The ruling on al-Jumu’ah for the traveller?
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid
Could we leave Solat al-Jumu'ah (Friday praying) when we’re travelling (musafir)?
In the Name of Allāh, Most Gracious, Most Merciful,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Firstly, Salāt al-Jumu’ah (Friday prayer) is not obligatory on the traveller. This is the opinion of the majority of scholars, including the followers of the four schools of Abu Hanīfah, Mālik, al-Shāfi’ie and Ahmad.
The Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used to travel frequently: he performed ‘Umrah three times, besides the ‘Umrah he performed along with Hajj. He performed his Farewell Pilgrimage accompanied by thousands upon thousands of people, and he went on more than twenty military campaigns, but there are no reports at all that say he prayed Jumu’ah or Eid prayers when travelling; he just prayed two rak’ahs [i.e., shortened prayers] as on all the other days.
There are also no reports that say he preached a khutbah on a Friday when he was travelling, neither standing on his own two feet or from atop his camel, as he used to do on Eid, or from a minbar, as he used to do on Fridays. He occasionally used to deliver an address to the people when he was travelling, and this was narrated by them… but no-one reported that he delivered a khutbah to them before prayer on a Friday whilst travelling, and no-one reported that he recited Qur’ān aloud on a Friday (i.e., during Salat al-Zuhur, on a journey). If he had done something out of the ordinary and recited aloud or delivered a khutbah, they would have reported it.
On the Day of ‘Arafāh, he delivered a khutbah, then he came down and led them in a two-rak’ah prayer, but no one reported that he recited aloud in that prayer. That khutbah was not for Jumu’ah – because if it had been for Jumu’ah, he would have done the same (delivered a khutbah) on every other Friday (when he was travelling); that khutbah was given because it was part of the rituals (of Hajj). Hence all the Muslim scholars said that he would have given a khutbah at ‘Arafāh even if it had not been a Friday. This mutawātir report proves that it was a khutbah for the Day of ‘Arafāh, not for Friday.”
From the above we know that Jumu’ah is not obligatory for the traveller, all that he has to do is to pray Zuhur. However, if he prays Jumu’ah with the people of the place he is visiting, this is permissible. It says in al-Sharh al-Kabeer (2/154): “Whoever of these people – travellers, slaves and women – attends al-Jumu’ah, does not have to pray Zuhur, and we know of no dispute on this point. Their exemption from having to attend Jumu’ah is to make things easy for them, but if they attend, it is permissible, as is the case with the sick person.
It is preferable for the traveller to attend Jumu’ah, because this would be better, and is on the safe side (because some scholars think that Jumu’ah is obligatory for the traveller who is staying in a particular place, but not for the traveller who is on the road), as he comes under the general meaning of the āyah (interpretation of the meaning): “O you who believe! When the call is proclaimed for the Salāh on the Day of Friday (Jumu’ah prayer), come to the remembrance of Allāh, and leave off business (and every other thing), that is better for you, if you did but know!” [al-Jumu’ah 62:9].
Secondly, Since al-Jumu’ah prayer is waived for the traveller, so he should pray Zuhur, shortening it to a two rak’ahs, and he may join it with ‘Asar at the time of the earlier or later prayer, according to what he needs to do. But it is better not to join it unless he needs to do so, if it will be difficult for him to perform each prayer at its own time.
Shaykh Ibn Baaz (rahimallah) said:
“The one for whom Allah has prescribed shortening of prayers, namely the traveller, is permitted to join prayers but the two concessions do not necessarily go together. He may shorten the prayers without joining them, and not joining them is better if the traveller has arrived at his destination and is no longer on the road, as the Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) did in Mina during the Farewell Pilgrimage; he shortened the prayers but did not join them. But he both joined and shortened prayers during the campaign to Tabuk, which indicates that this (concession) is prescribed to make things easy when there is a need for that. And he (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) used to shorten and join prayers if he was on the road and was not staying in the place”
[Majma’ Fatāwa Ibn Baaz, 12/289]
Usually when the traveller is on the road he needs to join the prayers, because that is easier for him, so that he will not have to make a further stop in order to pray, which may be difficult for him and delay his journey.
Based on that, a traveller may observe Zuhur as two rak’ahs and join ‘Asar to it, at the time of the earlier or later prayer, according to what is easier for you.
And Allah knows best.
[Via Islam QA Fatwa No: 2905 and 129367)]