Prayer while travelling

Traveling is a beautiful way to encounter other people and other cultures, and to be inspired by what you find and even more so, by those whom you meet. When you make that decision to go traveling, make it with God, because when you allow Him to work through you and guide you as you travel – then you’re in for an incredible adventure.

For me personally, traveling has brought with it some of my most treasured memories and most providential encounters. But it’s also brought with it challenges – both physical and spiritual!

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One of these challenges has always been how to keep a consistent prayer life when on the move; with the constant challenges of time zone differences and having to be finding my feet in new places, and with new people.

So here are 7 recommendations for praying whilst you travel.

1. It starts before you even set off!

prayer while travelling


A priest speaking about vocation once told me that a man who doesn’t pray is a seminarian who doesn’t pray, and a seminarian who doesn’t pray is a priest who doesn’t pray. The point he was making is that we can’t think that our prayer life will suddenly flourish when we move onto the next stage in our journey – it has to be present from the beginning!

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Similarly, with traveling we shouldn’t expect that we are going to suddenly find “time to pray”, the most important thing to know about praying while you travel is that it will be grounded in the prayer life that you have already fostered at home.

Maybe there will be more time alone to pray as you travel, but as a general rule, if you don’t pray at home then you’re not going to suddenly be able to pray when you’re away from home. So start now!

2. Mass – Why is everyone standing?

prayer while travelling


Mass when you’re traveling can present its own challenges, but don’t be afraid of the different language or the different customs! The congregation may well be standing when you’d normally be kneeling, or sitting when you’d normally be standing but don’t worry! The important thing is that you are there!

The best rule of thumb is to follow the congregation; the local Bishops conference will set out the liturgical norms for the congregation to follow, and you’ll soon discover the natural rhythm of the liturgy.

Recently I was introduced to the Byzantine rite Divine Liturgy as there was no Latin rite Mass where I was, and it was certainly very different to anything that I’d previously experienced, but it was so incredibly beautiful – something that I am truly thankful for having experienced.

3. Build habits (but be ready for change).

prayer while travelling


Find things that work for you and make them a daily habit as you settle into traveling through different places. Maybe it’ll be a simple morning consecration each day when you wake up; or maybe you’ll find that an opportunity naturally presents itself which you can use as a time for prayer, like your morning commute – the key is to find things that you’re going to be able to do each day!

One time I found myself at a beautiful camp on the Croatian coast, and it worked for me to take twenty minutes each morning to sit out by the water and pray a rosary. It wasn’t something I had planned to do, but the opportunity was there, and so I turned it into a daily habit.

Hopefully wherever you go you’ll also be able to find these natural wellsprings of prayer and use them as daily springboards; it could be a time of the day that you’re always free, or an incredible view that you pass regularly that takes your breath away – these can be our opportunities for prayer.

4. Pray with a friend.

prayer while travelling


If you’re with others – maybe a fellow traveler, someone you’re visiting, or just someone you’ve bumped into – then you may like to see if they would want to pray with you. Not only does this make them aware that you may need time out to pray, but it also presents the opportunity to pray with them, and praying with a friend, or among a group of friends, is indescribably special.

I was once visiting a friend in Spain, and one night as we were getting ready to go to sleep, he asked me if I wanted to pray with him, and we did (in Spanish), and it is now one of my most treasured memories.

When we pray with friends we invite God into that friendship which is shared.

5. Call your Mother!

prayer while travelling


When I set off for a period of traveling my mum always likes to be kept updated about where I am and where I’m going – but I always forget to phone her! (sorry mum). I am quite good, however, at keeping my Heavenly Mother updated!

Our Lady is the ‘Guide of the wanderer’ as one English hymn puts it. Staying close to her is a joy for the traveler. She takes our situations, worries, concerns, joys, plans (or lack thereof) and she places them all the feet of her Son.

How do we get in contact with her? I’d recommend the rosary to the traveler – it’s easy to pray as you go and very efficacious!

6. The Jesus Prayer

prayer while travelling

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This is a new one for myself; a recent discovery which I haven’t fully delved into yet, but of which I have heard so many beautiful accounts of joy, comfort, and consolation that have been found in reciting this prayer.

The prayer is simple and yet immensely powerful –  and it can be said whenever and wherever (which is ideal for when you’re traveling). It finds a very strongly rooted tradition in the Eastern church, and for the early Church Fathers it was considered the key to unlocking the intimate interior ceaseless prayer of the heart.

It is to say, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner”, and to say it repeatedly silently upon your lips, and in the silent depths of your heart.

7. Contemplation

prayer while travelling

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My last piece of advice for prayer whilst you travel is to take it all in! Don’t let anxieties take you away from being present to the beauty and the experiences that you will have. The journey can become our prayer as we hold God before our eyes, and as He reveals His mysteries to us.

