Shortening prayers – considerations of difficulty & distance
27 Aug 2011 02:16 GMT
 
With the advancements in technology that we are experiencing and the ease of travel that ensues from it, the hardships of moving from one place to another have been considerably reduced as compared to the past. The facility (allowance) to shorten our prayers was suited for people traveling in camel caravans so they could save on time and therefore travel during suitable hours in the desert terrain. People now say that due to the ease of travel by modern means of conveyance, the option of shortening our prayers no longer exists. What is the ruling in this regard? If the ruling still applies, what would the minimum distance for travel be today?

Answered by

Sheikh Sa`d al-Shuwayrikh

The rulings set forth in Islamic Law are general rulings that are suitable for every time and place. They are rulings that shall endure until the Day of Judgment.

Among these Islamic rulings is the ruling that a traveler can shorten his prayer. One aspect of the wisdom behind this ruling is that it helps to reduce the hardship that is faced by the traveler. However, this is not the reason for this ruling. Therefore, the ruling does not become invalidated in the absence of difficulty. Therefore, the problem brought up by the questioner really does not exist from a legal standpoint.

Shortening prayer is Sunnah, as stated by the majority of the people of knowledge. It is to shorten the four unit prayers to two units, these prayers being Zuhr, `Asr and `Ishâ’.

The Maghrib and Fajr prayers are not shortened.

Travel is defined by what is considered travel according to prevailing customs. The sacred texts do not set any specific minimum distance for determining what constitutes travel. Therefore, whatever people see according to prevailing custom to be travel is travel, and the rulings associated with travel will be applicable.

The distance of travel according to the majority of the people of knowledge has been determined to be eighty kilometers or more. Other scholars have maintained that there is no way of determining such a limit for the distance that constitutes travel. Whatever people call travel will be considered travel. This is the opinion that was adopted by Ibn Taymiyah.

Regarding the time limit that a person can stay in one place and continue to shorten his prayers, this has been given as being up to four days. If he is staying for more than four days, then the person should complete his prayers in full. This is the opinion adopted by the majority.

There are no other conditions.

And Allah knows best.

Source: Islam Today



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