By Ashur Shamis

Rule of Prayer while travelling

When one goes travelling, it is expected of him that he performs only two rak’ahs for the prayers of four rak’ahs. Performing the Salah like this people commonly refer to as praying qasr (reduced). In fact however, it is not qasr merely tamaam (complete number), considering the following hadiths: ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, stated

“The Salah which was first of all made compulsory was two rak’ahs, thereupon the Salatu-l hadar (Salah while resident in a community) was increased and the Salaatu-s safar (Salah while travelling) was confirmed: inna-s salaata awwala maa furidat kaanat rakatayni, thumma ziidat Salaatu hadari wa uqirrat salaatu-s safar.” (Bukhari and Muslim-Bulughu-l Maram, compiled by Al Hafiz Ibn Hajar al ‘Asqalani).

‘Umar bin al Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The Salah while travelling is two rak’ahs, and the Salah of Jumu’ah is two rak’ahs, and Al Adha is two rak’ahs and Al Fitr is two rak’ahs-complete, not reduced-from the tongue of your Prophet: Salaatu-s safari rakatayni, wa Salaatu-l Jumu’ati rakatayni wa-l adhaa rakaatayni, wa-lfitrirak’atayni tamaamunghayru qasrin-‘ blaa lisaani Nabiyyikum. “(An Nasaa’i – Tafsir Ibn Kathir, i : 545)

Ibn’Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Salah, when prayed with two rak’ahs during a journey, is the complete number: inna-s salaata, idhaa sulliyat rakatayni fi-s safari, fahiya tamaamun”. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, i : 545).

Ibn’ Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The Salaatu-s Safar is two rak’ahs complete not reduced: rather the reduction is in Salaatul-Makhaafah (salah during alarm): Salaatu-s safari rakatayni tamaamun ghayru qasrin: innama-l qasru fi salaati-l makhaafati. ” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, i : 545).

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar never performed zuhr, ‘asr and ‘ishaa with four rak’ahs while journeying. ‘A’ishah, Mother of Believers, may Allah be pleased with her, stated, “The Salah of two rak’ahs was made compulsory as two rak’ahs at Mecca. Then after the messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, arrived at Medina there was added with each two rak’ahs except in Maghrib because it is the Witr of the Daytime and Salaatu-l Fajr due to the length of its recital (qiraa’ah). But he would when journeying pray the first salah, namely, that which was made compulsory at Mecca: qad furidati-s salaatu rakatayni rak’atayni bimakkata. Falamma qadima Rasoolu-Llaahi sala-Llaahu ‘alayhi wa sallama-l Madinata zaada maa kulli rak’atayni rakatayni illaa fir Maghribi fa’annahaa Witru-n Nahaari, wa salaati-l Fairi litouli qiraaatihaa. Wa kaana, idhaa saafara, sala-s Salaata-1 oulaa, ay allatiy furidat bi Makkata. “All the components of this hadith (reported by Ahmad, Al Bayhaqi, Ibn Hibbaan and Ibn Khuzaymah) are believable (Fiqh-us Sunnah, compiled by Sayyid Sabiq, ii : 204).

Ibnu-l Qayyim said, “And he, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, reduced the Quaternaries (rubaaiyyah: Salah of four rak’ahs) and he performed two rak’ahs from the time he left the house to go journeying until he returned to Medina. It cannot be firmly established that he offered the full number of rak’ahs of quaternary salah. None of the Imams differs on this, even though they differ about the regulation of qasr. ‘Umar, Ali, Ibn Mas’oud, Ibn ‘Abbas, Ibn ‘Umar, Jaabir say that it is necessary (waajib). This is the way of the Hanafiyyah.

