Prayers of a Traveler (Musafir)

Prayers of a Traveler (Musafir)

What is the Distance to be Covered in Order to be Regarded as a Traveler?

What are the Decrees about being a Traveler?

What is the Decree about Shortening (Qasr) Prayers?

Why are Prayers Shortened?

What is the Necessary Condition to Shorten Prayers?

Beginning from Where are Prayers Started to be Shortened?

Up to How Many Days are Prayers Shortened While Travelling?

 

Prayers of a Traveler (Musafir)

In Arabic, the word safar means to walk, to travel to any distance.

In fiqh (religious terminology), it means to set off with the intention of walking a distance of at least 3 days.

A person who sets off with such an intention is called a musafir or safari (traveler).

The opposite of safar is iqamah. It means to live in the place where one was born or where he settled. Such a person is called a muqim (resident).

  

What is the Distance to be Covered in Order to be Regarded as a Traveler?

It is a distance of 3 days with a medium-speed walking including rests. Medium-speed is the walking of a camel in a caravan or the walking of a pedestrian; in the sea, it is the speed of a sailing boat in mild weather.  

A day's walk is accepted as 6 hours. If it is taken into consideration that a pedestrian walks about 5 km an hour, the three-day distance is 6x3 = 18 hours in terms of time, and 5x6 = 30 km a day and 30x3 = 90 km in three days in terms of length.

This is valid for traveling on land. The distance to be covered in the sea accompanied by moderate wind is regarded as 90 miles. 

The journeys shorter than the times mentioned above are not regarded as safar.  

Today, the means of transportation have changed but it is necessary to act in accordance with the criteria above. For, the means of transportation and their speed constantly change. A method cannot be introduced for each change. They are relative states. Therefore, the natural means of transportation need to be taken into account. Even if these distances are covered very fast by speedy means of transportation, the decree does not change.

Planes fly over the land or sea or over both the land and sea. No matter if a plane flies over the land or sea, a person is regarded as a musafir when the distance covered amounts to 3 days, the time period accepted for travelling by the land or sea. For instance, if a person travels by plane a distance of one day over the sea and two days over the land only in half an hour, he is regarded as a musafir.   

Traveling is a state of difficulty. To catch a vehicle on time, breakdowns, adverse weather conditions are difficult aspects of traveling. These difficulties do not decrease as means of transportation develop; they may increase.   

Therefore, it is not appropriate to base safar (traveling) on the speed of the means of transportation instead of the distance covered.  (*)

 

What are the Decrees about being a Traveler?

Islam introduced some ease and permissions for travelers:

* A person who travels in the month of Ramadan can delay fasting.

* The time limit for wiping over khuffs worn on feet is three days and nights for a traveler.

* The most important ease and permission is shortening prayers. A traveler performs 4-rak'ah prayers as two rak'ahs. It is called qasr as-salat (shortening prayers).

 

What is the Decree about Shortening (Qasr) Prayers?

In Hanafi madhhab, it is wajib to shorten prayers. In that case, shortening prayers is a metaphorical permission. In other permissions, a person is free to do it or not to do it. However, in shortening prayers, it is compulsory.

Therefore, if a traveler does not shorten his prayers and perform them as four rak'ahs, he commits a makruh deed. The prayer is completed when the first two rak'ahs are performed. The last two rak'ahs become supererogatory. However, since he does not salute at the end of the second rak'ah, he is regarded to have abandoned a wajib and committed a makruh deed. His prayer is valid but makruh. One should not expect any rewards from a prayer performed by committing a makruh deed.

If a traveler stands up at the end of the second rak'ah without sitting, his prayer is invalidated. For, it is fard for a traveler to sit at the end of the prayer since he performs it as two rak'ahs. In that case, a fard is abandoned; therefore, the prayer is invalidated.   

According to Shafiis, a traveler is free to shorten his prayer or not. That is, he can perform it as two rak'ahs or four rak'ahs.

To shorten a prayer was made legitimate in the 4th year of the Migration. Its legitimacy is definite by the Quran, the Sunnah and the consensus of the ummah.

The evidence from the Quran about the legitimacy of shortening prayers is verse 101 of the chapter of an-Nisa.

The evidence from the Sunnah is the following narration:

Ibn Abbas said:

"Allah made prayer fard as 4 rak'ahs when you are resident and 2 rak'ahs when you travel with the statement of your Prophet."

Hz. Aisha stated the following:

"Prayer was made fard as two rak'ahs bot for travelers and residents at first. Then, it remained as two rak'ahs for travelers; the prayers of residents were increased."

 

Why are Prayers Shortened?

The reason for shortening prayers is traveling. The wisdom behind it is difficulties.

Therefore, even if the wisdom does not exist but the reason exists, the prayer is shortened. That is, a traveler shortens his prayer even if he does not face any difficulties and troubles during his traveling and stay in the places where he goes. For, traveling, which is the reason for and wisdom behind shortening, exists. A person cannot shorten prayers when he is a resident even if he faces many difficulties and troubles. For, traveling, which is the reason for and wisdom behind shortening, does not exist.

