By: Rasheed A. Haashim (Abu Anas)
Qasr has been technically defined as the shortening of the obligatory prayers of four rak’ats to two rak’ats while on a journey. This is enjoyed by travellers alone. It is only applicable to Zuhr, Asr and Ishai prayers. There are avalanche of evidences for its legality in Al-Qur’an, As-Sunnah and the deeds of our pious predecessors (salaf). Imam Ibn Qudamah in his book Al-Mughni volume 3 page 105 has even reported the consensus of the Muslim scholars that a traveller is allowed to shorten four rakats prayers to two rakats.
There are certain rulings surrounding the observance of this Qasr such as traveling distance for Qasr, where does Qasr start, the duration for Qasr among others. It is on these rulings surrounding the Qasr that Muslim jurists have presented divergent views. One of such rulings where much controversy has been expressed is the duration for which Qasr lapses. The question of how many days can a traveller observe Qasr after which he will complete salat thus arises. The issue of the duration in which Qasr lapses has also generated a lot of arguments and controversies at different NYSC orientation camps among the Muslim corps members participating in the NYSC scheme on whether they can observe Qasr throughout the camp exercise or not? The writer of this article experienced this too during his NYSC camp activities and thereafter. Many questions relating to this have been asked by Muslim corps members especially those who have read my books: “Travellers Guide” and “Facing the Challenges of the NYSC Scheme”.
For example, on the 22nd April 2007 , a Muslim corps member from Ebonyi State asked this question through text message: “What is the duration for which a traveller is allowed to pray Qasr?”. Another corps member on 1st May, 2009 asked: “ Should Qasr and Jam’u (combination of two salat) be observed during and after camp?” These are just parts of those questions being raised.
I now deem it fit to write something on the issue hopefully that Allah(S.W.T) through it may guide some Muslims (especially Muslim graduates participating in NYSC) to what is closer to His will.
THE DURATION FOR QASR: THE AUTHENTIC VIEW
It is a conspicuous fact that almost all Muslim corps members partaking in the NYSC Scheme are from different cities and towns other than their orientation camp. It is the NYSC Scheme that has brought them together for accomplishment of a task. They still maintain the name ‘travellers’. While at NYSC orientation camp for weeks or some days, the Muslim corps members would continue shortening the salat for they are still on journey. The ruling is that whenever one is on a journey, one is still entitled to Qasr. Likewise if one stays in a particular place for the accomplishment of a task without the intention of taking such place his residence, according to the most authentic view, one is still a traveller and entitled to Qasr even if he spends months there. This is the case for Muslim corps members too. There is no direct and authentic proof in the Qur’an and Sunnah stopping them from observing Qasr or restricting it to certain days, three, four, five, ten etc. The fact that the noble Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) had not observed Qasr for more than twenty days does not mean that one can not offer Qasr for more than such days, if the days of one’s journey are more than that. In fact, some learned sahabah the like of Sa’d bin Abi Waqaas, Abdullahi bin Umar, Abdur Rahaman bin Samrah (may Allah be pleased with them all) etc. observed Qasr for more than twenty days as will be presented soon. This seems to be the correct interpretation to the different ahadith of the Prophet (S.A.W) and the deeds of his sahabah on the issue.
Here are some of those narrations:
- Ibn ’Abbas (R.A) narrated: “The Prophet (S.A.W) once stayed for nineteen (19) days and prayed Qasr. So when we travelled (and stayed) for nineteen days, we used to shorten the prayer but if we travelled (and stayed) for a longer period we used to offer the full prayer.” (Bukhari No. 1080)
- Yahya bin Abi Ishaq narrated: “I heard Anas (R.A) saying : “We travelled with the Prophet (S.A.W) from Madinah to Makkah and he offered two rakats (for every prayer) till we returned to Madinah. I asked : Did you stay for a while in Makkah? He replied: “We stayed in Makkah for ten days”. (Bukhari No. 1081 and Muslim No. 693).
- Jabir (R.A) narrated: “The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W) stayed for twenty days at Tabuk shortening the prayers”. (Abu Dawud No. 1235. Authenticated by Al-Albani in Irwa’ul Ghalil No. 574).
