Definition and Rulings of Travel
Praise be to Allah alone and peace be upon the last Prophet. On the occasion of
the end year vacation where many people prepared to travel, it is suitable to
speak about some of the rulings pertaining to travel and travelers. I mention
those rulings to remind my Muslim brothers as well as myself, invoking Allah
Almighty for success and guidance.
The cause of calling it travel:
Travel is called that name because it reveals masks from faces and behaviors and uncover their real essence. [Excerpt from the book of Lisan Al `Arab 368/4 and Al Jami `Li Akhlaq Ar-Rawy wa Adab As-Sami` 242/2]. It was also reported from `Umar, the Commander of the believers, (may Allah be pleased with him) [Khulasat Al Badr Al Munir 436/2]. You may know a person for many years and you know him as a good person, but when you travel with him for few days, you become acquainted with him day and night, at his food, drink, sleep, and when dealing with people, then you may see some of his bad qualities that you regret to know. Therefore, when someone has been brought as a witness before `Umar, the Commander of the believers, (may Allah be pleased with him) and he did not know, he used to ask about him the people who traveled with him. Once two witnesses brought to him, he said: I do not know you. It will not harm you if I know who you are! Go and bring someone who knows you well. `Umar asked the witness: what is you opinion on those two persons? The person said: They are known for piety and integrity. He asked: were you their neighbor? He answered: No. He asked: Did you go with them on a journey? He answered: No. Thereupon, he said: You do not know them, bring me someone who know you. Reported by Al `Aqily in his book At-Tarikh, Al Khatib in his book Al Kifayah, and Al Bayhaqy in his Sunan, however Al` Aqily classified it as weak and said: there is no Hadith in this book has unknown narrator in its chain of narration better than this. Abu Ali ibn As-Sakan classified it as authentic. [Khulasit Al Badr Al Munir 437/2 and At-Talkhis Al Habir 197/4]. Sadaqah ibn Muhammad (may Allah be merciful with him) said: It was said: Travel is the scale of people. [Reported by Al Khatib in Al Jami `Li Akhlaq Ar-Rawy wa Adab As-Sami` (1730)].
Ruling on travel:
From the juristic view point, travel is divided into three sections:
First, travel for obedience
Such as travel to perform Hajj, `Umrah, Jihad, maintaining the relation of kinship, visiting a sick person, and so on. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that Allah's Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) said: “A person visited his (Muslim) brother in another town and Allah deputed an Angel to wait for him on his way and when he passed by him he asked: Where do you intend to go? He replied: I intend to go to my brother in this town. He asked: Have you done any favor to him (the repayment of which you intend to get)? He replied: No, excepting this that I love Mm for the sake of Allah, the Exalted and Glorious. Thereupon he said: I am a messenger to you from Allah (to inform you) that Allah loves you as you love him (your Muslim brother for His sake) ..” [Reported by Muslim (2567)].
Second, travel for committing sins
Such as traveling to commit forbidden matters, a woman’s traveling without a Mahram (a spouse or unmarriageable male relative), or traveling to visit graves. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Do not set out on a journey except for three Mosques i.e., Al Masjid Al Haram (the Sacred Masjid in Makkah), the Prophet’s Masjid (peace be upon him) [in Madinah], and Al Aqsa Mosque (the Mosque of Jerusalem)." [Reported by Al Bukhari (1132) and Muslim (1397)]. Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "No man should stay with a woman in seclusion except in the presence of a Mahram." A man stood up and said: "O Allah's Messenger, my wife has gone out intending to perform Hajj and I have been enrolled (in the army) for such-and-such campaign." The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Return and perform the Hajj with your wife." [Reported by Muslim (1341)].
Third, permissible travel
Such as travel for trade, recreation, permissible tourism, hunting, and so on.
Ash-Shafi`y (may Allah be merciful with him) said:
Leave your homeland seeking high standard *** and travel because travel has five benefits:
It removes distress, helps you to earn your pennies, *** in learning sciences, in acquiring morals, and in having a good company.
