Shortening prayers in travel is a concession that Allah has granted Muslims to make worship easier. Almighty Allah is Most Gracious, Most Merciful says:
"And when you go forth in the land there is no sin upon you, if you shorten your prayer when you fear the disbelievers may attack you." (Q4[Nisa']:101)
However, this concession is not limited to situations of danger only. Ya'ia ibn Umaiyyah said: “I said to 'Umar ibn al-Khattab: 'Explain to me why the people shorten the salaah when Allah says,
'And when you go forth ...[the preceding verse] and those days are gone now!' 'Umar (RA)said: 'I wondered about that too, and I mentioned that to the Prophet and he said: "This is charity that Allaah, the Exalted, has bestowed upon you, so accept.His charity” (Abu Dawud)
At-Tabari records that Abu Munib AI-Jarshi mentioned this verse to Ibn 'Umar and said: 'We are safe now and are not in fear, should we, then, shorten the salaah?" He answered him: "You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct)."
The issue was also referred to 'Aishah and she said: "The salaah was made fard in Makkah in sets of two raka'ah. When the Prophet (sallaallahu alayhi wasallam) came to Madeenah, two raka'ah were added to each salaah except the Maghrib Salaah because it is the Witr of the daytime, and the dawn prayer due to its lengthy Qur'anic recital. But if one travels, he performs the original prayer [i.e., only two raka'ah].” (Ahmad, al-Baihaqi, Its narrators are trustworthy).
Ibn al-Qayyim (RA) says:
“The Prophet would pray only two raka’ah for those prayers which consisted of four, whenever he travelled until he, returned to Madeenah. And it is not confirmed that he ever prayed four raka'ah [while travelling],and none of the imams differ on this point, although they do differ about the ruling of shortening the salaah."
Umar, A1i,Ibn Mas'ud, ibn 'Abbas, ibn 'Umar, Jabir and the Hanafi scholars say that it is fard(compulsory) to shorten the prayer on a journey. The Maliki School holds that it is Sunnah, Mu'akadah (a stressed Sunnah); it is even more emphasized than the congregational salaah. Thus, if the traveller cannot find another traveller to lead him in the salaah, he' may pray by himself as it is disliked that he should follow one who ,is a resident' [i.e., and pray four raka'ah] according to the Malikis chool.
The Hanbali School holds that it is preferred for the person to shorten the prayer rather than to pray the complete salaah. The Shafi'ee school has a similar opinion, if the person has travelled sufficient distance (two marhalah which is approximately 56 miles or 89 kilometres)
The distance one must travel before shortening one ‘sprayer
The conclusion from the Qur'anic verse is that any travelling, be it long or short, which falls within the linguistic definition of the word "travel" would suffice to shorten one's salaah, to combine them and to break the fast. There is nothing in the Sunnah which confines this general term to any particular meaning. Ibn AI-Mundhir and others have mentioned more than twenty reports on this point. Here we shall mention some of the more important reports.
Ahmad, Muslim, Abu Dawud, and al-Baihaqi record that Yahya ibn Y'azid said: "I asked Anas ibn Malik(RA) about shortening the prayer, and he said: 'The Messenger of Allaah would pray two raka'ah if he had travelled a distance of three miles or Farsakh." Ibn Hajar (RAH) writes in Fath al-Bari: "This is the most authentic hadith which states and clarifies [that question]."
The conflict between mile and Farsakh is made clear in Abu Sa'idal-Khudri's statement: "If the Prophet travelled a distance of one Farsakh, he would shorten his prayer." (at-Talkhis)
It is well-known that a Farsakh equals three miles and, therefore, Abu Sa'id's hadith removes the confusion which arises from Anas ‘hadith when he says that the shortest distance, due to which the Prophet shortened his prayer, was three miles. One Farsakh is equivalent to 5,541 meters while one mile equals 1,748 meters.
The shortest distance which has been mentioned with respect to the shortening of Salaah is one mile. This was recorded by Ibn Abi Shaibah, with a Sahih chain, on the authority of Ibn 'Umar. Ibn Hazm follows this report, and argues that if the distance is less than one mile, one is not to shorten the Salaah. The Messenger of Allaah (sallaallahualayhi wa sallam) went to the graveyard of al-Baqi' to bury the dead and (similarly) he went off to answer the call of nature and did not shorten his salaah.
According to the Shafi'e school, if the person has travelled a sufficient distance (two marhalah which is approximately 56 M or 89 KM) he is permissible to shorten his prayer.
Any Journey one do
Concerning what some jurists say, namely, that the journey must be at least two days long or as some say three days, Imam Abu AI-Qasim AI-Kharqi's refutation of their opinion is sufficient for us. In al-Mughni he says: 'I do not find any proof for what those scholars say. The statements of the (Shaba) companions are contradictory, and they are not a (conclusive) proof if they differ.
Something has been related from Ibn 'Umar and Ibn 'Abbas which differs from what these scholars use as proof. Even if that were not the case, their statements do not constitute a proof when statement or action of the Prophet himself exists. Even if their statements were accepted, we would not be able to follow the distance they mentioned due to the following two reasons:
One, they differ from the Sunnah that has been related from the Prophet and from the clear meaning of the Qur'an, as the clear meaning of the verse allows one to shorten one's salaah if one makes any journey upon the earth. Allaah says: "If you journey on the earth, there is no blame upon you if you shorten your prayer." The condition of there being fear has-been deleted as can be seen in the hadith we recorded from Ya'ia ibnUmayyah, and what remains is the clear meaning of the verse which covers every type of journey.
