Can Travelers Shorten and Combine Their Prayers?

Answered By Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahmad


Can travelers shorten and combine their prayers?


In the name of Allah (Most High). Praise be to Allah (Most High). Blessings and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah.

The following is the relied-upon answer.

The Sacred Law has legislated the dispensation of shortening the prayer as Allah (Most High) says, “When you travel through the land, it is permissible for you to shorten the prayer.” [Quran, 4:101]

This is for whoever intends to travel a journey equal to or greater than the distance from Makkah and Usfan.

‘Ata’ narrates from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Oh people of Makkah, do not shorten the prayer more than four burud (an ancient measure of distance equivalent to approximately 80 kilometers) from Makkah to Usfan.” [Mawardi, Al-Hawi al-Kabir]

It is permissible for the traveler to shorten only the prayers that consist of four rak‘a, such as Dhuhr, Asr, and Isha [Kifayat al-Akhyar Fi Ghayat al-Ikhtisar]. From the prayers mentioned above, a person is to pray two rak‘a instead of four.

The Fajr and Maghrib prayers are not to be shortened; they must be prayed as they are. Imam Rafi‘i and Imam Nawawi stated there is scholarly consensus on this. [Kifayat al-Akhyar Fi Ghayat al-Ikhtisar]

A person can join the prayers of Dhuhr and Asr, during either the time of Dhuhr or Asr.

Suppose he is to pray Asr in the time of Dhuhr. In that case, he is to stand for the Dhuhr prayer and state his intention by saying, “I intend on praying the obligatory Dhuhr prayer combined with Asr.” Then, he is to make the takbir, pray the shortened two rak‘a, and end with the salam.

Similarly, if the person combines Maghrib and Isha, he will say, “I intend to pray the obligatory Maghrib prayer combined with the Isha.”

One is to start with the Dhuhr prayer before Asr, and Maghrib before Isha, with respect to their timings. If he reads them in the reverse order, his prayer is invalid.

For Maghrib, the person must read three rak‘a as it may be combined but not shortened. Isha is immediately prayed after Maghrib, i.e., without a break, because continuity is a condition for combining prayers.

If Maghrib is delayed to the time of Isha, then one no longer has to pray them in order, nor does Isha have to be prayed immediately after Maghrib.

When combining, a person must still make the intention; therefore, during the time of Maghrib, the person intends to combine the prayer with Isha shortened; the takbir is then said, followed by the final salam.

Fajr can not be combined with Dhuhr, nor Asr with Maghrib.

Some conditions validate the joining of prayers and shortening them while traveling:

  • The journey must be sixteen farasikh (the Shafi‘is consider it 80 kilometers) or more. The return journey is not considered.
  • The traveler must not be sinful, such as a woman traveling without her husband’s permission or a man setting off to another land to commit sins.
  • The intention to shorten the prayer must be made right at the beginning.
  • The intention to complete the prayer must not be made during the prayer.
  • One should refrain from praying behind someone when it is unknown whether he is shortening the prayer or not.
  • A person should not pray behind someone completing their prayers; if they do, their prayers will also become complete. [Al-Lubab Fi al-Fiqh al-Shafi‘i]

[Shaykh] Ahmad al-Ahmad

Shaykh Ahmad Hammadin al-Ahmad, born in Idlib, Syria, in 1954, is a distinguished scholar. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Arabic Language from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, a Diploma in Educational Qualification, and a Diploma in Arabic Language from Damascus University. He also earned a Master’s in Islamic Studies, specializing in Aqida, from the Islamic University of Beirut.

Shaykh Ahmed graduated from the Al-Fath Islamic Institute in Damascus and served as a teacher there for 25 years. He has been a lecturer at the Al-Sham Higher Institute, a branch of the Majma‘ al-Fath al-Islami in Damascus, for 16 years, teaching Nahw, Balagha, and Aqida. He worked as a khatib in mosques in Damascus for thirty years and taught in Istanbul for eleven years. In Istanbul, he teaches various Islamic sciences, including the Quran, Hadith, Tafsir, Aqida, Fiqh, Nahw, and Balagha, at numerous Islamic institutes.

He received Ijazas in Islamic and Arabic sciences from his teachers: Shaykh Abdul Razzaq al-Halabi, Shaykh Muhammad Adib al-Kallas, the Gnostic Shaykh Mahmud al-Shaqfa, and Shaykh Ahmad al-Husari, along with many Ijazas in Hadith. Among his works is a book titled “al-Ba‘th wal-Nushur fi al-Quran al-Karim” 

Shaykh Ahmad has served as the director of the Saad ibn Ubada al-Khazraji Institute for Islamic and Arabic Sciences in the Rural Damascus Governorate. He has been a Guidance and Counseling Committee member in the Directorate of Awqaf of Rural Damascus.   

Currently, he is a member of the Fatwa Council in Istanbul. He has also participated in numerous academic conferences and TV and radio panels, including live Q&A sessions.