If a traveller unspecific stays in a place awaiting something to be fulfilled may still Shorten the Prayers
Question: I am travelling for a month and then going back home; am I allowed to pray qasar (to shorten my prayer), taking into consideration that I know in advance that I am going for a defined period, or should I pray in the normal way?
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger
The basic principle is that the traveller who is actually travelling is the one who is granted a concession allowing him to shorten the four-rak’at prayers.
Allah subhanahu wata`ala says:
“And when you (Muslims) travel in the land, there is no sin on you if you shorten As-Salah (the prayer)”
And Ya’la ibn Umayyah (radialahu`anhu) said: I said to ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (radiallahu`anhu):
“ ‘And when you (Muslims) travel in the land, there is no sin on you if you shorten As-Salah (the prayer) if you fear that the disbelievers may put you in trial (attack you),’” ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab said: I wondered the same thing as you, and I asked the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam ) about it, and he said: “It is a charity that Allah has bestowed upon you, so accept His charity.”
[Narrated by Muslim]
If a traveller unspecific, stays in a place awaiting something to be fulfilled or resolved, he still may shorten his prayer, for he is considered a traveller.
Generally speaking, the shortening or qasar the prayer while travelling is a legal concession provided by syari’ah that portrays tolerance and simplicity in matters of worship. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) used to shorten his prayer whenever he was on a journey. He (s.a.w) is reported to have said:
“Allah likes His servants to undertake the legal concessions given to them in the same way as He likes them to observe their obligations.”
The late Azharite scholar Sheikh Sayyed Sabiq (rahimahullah) states the following: A traveller is allowed to shorten his prayer. If he stays in a place awaiting something to be fulfilled, he still may shorten his prayer, for he is considered a traveller, even if he stayed for years.
Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahullah) maintains that if a traveller intends to stay in a place for a specific period, he may shorten the prayer, because staying in a place during the journey for either a long or a short period does not nullify the state of travelling. This is provided that the traveller did not intend to reside in the place permanently.
There are many legal opinions and they are summed up by Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahullah), who finally confirms his own opinion saying:
“It is proven that the Prophet (s.a.w) stayed in Makkah during the year of the Conquest for nineteen days, during which he shortened his prayers, and he stayed in Tabuk for twenty days to fight the Christians, and he led his companions in shortened prayers, because he had not resolved to stay, rather his intention was to leave once he had finished his business”
The Sahaabah (radialahu`anhum) Qasar solah when travelled for jihad
The Sahabah (radialahu`anhum) did not travel for a vacation for months. Rather they would travel for jihad for the sake of Allah, or to seek knowledge, or to seek a halal provision, and other religious and worldly interests, such as Ibn ‘Umar (radialahu`anhu) who stayed in Azerbaijan for six months, and snow kept him from entering, and he shortened his prayers.
Thus, staying in a place, in the course of travelling, whether for a long or a short period, is considered part of the journey of the traveller, so long as he does not intend to stay in such a place on a long-term basis.
This is an issue of debate between both precedent and antecedent jurists and scholars.
Imam Ahmad maintains that if a traveller intends to stay in a place for four days, he has to perform the whole prayer. And if he intends to stay for a shorter time, he may shorten it.
The Malikis and the Shafi`ies consider that if a traveller intends to stay in a place for more than four days, he has to perform the whole prayer. If he intends to stay there for less than four days, he is allowed to shorten it.
Imam Abu Hanifah and Al-Layth Ibn Sa`ad (rahimahullah) agree that a traveller has to perform the whole of his prayer if he intends to stay in a place for fifteen days, and he may shorten if he stays for less than that.
The four main schools of fiqh agree that if a traveller stays in a place awaiting something but he doesn’t know when it will be done, he can shorten his prayer.
But, the Shafi`ies maintain that in such a case, a traveller can shorten his prayer for a period up to seventeen or eighteen days, but no more.
Now, you can shorten your prayer until you return to your home.
As for joining two prayers in the time of one of them, it is allowed by all jurists except those pertaining to the Hanafi School. They agree that performing two prayers in the time of one of them is permissible in three cases: while travelling, when the weather conditions are bad and rainy, and when people gather at `Arafat and Muzdalifah during Hajj.
Accordingly, a traveller may join Zuhur and `Asar prayers in the time of one of them, and Maghrib and `Isha’ in the time of one of them, all in the course of his journey.
No need to make up the shortened prayers.
The Standing Committee was asked about a person who was sent by Europe, who stayed there for nearly one and half years and he shortened his prayer.
They replied: You do not have to make up the prayers that you shortened or delayed or joined with other prayers, because it is possible that you may come under the heading of travelling.
[And there is no makeup for solah, for those negligently missed it. Solah is done within the appointed time. Qasar is a concession within a frame of time, either taqdim or ta’khir]
But in the future you should pray the four-rak'ah prayers in full and offer every prayer on time, because the ruling of travel no longer applies to you, because you have resolved to stay, and you have resolved to stay for more than four days. So you have to pray in congregation if possible, and do not pray alone.
[Fatawa al-Lajnah al-Da’imah (8/155)]
And Allah Almighty knows best.
[Excerpted with modification from Islam Online, Ask about Islam, published April 7, 2003]