Two, the question of the distance to be travelled is one that may only be answered by some sort of revelation from Allaah, the Exalted [the Qur'an or Sunnah]; it is not the type of issue which one may address on the basis of personal reasoning. The proofs which exist support the opinion that shortening the salaah is permissible for every traveller, unless there is some consensus to the contrary."
Similar to that is the travelling by planes, trains, and so forth, or a trip that is in obedience 'to Allah, the Exalted, or otherwise. Fisheries someone whose occupation requires him to always be traveling, for instance, a pilot, a ship captain, truck driver, and soon, then he is permitted to shorten his salaah or break his fasts he is truly travelling.
When may one shorten one’s salaah
The majority of the scholars are of the opinion that it is permissible to shorten one's salaah when one leaves one's residence and' is outside of one's city, and that is a condition, and he is not to resume his regular salaah until he reaches the first houses of his city. Ibn al-Mundhir says: "I do not know of the Prophet shortening his salaah during any of his travels until after he had left Madeenah." Anas (RA)relates:
"I prayed four raka'ah at Dhul Hulayfah." (Abu Dawud)
When is the traveller to pray his salaah in full?
A traveller may shorten his salaah as long as he is on a journey. Likewise if he stays in some place for business or some other affair, then he may shorten his salaah along as he is there, even for years. If the person intends to stay in a place for a certain amount of time then, according to Ibn al-Qayyim, he remains a traveller, regardless of whether he plans to stay there for a long or short time, as long as he does not plan to stay [i.e. reside and not return] in the place that he has travelled to.
However, the scholars differ on this point. Summing up and giving his own opinion, Ibn al-Qayyim says:
"The Messenger of Allah stayed in Tabuk for twenty days and during that time he shortened his salaah and he did not say that one may not shorten his salaah if he stays longer than that, although there is agreement that he did stay there for that period of time."
In Sahih al-Bukhari, it is recorded that Ibn 'Abbas (RA) said:
''The Prophet stayed, during some of his journeys, for nineteen day and he prayed only two raka'ah. If we stayed in a place for nineteen days, we would not pray the complete salaah. However, if we stayed longer than that, we would perform the whole salaah."
Ahmad states that ibn 'Abbas (RA)was referring to the Prophet's staying Makkah at the time of its conquest when he said: "The Messenger of Allaah stayed in Makkah for eighteen days during the time of the conquest as he had to go to Hunain and ,was not planning to stay there."
Others say 'that Ibn 'Abbas was referring to the Prophet's stay in Tabuk as Jabir ibn 'Abdullah said: "The Messenger of Allaah stayed in Tabuk for twenty days and performed Qasr salaah." Imam Ahmad related this in his Musnad.AI-Miswar ibn Makhramah reports: 'We stayed with Sa'ad in some of the cities of ash-Sham[Syria] for forty days. and Sa'ad would perform Qasr while we would offer the whole salaah."
Nafi relates: "Ibn 'Umar was in Azerbaijan for six months. As there was snow blocking the pass, and he would pray two raka'ah." Hafs ibn 'Ubaidullah says: "Anas ibnMalik stayed in ash-Sham for two years and he prayed the salaah of a traveller." Anas relates: "The companions of the Prophet stayed, in Ram Hurmuz for seven months and they shortened their salaah."
AI-Hassan reports:' "I stayed with 'Abdurrahman ibn Samurah for two years in Kabul, and he shortened his salaah but he did not combine the salaah." Ibrahim says: "We resided in Rai for a year or more and in Sijistan for two years... [And we prayed Qasr]. This is the guidance of the Prophet (sallaallahualayhi wa sallam) and his Companions, and this is the correct position.
Nawafil during travel
The majority of the scholars are of the opinion that it is not disliked to perform Nawafil during the state in which one is shortening his salaah. On this point, there is no difference between regular sunnah prayers and other Nawafil.
AI-Bukhari and Muslim record that the Prophet made the ghusl in the house of Umm Hani on the day of the conquest of Makkah and then he prayed eight raka'ah.
lbn 'Umar reports that the Prophet prayed while riding in whatever direction he was facing and nodding his head [i.e. for the movements of the salaah].
AI-Hassan relates: "The Companions of the Prophet while on a journey performed supererogatory prayers before and after the fard salaah."
Ibn 'Umar and others are of the opinion that there are no Nawafil, before or after the fard salaah, except for during the middle of the night. He saw some people praying after the salaah and said: "If I were to pray, I would have performed the whole salaah [as obviously that would have taken preference]. O nephew. I accompanied the Messenger of Allah [on journeys]and he never prayed more than two raka'ah until Allah took his soul. And I accompanied Abu Bakar and he did not pray more than two raka’ah." He also mentioned the name of 'Umar and 'Uthman, then he recited the verse:
"You have indeed in the Messenger of Allaah a beautiful pattern (of conduct)." (Q33[Ahzab]:21) (Bukhari).
Ibn Qudamah combines what al-Hassan and what Ibn 'Umar say by concluding that al-Hassan's report points to the fact that there is no harm in praying Nawafil while travelling. Whereas Ibn 'Umar's report points to the fact that there is no harm in not praying such Nawafil. And Allaah knows best!
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited