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New Muslims Pillars of Islam

Five Prerequisites for Shortening the Prayer

By Editorial Staff

Shortening the Prayer means to perform the regularly four-rak’ah prayer, namely, the Dhuhr (Noon), ‘Asr (Afternoon) and ‘Isha’ (Evening) Prayers, as only two-rak’ah prayer during travel.

Shortening the Prayer means to perform the regularly four-rak’ah prayer, namely, the Dhuhr (Noon), ‘Asr (Afternoon) and ‘Isha’ (Evening) Prayers, as only two-rak’ah prayer during travel.

The Legal Ruling Concerning Shortening the Prayer

The majority of scholars including the shafi’i School of Fiqh believe that a traveller may shorten the four-rak’ah prayer to only two. On the other hand, some scholars of the Zahiri School of Fiqh believe it is obligatory. The Zahiri Scholars base their opinion on the fact that there is no authentic proof that shows that Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) completed the Prayer during travel.

In addition, ‘A’isha, the wife of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), reported:

The prayer was prescribed as two rak’ahs, two rak’ahs both in journey and at the place of residence. The prayer while travelling remained as it was (originally prescribed), but an addition was made in the prayer (observed) at the place of residence. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim, this is the wording of Muslim)

The majority of scholars’ opinion is that shortening the Prayer is permissible but some of them believe it is recommended. Allah says,

Now, when you strike out in the land, then there shall be no blame on you if you shorten (something) of the Prayer, should you fear that those who disbelieve will assail you. Indeed, the disbelievers are to you a clear enemy. (Quran 4:101)

The sentence “there shall be no blame on you” does not denote obligation. On the other hand, you may say that according to the apparent meaning of the verse shortening the Prayer is allowed only when one feels unsafe. “People are now safe!”, ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab wondered upon reciting the above mentioned verse. “It is an act of charity which Allah has done to you, so accept His charity”, said Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace). (Muslim)

According to the Shafi’i school of Fiqh, there are five prerequisites for shortening the Prayer. Let us consider these prerequisites.

Prerequisites for Shortening the Prayer

1. Travel must not be for committing any acts of disobedience

The purpose of shortening the Prayer is to lighten the travel burden for people. That’s why travelling for theft or robbery for example can never be a reason that allows a person to shorten the Prayer. However, there is another opinion which does not differentiate between travels whether they are legal and for fulfilling permissible deeds or not. Moreover, there is no explicit evidence for such differentiation.

2. An outward journey (without return) must be 16 Parasangs long or 80 km

So long as an outward journey is about or more than 80 or 82 km in length, you may, then, shorten your prayer and break the fast. “Ibn ‘Umar and Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with both of them) used to shorten the Prayer and break the fast when they travelled for four barids[i] which are equal to 16 parasangs”, related Al-Bukhari as part of a Mu’allaq (Suspended) Hadith in his Sahih Al-Bukhari.

Discussing this opinion, some scholars believe that neither this hadith is Marfu’ (elevated) to Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) nor they used to measure distances at that time. That’s why there are lots of different opinions on this issue. In addition, Ibn ‘Umar and Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with both of them) were reported to have expressed opinions different to what is mentioned above. Yahya ibn Yazid al-Huna’i reported:

I asked Anas ibn Malik about shortening of prayer. He said: When the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) had covered a distance of three miles or three farsakh (parasang) (Shu’ba, one of the narrators, had some doubt about it) he observed two rak’ahs. (Muslim)

Although this hadith is related by Imam Muslim, the majority of scholars do not act according to it. This may be due to the doubt the narrator had. Moreover, some scholars of hadith regard the chain of narration of this hadith as defective.

Due to these differences and the lack of evidence which is free from defects or oppositions, it appears that what counts here are the people’s customs.

3. Performing the Four-Rak’ah Prayer in its Prescribed Time

If you miss one or more prayer before setting off for a journey, you must make up for such prayer in full during the journey. This is because the time of performance for this or these prayers is up before travelling.

On the contrary, if you start your journey within the prescribed time for a certain prayer, you may shorten that prayer. For example, if the time for Dhuhr (Noon) Prayer is due at 12 noon and you set off for your journey at 2 p.m., you may shorten the Dhuhr Prayer.

4. Intending to shorten the Prayer just before or at the beginning of the Prayer

If you perform the Prayer in congregation and you do not know whether the Imam will shorten the Prayer or not, you may depend in your intention on the Imam’s intention. Not knowing which kind of Hajj Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) had performed, Ali ibn Abi Talib (Allah be pleased with him) depended on the intention of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

5. The traveller must not be following a resident Imam

This is also a prerequisite to follow the imam of prayer. If the imam is a traveller and will shorten the prayer, you must do the same. On the contrary, if he is a resident, you should perform your prayer in full even if you come late and join the prayer in the middle or last rak’ah of it. “Why do we perform prayer in full when we join the congregational prayer with you and shorten it at our camp?”  Musa ibn Salamah Al-Hudhali asked ibn ‘Abbas. “This is the Sunnah of Abu Al-Qasim (Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and grant him peace)”, he replied.

How many days may the traveller shorten the Prayer?

Scholars differentiate between travellers who do not know exactly when they will return home and others who may be considered domiciled residents. The first kind of travellers shortens the prayer even if the journey takes a long time.

The second kind who knows how long the journey will take may shorten the prayer for only three or four days.


[i] Barid (pl. burud) is an ancient Arabic unit of distance of about 22 or 23 km.

