How Should I Make Up for Incorrectly Applying Travel-Prayer Dispensations?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


I recently learned that combining and shortening prayers is only permitted when staying less than five days at a travel destination. Unfortunately, I was unaware of this in the past and combined and shortened prayers even when my stay exceeded four days. Do I need to redo these prayers, and how can I determine the number of prayers I need to repeat? I’m uncertain about the specific times I prayed, for example, Maghrib and Isha. I appreciate your guidance.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to what pleases Him. Amin.
According to the Shafi‘i School, a traveller may only shorten and join his prayers if he intends to stay for less than four full days, excluding the day of arrival and departure. This is explained in detail: When Is a Traveller Allowed to Shorten His Prayers? [Shafi’i]
While the Hanafi School allows for the shortening of Prayers for the traveller who stays in a place for less than 15 days, it does not permit combining the prayers.
According to Imam Ibn Taymiyya (Allah have mercy on him), unless the traveller intends settlement or absolute residency, the rulings of travel remain applicable to them, whether they intend to stay for four days or less or more.

To avoid making up prayers (according to the majority view), you may consider retrospectively adopting the view of Ibn Taymiyya. Still, it is more prudent to continue following the Shafi‘i view for future journeys, and Allah knows best.

Travel Prayer Dispensations in the Shafi‘i School

A traveller’s journey ends and will be considered a resident when he reaches a destination to stay there for four days or more, excluding the day of arrival and departure. Thus, when he arrives at his destination on Monday morning and intends to stay there until Saturday morning, he is not allowed to shorten or join prayers, as he is no longer considered a traveller. Monday would be his day of arrival, and Saturday would be his day of departure—the days between them equal four. [Shirbini, Mughni al-Muhtaj]

On the contrary, if he intends to stay in that location for less than four days, he may continue joining and shortening prayers. Thus, if he arrives Monday and departs Friday, he may continue joining and shortening as he is still considered a traveller. [ibid.]

The Shafi‘i School holds that one would be allowed to continue joining and shortening prayers for up to 18 days, excluding the day of arrival and departure. This is specific for someone who has a need that could be fulfilled any moment, before or after the passing of four days, such as waiting on the wind to subside or on a group that he wishes to travel with that may be travelling at any moment.

If a person, however, knows that his need will only be achieved or fulfilled after the passing of four days, excluding the day of arrival and departure, then, as stated above, he is no longer a traveller and is not permitted to join and shorten prayers. [Haytami, Tuhfah al-Muhtaj, 2/377]

The Shafi‘i Conditions for Shortening and Joining Prayers on Travel

  1. The core intention of the journey should not be disobedience to Allah (Most High).
  2. The destination should be more than 80 kilometres (50 miles) one way.
  3. The journey commences when leaving the boundaries of one’s city.
  4. The journey ends immediately upon reaching a location where one intends to stay for four days or more. [Nawawi, Minhaj]
  5. That one performs prayers that become obligatory within the travel period.
  6. That the person is aware of the permissibility of the dispensation to shorten and/or combine the prayers.
  7. That the person does not follow an imam who prays the whole prayer.
  8. That the person intended to shorten their prayers at the beginning of their prayer.
  9. The person completed three things to allow for combining prayers during the first prayer: prayed in sequence, intended to combine prayers at some point during the first prayer, and prayed the second prayer after the first prayer without a long break between the two.
  10. When delaying the earlier prayer to the time of the later prayer, one has the intention to delay the earlier prayer. [Nawawi, Al-Majmu‘]

Travel Prayer Dispensations in the Hanafi School

According to the Hanafi school, it is necessary (wajib) to shorten one’s prayers, but invalid to join prayers while travelling.

Shortening prayers (qasr) means that all four-cycle (rak‘at) prayers must be performed as two cycles (rak‘at) if praying alone or leading though, one follows the imam if they’re praying in full.

One shortens if one is: [i] legally considered a traveller; [ii] intends to stay in a single place for less than fifteen days. [`Ala al-Din `Abidin, al-Hadiyya al-`Ala’iyya; Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah]

Other Views

Scholars of traditional Sunni Islam have differed widely about the period of residency that would suspend the dispensations offered to the traveller.

Imam Nawawi quotes about twelve views on this matter, while others list about twenty. [Nawawi, al-Majmu‘ Sharh al-Muhadhdhab, 4:364]

Ibn Taymiyya’s View

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya (Allah have mercy on him), departing from the majority view, concluded that unless the traveller intends settlement or absolute residency, the rulings of travel remain applicable to them, whether they intend to stay for four days or less or more. This is because of the generality of evidence indicating the validity of the traveller’s dispensations without specific time limitations, as Allah (Most High) and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) did not specify the duration for which the ruling of travel is suspended.

Absolute residency means when a student of knowledge or a merchant comes to a country and finds what they seek of knowledge or trade, intending to stay without restriction on time or work. This is the absolute residency that suspends the ruling of travel.

Accordingly, if a traveller arrives in a country other than their own and intends to settle or have absolute residency, they should perform their prayers in full, and it is not permissible for them to shorten or combine them under the pretext of travel. However, if they do not intend settlement or absolute residency, they are considered travellers, and it is permissible to shorten and combine prayers.

Ibn Taymiyya espouses his view by the fact that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) stayed for different periods during which he shortened prayers. For instance, he stayed in Tabuk for 20 days and shortened prayers, as Imam Ahmad and Abu Dawud reported.

He also stayed in Mecca during the year of the Conquest for 19 days and shortened prayers, as reported by Imam Bukhari. According to most scholars, whoever is allowed to shorten prayers can also combine prayers at the time of commonality between prayers, such as combining Zuhr with Asr and Maghrib with ‘Isha, even if they reside temporarily.

This is evidenced by the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) combining prayers during the Tabuk expedition while being in a temporary residence, as Imam Ahmad and Abu Dawud reported from the hadith of Mu‘adh Ibn Jabal (Allah be pleased with him).

Therefore, whoever is considered a traveller is allowed to shorten and combine prayers, even if they are not actually travelling. In contrast, those not considered travellers, such as settlers and residents whose residency suspends the ruling of travel, are not permitted to shorten or combine prayers for attending lectures, academic lessons, or other reasons. Allah knows best. [Ibn Taymiyya, Al-Fatawa, 24:137]


While the view of Ibn Taymiyya contradicts the majority of traditional Sunni scholars, it may be helpful in times of need or when retrospectively resolving a misunderstanding or misapplication of the general travel dispensations, especially when it potentially involves needing to make up prayers.

In keeping with the more cautious and relied-upon Shafi‘i view, one should apply the Shafi‘i (or other Schools’) rulings for travel dispensations as a standard practice, and Allah knows best.

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar Shaykh Taha Karaan (Allah have mercy on him), where he taught.

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Shaykh Muhammad Awama, Shaykh Muhammad Hasan Hitu, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has been the Director of the Discover Islam Centre, and for six years, he has been the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has fifteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic podcast, education, and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy Prophetic living and fitness.