Qasar Solāt is offered only to a Traveller.
A traveller may shorten his Solāt even if one is not encountering any difficulty
What is the reason for shortening the prayer – is it difficulties encountered or travel itself?
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks are due to Allāh, the Lord of the al-ā’lamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam, is His Messenger.
The Qasar of Salāt
The shortening (qasar) the prayers is offered to the musafir (travellers) regardless of whether or not one encounters any difficulty.
Qasar of Salāts is the shortening of prayers the four-rak’at prayers: Zuhur, ‘Asar, and ‘Isha, turning it to a two rak’at when one is travelling (musafir) [on a good cause free of maksiat]. It is not applicable to Maghrib and Fajar Prayers.
Allāh and His Messenger (sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) attached the ruling on the subject qasar (shortening of prayers) to travellers. Allāh says:
“And when you (Muslims) travel in the land, there is no sin on you if you shorten As-Solāh (the prayer) if you fear that the disbelievers may put you in trial (attack you), verily, the disbelievers are ever unto you open enemies”
And the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: “The prayer when travelling is a two rak’at.”
[Narrated by al-Nasā’ie, 1420; classified as sahih by al-Albāni in Sahih al-Nasā’ie]
The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: “Allāh has waived half the prayer for the traveller.”
[Narrated by al-Nasā’ie, 2275; classified as hasan by al-Albāni in Sahih al-Nasā’ie]
Anas bin Malik (radiallāhu’anhu) said: “We went out with the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) from Madinah to Makkah, and we prayed a two rak’ahs each time, until we came back to Madinah”.
[Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1081; Muslim, 693]
The scholars unanimously agreed that shortening (qasar) the solāt is mustahab for the traveller (musafir) than offering them in full, because the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) shortened (qasar) prayers during all his journeys, and there is no sahih report that he (sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) offered the prayers in full [ the four rak’at solāt] whilst travelling.
Ibn ‘Umar (radiallāhu`anhu) said: “I accompanied the Messenger of Allāh (sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) and he did not do more than two rak’at [i.e the four rak’at solāt] whilst travelling, and the same applies to Abu Bakar, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman (radiallāhu`anhum)”.
The Hanafis are of the view that it is obligatory for the traveller to shorten his prayers. But the correct view is that of the majority [the Hanbalis, Mālikis and Shāfi’ies], that shortening (qasar) the prayers is Sunnah Mu’akkadah (a confirmed Sunnah), and that it is better (mustahab) than offering the prayers in full.
[See: al-Ijma’ by Ibn al-Mundhir (27); al-Mughni (1/382); al-Mawsu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah (27/274)]
This is also indicated by the fact that it is not permissible for the non-traveller to shorten his prayers even if offering the prayer in full is difficult for him, which indicates that this ruling applies only to travel, not to difficulty.
The Standing Committee was asked: If a person travels a long distance by plane, but it only takes two hours or less, can this traveller shorten his prayers and break his fast in Ramadhān or not? Similarly if a person travels by car for two hundred miles or more in two and a half hours, for example, and comes back home in the evening, and he shortens his prayers, is this permissible or is it not permissible unless he faces difficulty and exhaustion when travelling?
Shortening the prayer (qasar) when travelling the distances mentioned is Sunnah, and breaking the fast in such cases is a concession that is granted to the traveller, whether it takes him a long time or a short time to cross that distance, and whether that causes him hardship or not, because what is assumed is that travelling involves hardship, even if that does not actually happen. This is the bounty and mercy of Allāh towards His slaves.
[Fatawa al-Lajnah al-Da’imah, 8/127]
Permissible distance entitle to qasar the solāt
Is it possible to shorten prayers if I know that I will be late coming back? Is the distance for travel 80 km (there and back) or is it only the distance of the outward journey, in order for it to be permissible to shorten and combine my prayers?
Shari’ah provides a concession of shortening (qasar) the prayers is the kind of travels which is customarily regarded as travel. According to the majority of scholars, the distance which avails for a traveler is defined as being two marhalah approximately fifty-six miles or ninety-one kilometers or more on his outward journey::
- May avail him of the concessions that are granted to travellers, such as wiping over the khuffayn (leather slippers or socks) for three days and nights, combining (jama’) and shortening (qasar) prayers, and not fasting in Ramadan.
- If the traveller reaches the city he has travelled to and intends to stay there for more than four days, then he cannot avail himself of the concession of travelling, but if he intends to stay for four days or less, then he may avail himself of the concession of travelling.
- If a musafir is staying in a place and he is uncertain when he will cease his business and he has not set a specific length of time for his stay, he may avail himself of the concessions of travelling even if that goes on for a lengthy period.
It is stipulated that the length of the outward journey should not be less than 80 kilometers in order for it to be permissible for you to shorten your prayers. If you are going to stay more than four days you should offer your prayers in full.
Jama’ (combining) of prayers - of Zuhur and ‘Asar, and Maghrib and ‘Isha’ - that is permissible for the traveller, is permissible for a non-traveller too if it is too hard for him to offer every prayer on time because of sickness or important work that cannot be delayed, such as a student taking exams or a doctor doing surgery and so on.
[Fatwa No: 105844 Islam QA]
And Allāh knows best.
[Excerpted with modifications from Fatwa No: 48979 Islam QA]