(Long poem of Ash-Shafi`y 74, Fayd Al Qadir 82/4, Yatimat Ad-Dahr 40/5)
`Urwah ibn Al Ward said:
Walk in the land of Allah and seek richness *** thereby you will live in good conditions or you die and then you shall be excused
(Amthal Al Hadith 93/1)
Concessions of travel
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Traveling is a kind of torture, as it prevents one from sleeping and eating! So when one has finished his job, he should return quickly to his family." [Reported by Al Bukhari (2839) and Muslim (1927)]. An-Nawawy (may Allah be merciful with him) said: (The meaning is: travels prevents enjoying life in full because of the hardship, fatigue, suffering heat, cold, fear, leaving family and friends, and hard living.) [Commentary of An-Nawawy on Sahih Muslim (Book of authentic Hadiths) 70/13 and Marqatul-Mafatih 414/7]. Al Hafizh ibn Hajar (may Allah be merciful with him) said: (Traveling is a kind of torture because of the hardship a person suffers in mounting and walking. The Hadith refers to the undesirability of leaving one’s family without need and exhortation to go back quickly, especially, when you fear for your family. Moreover, staying with one’s family helps a person to have rest which helps him to fulfill his worldly duties and maintain Salah in congregation.) [Fathul-Bary 623/3 and see: `Umdatul-Qary 138/10 and Tanwir Al Hawalik 249/2].
Imam Al Haramayn was asked when he sat in the place of his father: why is travel a kind of torture? He replied immediately: Because it separates beloved people. [Commentary of Az-Zurqany on Al Muwatta' 506/4].
Ibn `Abdul-Bar (may Allah be merciful with him) said: "This Hadith is a proof of the impermissibility of traveling away from one’s family without need and the one who fulfills his needs of traveling should go back quickly to his family whom he supports for fear that something bad happens to them. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “It is enough sin for a person to neglect those whom he supports." [The book of At-Tamhid by Ibn `Abdul-Bar 36/22].
`Abdul-Qader Ibn Abu Al Fath said:
If it was said that travel has five benefits *** I say: it also has five horrible scourges
Wasting of money, suffering hardships, *** worries, distress, and leaving the people whom I love
(Ad-Daw 'Al Lami` 295/4)
Because of these hardships of travel, the lawgiver granted several concessions for a traveler and removed away a set of rulings from him, of which:
First, shortening the Four-Rak`ah Salah (Salah that consists of four units) where they are performed two instead of four. Allah Almighty says: “And when you (Muslims) travel in the land, there is no sin on you if you shorten As-Salât (the prayer) if you fear that the disbelievers may put you in trial (attack you, etc.), verily, the disbelievers are ever to you open enemies.” [Surat An-Nisa’: 101]. Ya`la ibn Umayyah reported: I told `Umar ibn Al Khattab that Allah had said: "You may shorten the prayer only if you fear that those who are unbelievers may afflict you." However, the people now are safe. He replied: I wondered about it in the same way as you wonder about it, so I asked the Messenger of Allah (may peace and blessings be upon him) about it and he said: “It is an act of charity which Allah has done to you, so accept His charity.” [Reported by Muslim (686)].
Second, combining two Salah together:
It is part of the Sunnah when a person travels, he should combine Zhuhr (Noon Salah) and `Asr (Afternoon Salah) as well as Maghrib (Salah performed after sunset) and `Isha’ (obligatory Night Salah) in advance (in the time of the prior Salah) or delay them (to the time of the later Salah); he should do the easier for him because of the Hadith reported by `Abdullah ibn `Umar who said: "I saw Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) delaying the Maghrib prayer till he offered it along with the `Isha' Salah whenever he was in a hurry during the journey." [Reported by Al Bukhari (1041) and Muslim (703)]. Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: Whenever the Prophet (peace be upon him) started a journey before noon, he used to delay the Zhuhr Salah till the time of `Asr and then offer them together; and if the sun declined (at noon) he used to offer the Zuhr prayer and then ride (for the journey). [Reported by Al Bukhari (1060) and Muslim (704)]. Mu`adh (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: We set out with the Messenger of Allah (may peace and blessings be upon him) on the Tabuk expedition, and he observed the noon and afternoon prayers together and the sunset and `Isha' prayers together. [Reported by Muslim (706)].
