Question # 295: I want to know about Qasar namaz rules. when we are eligible and how many places are considered as your base place where you cannot apply Qasar rules even though the distance and duration of stay qualifies for Qasar Namaz JazakhAllah Khair

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: As for the ruling on minimum distance for Qasr prayer, refer Question # 33 and for the period/duration of stay for Qasr prayer, refer Question # 10. Further, if the traveler is still en route and has not reached his destination, he can pray Qasr; however, if he has reached his destination then he should not pray on his own, rather the Sunnah is to attend prayers in congregation in the mosque if he hears the adhan and offer prayer in full, unless he fears that this will cause him some problems in his journey. Next, if the traveler catches up with the imam (resident) in less than a rak’ah (i.e., in the final tashahhud), he should pray the prayer in shortened form; but if he catches up with the resident in one rak’ah or more, then he has to pray the prayer in full (i.e., four rak’ahs).

Long Answer: There is no definition in the Qur’an and Sunnah of the distance that constitutes ‘traveling’ and the scholars differed greatly over it. However, the scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah have taken the opinion that all that is customarily regarded as travel in practice and in language and requires preparation of provisions as well as rest and similar things, constitute ‘traveling’. Unless for a particular case, there is confusion as to whether it is commonly regarded as travel or not, in which case, one falls back on the opinion of the majority of scholars (al-jumhoor) regarding the minimum required distance, which is four burud (an antiquated unit of distance) equivalent to 88.7 km. 

As for the period/duration of stay for Qasr prayer, the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) never clearly stated that if someone resides for more than a certain period of time, he must complete his prayers. The difference of opinion among scholars about the period of residence, in which a traveler can shorten prayers, depends on traveler’s intention and determination to stay in some place for a specific period; but, for a traveler, who does not intend or determine any residence and does not know when his stay will end, can shorten his prayers for the entire period of stay, even if his journey last for months or years. However, the majority of scholars say that the traveler may only avail himself of the dispensations attached to travel so long as he does not intend to stay for four days or more, which is more on the safe side. 

Prayer in congregation is obligatory and it is not permissible for a Muslim not to do that unless he has an excuse… based on this, one has to offer the prayers in congregation in the mosque. If the imam is a resident (is not travelling) then he 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? He replied: “If the traveler 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 traveling, making the four-rakah prayers two rak’ahs.” (Majmoo Fataawa wa Maqaalaat Mutanawwi’iah li’l-Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz)

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen was asked: when and how should a traveler pray? He replied: “…Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) was asked why a traveler 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 and Ahmad)

The obligation to pray in congregation is not waived for the traveler, because Allah has enjoined that even in the case of fighting. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “When you (O Messenger Muhammad) are among them, and lead them in As-Salah (the prayer), let one party of them stand up [in Salah (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…” (Soorah an-Nisa’a, 4:102)

Based on this, if the traveler 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 traveling companions, because of the general meaning of the evidence which indicates that the one who hears the adhan or iqaamah is obliged to pray in congregation.” (Majmoo’ Fataawa wa Rasaa’il al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen)

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?

He replied: “If you hear the adhan when you are in the place where you are staying, then you have to attend the mosque, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) 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) And he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) 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; classed as sahih by al-Albani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi)

There is no evidence to indicate that this ruling applies only to the traveler, 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)

Next, if the traveler catches up with the imam (resident) in less than a rak’ah, he should pray the prayer in shortened form. For example: the traveler catches up with the imam in the final tashahhud of the Dhuhr prayer. In that case he should pray Dhuhr as two rak’ahs. This is how he should pray if he did not catch up with one rak’ah or more. But if he catches up with the resident in one rak’ah or more, then he has to pray the prayer in full (i.e., four rak’ahs). This is the view of most of the scholars and it was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas and Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنها).

In Saheeh Muslim, it was narrated that Musa ibn Salamah al-Hadhali said: “I asked Ibn ‘Abbas, ‘How should I pray if I am in Makkah and I do not pray with the imam?’ He said, ‘Two rak’ahs, and this is the way of Abu’l-Qaasim (صلى الله عليه و سلم).”

In Saheeh Muslim, it is narrated that Naafi’ said: “When Ibn ‘Umar was with the imam he would pray four rak’ahs and if he prayed alone he would pray two rak’ahs.”

Al-Bayhaqi narrated in al-Sunan via Sulaymaan al-Tameemi that Abu Majlaz said: “I said to Ibn ‘Umar, ‘If a traveler catches up with the prayer of the people – i.e., the local residents – should he pray two rak’ahs or pray as they are praying?’ He laughed and said, ‘He should pray as they are praying.’”

If the form of the prayer is different, e.g. if the traveler is praying Maghrib behind a resident who is praying ‘Isha’, then in that case, he has two options, namely, he completes his prayer and leave, or he sit after the third rak’ah and wait for the imam to complete his prayer and say the tashahhud and salaam with him. There is some evidence to support both options, but the more correct in my view is the second, which is to wait. (Shaykh Naasir ibn Sulaymaan al-‘Alwaan) 

(Most part of the above reply is based on various answers by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.