 

What is the Necessary Condition to Shorten Prayers?

First, it is necessary to make niyyah (intention) for safar (travel). Prayers are not shortened without niyyah for travel.

It is necessary to make niyyah for a distance of at least 3 days from the beginning of the one-way journey for the niyyah to be valid. The time period for the return journey is not taken into account; only the journey to the destination must last at least 3 days.   

A person who travels around without any intention, who does not know where goes and who does not have a certain destination cannot shorten his prayers even if he travels a distance of more than 3 days since he has no intention of safar.

It is also necessary to have reached the age of puberty for the intention of safar.

 

Beginning from Where are Prayers Started to be Shortened?

A person who makes a niyyah to travel and sets off starts to shorten his prayers when he leaves behind the buildings of the town he lives in. It is necessary for him to leave behind the residential areas in the direction he travels. It is necessary to leave behind the districts of a city that are connected to one another.

However, the places that are outside the city and that used to be part of the city but that are in ruins now are not regarded as part of the city. It is not necessary to leave them behind in order to start shortening prayers. If there is a village adjacent to the city, it is necessary to leave that village  behind in order to start shortening prayers.

 

Up to How Many Days are Prayers Shortened While Travelling?

A person is regarded as a musafir if he leaves the town or village he lives in with the intention of safar until he returns there or unless he makes an intention to stay at least 15 days in the town/country where he goes; therefore, he shortens his prayers.   

If he makes an intention on the way to the town to stay there 15 days, this intention is not valid. If he makes the intention after the journey ends, it is valid.   

If a person stays even for a month in a place where he goes on business without an intention of staying for 15 days, he needs to shorten his prayers because he does not have the intention of staying 15 days.

The place a person intends to stay for 15 days must be the same place. A person who intends to stay in different cities and towns 15 days in total is not regarded as a muqim (resident). He continues to act like a musafir.   

The intention to stay somewhere must be at least 15 full days. If a person intends to stay somewhere for a week but at the end of the week he intends to stay 10 more days, his state of safar does not end though he stays there for 17 days; he continues to shorten his prayers.   

For, the periods were determined separately; the intention for staying there was not 15 days as a whole in the beginning.

If a person sets off with the intention of a 3-day journey and wants to return before 3 days, he is no longer regarded as a musafir; he performs his prayers fully.

If a person decides to stay somewhere before the period for traveling ends, his state of safar ends.   

The annulment of the decree of shortening:

If a traveler returns in midway without completing the 3-day distance or if he intends to return, his state of safar ends. For instance, if a person intends to return home after covering a distance of two days but spends some more time there, his state of safar ends. He cannot shorten his prayers after that; he has to perform them fully.

If he intends to return home after covering a distance of 3 days, his state of safar does not end unless he returns home. In that case, the intention to return home is not enough.

Parts of watan (country):

Watan is divided into 3 in terms of living and settling:

1 * Watan al-asli: It is the place where a person was born and lives or the place where he settled if he migrated to another country.

2 * Watan al-iqamah: The place where a musafir intends to stay 15 days or more.   

3 * Watan as-sukna: The place where a musafir intends to stay fewer than 15 days during his travel.

Watan al-asli can be replaced by another watan al-asli. If a person leaves the place where he was born and grew up and settles in another country, this place becomes his new watan al-asli. The place where he was born is no longer his watan al-asli. When he goes there again, he is regarded as a musafir there.   

Issues related to safar:

* If it is suitable, a musafir performs sunnah prayers. If it is not suitable, he may abandon performing sunnah prayers.

* If a musafir shortens a prayer when its time starts and intends to be a muqim toward the end of its time, he does not have to perform that prayer again as 4 rak'ahs. However, if a musafir skips a prayer and intends to be a muqim, he performs that missed prayer as two rak'ahs.

* If a musafir follows an imam who is a muqim, he performs that prayer as 4 rak'ahs with the imam.  

* If a muqim follows a musafir imam, he needs to stand up and complete his prayer as 4 rak'ahs when the imam salutes at the end of the second rak'ah. However, he does not read (perform qira'ah) in these two rak'ahs. After standing for a while, he performs ruku and sajdahs. However, it is permissible to perform qira'ah.

It is necessary for a musafir imam to remind the muqim congregation that he is a musafir and that they need to complete their prayers.   

As a matter of fact, the Prophet led the prayer to the people of Madinah during the conquest of Makkah and saluted after the second rak'ah; he said to the people of Makkah, "Complete your prayers; we are musafirs."

* It is permissible to start a journey on Friday before the time for Friday prayer starts. It is makruh to start a journey without performing Friday prayer when its time starts.   

* Related to being a musafir and muqim, the intention of the leader of the group, not the members, is valid. Therefore, a soldier is subject to his commander, an employee to his employer, a student to his teacher and a woman to her husband. They become musafirs or muqims based on the intention of their leaders.

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