Third, breaking the fast in Ramadan:
Allah Almighty says: “but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g., an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskîn (needy person) (for every day missed). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast is better for you if only you know.” [Surat Al Baqarah: 184]. Jabir ibn `Abdullah (Allah be pleased with both of them) reported that in the course of a journey Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) saw a man, people crowding around him and providing him a shade. Upon this he (the Holy Prophet) said: What is the matter with him? They said: He is a person observing fast. Whereupon the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: It is no righteousness that you fast on journey. [Reported by Muslim (1115)]. He reported in another narration: “You should take the concession which Allah granted you.”
Fourth, lengthening the period for wiping over the socks:
Shurayh ibn Hani’ said: I came to `A'ishah to ask her about wiping over the socks. She said: You better ask (Ali) son of Abu Talib for he used to travel with Allah's Messenger (may peace and blessings be upon him). We asked him and he said: The Messenger of Allah (may peace and blessings be upon him) stipulated (the upper limit) of three days and three nights for a traveler and one day and one night for the non-traveler. [Reported by Muslim (276)].
Fifth, dropping the obligation of performing Friday Salah during travel:
Because one of the prerequisites of Friday Salah is non-traveling, and a traveler is not. It was not part of the Sunnah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) offered the Friday Salah during his journeys. Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: Performing Friday Salah is not incumbent on travelers. [Reported by `Abdur-Razzaq 172/3]. Ibn` Abdul-Bar (may Allah be merciful with him) reported the consensus of scholar on that matter. [Al Istidhkar 36/2]. Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah be merciful with him) said: "The Prophet never performed Friday Salah during his journeys by delivering a sermon then offering two Rak`ahs, but he performed Friday Salah as two Rak`ah because of travel as he always prayed Zhuhr during his journeys. When he offered Zhuhr and `Asr as an Imam in `Arafah (a mountain near Makkah), he performed two Rak`ahs as he always did. None reported that he had performed the Friday Salah aloud during journeys, not in `Arafah nor in other place. It was not also reported that he delivered a sermon on Friday during his journeys except in `Arafah. Hence, we knew that the correct action is what the Pious Predecessors and the Four Imams of Fiqh did that offering Friday Salah is not incumbent of a traveler. Al Fatawa, 480/17.
If a traveler performed Friday Salah with an Imam, he should not combine `Asr with it because `Asr is combined with Zhuhr and not with Friday Salah. Friday Salah is an independent Salah which has its pertaining rules as it is to be said loudly, but Zhuhr is to be said secretly. It consists of two Rak`ahs but Zhuhr is four. It has a prior sermon but Zhuhr is not. Its time begins before the decline of the sun unlike Zhuhr which its time is after the decline, in addition to some other differences. [see Ash-Sharh Al Mumti` 582/4]. In case a traveler performed Friday Salah with an imam but intended to perform it as shortened Zhuhr, he may combine it with `Asr.
Six, offering supererogatory Salah on the mount (or in transportation):
It is permissible for a traveler to perform the Voluntary Night Salah, Witr (Salah of odd units), the Forenoon Salah, and other Salah inside a car while running wherever it goes because of the Hadith of Sa`id ibn Yasar who said: I was going to Mecca in the company of `Abdullah ibn `Umar and when I apprehended the approaching dawn, I dismounted and offered the Witr prayer and then joined him. `Abdullah ibn `Umar said, "Where have you been?" I replied, "I apprehended the approaching dawn so I dismounted and prayed the Witr prayer." `Abdullah said," Isn't it sufficient for you to follow the good example of Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him)?" I replied, "Yes, by Allah." He said, "Allah's Messenger used to pray Witr on the back of the camel (while on a journey)." [Reported by Al Bukhari (954) and Muslim (700)].
Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: The Prophet used to offer Nawafil (supererogatory) Salah on his mount facing its direction by signals, but not the compulsory prayer. He also used to pray Witr on his mount. [Reported by Al Bukhari (955) and Muslim (700)].
