Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Sidi, If one is traveling for something haram do they shorten the prayers? For example someone is traveling to see a band or the like do they still shorten their prayers as a traveller?
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful, and all blessings and peace upon our master Muhammad, his Folk, Companions and those who follow their noble way,
Yes. In the Hanafi school, someone travelling for an impermissible reason must still shorten their prayers as long as they are considered travellers.
The dispensations given in the primary texts of the Qur’an and Sunna for travellers relate to the state of travel, which is not in itself a sin. The sin is that which comes with the travel or after it. (The Shafi`is and others do not allow this. Note the strength of the Hanafi reasoning.)
Imam al-Kasani (d. 582 AH, in Halab) said in his Bada’i` al-Sana’i`, one of the most stunningly brilliant and lucid works of Islamic law:
The amount [of rakats] obligatory for the traveller are the same for a journey of righteousness, such as hajj, jihad, and seeking knowledge, or a permissible journey such as trade and the like, or a journey of sin, such as highway robbery and rebellion.
This is in our [Hanafi] school. Shafi`i said: there is no dispensation in journeys of sin. His proof is that the dispensation of shortening is established to make things easy for the traveller and looking towards his best interest, and the sinner does not deserve either matter.
Our proof is that the primary evidence does not distinguish between different types of travellers. As such, it is necessary to act on its general indication and unconditionedness. [Bada’i` al-Sana’i`, 1: 93]
Imam al-Zayla`i (d. 743 AH, Cairo) added in his Tabyin al-Haqa’iq,a commentary on Imam al-Nasafi’s matn Kanz al-Daqa’iq:
… and because the travel itself is not a sin. Rather, the sin is that which occurs after it, or with it, and the dispensation relates to the travel and not the sin.
This is because of the established principle that sin related to an action does not negate the rulings associated with the action, such as [the validity of] sales after the Friday noon adhan [f: for all transactions after the Friday noon adhan are prohibitively disliked, though the sale itself is valid, if its conditions and integrals are met.] [Tabyin al-Haqa’iq Sharh Kanz al-Daqa’iq, 1: 215-216]
Imam al-Shafi`i said, “People are like children to Abu Hanifa in fiqh.”
And Allah alone gives success.