How should the traveller pray?
Praise be to Allaah.
If you have resolved to stay in the place to which you are travelling for more than four days, then you come under the same ruling as a resident from the moment you arrive there, so you have to do what the residents do, i.e., offer the prayers in full, and it is not permissible for you to shorten them.
You may shorten the prayers during the journey, but when you reach the place you should offer the prayers in full, because you come under the same ruling as a resident.
It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (8/99): The kind of travel for which the concession of travel is prescribed is that which is regarded as travel according to custom, and the distance is approximately eighty kilometers. Whoever travels this distance or more may avail himself of the concessions for travellers, such as wiping over his socks for three days and two nights, joining and shortening prayers, and not fasting during Ramadaan. If this traveller intends to stay in a place for more than four days, then he should not avail himself of the concessions for travellers. If he intends to stay there for four days or less, then he may avail himself of the concessions for travellers. If a traveller stays in a place but does not know when he will finish his business and cannot state a certain length of time for his stay, then he may avail himself of the concessions for travelling even if he stays for a long time. It makes no difference whether he travels by land or by sea. End quote.
With regard to joining prayers, it is permissible for a traveller to join Zuhr and ‘Asr, and Maghrib and ‘Isha’, at the time of the earlier or later prayer, depending on what is easiest for him. But it is better for him not to do that unless it is difficult for him to offer every prayer on time.
Based on that, you can join two prayers together during the journey, but when you reach the place where you intend to stay for a month, then you should offer every prayer on time.
You should remember that prayer in congregation is obligatory for travellers as well as others.
And Allaah knows best.
He is traveling and joining the prayers is easier for him
Praise be to Allaah.
It is permissible to join Zuhr and ‘Asr prayers, and Maghrib and ‘Isha’, for one who is traveling. That is indicated by many ahaadeeth, such as the following:
1 – al-Bukhaari (1108) narrated that Anas ibn Maalik (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) joined Maghrib and ‘Isha’ prayers when traveling.
2 – Ahmad (3178) narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) joined two prayers whilst traveling. Shaykh Ahmad Shaakir (3288) said: Its isnaad is saheeh.
3 – In Saheeh Muslim (706) it was narrated that Mu’aadh said: We went out with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) on the campaign of Tabook, and he used to pray Zuhr and ‘Asr together, and Maghrib and ‘Isha’ together.
A traveler may be of two types:
1 – When he is actually on the road
2 – When he has made a stop, i.e., he is not on the road; either he has reached the place to which he is traveling, or he has made a stop on his journey and stayed there for a while.
It is permissible for any traveler to join prayers, whether he has made a stop or is on the road.
But is it better for the traveler to join the prayers or to offer each prayer at its proper time?
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said in his essay on the times of the prayer (Mawaaqeet al-Salaah, p. 26):
It is better for the traveler who has made a stop not to join the prayers, but if he joins them there is nothing wrong with that, unless he needs to join them because he is tired and needs to rest, or because it is hard for him to find water each time, and so on, in which case it is better for him to join the prayers and avail himself of the concession. But for the traveler who is on the road, it is better for him to join Zuhr and ‘Asr, and Maghrib and ‘Isha’ – in the way that is easier for him, either praying them at the time of the earlier prayer or the time of the later prayer.
Based on this, it is better for you to avail yourself of the concession, and join Zuhr and ‘Asr at the time of Zuhr, because this is easier for you. The Messenger of Allaah (S) was never given the choice between two things but he would choose that which was easier, so long as it was not a sin, in which case he would be the most careful of people to avoid it. Narrated by Muslim, 3560; Muslim, 2327.
In this case you have to strive to pray ‘Asr in congregation and look for someone to pray with you.
With regard to praying ‘Asr in the train whilst sitting, this is permissible according to the majority of scholars, if you cannot pray standing.
It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (8/120):
If the time for prayer comes and the plane is still in the air and there is the fear that the time for prayer will end before it lands, then the scholars are agreed that the prayer must be offered in whatever manner one can, bowing, prostrating and facing the qiblah if possible, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“So keep your duty to Allaah and fear Him as much as you can” [al-Taghaabun 64:16]
And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If I tell you to do something, do as much of it as you can.” Agreed upon.
But if it is known that the plane will land before the time for prayer ends, and there will be enough time to offer the prayer or the prayer is one which can be joined with another – such as Zuhr which may be joined with ‘Asr, or Maghrib which may be joined with ‘Isha’ – and it is known that the plane will land before the time for the second prayer ends and there will be enough time to offer the prayers, then the majority of scholars are of the view that it is permissible to offer the prayers in the plane, because it is obligatory to offer them when the time for prayer begins, in whatever manner one can, as stated above. This is the correct view.
And it also says (8/126):
It is not permissible to pray sitting down in a plane or elsewhere if one is able to stand, because of the general meaning of the verse (interpretation of the meaning):
“And stand before Allaah with obedience” [al-Baqarah 2:238]
And the hadeeth of ‘Imraan ibn Husayn which was narrated by al-Bukhaari: that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to him: “Pray standing, and if you cannot, then sitting, and if you cannot, then on your side.” Al-Nasaa’i added, with a saheeh isnaad: “And if you cannot, then lying on your back.”
