Evidences for the distance and time to be considered a traveller

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by

Answered by Shaykh Gibril F Haddad

I am working with people who combine and shorten their prayers as soon as they leave the city limits. I, as a Hanafi, follow the Hanafi school and so do not do as they do. I do not repremand them although I think their practice odd. However, they often think I’m being extreme and causing fitna, they also claim Abu Hanifa’s opinion on this was weak. So that I can educate myself and them, could you please explain to me how the school derived the ruilings for the minimum distance to be considered a traveller and the duration of stay to be considered a resident. Also, is there a phenominen that hadith from The Prophet wont have been preserved on something that was commonly known and practiced? E.g. when standing after ruku, it appears every Muslim in history has left their arms by their side, but their appears non textual ‘proof.’

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

There are four issues in the question:

1. Proof for the minimum distance to be considered a traveller in the
Hanafi School

The Musafir or traveller is the Muslim who goes out of his country
aiming to reach another country lying at a distance of 88 kilometers or

The proof for this is derived from the hadiths which correlate three
days’ travel at that time with the status of traveller:

– “The Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, allowed wiping on the
leather sock [during ablution] for three days and nights for the
traveller.” Sahih Muslim, mass-transmitted according to Imam al-Tahawi
in Ma`ani al-Aathaar (1:150).

– In al-Bukhari and Muslim: “No woman travels for a period of three
[i.e. three days and nights] except in the company of a mahram.”

Similarly, Malik narrated from Nafi`, from Ibn `Umar that the latter
shortened the prayer in Khaybar, saying: “These are three qawasid, i.e.
nights.” Sunan al-Bayhaqi (3:136). Likewise in the place called
al-Suwayda’ near Madina on the way to Shaam, lying at a shorter distance
than Khaybar. Muhammad, Aathaar (p. 34-35) with a sound chain per Ibn
Hajar in Aathaar al-Sunan (2:62).

Another time, Ibn `Umar shortened his prayer after travelling to Reem,
which lies at a much shorter distance yet. Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari

The distance travelled at average speed, i.e. on foot and on camelback,
over a period of three days with three nights’ rest *at that time*
varies, however, it was assessed in the Madhhab as 48 Hashemite miles =
4 burud = 16 farsakh = 88.694 km.

Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari (2:466) mentions several reports that Ibn
`Umar and Ibn `Abbas would shorten prayer for a distance of 4 burud.

2. The times from which to start shortening the prayer, and end
shortening it

The traveller begins to shorten the prayer from the moment he passes the
city limits on hiw way out and he resumes completing it from the moment
he passes the city limits on his way in.

Abu Hurayra, may Allah be well-pleased with him, said: “I travelled with
the Messenger of Allah, upon him blessings and peace, and with Abu bakr
and `Umar, Allah be well-pleased with them. Each of them prayed two
rak`as from the moment he left Madina and until he returned to it, both
on the way and while residing in Makka.” Narrated by Malik cf. al-Ta`liq
al-Mumajjad (1:563).

Abu al-Aswad al-Du’ali narrated that `Ali, Allah be well-pleased with
him, left to travel out of Basra and prayed zuhr with four rak`as then
said: “If we had passed this limit we would have prayed two rak`as.”
That is, the country’s limits. Narrated by Abu Ya`la and al-Tabarani.
Al-Bayhaqi said Abu Ya`la’s narrators were those of the Sahih. See also
Nasb al-Raya (2:183).

`Ali ibn Rabi`a said: “We went out with `Ali ibn Abi Talib, Allah be
well-pleased with him, toward al-Shaam and he prayed two rak`as
throughout until we returned and saw al-Kufa. At the time of prayer they
said: ‘Commander of the Believers, there is al-Kufa, shall we complete
the prayer?’ He replied: ‘Not until we enter it.'” Sunan al-Bayhaqi

3. The duration of stay to be considered a resident in the Hanafi School

Whoever travels to reach a country to stay in it less than 15 days, or
does not intend to stay there 15 days even if he does stay there 15 days
or more, must shorten the prayer from 4 to 2.

Anas, may Allah be well-pleased with him, said: “We went out with the
Messenger of Allah, upon him blessings and peace, from Madina to Makka,
and he prayed two rak`as throughout until we returned to Madina.” He was
asked: “Did you stay in Makka for any length of time?” He replied: “We
resided in it for ten days.” Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

Jabir said: “I campaigned with the Messenger of Allah, upon him
blessings and peace, to Tabuk and he resided in it between 11 and 19
days, during which he never added to two rak`as until he returned.”
Narrated by al-Bayhaqi in his Sunan (3:152).

`Abd Allah ibn `Umar, Allah be well-pleased with both of them, used to
complete the prayer whenever he intended to reside 15 days somewhere.
Narrated by Ibn Abi Shayba.

`Abd Allah ibn `Umar said, Allah be well-pleased with both of them:
“When you travel and you decide to reside somewhere for 15 days,
complete the prayer; but if you do not know when you will travel again,
shorten it.” Narrated by Muhammad ibn al-Hasan in al-Aathaar. Ibn Hajar
said in Aathaar al-Sunan that its chain was sahih hasan. Al-Tahawi
narrated the same from Ibn `Abbas. See al-Zayla`i, Nasb al-Raya (2:185).

4. Leaving one’s arms hanging by the sides when standing after ruku`

There is no proof for grasping one’s hands together after ruku` in the
prayer whatsoever. As you suggested, it is simply unthinkable that the
entirety of the Sahaba, with their meticulousness and precision, would
all forget mentioning such a repetitive detail about the First Pillar of
Islam after Shahada.

The Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, grasped hands only in qiyam,
i.e. standing while reciting the Qur’an, while the point after ruku` is
not called qiyam in the texts but i`tidal, i.e. straightening oneself.
Indeed, our liegelord `Ali, may Allah ennoble his face, said: “The
Messenger of Allah, upon him blessings and peace, when he got up to
pray, would say ‘Allahu akbar’ and place his right hand on his left
wrist, remaining thus until he bowed, etc.” Narrated by al-Bukhari
without chain in his Sahih, and others. Note that he said: “remaining
thus _until_ he bowed,” i.e. no longer afterwards.

And Allah Most High knows best.

Al-Hadiyyat al-`Ala’iyya (p. 108-113).
Al-Ghawji, Arkan al-Islam (1:350-352).
Al-Saghurji, al-Fiqh al-Hanafi wa-Adillatuh (p. 276-285).
Al-Tahanawi, I`la’ al-Sunan (7:269-322).

GF Haddad

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