sunset prayer is not to be shortened and there is no hadith which states how it
is to be prayed during times of fear. Therefore, the scholars differ over how
it is to be performed. The Hanafi and Maliki schools say that the imam is to
pray two rak’at with the first group and then one rak’ah with the second group.
Ash-Shaf’i and Ahmad say it is permissible for the imam to pray one rak’ah with
the first group and then two rak’at with the second group as it has been
related that ‘Ali performed it in that manner.
PRAYER DURING TIMES OF EXTREME FEAR
If the fear [of the enemy] is great or fighting is taking place, each person is to pray individually to the best of his ability - that is, standing or riding, facing the qiblah or not facing the qiblah, making gestures for the ruku’ and sajjud- whatever he can do. He should make the gesture for his sajjud lower than that for his ruku’. He is excused from any of the acts of Salah which he is unable to perform. Ibn ‘Umar relates: “The Prophet described Salatul khauf and said: ‘If the danger is greater than that, then [pray] standing or riding.”’ In Sahih al-Bukhari, the wording is: “If the danger is greater than that, then pray while standing on your feet or riding, facing the qiblah or not facing the qiblah.” In Muslim’s version, Ibn ‘Umar is reported to have said: “If the danger is greater than that, then pray standing or riding and by making gestures.”
THE PRAYER OF ATTACKER OR THE ATTACKED
If one is attacking the enemy and fears that he will miss the time of Salah, he may pray by making gestures even if he is moving in a direction other than that of the qiblah. The case of the one who is being attacked is the same as the one who is attacking. The same is the case for anyone whose enemy prevents him from making the ruku’ or the sajdah or a person who fears for himself or his family or his wealth from an enemy or a thief or a wild animal; in all such cases, the person may [if necessary] pray
by making gestures and facing any direction. Al-’Iraqi writes: “The same applies to anyone who is fleeing from a flood or fire and has no other option open to him. The same is true for one who is in straitened conditions and is in debt and cannot pay it and he fears that his debtor might catch him and imprison him while not believing his claim. This applies also to one who fears a punishment of qisas and hopes that by his absence the prosecuting party’s anger will abate and they will forgive him.”
‘Abdullah ibn Unais reports: “The Messenger of Allah sent me to Khalid ibn Sufyan al-Hazhili, who was close to ‘Arafat, and said: ‘Go and kill him.’ I saw him and the time of the afternoon prayer came and I said [to myself]: ‘I fear that something between him and me will cause me to delay the Salah, so I left walking and offered the Salah by making gestures. When I came close to him, he said to me: ‘Who are you?’ I said: ‘A man from among the Arabs. It has reached me that you are gathering the people against this man [i.e., the Prophet] so I came to you for that reason.’ He said: ‘I am doing that.’ I walked with him for a while until I could strike him dead with my sword.” This is related by Ahmad and Abu Dawud. AlHafiz says its chain is hasan.
THE PRAYER OF A TRAVELER, SHORTENING THE PRAYERS THAT CONSIST OF FOUR RAK’AT
Allah says in the Qur’an: “And when you go forth in the land there is no sin upon you, if you shorten your prayer when you fear the disbelievers may attack you.” This concession is not limited to situations of danger. Ya’la ibn Umaiyyah said: “I said to ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab: ‘Explain to me why the people shorten the Salah when Allah says, ‘And when you go forth...[the preceding verse] and those days are gone now!’ ‘Umar said: ‘I wondered about that too and I mentioned that to the Prophet and he said: “This is a charity that Allah, the Exalted, has bestowed upon you, so accept His charity.’” This is related by the group. At-Tabari records that Abu Munib al-Jarshi mentioned this verse to Ibn ‘Umar and said: “We are safe now and are not in fear, should we, then, shorten the Salah’?” He answered him: “You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct).” The issue was also referred to ‘Aishah and she said: “The Salah was made fard in Makkah in sets of two rak’at. When the Prophet Sallallahu alehi wasallam came to Medinah, two rak’at were added to each Salah except the Maghreb Salah because it is the witr of the daytime, and the dawn prayer due to its lengthy Qur’anic recital. But if one travels, he performs the original prayer [i.e., only two rak’at].” This is related by Ahmad, alBaihaqi, Ibn Hibban, and Ibn Khuzaimah. Its narrators are trustworthy.
