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In this article we will cover the topic which confuses many Muslims known as Qasr Salat (Salat during travel). People often ask, what is the ruling on shortening the Salah when travelling? What are the conditions and how many rakats should I pray? What if I am gone for an extended period of time, how long can I offer the shortened prayer for?

It is certainly acceptable that the salah, specifically the fardh rakats of Zuhr, Asr, and Isha are reduced from four rakats to two rakats. The shortening of prayers is mentioned both in the Quran and is a confirmed Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).

In Surah An Nisa, ayah 101 it says,

وَإِذَا ضَرَبْتُمْ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَن تَقْصُرُوا۟ مِنَ ٱلصَّلَوٰةِ إِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَن يَفْتِنَكُمُ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوٓا۟ ۚ إِنَّ ٱلْكَٰفِرِينَ كَانُوا۟ لَكُمْ عَدُوًّا مُّبِينًا
Transliteration: Wa izaa darabtum fil ardi falaisa ‘alaikum junaahun an taqsuroo minas Salaati in khiftum ai yaftinakumul lazeena kafarooo; innal kaafireena kaanoo lakum aduwwam mubeenaa
Translation: And when you travel throughout the land, there is no blame upon you for shortening the prayer, if you fear that those who disbelieve may disrupt [or attack] you. Indeed, the disbelievers are ever to you a clear enemy.

The Hanafi view is since there’s evidence that Rasulullah always prayed Qasr Salat while travelling it is considered Sunnah al-mu’akkadah. [1,2,3] There is no mention of him ever praying in full while travelling. Sunnah Mu’akkadah is the sunnah which should be followed, a person who abandons them is considered blameworthy.

If you read the ayat in Surah An-Nisa you may believe that it made reference to shortening the salat only when travelling and there is a threat or danger to your life which is why it would be permissible for you to curtail your worship. But what if you travel and there’s no danger?

This question was asked of Prophet Muhammad and he responded, “This is a favor from Allah (SWT) to you, so accept His favor.” [4]

Qasr Salat While Travelling
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How Far Does One Have To Travel To Pray Shortened Prayer?

There is no hadith or mention in the Quran on how far one must travel that specifies the need for Qasr Salat. The jurists argue, the minimum required distance should approximately 55 miles (around 88.7km). This is around four burud (an antiquated unit of distance representing two days of travel with a Camel).

The shortening of the prayer can also commence once he has left his village or city.

How Many Days Can You Offer the Shortened Salah?

There is a difference of opinion as to how many days you can pray the shortened salah as this is not specified in the hadith. According to the Hanafi Fiqh, it’s permissible for a Muslim to pray shortened prayer if he plans to stay less than 15 days. Beyond 15 days he is believed to be a resident and should offer the regular fardh rakats.

If he planned on staying less than 15 days but due to some unforeseen circumstance, for example delays or flight cancellations, he should keep Qasr salat as long as conditions haven’t changed and he is not able to return home. This can last days, weeks or even years as long as it is out of the traveller’s control.

Praying In Congregation

It is still recommended that the traveller should pray in congregation. If he attends a local masjid he must follow the imam and offer the full salat. If he is elected to lead the congregation with local residents he can offer the shortened prayer but should advise the followers so they make the proper niyyah that they will be offering the shortened prayer with the Imam.

On Combining the Prayers

Most jurists are in agreement that the person travelling can combine the prayers. Specificially, Zuhr and Asr can be combined and Maghrib and Isha can be combined. [5,6]

There are two options when combining the prayers, you can either advance Asr and pray at the time of Zuhr or pray Zuhr delayed at the time of Asr. Same for Maghrib and Isha. The only prayer you can not combine if Fajr with Zuhr or Isha with Fajr.

References:

[1] It was narrated that ‘Umar said: “The prayer while traveling is two Rak’ah, and Friday is two Rak’ah, and ‘Eid is two Rak’ah. They are complete and are not shortened, as told by Muhammad (ﷺ).” Sunan Ibn Majah Grade: Sahih (Darussalam)

[2] Narrated Anas: We stayed (in Mecca) for ten days along with the Prophet (ﷺ) and used to offer shortened prayers (i.e. journey prayers). Sahih Al-Bukhari

[3] Narrated Ibn Abbas: The Prophet (ﷺ) once stayed for nineteen days and prayed shortened prayers. So when we travel led (and stayed) for nineteen days, we used to shorten the prayer but if we traveled (and stayed) for a longer period we used to offer the full prayer. Sahih Al-Bukhari

[4] It was narrated that Ya’la bin Umayyah said: “I said to ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab: ‘There is no sin on you if you shorten salah and if you fear that the disbelievers may put you in trial (attack you). But now the people are safe.’ ‘Umar said: ‘I wondered the same thing, so I asked the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) about that and he said: This is a favor from Allah (SWT) to you, so accept His favor.” Grade: Sahih (Darussalam) Sunan an-Nasa’i

[5] It was narrated from Ibn ‘Umar that if the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was in a hurry to travel, he would combine Maghrib and ‘Isha’. Sunan An Nasai Grade: Sahih (Darussalam)

[6] It was narrated from Mu’adh bin Jabal that the Prophet (ﷺ) combined the Zuhr and ‘Asr, and the Maghrib and ‘Isha’ when traveling during the campaign of Tabuk. Sunan Ibn Majah Grade: Sahih (Darussalam)