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Distance for Shortening of Prayers
Dr. Shehzad Saleem

Response: I read in your journal the answer to the shortening of prayers. You have said that the distance after which we can shorten the prayers is not specified. But then why is it written in the books that travelling 45 miles and for 15 days is the standard in this regard? If you say that it is left to the traveller to judge for himself, then does that mean he can offer shorter prayers whenever he feels he is tired, may it be after 20 miles ? But then if he has been travelling by-foot for 20 miles, then I guess he would be very tired! Some people say that because Allah has provided this ease for us then it is always better to benefit from it even if the journey is without any discomfort ?

Comment: There is not a single Hadīth which says that the Prophet (sws) specified a distance after which one must shorten his prayers. All Ahādīth on this topic actually report what various people saw the Prophet (sws) doing. Consequently, various Ahādīth state various distances at which the Prophet (sws) shortened his prayers; the period he stayed at a place after which he shortened his prayers are also reported as different on different instances. What you have stated is the view of one school of thought in this regard. Other schools have different views based on Ahādīth which report  some other observation in this regard.

Consequently, by collecting all Ahādīth on this topic, it comes to light that it is actually a person's feeling of discomfort during the course of a journey which determines when he should shorten his prayers. The Prophet (sws) shortened his prayers whenever he felt the discomfort of travel. This was different in different circumstances and different forms of travel. This also explains the variation in the Ahādīth found on this topic.

The ease provided by Allah in shortening ones prayer during travel in normal circumstances should be benefited from. If a person feels the discomfort of his journey, he should not discard this facility given to him by the Sharī‘ah. However, if a person does not feel the discomfort of journey, then he is actually not the addressee of this directive. What I mean to say is that only after being in a state of discomfort of a journey may a person use or leave the facility provided to him by the Almighty.



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