Hildebrand says in speaking of contemplation that, “Who of us does not know the supreme moments when a great truth, a glorious beauty of art or of nature, or the soul of a beloved person manifests itself to our soul with a lightning-like splendour, gracing our eyes with a vision of ultimate reality and prompting us to exclaim, “O Lord, how admirable is Thy name in the whole earth!”

This is what traveling is all about.

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Taken from “A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence” by Sheikh Salih Al-Fawzan , Vol 1 , pg 238 – 241

A traveler is one of the excused persons for it is permissible for him to shorten the prayer consisting of four rak’ahs ( units of prayer ) to only two rak’ahs as stated in the Noble Qur’an, the Sunnah (Prophetic Tradition ) , and the consensus of Muslim scholars. Allah , Exalted be He , says:

“And when you travel throughout the land , there is no blame upon you for the shortening prayer ..” (Qur’an : An-Nisa:101 )

Moreover , the Prophet (Peace be upon him) performed only shortened prayers on his journeys . Furthermore , on journeys , shortening the prayer is better than completing it according to the majority of scholars . It is narrated in the Two Sahihs that Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her ) said :

“When the prayer was enjoined ( by Allah ) , it was two rak’ahs (units of prayer ) only ( in every prayer ) both when in residence or on a journey . Then the prayers performed on journey remained the same , but ( the rak’ahs of ) the prayer for non-travelers were increased.”

Umar (may Allah be pleased with him ) said:

“The prayer performed on journeys is of two rak’ahs . This is the complete prayer without shortening.”

A Muslim on a journey is to start shortening the prayer as soon as he leaves his town or city as Allah permits the shortening of prayer for those who travel through the land . Before leaving his town, a Muslim is not legally considered a traveler through the land (and hence he is not permitted to shorten the prayer ) . The Prophet ( Peace be upon him ) used to shorten the prayer as soon as he left his hometown . So, if a person does not travel from the residential land , he is not considered a traveler.

A traveler is permitted to shorten the prayer even if he frequently travels , as in the case of a mail carrier or a taxi driver who spends most of his time on the way between towns.

It is permissible for a traveler to combine the Zuhr prayer and the Asr ( Afternoon ) prayer at the due time of either of them , and, likewise , to combine the Maghrib ( sunset ) prayer and the Isha ( night ) prayer at the due time of either of them . That is because what makes it permissible for the traveler to shorten prayer makes it permissible for him to combine prayers as well .

However , shortening prayer is a temporary permission valid when there is a necessity , as in the case when traveler is in haste on his journey. Mu’adh ( may Allah be pleased with him ) narrated :

” on the Battle of Tabuk , when the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had gone forth before the Sun passed the meridian , he would delay the Zuhar prayer and combine it with the Asr prayer , performing them together . But when he proceeded after the sun had passed the meridian , he would perform the Zuhr and the Asr prayers ( at the time of the Zuhr ) and then he would proceed. ( He acted similarly for the Maghrib prayer. ) When the sun had set before he proceeded , he would delay the Maghrib prayer and combine it with the Isha prayer , performing them together . But when he proceeded after sunset , he would perform the Isha prayer and the Maghrib prayer at the time of the Maghrib prayer “.

( Related by Ahmad and At-Tirmidhi )

When a traveler stops on his journey , to take a rest , it is better for him to perform each prayer shortened at its due time , not to combine prayers . If it is difficult for a Muslim patient to perform each prayer at its due time , then he is permitted to combine the Zuhr prayer and the Asr prayer ( at the due time of either of them ), and to combine the Maghrib prayer and the Isha prayer ( at the due time of either of them ).

Shaykhul – Islam Ibn Taymiyah said :

“Allah has ordained shortening of prayer to remove difficulties and make things easy for the Muslim nation . So , a Muslim is permitted to combine prayers when necessary . All hadiths (related to this matter ) imply that it is permissible to combine two prayers at the due time of either of them in order to remove any possible hardship caused to the Prophet’s nation. Thus , it is permissible to combine prayers if it is to cause hardship if not done. This proves that it is permissible with greater reason for a Muslim patient to combine ( two ) prayers at the due time of either of them as long as it is difficult for him to perform each prayer at its due time . ”

Ibn Taymiyah also said :

” Patients can combine the prayer according to the Sunnah for it is narrated in two hadiths that the Prophet ( Peace be upon him ) ordered a mustahadah to combine the prayer . “

By means of analogical deduction with the case a mustahadah , the combining of prayer is permitted for every Muslim who cannot purity for every prayer, such as those inflicted with enuresis , a continuously bleeding wound , or a permanent nosebleed .The Prophet ( Peace be upon him ) said to Hamnah Bint Jahsh when she asked him about istihadah ( vaginal bleeding other than menstruation ) :

“…But if you are strong enough to delay the Zuhr prayer and advance the Asr prayer ,to wash , and then combine the Zuhr and the Asr prayers; (and ) to delay the Maghrib prayer and advance the Isha prayer , to wash , and then combine the two prayers, do so .”

