Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

Shaban 1424 H
October 2003
Volume 16-10 No : 202
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Shortening Prayers During Travel
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Shortening Prayers During Travel

Rebels objected to a certain action Hazrath Uthman, the third Caliph did and blew it out of all proportions. They claimed that Uthman had stopped the Sunnah of shortening prayers during travel! Trying to find religious justification for one's own stand or action has always been the desire of those who take a stand that relies on no firm basis. Within the context of the Islamic state, rebels have always tried to provide evidence from the Qur'an or the Hadith to support their action. Some do not hesitate to twist the meaning of texts and statements in order to gain such justification. Others invent stories and reports to make their stand more acceptable from the Islamic point of view. The rebels against Uthman, the third caliph, were no exception to this rule. But how could they find such justification when Uthman was among the closest to the Prophet (Pbuh) of all his companions? Besides, he ruled at a time when many of the Prophet's companions were still alive, and they would have never accepted any deviation from the Prophet's path. Well, those rebels objected to a certain action Uthman did and blew it out of all proportions in order to give themselves a guise showing them as people eager to maintain the purity of Islamic practice. They claimed that Uthman had stopped the Sunnah of shortening prayers during travel. Abu Bakr ibn Al-Arabi replies to this charge as follows: "Opting for offering the prayer without shortening it is a question of choice on the basis of scholarly judgment. He had heard that people were too keen to shorten their prayers and did so in their own quarters. He felt that doing this Sunnah could lead to abandoning what is obligatory. Hence, he completed his prayers so as to leave no room for confusion. Besides, a number of scholars are of the view that a traveling person has the choice to shorten his prayers or offer them in full length. The Prophet's companions differed on this point."Al-Khateeb explains this whole issue making it clear that this took place during the pilgrimage season in the year 29 of the Islamic calendar. As Uthman was the caliph, he also led the congregational prayer whenever he was present. When the pilgrims are in Mina, they normally offer all their 4-rak'ah prayers in only two rak'ahs each. This is a concession that applies to all travel and to all pilgrims when they are in Mina. Abd Al-Rahman ibn Awf took up the question with Uthman, asking him the reason for his offering the prayer in full in Mina. Uthman explained that some pilgrims from Yemen and other remote areas said the previous year that prayers were only two rak'ahs, even for local people, justifying their claim on the basis that Uthman, the caliph, offered the prayer in two rak'ahs only. Uthman added that he also had a wife in Makkah, which meant that he considered himself a resident in Makkah. "I thought that it is more advisable that I should offer the prayer in its normal length, so that people would not be confused."

When Abd Al-Rahman ibn Awf left Uthman, he met Abdullah ibn Massoud and spoke to him about this question. Needless to say, Abdullah was one of the best, learned scholars among the Prophet's companions. Abdullah said to him: "Controversy is wrong. I heard that Uthman offered the prayer in four rak'ahs, and followed suit offering the prayer with my group in its full length." Abd Al-Rahman said: "I too heard that he offered the prayer in four rak'ahs, but I prayed with my group two rak'ahs only. As from now, I will do as you say." This means that Abd Al-Rahman ibn Awf would follow Uthman's lead and offer the prayer in four rak'ahs.

Most people today agree that during travel, prayers are shortened so as to offer every 4-rak'ah prayer in two rak'ahs only. However, Ibn Al-Arabi mentions that a number of scholars are of the view that a traveling person may choose either to shorten his prayer or to offer it in its normal length. He mentions that the Prophet's companions had different views on this.

Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Ash'ari, a scholar of the Maliki school, mentions that a number of the Prophet's companions offered prayers full length during travel. He mentions that this was done by fourteen of them, including Aishah and Salman. Al-Bukhari relates a Hadith on Aishah's authority stating: "Prayers were originally made in two rak'ahs, then this was continued for traveling people while residents were required to make their prayers full length." Al-Zuhri asked Urwah, both of whom transmitted this Hadith, "Why then did Aishah pray in full during her travel." Urwah, who was Aishah's nephew, said: "She had the same argument as Uthman." Imam Ahmad relates a report by Abbad ibn Abdullah ibn Al-Zubayr saying: "When Mu'awiyah came over to us to offer the pilgrimage we accompanied him to Makkah. He led the dhuhr prayers, offering it in two rak'ahs only. He then went to Dar Al-Nadwah, (the old meeting place of the Quraysh). As for Uthman, after he offered his prayers in four rak'ahs, he continued to do so, i.e. offering dhuhr, asr and isha in four rak'ahs each, when he arrived in Makkah. But when he left Makkah for Mina and Arafat, he would offer these prayers in two rak'ahs each. After he finished his pilgrimage rituals and stayed in Mina, he would offer his prayers in normal length, until he left Makkah. Now when Mu'awiyah offered dhuhr prayers in two rak'ahs only, Marwan and Amr ibn Uthman objected to what he did. They said to him: "No one had ever shamed your cousin (meaning Uthman) worse than you have shamed him." When he asked them to explain, they said: "Have you not known that he offered his prayers full length in Makkah?" Mu'awiyah protested that he offered his prayers with the Prophet, Abu Bakr and Umar, shortening them. They said: "But your cousin offered them complete."

It appears that Mu'awiyah considered shortening the prayer as a concession which gives a traveling person the choice to either pray in full or in the shortened form. This is evident from the fact that Mu'awiyah prayed asr that day in four rak'ahs.

(Courtesy: Arab News)

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Table

Salath Timings for Bangalore

Month Date

End Sahri

Sun Rise

Mid-day

Asar Shafi

Asar Hanafi

Sun Set

Isha
Oct    01 4.58

6.09

12.10 3.29 4.29 6.09 7.20

03

4.58 6.09 12.09 3.29 4.28 6.08 7.19
05 4.58 6.09 12.09 3.29 4.27 6.07 7.18
07 4.58 6.09 12.08 3.28 4.26 6.05 7.16
09 4.58 6.10 12.07 3.28 4.25 6.04 7.15
11 4.58 6.10 12.07 3.27 4.24 6.03 7.14
13 4.58 6.10 12.06 3.27 4.23 6.02 7.13
15 4.58 6.10 12.06 3.26 4.22 6.00 7.12
17 4.59 6.10 12.05 3.26 4.22 5.59 7.11
19 4.59 6.11 12.05 3.26 4.21 5.58 7.10
21 4.59 6.11 12.04 3.25 4.20 5.57 7.09
23 4.59 6.11 12.04 3.25 4.19 5.56 7.08
25 4.59 6.12 12.04 3.25 4.18 5.56 7.08
27 5.00 6.12 12.04 3.24 4.18 5.55 7.07
29 5.00 6.13 12.04 3.24 4.17 5.54 7.06
31 5.00 6.13 12.04 3.24 4.16 5.53 7.06

 The Latitude of Bangalore is 13o North and the Longitude is 77o 36' East.

Dr. Syed Abdul Zahir M.S., Islamic Astronomer, Tel.: 6647960

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