Some of the scholars are of the view that it is not permissible to pray in planes, trains or cars because it is not possible to offer the prayer as it is offered when standing on the ground – unless there is the fear that the time for the prayer will end.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Fataawa Arkaan al-Islam (p. 380):
It is obligatory to pray in a plane if one does not know the time of the prayer, but if he cannot offer the prayer in the plane as he offers it on the ground, then he should not offer obligatory prayers in the plane if the plane will land before the time for prayer is over, or the time for the following prayer if it is a prayer that may be joined with another.
For example, if a plane takes off from Jeddah just before sunset and the sun sets whilst it is in the air, he should not pray Maghrib until the plane lands and he disembarks. But if he fears that the time will end and he intends to join it to ‘Isha’ at the time of the latter, he can pray them when he lands. But if the plane keeps on flying and there is the fear that the time for ‘Isha’ will end, which is at midnight, then he should pray them in the plane before the time ends.
Based on this, in order to be on the safe side, you should not pray ‘Asr in the train, rather you should join it with Zuhr at the time of Zuhr, as stated above.
Should a traveller offer the prayers in shortened form in his house or pray in congregation in the mosque?
Praise be to Allaah.
Prayer in congregation is obligatory and it is not permissible for a Muslim not to do that unless he has an excuse. We have already quoted the evidence for that from the Qur’aan and Sunnah.
Based on this, you have to offer the prayers in congregation in the mosque. If the imam is a resident (is not travelling) then you should offer the prayer in full with him, and not shorten it.
Shaykh Ibn Baaz was asked: If a person travels to Jeddah, for example, is he allowed to shorten his prayers or does he have to pray with the congregation in the mosque?
If the traveller is still en route, it does not matter, but if he has reached his destination then he should not pray on his own, rather he has to pray with the people and offer the prayer in full. But if he is still on the road and is alone and the time for prayer comes, there is nothing wrong with him praying on his own and shortening the prayers whilst travelling, making the four-rakah prayers two rak’ahs.
Majmoo Fataawa wa Maqaalaat Mutanawwi’iah li’l-Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (12/297).
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen was asked: when and how should a traveller pray?
The traveller may pray two rak’ahs from when he leaves his city or town, until he returns to it, because ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: “When the prayer was first enjoined it was two rak’ahs, then the prayer of the traveller remained like that but the prayer of one who is not travelling was increased to four.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1090; Muslim, 685.
And Anas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “We went out with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) from Madeenah to Makkah, and we prayed two rak’ahs each time, until we came back to Madeenah. Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1081; Muslim, 693.
But if a traveller prays with an imam he should pray four rak’ahs, whether he catches up with the prayer from the beginning or he misses part of it, because the general meaning of the Prophet’s words: “When you hear the iqaamah, then walk to the prayer, and you should be tranquil and dignified, and not rush. Whatever you catch up with, pray, and whatever you miss, complete it.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 636; Muslim, 602. The general meaning of the phrase “Whatever you catch up with, pray, and whatever you miss, complete it” includes travellers who pray behind an imam who is offering a four-rak’ah prayer, and others.
Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) was asked why a traveller should pray two-rak’ahs when he is alone and four when he prays behind a resident. He said: “That is the Sunnah.” Narrated by Muslim, 688; Ahmad, 1865.
The obligation to pray in congregation is not waived for the traveller, because Allaah has enjoined that even in the case of fighting. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“When you (O Messenger Muhammad) are among them, and lead them in As-Salaah (the prayer), let one party of them stand up [in Salaah (prayer)] with you taking their arms with them; when they finish their prostrations, let them take their positions in the rear and let the other party come up which have not yet prayed, and let them pray with you…” [al-Nisa’ 4:102]
Based on this, if the traveller is in a city or town other than his own, he has to attend prayers in congregation in the mosque if he hears the call to prayer, unless he is far away or fears that he may miss meeting up with his travelling companions, because of the general meaning of the evidence which indicates that the one who hears the adhaan or iqaamah is obliged to pray in congregation.
Majmoo’ Fataawa wa Rasaa’il al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 15/252.
He was also asked:
If I am travelling and I hear the call to prayer, do I have to pray in the mosque? If I pray in the place where I am staying, is there anything wrong with that? If the duration of my trip is more than four consecutive days, should I shorten my prayers or offer them in full?
He replied: If you hear the adhaan when you are in the place where you are staying, then you have to attend the mosque, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to a man who asked him for permission not to pray in congregation: “Can you hear the call?” He said, “Yes.” He said: “Then answer it.” Narrated by Muslim, 6533. And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever hears the call and does not come, there is no prayer for him (i.e., his prayer is not valid), except for one who has an excuse.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 217; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.
There is no evidence to indicate that this ruling applies only to the traveller, unless your going to the mosque will cause you some problems in your journey, such as if you need to rest and sleep and you want to pray in the place where you are staying so that you can sleep, or you are afraid that if you go to the mosque the imam will delay the prayer, and you want to leave and you are scared that you may miss the train or plane, etc.
Majmoo’ Fataawa wa Rasaa’il al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 15/422.