When can I shorten and combine prayers while travelling?
How many miles do you have to travel to be a traveller?
Scholars take the view that when you travel the distance of approximately 55-60 miles you are considered a mussafir – a traveller.
Though there is a variation of opinion on the distance, a minority of scholars say that once you leave the boundary of your local area, you become a traveller, but the majority view and the mainstream opinion according to the Shafi’ and Hanafi school, is that travelling by any means a distance of 50 miles by any means is considered ‘travel‘.
A traveller may shorten 4 rakah prayers to 2 rakahs (dhur, asr and isha).
How long can you continue to shorten your salah if you are away from home?
You can only pray a shortened, traveller’s prayer (qasr) when you are legally considered to be a traveller.
In the Hanafi school you are are a traveller when you intend to reside in a particular city, beyond the travel distance, for less than fifteen complete days. Otherwise, you must pray a complete prayer as the dispensation does not apply to residents.
If you have the intention to stay away from your home for less than 15 days, according to the Hanafi school of thought you shorten your salah, but if you intend to stay more than 15 days, you pray the full salah, i.e 4 rak’ahs from day one.
According to the Maliki and Shafi’i school and one Hanbali opinion, you shorten your salah if you have not reached the place you will be staying, and when you arrive if you will not be staying at that destination for four days or more, (excluding the day you arrive and the day you leave).
Should travellers pray the sunnah and nawafil?
If they are able to, travellers should pray the sunnah and nawafil as usual. When combining the salahs, you do not need to pray them in quick succession. You may take your time, complete the first set of salah with the sunnah and nawafil and tasbih, and then pray the second lot.
When combining dhuhr and asr, you can pray the 4 sunnah before the fard, then pray the two fard rakahs dhuhr, followed by the two fard rakahs of asr and then the sunnah of dhuhr.
Do you have to pray the witr?
The witr is wajib in the Hanafi school, which means it has to be prayed. It is sunnah in the other schools. It can be prayed as one or three depending on what school you follow. In the Shafi school, if you want to pray a single rakah as witr, you can do so ( or 3, 5, 7, 9 or 11 rakahs). In the Hanafi school, as the witr is prayed as 3 in one salah.
Can you combine prayers?
According to the Hanafi school it is wajib to shorten prayers, but you cannot combine prayers. Even during Hajj, Hanafis do not combine prayers unless they are praying behind an imam.
As per the Shafi school, if you are travelling or you will be unable to perform your salah in its prescribed time, you can combine dhur and asr, during the time of dhur or asr, and pray maghrib and isha during the time of maghrib or isha.
If you are not travelling, can you combine prayers?
There are instances when though you are not travelling, due to your circumstances, you will be unable to perform a prayer in its correct time. Should you miss the salah and pray it later? Or combine it?
If you have an important reason, for instance, you work in an operating theatre, and you will not be able to pray on time, (not, for instance, because you are going shopping or to the hairdressers) then it is preferable to combine your prayers, than to miss them, or make them up later.
Do you need to make up a prayer which you combined?
No. Once it has been prayed, you do not need to repeat it.
Can you shorten your prayer if you did not travel more than 50 miles but it took over an hour?
No. The prayer is shortened due to the distance travelled, not the length of time it takes.
How do you make up a missed prayer if you were a traveller?
If you are a traveller leading the salah for non-travellers, should you still shorten it?
If you are the imam for a salah, such as dhur or asr, or isha, which is shortened to rwo rakahs while travelling, but your congregation are not travellers, you should shorten your salah, then after the salam, tell the people behind you who are not travelling to stand up and pray two more rakahs to complete their salah. This is the sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
In the Hanafi school it would not be permissible for the imam to pray the longer salah, but in the Shafi madhab, it is permissible.
What if I miss a prayer?
If a prayer is missed, it should be made up as it was due. Thus, if you were a traveller at the time, you need to make it up shortened, but if you were considered to be a resident, you would make it up completely.
However, you should take all reasonable means to ensure that you can pray your prayers on time.
It is better to pray a salah during its dedicated time.
It is preferred to pray on time. Allah Almighty said in Surat an Nisa:
Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers at specified times. (4:103)
When the Prophet (peace be on him) was asked about the best deed he said to pray on time. It is an obligation. Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported:
I said, “O Messenger of Allah, which deeds are best?”
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
“Prayer on time.” (Al Albani)
Praying on time shows your sincerity, your commitment, and your connection with Allah Almighty. The person who is negligent of praying on time is showing a lack of commitment, obedience and respect. This is not how a believer should be.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Thursday Knowledge Circle 10th December 2020
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