( Related by Ahmad , Abu Dawud , and At-Tirmidhi and deemed sahih ( authentic) by the latter )

It is permissible to combine the Maghrib prayer and the Isha prayer , in particular , if there is rain that wets clothes and causes difficulty ( for those who go to the mosque ). The Prophet ( Peace be upon him ) combined the Maghrib prayer and the Isha prayer in a rainy night , and so did Abu Bakr and Umar afterwards .

Shaykul – Islam Ibn Taymiyah ( may Allah have mercy on him ) said :

” According to the soundest view of scholars , it is permissible for a Muslim to combine prayers because of mud or strong cold wind in a dark night , even if it has stopped raining . This is more incumbent than performing each prayer at its due time at home . Moreover, to abandon combining congregational prayers in mosque to perform prayer at home is a bid’ah ( a matter innovated in religion ) that contradicts the Sunnah ( Prophetic tradition ) .

It is an act of the Sunnah to perform the Five ( obligatory ) prayers in congregation in the mosque , and this is more due , according to the unanimous agreement of Muslims , than performing prayers at home. In addition, congregational prayer combined in the mosque is more due than performing prayers at home individually, according to the unanimous agreement of the scholars who maintain the aforementioned permissibility to combine prayers ( due to bad weather ) , such as Malik , Ash-Shafi’i and Ahmad .

It is better for one permitted to combine prayers to combine them according to what suits his / her situation most.

On the day of ‘ Arafah , it is better ( for the pilgrims ) to combine the Zuhr prayer and the Asr prayer at the time of the former , but in Muzdalifah , it is better ( for the pilgrims ) to combine the Maghrib prayer and the Isha prayer at the time of the latter , according to what the Prophet (Peace be upon him) did ( in his Hajj ) . On the day of Arafah , pilgrims combine the Zuhr and the Asr prayers at the time of the former in order to continue staying at ‘ Arafah mount (without interruption), but in Muzdalifah, they combine the Maghrib and the Isha prayers at the time of the latter to continue moving toward Muzdalifah.

In general , it is an act of the Sunnah for pilgrims to combine prayers on the Day of Arafah and in Muzdalifah but in circumstances other than that , it is permissible when necessary . However , when there is no necessity , it is better for a traveler to perform each prayer at its due time .

During the days of his Hajj , the Prophet (Peace be upon him) combined prayers only on the Day of ‘ Arafah and in Muzdalifah , but he (Peace be upon him) did not combine prayers in Mina because he was to stay there .

So the Prophet (Peace be upon him) used to combine prayers only when he was in a hurry on a journey . We invoke Allah to guide us to useful knowledge and good deeds .

End Notes:


Ad-Dara qutni ( 2275 , 2276) and Al-Bayhaqi

Al-Bukhari (350) and Muslim (1568)

An-Nasai (1419) and Ibn Majah (1036)

Abu Dawud (1208) and At-Tirmidhi (552)

See: Majmu ‘ul Fatawa (26/64)

Mustahadah: A woman in a state of istihadah (i.e a woman having vaginal bleeding other than menstruation)

See : Majmu ‘ul Fatawa (24/72,74)

Istihadah: Vaginal bleeding other than menstruation

Ahmad and At-Tirmidhi (128)

Al-Bukhari (543) and Muslim (705)

‘Abdur-Razzaq in his Musannaf (4440)

See: Majmu ‘ul Fatawa (24/38,29)

Muslim (2941)

Al-Bukhari (1674) and Muslim (309)

COURTESY: Islamic mailing group.

Allah Knows best!

I am on government duty at a district of about 220 kms from my home. I usually go on duty for 13 days than come home. The government has not provided me a house, nor I have rented. As per my home’s neighboring masjid’s imam’s order, I have to offer kasar salat for zohar, asar & isha. Now the imam of the local masjid at the place of my duty has ordered this practice invalid. What should I do in this matter? Please give me guidance.


Al-Salam `alaykum

Respected brother

You will have to offer Qasr Salah (i.e. 2 rak`ahs for Zuhr, `Asr and `Isha) at your place of duty. This is because it is more than 77km from your hometown and you do not intend to stay there for 15 days or more. Thus you remain a musafir. (Shar`i traveller)

If at any time you do intend to stay there for 15 days or more then you will NOT offer Qasr Salah.

Please refer to the full details of this on the Sunni Path website.

Below you will find some more information on this from the book Anis al-Musafir.