The hadith of Jabir just quoted has the highest number of days in which the Prophet (S.A.W) observed Qasr. Despite this, he did not legislate against observance of Qasr for more than those days. The narrations and practices of his companions corroborated that. Here are few of those narrations:
i. Abdur Rahman bin Miswar narrated : “ We were with Sa’d (bin Abi Waqaas) (R.A) in Sham (Syria) for two months. We would complete the salat and he would offer Qasr” (Musannaf Abdir Razaaq No. 4350. Authenticated in Adabus-Safar wa ahkamuhu page 127 by Muhammad Al-Alawi).
ii. Nafi’u narrated: Ibn Umar stayed for six months at Azrebaijan offering two rakats, for there was snow blocking the pass.” (Baihaqi 3/152. Classed as Sahih by Al-Albani in Irwa’ul Ghalil No. 577).
iii. Al-Hasan (R.A) related that we were with Abdur Rahaman bin Samrah (R.A) for two years in parts of Persian cities, and he would not combine salat but did not offer more than two rakats”. (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaibah 2/454. Authenticated by Shaikh Muhammad Al-Alawi in above quoted reference)
The above quoted narrations and others not quoted here-due to limited space-reveal that people on journey are entitled to Qasr as long as they retained the title ‘traveller’. The Muslim corps members are entitled to this too while at NYSC orientation camp of twenty-one days or less as they do not intend taking that place their residence. Imam Ibnul-Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah after he cited some of the narrations quoted above in his Zaadul Ma’ad volume 2 page 294 then remarked: “This is the guidance (Hadyu) of the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W) and his companions as you can see. And this is the correct stand”.
VIEW OF THE MUSLIM SCHOLARS ON THE DURATION OF QASR
The early Muslim jurists have expressed more than ten different views on the duration for which a traveller is allowed to offer Qasr. The most prominent of those views are briefly presented here:
Imam Ahmad opines that one is entitled to Qasr if he intends to stay for four (4) days or less. In a case where he intends to stay for more than four days, he would observe complete Salat thereafter. In another view from Imam Ahmad, a traveller is entitled to Qasr if he intends to stay for period that will be sufficient to offer twenty-one (21) salat after which he will offer full salat. This view of Ahmad coincides with that of As-Shafi’i and Malik except that the day he (traveller) entered and the day he got out of such place would not be counted as part of those four (4) days.
Imam Abu Hanifah, Ath-Thawri and Al-Mazni were of the view that if one intends to stay for fifteen(15) days, he should complete the salat. If he intends to stay for less than fifteen days, he should offer Qasr.
Al- Hasan and Qatadah hold that a traveller will continue shortening the prayer as long as he has not intended to stay permanently in a place. This view was later supported and strictly adhered to by Shaykul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and his student Ibnul Qayyim.
Ishaq bin Rahwayh asserts that if he intends to stay for nineteen (19) days or more, he would offer full salat but if he intends to stay for what is less than that, he would observe Qasr. This same view has been authentically reported from Ibn Abbas (R.A) as contained in the hadith cited above.
Rabi’ah opines that if one intends to stay for a day and a night, he would offer full salat.
Al-Hasan bin Salih’s opinion was that if one intends to stay for ten days, he would offer complete salat. The similar opinion has also been related from Ali bin Abi Talib (R.A).
Ibn Hazm Az-Zahiri opines that whether a traveller intends to stay or not, he is entitled to Qasr for twenty (20) days after which he must complete the salat.
All the aforesaid are some of the opinions presented by the early Muslim jurists on the issue in question. There are other views not presented in this write-up. Some of these opinions are closer to sunnah than others.
THE GENESIS OF THE CONTROVERSIES
The genesis of all these divergent views among the early and present Muslim scholars on the duration in which Qasr is to be observed is that it is an issue on which direct texts are not found to establish a ruling. Islamic jurists only attempted to study and analyse various narrations in which the Prophet (S.A.W) observed Qasr and the days he spent. They later gave different interpretations to those narrations and based their divergent verdicts on their own understanding of those narrations. This is Ijtihad from them and a reward is certain as contained in a tradition from the Prophet (S.A.W). The beloved Prophet (S.A.W) has never said in any hadith to his followers that if you have travelled for so and so days offer full salat. Likewise, he has never mentioned in any narration that one cannot observe Qasr for more than the days he observed Qasr while on journey. The best guidance is the guidance of the Muhammad (S.A.W).