The Hanafiyyah consider that a musaafir who prayed the quaternary fard prayers (fard prayers of four rak’ahs ie. zuhr,’asr,’ishaa’) along with one offering four rak’ahs, then if he remain seated after the tashahhud1 in the second his salah would hold good with the reprehensibility (karaahah) of postponing the salaam and whatever is beyond the two rak’ahs is nafl, and if he did not remain sitting at the second rak’ah his fard prayer would be nullified (not valid).” (Fiqh-us Sunnah, ii : 204).

The Malikiyah are of the opinion that the Reduction is sunnatun muakkadah (a Sunnah which is emphasised) which is more important than the decree to congregate in’ prayer (jama’ah). Therefore if a person is unable to find another who is similarly on a journey to follow, he should pray the eduction alone. It is detestable (makruh) for him to follow those who are muqim, (locally resident).

The Hanbaliyyah are of the opinion that the Reduction is authorised (jaaiz) and is more, excellent than tamaam (completed number). This is also the opinion of the Shafi’iyyah if the journey reaches the quintessence, (masaafah) of the Reduction.

Journeys which permit qasr and permit jam’aat

A. Concerning Qasr

It is a point about which there is no doubt that Allah, subhaanahu wa ta’ala, has decreed the regulations of safar (journeying) while knowing that the means of travel will change following the progress of time. And Allah has not made qasr conditional upon a certain type of safar nor upon one particular vehicle, and He has not made difficulty a condition either. Allah has merely clarified safar, that is “to go from the place of residence to another place carrying pro- visions commensurate with the situation of a person who wishes to travel depending upon individual circumstances.”

Certainly that which is quickly understood from the ayat of the qur’an is that”any kind of safar, long or short, permits because of it qasr, iam’ and the breaking of fast.” There is nothing in the Sunnah which seeks to confine this lack of restriction.

Abu Bakr ibnu-i Mundhir and other ‘ulama. have quoted more than twenty statements on this question, but we shall mention here the most sahih of that which has been said on this.

It is reported by Ahmad, Muslim, Abu Da’oud, and Al Bayhaqi from Yahya bin azid who said, “I asked Anas bin Malik about qasr of salah, and Anas said ‘the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, if he went out on a journey of three miles or farsakh2 would pray with two rak’ahs: ‘kaana-n Nabiyyu salla-Llaahu ‘alayhi wa sallama idhaa kharaja masirati thalaathati amyaali aw faraasikha yusalliy rakatayn”‘ Al Hafiz ibnu Hajjar says in Al Fathu-l Bari, “this is the most sahih and unambiguous mentioned in that list.” Any uncertainty in clarifying ‘three miles or farsakhs’ in this hadith is dispelled by the statement of Abu Sa’id al Khudri, “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, if he were travelling one farsakh would shorten (qasr) his salah.” This is reported by Sa’id bin Mansour and it is mentioned by Al Hafiz in At Talkhiis without stating his source. As is well-known one farsakh is three miles, and so the hadith of Abou Sa’iid dispels any uncertainty in the hadith of Anas bin Malik, and it is clear that the least distance in which the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, made his Salah qasr was three miles.

A farsakh is 5541 metres(5715yds)and a mile is 1748 metres (1905 yds). And the shortest mentioned in the distances of qasr is one mile which is reported by Ibn Abou ‘Shaybah with a reliable chain of transmission (bisnaadin sahihin) from Ibn ‘Umar, and it is this which is held by Imam Ibn Hazm. That which can correctly be termed safar is a journey of a minimum of one mile. Ibn’ Umar said, “Even though I go one mile I shorten the Salah: law kharajtu milan laqasartu-s salaah. “

The opinions of those fuqahaa3 who stipulate a distance of at least two marhalahs (one marhalah or way station, is equivalent to one day’s journey) according to one group, or three marhalahs according to another group, have been refuted by Imam Abu-l- Qasim al Khiraqiy. In Al Mughni, Ibn Qudamah says; “The composer (musannif, ‘i.e. al Khiraqiy) says; “I do not regard that which the Imams have arrived at in this as evidenced, since the statements of the sahabahs (Companions) are in contradiction, and there can be no evidence for it with disagreement. There is transmitted from Ibn ‘Umar and Ibn ‘Abbas other than that which has been pleaded by our associates (Hanbaliyyah’ ulama), moreover if it weren’t to be found thus there could not be any evidence for their statement which is not in the sayings of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him or his actions. And if their statements cannot be firmly established, this renders impossible the development of their work to the assessments (taqdir) which they have indicated in either method, as

(a) they contradict the words of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, which we have reported above and the clear meaning of the Qur’an, on the grounds that the apparent meaning of the Qur’an authorises qasr for he who is ‘journeying in the land’. Allah, subhaanahu wa taala, says, “And when you are journeying in the land there is no fault in you that you shorten the prayer: wa idhaa darabatum fi-l ardi fai’aysa ‘alaykum jinaahun an taqsurou mina-s ‘alaykum (Qur’an, Suratu-n Nisa’, 4 : 101).

The condition of Alarm (or fear – khawf) is cancelled by the hadith from Ya’iaa bin Umayyah, so the literal application of the ayah remains available to all journeying in the land.

(b) The way to assessing (taqdir) is erecting on firm foundations (tawqif) and a result based upon mere opinion is particularly not allowable. There can’t be returned a sound source for it nor any parallel to compare with in this. The weight of evidence must be with those who permit qasr for every musafir until there is a consensus (ijma’) over the disagreement in this.”

Journeying by aeroplane or by railway is the same in this as voluntary journeying or otherwise. And he whose work necessitates continuous journeying (such as a sailor or mule-carter , for example) is permitted to qasr and break fast (fitr) just as though he were a true musafir. (Fiqh us Sunnah, see section on Salaatu-s Safar).

B. Concerning Jam’aat

Jam’aat (combining) while journeying is a rukhsatun ‘aridah (broad concession), that is, when we are on a safar and need to leave the stopping place before noon (zawaal) the beginning of the time for the zuhr salah) we can postpone (jamu-t takhir) the zuhr salah till ‘asr, or if we need to leave after zuhr, we can bring forward (jamu-t taqdim.)’asr to zuhr. However, if were stat a stopping place it would be better if we performed the relevant salah qasr. Abou Ya’faa said, “The permission to jam’ the salah during safar pertains when the person who is going to jam’ is facing the sort of difficulties which would enable him to miss communal salah (jama’ah) and salaatu-i Jumu’ah (“Friday Prayers”) for example, not having arrived at a stopping place.”

Some muhaddiths (scientists of hadith) permit jam’aat during safar even though one has already broken the journey at a stopping place. Further, take note of this analysis: It is permitted for a musallin (worshipper) that he combine salaat-ul-zuhr and salaatu-l ‘asr by ‘bringing forward’ (taqdim) : performing the two salahs during the time allotted to the earlier) or ‘postponing’ (ta’khir: performing the two during the time for the later), and similarly with Salaatu-t maghrib and Salaatu-l Isha’, whenever a situation is found to fall under the, circumstances given below:


 The ‘ulama’ are agreed that the jam’aat of zuhr and ‘asr by ‘bringing forward’ during the time of zuhr at ‘Arafah and between maghrib and ‘ishaa’ by ‘postponing’ to the time of ‘ishaa’ at Muzdalifah is a Sunnah (an authorised practice by the actions, speech or consent of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him), because that is what was done by the Messenger of Allah. peace and blessings be upon him.


The jam’aah of two salahs while journeying in the time of one of them is authorised (jaiz) by the statements of most experts (ahlu-l ‘ilm) there is no distinction between the fact of stopping over or proceeding.

(a) Mu’aadh clarified that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, at the Tabuk Campaign when noon came before he moved off combined ‘Asr with Zuhr and when he moved off before noon, he postponed Zuhr until he stopped to perform Salaatu-‘Asr. Similarly with maghrib; if the sun set before he moved off, he combined ‘ishaa’ with maghrib, if he moved off before sunset, he postponed maghrib until he stopped for salatu-l Isha’ when he combined the two. (Abu Da’oud and At Tirmidhi. At Tirmidhi said that this hadith is hasan).

