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Juridical distance

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Juridical distance (Arabic:المَسافَة الشَّرعِیَّة) is the minimum distance from one's town at which one counts as a juridical (shar'i) traveler and should thus shorten their prayers and break their fasts. According to the majority of Shiite faqihs (jurisprudents), the juridical distance is eight parasangs, both a one-way trip or a round trip.

Difference Between Distance and the Limit of Tarakhkhus

According to Shiite faqihs, for a traveler to shorten their prayers, they have to intend to travel eight parasangs (equivalent to 40 to 45 kilometers). This 8-parasang distance is the juridical distance.

The traveler can shorten their prayers or break their fast only if they have travelled a certain distance. This is called the limit of Tarakhkhus (the distance at which the call for prayers in the departed city is not heard or the walls of its houses are not visible). This criterion also applies to when one arrives in his or her hometown or where one will stay for over ten days.

Calculation of the Juridical Distance

In the fasting section of Wasa'il al-shi'a, Shaykh al-Hurr al-'Amili cited over 30 hadiths regarding the juridical distance. According to these hadiths, there are different criteria for such a distance:

  • The distance travelled by a caravan during a day,
  • Eight parasangs
  • Two "barid"s (the distance between two stations travelled by a mailman on foot or on a horse)
  • Twenty-four miles.

In some hadiths, two or three criteria are mentioned together. According to a hadith from Imam al-Rida (a), eight parasangs equal to the distance travelled by a caravan during a day. According to a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a), two barids equal to 24 miles.

Calculation in Kilometers

Shiite scholars of fiqh have disagreed over how many kilometers a parasang is. Therefore, they calculate the 8-parasang criteria differently: 40 kilomers, 43 kilometers, 44 kilometers, and 45 kilometers.

Distance or Intended Distance

According to the fatwa of the majority of Shiite faqihs, one counts as a juridical traveler when he or she intends to travel eight parasangs from the very beginning of their travel. But if they travel such a distance without having had such an intention, then they cannot shorten their prayers or break their fasts. For example, if one is looking for a lost person without intending to travel eight parasangs, but happens to travel such a distance, then one does not count as a juridical traveler.