Ibn al-Qayyim says: “The Prophet would pray only two rak’at for those prayers which consisted of four, whenever he traveled until he returned to Medinah. And it is not confirmed that he ever prayed four rak’at [while traveling], and none of the imams differ on this point, although they do differ about the ruling of shortening the Salah.” ‘Umar, ‘Ali, Ibn Mas’ud, ibn ‘Abbas, ibn ‘Umar, Jabir and the Hanafi scholars say that it is fard. The Maliki School holds that it is Sunnah mu’akadah (the stressed one); it is even more emphasized than the congregational Salah. If the traveler cannot find another traveler to lead him in the Salah, he may pray by himself as it is disliked that he should follow one who is a resident [i.e., and pray four rak’at] according to the Maliki school. The Hanbali School holds that it is preferred for the person to shorten the prayer rather than to pray the complete Salah. The Shaf’i school has a similar opinion, if the person has traveled a sufficient distance.
THE DISTANCE ONE MUST TRAVEL BEFORE SHORTENING ONE’S PRAYER
The conclusion from the Qur’anic verse is that any traveling, be it long or short, which falls within the linguistic definition of the word “travel” would suffice to shorten one’s Salah, to combine them and to break the fast. There is nothing in the Sunnah which confines this general term to any particular meaning. Ibn al-Munzhir and others have mentioned more than twenty reports on this point. Here we shall mention some of the more important reports.Ahmad, Muslim, Abu Dawud, and al-Baihaqi record that Yahya ibn Yazid said: “I asked Anas ibn Malik about shortening the prayer, and he said: ‘The Messenger of Allah would pray two rak’at if he had traveled a distance of three miles or farsakh.”’ Ibn Hajar writes in Fath al-Bari: “This is the most authentic hadith which states and clarifies [that question].” The conflict between mile and farsakh is made clear in Abu Sa’id al-Khudri’s statement: “If the Prophet traveled a distance of one farsakh, he would shorten his prayer.” This was related by Sa’id ibn Mansur in his Sunan and by al-Hafiz ibn Hajar in at-Talkhis, and he implicitly accepted it by not making any further comments about it. It is well-known that a farsakh equals three miles and, therefore, Abu Sa’id’s hadith removes the confusion which arises from Anas’ hadith when he says that the shortest distance, due to which the Prophet shortened his prayer, was three miles. One farsakh is equivalent to 5,541 meters while one mile equals 1,748 meters. The shortest distance which has been mentioned with respect to the shortening of Salah is one mile. This was recorded by Ibn abi Shaibah, with a Sahih chain, on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar. Ibn Hazm follows this report, and argues that if the distance is less than one mile, one is not to shorten the Salah, the Messenger of Allah went to the graveyard of al-Baqi’ to bury the dead and (similarly) he went off to answer the call of nature and did not shorten his Salah.
Concerning what some jurists say, namely, that the journey must be at least two days long or as some say three days, Imam Abu al-Qasim alKharqi’s refutation of their opinion is sufficient for us. In alMughni he says: ‘I do not find any proof for what those scholars say. The statements of the (sahabah) companions are contradictory, and they are not a (conclusive) proof if they differ. Something has been related from Ibn ‘Umar and Ibn ‘Abbas which differs from what these scholars use as proof. Even if that were not the case, their statements do not constitute a proof when a statement or action of the Prophet himself exists. Even if their statements were accepted, we would not be able to follow the distance they mentioned due to the following two reasons. One, they differ from the Sunnah that has been related from the Prophet and from the clear meaning of the Qur’an, as the clear meaning of the verse allows one to shorten one’s Salah if one makes any journey upon the earth. Allah says: “If you journey on the earth, there is no blame upon you if you shorten your prayer.” The condition of there being fear has been deleted as can be seen in the hadith we recorded from Ya’la ibn Umayyah, and what remains is the clear meaning of the verse which covers every type of journey. The Prophet said: “The traveler may wipe over his socks for a period of three days.” This shows the length of time that one may wipe over the socks and it cannot be used as a proof for the question we are discussing here. One could argue that traveling is less than a three-day journey on the basis of the hadith: “It is not allowed for any woman who believes in Allah and the last day to travel a journey of one day, save in the presence of a male relative.” Two, the question of the distance to be traveled is one that may only be answered by some sort of revelation from Allah, the Exalted [the Qur’ an or Sunnah]; it is not the type of issue which one may address on the basis of personal reasoning, nor is there any way to derive an analogy. The proofs which exist support the opinion that shortening the Salah is permissible for every traveler, unless there is some consensus to the contrary.”
Similar to that is the traveling by planes, trains, and so forth, or a trip that is in obedience to Allah, the Exalted, or otherwise. If there is someone whose occupation requires him to always be traveling, for instance, a pilot, a ship captain, truck driver, and so on, then he is permitted to shorten his Salah or break his fast as he is truly traveling.
To Be Continued