(b) Kurayb reported from Ibn ‘Abbas that he said, “Should I not inform you about the salah of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, while journeying?” We said, “Certainly”. He said. “if the Sun passed its zenith while he was at his stopping place (fii manzilihil he would combine ‘asr with zuhr before he travelled, and if it had not yet passed its zenith while he was at his stopping-place, he would proceed until the time for Salaatu-l ‘asr had come when he would stop and then combine zuhr with ‘asr. And if the time for maghrib came while he was at his stopping place he would combine ‘isha’ with it, and if it had not come while he was at his stopping place he would travel until it was ‘isha’ when he would stop and then combine the two.”
This hadith is recorded by Imam Ahmad, and something similar by Imam Ash Shaafi’ in his Musnad. Imam Ash Shaafi’s wording states, “if he proceeded before the Sun had passed its zenith he would postpone zuhr until he combined it with ‘asr in the time of ‘asr.” This hadith is recorded too by Al Bayhaqi with an excellent chain of authorities, (bi isnaadin jayyid) who comments, “The jam’aat of two salahs by reason of journeying is from those matters whose employment by the sahabahs and tabi’iin (the generation following the death of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him) is well known.”

(c) It is recorded by Imam Malik in Al Muwattaa’ from Mu’aadh that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, on one day during the Tabuk campaign postponed the salah and then he came out and performed zuhr and’asr together, then he went in; then he came out and performed maghrib and ‘isha together.

Imam Ash Shaafi commented, “‘then he went in; then he came out’ cannot be other than he was stopping over (thumma dakhala thutnma kharaia laa yakounu illa wa huwa naazil)”. Ibn Qudaamah says in Al Mughniy, after mentioning this hadith, “Ibn ‘Abd-l Barr says, ‘this hadith is sahih (authoritative), the isnaad (chain of transmitters) is firmly established”4 (Al Mughniy ii : 115-116). Historians (or ‘biographers’:ahlu-s siyar) state that the Tabuk Campaign was during year Nine. And in this hadith is the clearest demonstration and the strongest evidence for the refutation of those who say that there is no jam’aat of two salahs except if the travelling be renewed. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, had been combining while he was encamped and not proceeding; he was staying in his tent, he came out and performed two salahs together and then he withdrew into his tent. And Muslim recorded this hadith in his ahih, saying, “Thus he had combined uhr and ‘asr together, and maghrib and ‘isha’ together”.

Adherence to this hadith is obligatory because of its sureness, it being unequivocal in its provision, there being no contradiction to it, and because jam’ is one of the concessions of safar (journeying) which is not a special function of actually being in the process of journeying, as with qasr and mas’ah (during wudu, stroking with wet fingers the footwear or headgear instead of uncovering to wash completely); however a’khir (postponing) is better.


It is recorded by Al Athram in his Sunan from Abou Salamah bin’Abdu-r Rahman that he said, “it is from the Sunnah that if the day is rainy to jam’ maghrib with ‘ishaa”‘. It is reported by Al Bukhari that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, combined maghrib with ‘ishaa’ during a rainy night. The summary of the Paths (madhhabs) in this matter is

(a) The Shafi’iyyah authorise the combining (jam’aat) of zuhr with ‘asr and maghrib with ‘isha by ‘bringing forward’ (jam’u-t taqdim) only for one who is domiciled at a place (muqim), with the conditions that there is rain at the takbiratu-l ihraam of the first salah, at the cession of it, and at the beginning of the second.

(b) According to Imam Malik, jam’u-t taqdim is authorised for maghrib and ‘isha’ in the mosque because of rain which is actually failing or which is expected to fail, and because of mud and darkness if the mud has much impeded the hard core of people who wear shoes, and is detested (makruh) for zuhr and ‘asr because of rain.