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Categories
ABC's of Islam New Muslims

Everything about Combining Prayers

By Editorial Staff

Islamic Fiqh (Jurisprudence) is practical enough to suit every Muslim. There is no room for hardship or strain because of the flexibility that is there in it. An example of this is combining the Salah (Prayer) which this article will discuss.

The main legal ruling is that every prayer has an allocated time for performance. Here, there are two things. One thing is that a good number of Muslims perform every prayer at the very beginning of its specified time at mosques. The second thing is that many people have legal excuses which may prevent them from performing prayer at its time or at the mosque.

In fact, travel is one of the main legal excuses which allow a Muslim to combine and shorten Prayers. Other important reasons may include fear, sickness, heavy rain, snow, etc.

Travel is one of the main legal excuses which allow a Muslim to combine and shorten Prayers.

The Definition and the Legal Ruling

Combining Prayers means to perform the Dhuhr (Noon) and ‘Asr (Afternoon) Prayers at either of the specified time for both of them, namely, whether to perform them at the time of Dhuhr or at the time of ‘Asr. Likewise, you may combine the Maghrib (Sunset) and ‘Isha (Evening) Prayers at either of the specified time for both of them.

The majority of scholars believe that it is permissible to combine only two Prayers, whether Dhuhr with ‘Asr or Maghrib with ‘Isha, at the time of the former or the latter. However, some others think it is reprehensible to perform the two prayers at the time of the former especially for Maghrib and ‘Isha.

On the other hand, Hanbali scholars are of the opinion that it is not permissible to combine the Jumu’ah (Friday) prayer with the ‘Asr Prayer. However, it is apparently permissible because the Jumu’ah prayer is a substitute for Dhuhr prayer. Moreover, combining prayers are allowed for the sake of facilitation.

Evidence of the Permissibility

Anas b. Malik reported:

When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) set out on a journey before the sun declined (from the meridian), he delayed the Noon prayer till the Afternoon prayer, and then dismounted (his ride) and combined them (Noon and Afternoon prayers), but if the sun had declined before his setting out on a journey, he observed the Noon prayer and then mounted (the ride). (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

This hadith supports the opinion that you may not combine two prayers before setting off for a journey.

Another proof which may seem conflicting

‘Abdullah b. Shaqiq reported:

Ibn ‘Abbas one day addressed us in the afternoon (after the Afternoon prayer) till the sun disappeared and the stars appeared, and the people began to say: Prayer, prayer.

A person from Banu Tamim came there. He neither slackened nor turned away, but (continued crying): Prayer, prayer.

Ibn ‘Abbas said: May you be deprived of your mother, do you teach me Sunnah? And then he said: I saw the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) combining the Noon and Afternoon prayers and the Sunset and Evening prayers.

‘Abdullah b. Shaqiq said: Some doubt was created in my mind about it. So I came to Abu Huraira and asked him (about it) and he testified his assertion. (Muslim)

In another narration, Ibn ‘Abbas reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) observed the Noon and Afternoon prayers together, and the Sunset and Evening prayers together without being in a state of fear or in a state of journey. (Muslim)

Zaidiyyah, one of the Shia sects, act always according to this hadith and combine prayers without any legal excuse. To do this means to neglect the other authentic legal texts. Consider, for example, the following verse. Allah says,

“…Indeed, the Prayer is (a) prescribed (obligation) for the believers at the (well-known) appointed times.” (Quran 4:103)

That’s why some scholars find this hadith equivocal because it seems to allow a person to combine prayers without any legal excuses such as travel, fear, sickness, etc.

To reconcile, Scholars mention the following explanations:

1. Some scholars believe that combining Prayers in this hadith is nominal. This means Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) performed Dhuhr Prayer at the end of its time and performed ‘Asr Prayer at the beginning of its time. This explanation is related in Sahih Muslim after one of the relevant narrations.

2. Another opinion is that this hadith is Shadh (anomalous) or abrogated.

3. A third opinion allows acting according to this hadith only in cases of necessity. For example, if a person cannot perform prayer before the expiration of its time due to exams or operations etc. he or she can combine Prayers.

4. A further opinion states that you may sometimes act according to this hadith, namely, to combine prayer without excuse out of emulation of Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

5. Lastly, some scholars interpret this part of the hadith (without being in a state of fear or in a state of journey) to mean that they are not the only excuses. There may be other excuses which made Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) combine prayers.

May a traveller combine Prayers for one or two days after reaching his or her destination?

So long as a traveller is still on his way to a certain place, he or she may combine Prayers. However, after reaching his or her destination, may he or she continue to combine Prayers?

There are two opinions. The first opinion is that it is apparently permissible to continue combining Prayers after you arrive in your destination. Mu’adh b. Jabal reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) combined in the expedition to Tabuk the Noon prayer with the Afternoon prayer and the Sunset prayer with the Evening prayer.

He (one of the narrators) said: What prompted him to do that? He (Mu’adh) replied that he (the Holy Prophet) wanted that his Ummah should not be put to (unnecessary) hardship. (Muslim)

On the other hand, the second opinion is that it is recommended and more preferred to perform every prayer at its specified time. While performing Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makkah), Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) shortened prayer in Mina on the day of tarwiyah, the 8th of Dhul-Hijjah, and the days of Tashriq, the 11th, 12th and 13th days of Dhul-Hijjah. However, He did not combine Prayers on these days. In addition, the prerequisites that allow a person to shorten prayer apply here.

Is it permissible for residents to combine Prayers when there is heavy rain, strong wind or the weather is snowy?

Yes. This is permissible according to the majority of scholars. The hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas and which is mentioned above supports this opinion.

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