By: Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
11 June 2016
The Shariah requires us to shorten certain prayers when we are travelling (as defined) and break your fast as well.
Some people think that this is an exception in the Shariah and not a necessity as they assume that it was meant to be applied in the early days when travelling was difficult, but today when modern travelling is not an inconvenience (as you become musafir by travelling only 46 km (both directions) outside the border of the city), it does not apply any longer.
Can you thus decide to still fast as conditions have changed?
Such a fast is invalid irrespective of modern transport conveniences.
This is because fasting is a form of ibaadat/worship whose core is to “surrender” to what Allah has commanded.
Thus such a fast is not for Allah as one is not surrendering to Allah’s command to not fast under such circumstances.
In relation to travelling, 2 of our compulsory ibaadat are affected. The first being our salaah should be shortened in that one prays 2 rakaats for Thur and Asr prayers as well as Isha prayers.
Fajr and Magrieb prayers remain the same though.
The basis for this is Surah Nisa Verse 101 which says:
وَإِذَا ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي الأَرْضِ فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَن تَقْصُرُواْ مِنَ الصَّلاَةِ
“And when you are journeying in the land, there is no blame on you that you shorten the prayer.”
The second is that one cannot fast but should perform a lapsed fast after the Holy Month of Ramadaan.
The basis for this is Surah Baqarah Verse 185 which says:
وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ
“and whoever is sick or on a journey, he shall then (fast) the same number of other days”
The reason for this is described in the remainder of Verse 185 of Surah Baqarah as follows:
َ يُرِيدُ اللّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلاَ يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ
“Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire hardship for you”
People confuse this reference to “He does not desire HARDSHIP for you” as meaning that if we do not experience hardship during travelling that this verse does not apply and that we should in fact fast.
Sometimes language is used in the Quran which seem to indicate that something is not compulsory, whereas it is.
An example of this is in relation to the “run” between Safa and Marwa during Haj or Umra. However the Quran uses the following wording in Surah Baqarah Verse 158:
إِنَّ الصَّفَا وَالْمَرْوَةَ مِن شَعَآئِرِ اللّهِ فَمَنْ حَجَّ الْبَيْتَ أَوِ اعْتَمَرَ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِ أَن يَطَّوَّفَ بِهِمَا
“Behold, Safa and Marwah are among the Symbols (appointed by) Allah; so whoever makes the pilgrimage (Hajj) to the House, or Performs ‘Umrah, therefore it is no blame on him to go round them both.”
Here the verse says “there is no blame on him to go around them both” (i.e. the tawaaf of the Kaba and the run between Safa and Marwah”. But this reference to “there is no blame” actually means it’s compulsory to do the run between Safa and Marwah for Haj or Umrah to be valid.
On the same basis the reference to “there is no blame on you that you shorten your prayer” is not an option for you to choose, but it is compulsory to shorten your prayers when you are on a journey.
Furthermore, on the issue of Qasr salaah (shortening of prayers), we understand Ahadith that it is a sadaqa (gift) of Allah to us – so don’t refuse it.
Imam Baqir (a.s) said that the Prophet (sawa) was on journey with people and they fasted while he did not and the Prophet (sawa) commented that they will be regarded on Day of Judgement as being from the disobedient!
If a dear friend brings you a gift – it is etiquette to accept it. (even if you do not need it). So how should you behave when Allah offers you a gift?
- If you are on a journey and return to the limits of your City before Thur and did not break your fast while you were on the journey, then you must continue fasting for that day.
- If leave on a journey after Thur, then you must continue fasting until you reach magrieb on your journey or at your destination.
- If you go on a journey and intend staying in a place for 10 days or more, then you should fast from the first day that you are at your destination and pray full salaah as well. If you intend staying for less than 10 days, then you cannot fast and must shorten your salaah.