Answered by Shaykh Arsalan Haque
Question: In the Shafi’i maddhab can Zuhr/Asr and Maghrib/Isha be combined in the mosque by the group after a heavy snow fall which makes driving dangerous, or would it require actively falling snow and what amount of snow falling qualifies?
Answer: Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullah,
It is permissible (though disliked) in our school to combine Zuhr (or Jumu`ah) with Asr, and Maghrib with Isha, due to rain, snow, or hail, as long as the following conditions are met:
a. the prayers are offered in congregation;
b. the prayers are combined during the time of the first prayer;
c. attending the congregation poses a hardship, because the place is far, and one does not find shelter from the rain on the path;
d. the rain is heavy enough to soak one’s clothes, or, in the case of snow or hail, they melt and soak one’s clothes;
e. rain, snow or hail is falling at the commencement of both prayers, upon finishing the first prayer, and between the two prayers;
f. the two prayers are offered in their proper sequence (Zuhr before Asr, Maghrib before Isha);
g. one intends to combine prayers during the first prayer (preferably upon its commencement); and
h. the second prayer is offered immediately after the first without delay.
Based on ‘e’ above, it is not permissible to combine prayers when snow is present on the roads, if snow is not actually falling from the sky when the prayers are offered. However, in such conditions, one is excused from attending the congregational prayer, and permitted to pray alone at home without any dislike [karaha].
Imam al-Nawawi states in Minhaj al-Talibeen, “It is permissible to combine prayers due to rain [or even light showers so long as they would soak one's clothing] at the time of the earlier prayer … The condition for combining is that it be raining at the commencement of both prayers, and at the closing supplications of the second prayer. Snow and hail are treated just like rain if they melt … The dispensation is restricted to the one who prays in congregation at a [place] that is far enough that rain on one’s path would present a hardship.”
He also says, “There is no dispensation to leave the congregational prayer, even if we say that it is merely recommended [sunnah], except due to a legitimate excuse.” Dangerous road conditions are considered a legitimate excuse, inshaAllah.
And Allah knows best.