(c) The Hanbaliyyah authorise the jam’ of maghrib and ‘isha’ only whether by bringing forward’ or ‘postponing’, resulting from snow, ice, mud, intense cold, and rain which soaks the clothes. This concession is a special favour for he who would perform his salah communally at the mosque coming straight there from a distance. As for he who is already in the mosque, or is performing his salah communally at his house, or who can walk to the mosque covered by something, or who has a mosque close to his home, jam’ is not authorised for him.


Imam Ahmad, Qadi Husayn, Al Khuttabiy, and Al Mutawai are of one opinion with the Shaafi’iyyah that jam’aat (whether taqdim or ta’khir) is authorised with the excuse of sickness because the distress involved in it is considerably greater than with rain. An Nawawi commented, “This is strongly proved.”

Ibn Qudamah states in Al Mughniy that the sort of sickness which permits jam’aat is that which, when the performance of each salah in its own time is adhered to, results in distress and weakness. The Hanbaliyyah widen the scope and authorise jam’aat (whether taqdim or ta’khir) for all who have excusing circumstances (‘udhur); one who is afraid, a woman who is breast feeding for whom it would be a hardship to wash her clothes at the time of each salaah, a woman who is about to begin her monthly period or just finish (mustahaadah), one who is incontinent, one who is unable to clean himself (tahaarah : wudu’, tayammum, or bathing), or one who fears for his life, his belongings, or his merchandise.

Ibn Taymiyah states that the madhhab which is the widest in scope over jam’aat is the madhhab of Imam Ahmad (ibn Hanbal), which authorises jam’ if there is work as An Nasaa’i reports (traceable back to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him) that it is said, “jam’ut is also authorised for cooks, bakers, and the like, and for he who is afraid his goods will spoil.”


An Nawawi says in Sharh Muslim, “A proportion of the imams hold an opinion that authorises jam’ut through need for one who is resident in a community as long as it is not adopted as a customary practice”. This is the opinion of Ibn Sirin and Ash’hab from the friends of Imam Malik. This is related also by Al Khutabi from Al Qaffai and Ash Shashiy Al Kabir from the followers of Imam Ash Shafi’iy, and from Abou Is’haq, Al Marwaziy, and a body of principals of hadith (ashabu-l hadith). Ibn Mundhir preferred this opinion.

This opinion is strengthened by the statement of Ibn ‘Abbas, “The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, wished not to hem in his ummat” Ibn ‘Abbas did not say because of sickness or similar. This hadith from Ibn ‘Abbas (which is reported by Muslim) states, “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, combined zuhr and ‘asr and maghrib and ‘isha at Medina with no Alarm and no Rain.” A man asked Ibn’Abbas, “What was the aim of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, in doing that?” He replied, “He desired that his ummah should not be hemmed in: armada an laa yuharriju ummatahu.”

It is reported by Al Bukhari and Muslim from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, prayed at Medina seven rak’ahs (jam’aat) and eight rak’ahs (jam’aat). That is zuhr with ‘asr and maghrib with ‘isha’.

It is reported by Muslim from ‘Abdullah bin haqiq that Ibn ‘Abbas gave a lecture one day after ‘asr until the sun had set and the stars were visible, upon which one of the people cried “Salah, Salah,” ‘Abdullah said, “A person from Banu Tamim (maybe indicating himself) cried, ‘Salah, Salah’ whereupon Ibn ‘Abbas replied, “Do you teach me the Sunnah? You son without a mother!” Then Ibn ‘Abbas said, “I saw the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, jam’ between zuhr and ‘asr and maghrib and ‘isha”‘ ‘Abdullah bin Shaqiq said that this did not satisfy my heart, so I asked Abu Hurayrah. Abu Hurayrah verified the statement of Ibn ‘Abbas.”