Seventh, dropping the regular Sunnah Salah except the Sunnah of Fajr:
Hafs ibn `Asim (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: I accompanied Ibn `Umar on the road to Makkah and he led us in two Rak`ahs at the noon prayer, then he went forward and we too went along with him to a place where he alighted, and he sat and we sat along with him, and he cast a glance to the side where he said prayer and he saw people standing and asked: What are they doing? I said: They are engaged in glorifying Allah, offering Sunnah Salah. He said: If I had done so I would have perfected my prayer; O my nephew! I accompanied the Messenger of Allah (may peace and blessings be upon him) on a journey, and he made no addition to two Rak`ahs, till Allah called him. I accompanied Abu Bakr and he made no addition to two Rak`ahs till Allah caused him to die. I accompanied `Umar and he made no addition to two Rak`ahs till Allah caused him to die. I accompanied `Uthman and he made no addition to two Rak`ahs, till Allah caused him to die, and Allah has said: "There is a model pattern for you in the Messenger of Allah" [Reported by Muslim (689)].
This concession should be observed by a traveler because of the Hadith of Jabir that the Prophet said: “Benefit from the concession of Allah Who Wanted it to you.” [Reported by Muslim (1115)]
Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "Allah loves concessions to be taken as He hates sin to be committed." Reported by Ahmad (5866) Al Mundhiry (may Allah be merciful with him) said: It is of good chain of narration. [At-Targhib wa At-Tarhib 87/2]. Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "Allah loves that His Concessions are taken as He loves His means to be followed.” [Reported by Ibn Hibban (354)]. Taking concessions is an act of worship that many people overlook and by doing this, they put hardships on themselves, thinking that it is better to leave them. However, it is better and the most perfect to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in travels as well as in non-traveling. Scholars mentioned three conditions for taking these concessions on journeys:
First, the journey should be for the distance in which Salah should be shortened (Four Burads) (see Ikhtilaf Al `Ulama' of Al Marwazy 45, Al Istidhkar 232/2, Al Mughny 46/2 Fathul-Bary 566/2). It equals eighty nine kms according to many scholars because of the narration of `Ata' ibn Abu Rabah that `Abdullah ibn `Umar and `Abdullah ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them) were performing Salah two Rak`ahs at a time and breaking the fast when they travel for Four Burads or more. [Reported by Al Bayhaqy 137/3]. It was reported from Ibn `Umar another different narration in which he shortened Salah in lesser distance. Scholars have many views on the issue of shortening Salah. Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah be merciful with him) said: "The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not specify the distance of shortening Salah, not by Burads or anything else and did not confined it by a time. [Al Fatawa 24/127]. It was reported in Sahih Muslim (691) on the authority of Yahya ibn Yazid Al Huna'y who said: I asked Anas ibn Malik about shortening of prayer. He said: When the Messenger of Allah (may peace and blessings be upon him) had covered a distance of three miles or three farsakh (Shu`bah, one of the narrators, had some doubt about it) he observed two Rak`ahs.
Second, leaving one's own residence:
Many travelers think that is not permissible for a traveler to take concessions but after exceeding the distance of shortening Salah, which is different from the soundest opinion. A traveler may take these concessions if he exceeds the border of his residence because of the Hadith of Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: I offered four Rak`ahs of Zhuhr Salah with the Prophet (peace be upon him) at Medina and two Rak`ahs at Dhul-Hulayfah. (i.e. shortened the `Asr Salah). [Reported by Al Bukhari (1039)]. Ali Ibn Rabi`ah Al Asady said: We went out with Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) and we look to Kufa and then prayed two returned prayed two as he looks to the village and we told him: Do not pray four? Said: So shall we enter. [Reported by Al Bukhari 369/1 as Hadith Mu`allaq (a Hadith missing link in the chain of narration, reported directly from the Prophet) but `Abdur-Razzaq (4321) reported it with full chain of narration. Al Hafizh said: "It chain of narration is authentic.” 421/2
Third, the journey should not be for committing a sin according to the view of the majority of scholars:
These concessions are permissible for those who travel to fulfill an act of obedience. As for traveling for committing a sin, such as cutting the highway or roads, it is not permissible to take them because concession are not connected with sins, so a traveler may not take advantage of concessions to commit a sin. (Al Majmu `Sharhul-Muhadh-dhab 223/4 Al Ashbah wa An- Nazha'ir of As-Suyuty 95). Permitting a sinner to take advantage of concessions will help him in committing sins.