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Shortened Prayer (Arabic: صَلاةُ القَصر) or Traveller's Prayer (Arabic:صَلاةُ المُسافِر) is a term used as opposite to complete prayer. Upon certain conditions, it is obligatory for a traveler to shorten four Rak'a prayers and perform them in two Rak'as. Shortening prayer is obligatory for travellers according to Imamiyya; however according to other Islamic sects, it is only permissible, not obligatory.
In the Qur'an and Sunna
The reason for this ruling is (Qur'an 4:101):
- "When you journey in the land, there is no sin upon you in shortening the prayers, if you fear that the faithless may trouble you; …"
It has been documented in both Sunni and Shi'a sources that while travelling, the Holy Prophet (s) shortened four Rak'a prayers and performed them in two Rak'as. In Hadith and jurisprudential compilations, separate chapters have been dedicated to the discussion of shortening prayers while travelling.
Islamic Jurisprudential Schools
Among Islamic sects, Imamiyya and Hanafi School deem shortening prayer as an obligation for the traveller; however, Maliki School regards the act of shortening a highly recommended practice, and Shafi'i School and Hanbali School deem it permissible, meaning a traveller can pray either in four or two Rak'as, without any obligation or preference in either option.
Those who deem shortening unnecessary have appealed to the phrase "there is no sin upon you in shortening". In contrast, those who regard it as an obligation would reply that the verse intended to wipe away the false mentality which considered qasr prayer invalid. In some other verses of the Holy Qur'an, the same phrase is used to denote obligation.
Additionally and based on the apparent meaning of the verse, some have restricted the permissibility of shortening to situations of fear and insecurity. However, The Prophetic Tradition has interpreted the verse in nonrestrictive terms; i.e. both in security and danger, the Prophet (s) would shorten his prayers while travelling. Based on this explanation, the clause "if you fear …" in the verse is taken to be only a reference to the prevalence of such situations at that time, not a restrictive term.
Technical Definition of Traveller in Islamic Jurisprudence
According to Islamic Jurisprudence, a Traveller (whose prayer must be shortened) is:
- a person whose travel exceeds the Shar'i distance, that is, the covered distance (whether going or going and returning combined) must be at least eight Shar'i leagues (approximately 45 km.)
- From the beginning of the trip, the traveller must be aware of covering or exceeding the mentioned distance; and must remain so until reaching the distance.
- The traveller must not cross his hometown anywhere within the mentioned distance; neither should he remain somewhere ten days or more.
- The traveller must not travel for Haram purposes.
- The traveller must not be of nomads who mostly travel.
- Travelling must not be his job.
- The traveller must cross the Tarakhkhus Limit.
The Rulings of Shortened Prayer
- Any traveller with the abovementioned conditions must perform four Rak'a prayers in two Rak'as; thus, the ruling of shortening prayer does not apply in Fajr prayer (which is two Rak'as by itself) and Maghrib (which is three Rak'as).
- During the time span for one prayer, like from noon to sunset for noon prayer, if a traveller performs his noon prayer in shortened form, and then arrives in his hometown before sunset, he is not required to redo the noon prayer in complete form; however, if he has not performed the noon prayer any time before arrival, he must perform it in complete form after arrival.
- The Qada' (making up missed prayers) of a shortened prayer must be performed in shortened form.
The Reason Behind Shortening Prayer in Travel
Islamic practical laws are based on real good and evil, which are sometimes explained, and sometimes remain hidden to us. In some narrations, shortening of traveller's prayer (and breaking a traveller's fast) have been regarded as a gift and remission from God, because of different conditions, exhaustion and busyness during travels. It has been stated in a narration by Imam al-Sadiq (a) from the Holy Prophet (s):
- "Allah has bestowed a gift upon me and my nation, which has not been given to other nations …, breaking fast and shortening prayer in travel; therefor, whoever does not comply, has rejected Allah's gift."
- Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, vol. 2, p. 42.
- Ḥaydar, al-Imām al-Ṣādiq wa l-madhāhib al-arbaʿa, vol. 3, p. 345.
- Subḥānī, al-Qaṣr fī l-safar, p. 5-6.
- Subḥānī, al-Qaṣr fī l-safar, p. 13.
- Qurʾān, 2:158 .
- Subḥānī, al-Qaṣr fī l-safar, p. 12.
- Yazdī, al-ʿUrwat al-wuthqā, vol. 3, p. 414-470.
- Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Wasāʾil al-Shīʿa, vol. 8, p. 520, Ḥadīth 11337.
- Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Wasāʾil al-Shīʿa, vol. 8, p. 520, Ḥadīth 11336.
- Bukhārī, Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl al-. Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī. Beirut: Dār Ṭawq al-Nijāh, 1422 AH.
- Ḥaydar, Asad. Al-Imām al-Ṣādiq wa l-madhāhib al-arbaʿa. Fifth edition. Beirut: Dār al-Taʿāruf, 1422 AH.
- Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-. Wasāʾil al-Shīʿa. Qom: Muʾassisat Āl al-Bayt li-Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth, 1410 AH.
- Subḥānī, Jaʿfar. Al-Qaṣr fī l-safar. Qom: Muʾassisat al-Nashr al-Islāmī, 1420 AH.
- Yazdī, Sayyid Muḥammad Kāẓim al-. Al-ʿUrwat al-wuthqā. Qom: Muʾassisat al-Nashr al-Islāmī, 1420 AH.