If, after we have completed offering two alahs during the time of one of them, then excusing circumstances finish before entering the time that the second salah is due, it is not necessary for us to perform the second salah again, it is enough that we have done it, for that salah was performed validly and so the responsibility has been fulfilled. (Fiqh-us Sunnah, ‘Salaat-us Safar’). Prior Intention is not a Pre-condition for Jam’aat and Qasr Imam Ibn Taymiyah states-and this is the consensus of ‘ulama:- “Whenever the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, prayed qasr or jam’aat together with the Sahabahs, he never told any of them to make niyyah (prior intention) to iam’ or qasr. indeed, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, left Medina for Mecca and offered two rak’ahs without jam’aat. Again the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, offered salaatu-zuhr at ‘Arafah without informing the people that he aimed to offer Salaat-ul ‘Asr as well afterwards. After the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, had offered zuhr he offered ‘asr. The Sahabahs thus did not make a niyah to jam’. That was jam’u-t taqdim. It was like that also when he left Medina he offered ‘asr two rak’ahs for’ Asr at Dhu-l Hulayfah. He did not tell them to make a niyah for qasr.”

Concerning the muwalah6 of the two salahs, Imam Ibn Taymmiyah says, “The reliable opinion does not make this a condition (share) at all, neither for the time of the first salah nor for the time of the second. It ought to be seen that muwalah would defeat the purpose of the concession (rukhsah )’6,, Imam Ash Shaafi’ says, “One can offer maghrib at one’s home with the intention of jam’, and then go to the mosque and offer ‘isha’.” The same opinion is recorded from Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal. Rules about Musaafir following Muqim, and vice versa

‘Imraan bin Husayn states, “The Messenger of Allah did not travel a journey without praying two rak’ahs until he returned, and he resided at Mecca at the time of the Conquest for eighteen nights; he prayed with the people two rak’ahs, except for maghrib, and then he said, ‘People of Mecca, stand up and then pray the other two rak’ahs, for we are a group of travellers’: maa saafara Rasoulu-Llaahi safaran illaa sallaa rakatayni hattaa yarjia wa annahu aqaama bimakkata zamana-l Fathi thamaaniya ‘ashrata laylatan, yusalliy bin naasi rakatayni, illaa-l maghriba, thumma yaqoulu, Yaa Ahla Makkata, qoumou fasallou rak’atayni akhiratayni, fainnaa qawmu safarin. ” (Abu Da’oud, recorded by Imam Ibn Qudaamah in Al Mughniy i : 130.)

It is recorded by Imam Malik that “Abdullah bin ‘Umar had prayed four behind the Imam at Mina, and when he prayed on his own he prayed two rak’ahs: inna ‘Abdallaahi-bna ‘Umara kaana yusalliy waraaa-l Imaami biminaa arbaan, wa idhaa sallaa linafsihi sallaa rakatayni. ” (Imam Malik, Al Muwattaa’, i:164). Further than that, Imam Ibn Hazm says in Al Muhalla Sharahu-l Mujallah (5:31) that it is possible for us to suffice with only two rak’ahs, even though we pray behind and Imam who is muqim (locally domiciled).

Translated from the Indonesian, and adapted from “Pedoman Shatat”, compiled by Shaykh Muhammad Hasbi As Siddiqi, Jakarta.

1. tashahhud: saying “I testify that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger.”
2. farsakh (“parasang”): an old Persian measure of length reckoned at 30 stadia, or between 3 and 4 miles. A stadia (stadium) was an old Greek measure of length, 600 Greek or 6063/4 English feet. -Ed.
3. Faqih (plur. fuqahaa’)-jurisprudent, legist.
4. Al Mughniy, compiled by Imam Muwaffaqud Din Ibn Qudamah.
5. mukaarin: muleteer, carter, etc. who works for hire. The implications of this for long-distance train crews, air crews, or TIR drivers are interesting – Ed.
6. muwalah: performing the second salah immediately after having finished the first.

The Muslim
February-March 1974