Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally
Question: Assalam alaykum,
When am I considered a traveller and when can I shorten my prayers?
I pray that you are well.
In brief, a person is considered a traveler and can shorten and combine their prayers when they:
-Are not traveling for a purpose that is impermissible
-Are performing prayers that occur within the travel period
-Have passed one’s city’s limits, and will be traveling from there for a distance longer than about 79-80 km
-Have not reached the place they have decided to reside, or will not be staying at their destination for four days or more, not including the day they arrive and the day they leave
-Are aware of the permissibility of shortening their prayers
-Are not following in their pray someone completing their prayer in full
-Have intended to shorten their prayers at the beginning of their prayer
-Have done three things to allow for combining prayers in the time of the first prayer: prayed in order; intended to combine prayers at some point during the first prayer; prayed the second prayer after the first prayer without a long break between the two.
Other details can be found in books of law, as well as this course on Shafiʿi fiqh, which deals with the above in some detail:
Islamic Law for Seekers (Shafi`i): Worship
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