The Muslims are unanimously agreed that the five daily prayers are set according to the well-known times that have been generally mentioned in the Qur'an and specified in detail by the Sunnah. The Jurists are agreed that the best time to pray the prayer is at the beginning of the time for each prayer. However, some of them recommended that the .individual delay the prayer in hopes of attaining the congregational prayer, in order for him to gain its excellence.
Al-Bukhari reports from Muhammad bin Amr bin al-Hasan bin Ali that, "The pilgrims went to Madinah and we asked Jaabir bin Abdullaah about the times of the prayers and he replied,
The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to pray Dhuhur at midday, ‘Asr when the sun was still hot, Maghrib (after the sun had set) as it has been obligated. Ishaa was offered early if a lot of people had gathered but late if only a few had gathered. Fajr was offered when it was still dark and the dawn was about to break.’
Ibn Daqeeq al-Eid, may Allah have mercy upon him, said, "When a person is presented with two options, one of them being to pray individually at the beginning of the time and the other being to delay praying so that he may pray with the congregation, which is better? The most correct opinion in my view is that delaying until one prays in congregation is better and the hadeeth mentioned here proves this due to his saying:
'And when he saw them slow in coming he delayed.' Therefore he delayed praying in congregation despite having ability to pray early. [The congregation is more important] also because of the severe threat of leaving the congregational prayer and the encouragement towards performing it being clearly stated in the authentic ahadeeth. The virtue of praying the prayer early is mentioned in the texts in order to encourage performing it but there is no threat mentioned if one were to delay it as there is mentioned for missing the congregational prayer. All that has been mentioned is proof for waiting for the congregational prayer rather than praying individually at the earlier time." 
"Meaning that praying in congregation, even if it be at the end of the time for that prayer is better than praying it individually at the beginning of its time."  This does not contradict what al-Bukhari and Muslim report with regards the excellence of praying at the beginning of its time, it being among the best of deeds and it being beloved to Allah.
The Texts That Occur with Respect to This Issue
Ibn Mas'ud said,
"I asked the Prophet (peace be upon him), 'Which action is most beloved to Allah?' He replied, 'Performing the prayer at its time (alaa waqtihaa).' I asked, 'Then which one?' He replied, 'Good treatment to parents.' I asked, 'Then which one?' He replied, 'Jihaad in the Way of Allah.' The Messenger of Allah told me these and if I had asked further he would have replied further."
There is nothing in this hadeeth that would make one understand that praying at the beginning of the time is better than praying at the end and there is nothing in this hadeeth that would dictate the need of praying at the beginning or end of the time. This is because his saying "at its time" means praying at any time that falls within its time.  Similarly, the recommendation for delaying for the purpose of praying in congregation is not contradicted by his saying, "Prayer at its time (li waqtihaa)" for there is no strong indication here mentioning the beginning period of the prayer.
AI-Haakim, ibn Khuzaymah and others record the hadith of ibn Mas'ud in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked, "What action is best?" and he replied:
"Prayer at the beginning of its time."  But this hadeeth is from the report of Ali bin Abu Hafsah al-Midaanee about whom ad-Daaruqutnee said, "I do not think that he preserved this properly because he grew old and his memory failed him."  In al-Majmoo Sharh al-Muhadhab, an-Nawawee said that this narration was weak.
Abu Daawood, at-Tirmidhi and al-Haakim, who said it was saheeh, report from the hadeeth of Umm Farwah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
"The best of actions is the prayer prayed at the beginning of its time." The chain to this hadeeth contains an unknown narrator.
Therefore, these ahadeeth do not lend evidence to it being better to pray individually at the beginning of the time for prayer rather than delaying for the purpose of praying in congregation. Such was also concluded by an-Nawawee.
What is Exempted From the Virtue of the Beginning Time
The following cases are exempted from the general rule of trying to pray a prayer early in its time: The one who needs to go to the toilet, when the food has been served and one craves it, the one who has performed tayammum and is certain that he will come across water later, the one who is ill and is not capable of standing at the beginning period but he is sure that he will be able to stand later on, the one who is alone and knows that the congregation will be held later on and so on.
The above opinion is further supported by what al-Bukhari recorded from Abu Musaa al-Ash'aree that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
''The people with the greatest reward are those who have the farthest to walk [to the mosque] and the one who waits for the prayer until he prays it with the Imam"-Muslim adds in his report "in congregation," [al-Bukhari continues,]-"he has greater reward than the one who prays and then goes to sleep."!
 Refer to Qawaneen al-Fiqhhiyyah (p. 43) by ibn al-Juzzayy al-Maalikee and ash-Sharb as-sagheer (1/127) by ad-Dardeer
 saheeh al-Bukhari [Eng. Trans. 1/315 no. 540].
 lhkaam al-Ahkaam (l/134) by ibn Daqeeq al-Eid.
 al-Uddab (2/32-33) by as-Sana' aanee and al-Mabsoot (1/148) by as-Sarkhasee al-Hanafee.
 Sabeeh al-Bukhari [Eng. Trans. 4135 no. 41].
 a1-Uddah Haashiyah al-lhkaam al-Ahkaam (2/134).
 Ihkaam al-Ahkaam (1/134-136).
 al-Haakim (1/188) andibn Khuzaymah (1/169 no. 327).
 al-Uddoh (2/10).
 al-Majmoo' Sbarh al-Mubadhdhab (3/53). [It is true that aI-Nawawl and others have declared this hadith weak. At the same time, others, such asalAlbaani and Abdul Qaadlr aI-Arnaaoot, have raised it tothe level ofbasan. Allah knows best. See, for exampe, Muhammad Naaslr al-Deen aI-Albaani, Sabeeh al Targbeebwa al-Tarheeb (Riyadh: Maktabah aI-Maarlf, 1988), vol. 1, p.231.]
 at-Ta 'keq al-Mugbnee 'aloa Sunan ad-Daaruqutnee (1/247).
 al-Majmoo' (3/60-61). [The point here is that these ahadeeth do not prove that praying the prayer early takes precedence over praying it in a congregation. However, the general recommendation to pray at the beginning of the time remains. - Trans.]
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