Fatwa n°: 56
Category: fatwas of prayer - prayer during the travel
The duration during which the traveler could shorten the prayer
What is the manner of performing Salât (prayer) for a traveler and what is the ruling concerning it during a travel and when one stops (in his travel)? May Allah bless you.
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon whom Allah sent as a mercy to the Worlds, upon his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
The traveler, who does not intend to dwell for good in the place he travels to and does not know when he will be back to the place of his residence, can shorten the prayer, even though he stays a long time exceeding the duration of shortening the prayer (according to the ulema who limited it), even if he stays many years. This is the soundest opinion of scholars. It is the opinion of Ishâq Ibn Râhawayh. It is also reported to be the opinion of Ibn `Umar, Anas and others(1), since the fact of residing does not mean that one is no longer a traveler, whether the duration is long or short, as he does not settle the place permanently. This is the choice of Ibn Al-Qayyim رحمه الله. Ibn Al-Mundhir said: “The scholars agreed that a traveler can shorten his prayer as long as he does not intend to reside permanently, even if he stays many years”. In fact, it is not mentioned in the Book of Allah and the Sunna of His Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم but the nontraveler and the traveler. Allah عزَّ وجلَّ said:
﴿يَوْمَ ظَعْنِكُمْ وَيَوْمَ إِقَامَتِكُم﴾ [النحل: 80].
The meaning of the verse:
﴾When you travel and when you stay﴿ [An-Nahl (The Bees): 80].
The dweller is the person who takes up a special permanent residence in which he decides to settle, and in which he is comfortable, such person has not the right to shorten the prayer. Whereas, the person who is resident but only for a while and who does not intend to stay there and does not feel comfortable in such place can shorten the prayer even if he stays there for months, because the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم did not restrict the state of being resident by a definite time (neither by three days, nor four, nor twelve nor fifteen).
Moreover, some reported traditions of the Predecessors consolidate this opinion. Among them, the fact that the Muslims resided at Nahavand six months and shortened the prayer during that period, though they knew that their affair would not end in four days nor even in more than four days. Besides, Ibn `Umar رضي الله عنهما sojourned in Azerbaijan for six months; they were stuck by snow. During that period, he prayed two Rak`as(2)(3). It is known that snow does not melt in only four days. It is also reported from Abu Al-Minhâl Al-`Anzi that he said: I told Ibn `Abbâs رضي الله عنهما: “I stay at Medina a whole year without traveling?” Ibn `Abbâs replied: “Pray two Rak`as”(4). It is also reported that Masrûq stayed at As-Silsila two years, and during that period, he shortened the prayer, and by doing so, he intended to follow the Sunna(5). There are other traditions that consolidate this opinion which is supported by all the evidences.
The perfect knowledge belongs to Allah سبحانه وتعالى. Our last prayer is all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon our Prophet, his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
Algiers, Rabî` Al-Awwal 22nd, 1419 H
July 7th, 1999
(1) See: “Al-Majmû`” of An-Nawawi (4/365).
(2) A portion of the salat, that combines a ritual of bows and prostrations with the recitation of prayers.
(3) Reported by Al-Bayhaqi (3/152), Ahmad reported a hadith similar to it, its chain of narration is Hassan (good) (2/83-154), see: “Al-Irwâ'” (577).
(4) Reported by `Abd Ar-Razzâq in his “Mussannaf” (2/209).
(5) Reported by `Abd Ar-Razzâq in his “Mussannaf” (2/210) and Ibn Abi Shayba in his “Mussannaf” (2/353).