholars have addressed this hadith and it may have other meanings than the surface level meaning a laymen like me can derive.

Surely this is such an important thing, so Imam Muslim and others would have talked about this hadith and made it clear to the muslim community.

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  • Salam and welcome to IslamSE the Q&A site about Islam. To learn more about our site and model consider taking the tour and checking our help center. The hadith was arranged within a chapter called:"Chapter: Joining two prayers when not traveling". And this is the acknowledged majority view among sunni scholars, only the hanafi school of fiqh rejects joining prayers and accepts it only for the case of people performing hajj staying at Muzdalifa (on the day of 'Arafat) and they regard shortening prayers for a traveler as wajib not sunnah or permissible.
    – Medi1Saif
    Mar 24, 2023 at 10:17

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In short they explain such ahadith as follows:

  • It was because of a valid excuse (such as travel, illness, rain or fear). Note that the majority of the madhabs allow for combining prayers due to one or more of these excuses. And everyone agrees on combining prayers in Hajj at Arafat and Muzdalifa.

  • It was جمع صوري which is virtually combining prayers without doing it in reality. This is done by performing one prayer at the end of its time and the second prayer at the beginning of its time - which is permissible by agreement since both prayers are offered within their allowed times, they are just offered close to one another which gives the impression that they have been combined.

  • It was because of some need (other than the above excuses). According to a small minority of the scholars combing prayers because of a need is permissible even if it is not among the prescribed list of excuses. However it must not be made a habit.

As for combining prayers without a valid excuse, then a majority of the madhabs do not allow it. That is because offering prayers at their ordained times is proven from tawatur:

إن الصلاة كانت على المؤمنين كتابا موقوتا

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

Quran 4:103

إنما التفريط على من لم يصل الصلاة حتى يجيء وقت الصلاة الأخرى

Negligence is when one does not offer one prayer until the time of the next prayer comes

Muslim and Nasai

كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يصلي الصلاة لوقتها إلا بجمع وعرفات

The Messenger of Allah used to offer prayers at their proper time except in Jam' (Al-Muzdalifah) and Arafat.

Nasai, Bukhari, Muslim

While the ahadith on combining in the question are ahad and even if they are accepted they can be reconciled by alternate interpretations as above.

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