QASR AFTER NYSC ORIENTATION CAMP
The conditions of travellers vary from one to another likewise their rulings. Abu Abdir-Rahman Muhammad Al-Alawi in his book Adabu-Safar wa ahkamuhu page 126 has highlighted four different categories of travellers and their various rulings as follows:
- “A traveller that is proceeding without staying on the journey route, this kind of traveller will shorten the prayer. This is agreed upon by the scholars.
- A traveller who does not intend to stay but expects accomplishment of a need, he says “I will leave today or tomorrow”, this kind of a traveller too will shorten the salat as agreed upon by the scholars.
- A traveller that travels to a city but does not have the intention of such stay that will make him not to be on journey like the condition of the Prophet (S.A.W) in battles of conquest of Makkah and Tabuk. This person will offer Qasr without any specific time. This is the most authentic statement of the scholars..(This is similar to the condition of Muslim corps members while at NYSC orientation camp).
- A traveller that travels to a city other than his own city but intends to stay there such stay that will make him not to be on a journey by taking that city as a place of residence for him. Such a traveller will offer full salat and not Qasr for he is not a traveller. The pious predecessors used to change their residence by moving from one city to other seeking for knowledge. One of them may be given appellation of Al-Makkiy, Al-Madaniy or Ash-Shamiy and they would complete the salat. One of them may even become Imam of the city he moved to with his intention to return to his original city, but since he had the intention of such stay that will make him not to be on a journey, he offered full salat”.
Going through the classification given above, the condition of a Muslim corps member who is serving in a city other than his own city or that of a student who is studying in a town other than his own town is the same with the number four (4) of the classification above and thus takes its ruling. The ruling is that if such Muslim corps member or Mulsim student has settled and intended to stay in that environment, such stay that will make him not to be on a journey by taking that city as a place of residence for him, he will offer full salat not Qasr. He can only offer Qasr after orientation camp before he gets settled or before he gets accommodation in that environment. He can as well observe Qasr whenever he travels out of his new place of residence for one activity or the others. The view presented here seems to be the most convincing to the writer of this article. This same view is held by some eminent contemporary scholars the like of Shaykh Nasirud-din Al-Albani, Shaykh Ibn Baz, Muhammad Al-Alawi, Abdullahi bin Salih Al- Abikan, Abu Malik Kamal bin As-Sayyid Salim and many others. Another point that makes this view more convincing is that both observance of Qasr and breaking of fasting in the month of Ramadan are two of the permissibilities while on a journey. If one is right at a particular point of time other is as well right. But one will not be comfortable telling those Muslim corps members who have settled in their new environment to be breaking fast during the month of Ramadan!
However, there is another view on this issue which says that a traveller will continue shortening the prayer as along as he has not intended to stay permanently in such a place. Shaykhul Islam Ibn Taimiyyah in volume 24 of his Fatawa has extensively argued for this view. The one presented above seems more convincing. Allah knows best.
From the foregone explanation, it is crystally clear that Muslim corps member are allowed to offer Qasr while at NYSC orientation camp. They can as well combine Zuhr and Asr or Maghrib and Ishai prayers together either during the time of the first one or the second one. This is known as Jam’u. They may as well limit themselves to Qasr alone without Jam’u as Jam’u has a wider application than Qasr and it is not restricted to journey alone.
After camp, the most authentic view presented here is that they will offer full salat after they have got settled in their new environment. This is what our research has revealed to us. Utmost respect is given to opinion of other scholars.
The writer of these lines has in no way claimed knowledge or perfection for himself as that belongs to Allah. He has only put together the views of eminent Muslim scholars on the issue and the ones that seem closer to the sunnah of the beloved Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W). Allah knows best and He is encyclopedia of knowledge, the Omniscient, the Omnipotent.
May He accept this little effort from us as an act of Ibadah and forgive our shortcomings.
Subhanaka Allahumo wa bihamdika ash-hadu anlailaha illa anta astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk.
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Other references are contained in the article.