Abu Usamah


1. The person who sets out with the intention of eventually travelling three manzils (approx. 77 km) * is regarded as a musāfir in the Sharī‛ah.

2. The moment he comes out of the boundaries of his town or city he becomes a musāfir. Within the boundaries of his town or city, he will not be a musāfir.

If the airport is within the boundaries of the city (in the sense that the buildings of the city are linked to it without a considerable break in between) it will fall under the rule of the city and the person will not be considered a musāfir when he reaches it. If it is outside the boundaries, then upon reaching it, the person will be regarded as a musāfir.

PRINCIPLE: A person will not become a musāfir until he firmly intends to travel 77 km from the place he is in.

Thus a person who travels from place to place, intending to travel less than 77km each time, will not become a musāfir – even if he travels the entire world in this way!


1. When a person qualifies as a musāfir according to the Sharī‛ah he is required to offer two rak‛ahs for the Fard of Zuhr, ‛Asr and ‛Ishā’ salāh. The other salāhs remain as normal.

2. More than two rak‛ahs should not be offered for the Fard of Zuhr, ‛Asr and ‛Ishā’ salāh. If a person mistakenly offered four raka‛āt for these salāhs, and he had sat down for Tashahhud (al-Tahiyyāt) in the second rak‛ah, then the first two rak‛ahs will be regarded as Fard and the other two rak‛ahs as nafl.

3. In the above case he will have to make sajdah al-sahw. If he did not make sajdah al-sahw then he must repeat the salāh if its time still remains.

4. If he did not sit in the second rak‛ah then all four raka‛āt will become nafl and he will have to repeat his Fard salāh.


1. A person will remain a musāfir and will continue offering two rak‛ahs for the four-raka‛āt salāhs until he makes the definite intention of staying at a place for fifteen days or more.

2. The place where he makes this intention is known as his Watan al-Iqāmah. He must offer four raka‛āt salāh here.

3. If he makes the intention of staying for 15 days whilst in salāh then he must offer this very salāh as a muqīm i.e. 4 raka‛āt.

PRINCIPLE: A musāfir will not become a muqīm until he firmly intends to stay at a place for a period of fifteen days from the time he makes this intention.

Based on the above principle consider the following two cases:

a) A person stops at a place intending to stay for two or three days. Due to circumstances every day he makes the intention of leaving the following day but he still does not leave. In this way fifteen days, twenty days, a month or even more passes, but he did not, at any point, make the firm intention of staying there for fifteen days. In this case he will remain a musāfir irrespective of how many days he stays at that place.

b) A person intends to stay at a place for ten days but after seven days he decides to extend his stay by an additional ten days (which will make his total stay twenty days.) In this case he will remain a musāfir. This is because after he had decided to stay ten more days there were thirteen days of his total stay remaining. Hence at no point did he make the intention to stay for fifteen days. In other words, ‘fifteen days’ is considered from the time he changed his intention and not from the beginning of his stay.

4. The intention of staying fifteen days has to be for staying the full fifteen days at one place. If he makes an intention of staying for 15 days at two different places, and the distance between the two places is such that the adhān of one place cannot be heard at the other, then he will be a musāfir in both those places.

E.G. If a person intends staying for 10 days in Makkah and 5 days in Minā he will be a musāfir both in Makkah and Minā.

Thus a Hāji who arrives in Makkah less than fifteen full days before the morning of the 8th of Dhū al-Hijjah will be a musāfir.

If he arrives in Makkah fifteen days or more before the 8th then he will be a muqīm both in Makkah and Minā.

5. If in the above case (i.e. Law 4) he intends spending all the fifteen nights at one place then he will be a muqīm in that place.

6. If both places are so close that each other’s adhān can be heard, then both places will be regarded as one place. He will become a muqīm in both places by intending to stay there for 15 days.

7. After becoming a muqīm (by firmly intending to stay at a place for fifteen days) if he changes his intention and decides to leave before fifteen days then he will not become a musāfir.

*When he leaves with the intention of eventually travelling to another place that is at a distance of 77 kilometres or more then only will he become a musāfir. If that place is less than 77 kilometres away, he will not become a musāfir

Wa`alykum As-Salaamu Warahmatullahi Wabarakaatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

There is general consensus among scholars that if a traveling person is determined to return as soon as his work is done and does not know when that will be, then he may continue to pray Qasr as long as he is on travel.

In his response to the question you posed, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

1) There is general consensus among scholars that if a traveling person is determined to return as soon as his work is done and does not know when that will be, then he may continue to pray Qasr as long as he is on travel.

If, however, a person decides to settle down in a city, the moment he does so, he ceases to be a traveler, and, therefore, he must pray full.

If, on the other hand, one is determined to stay only for a few days the number of which he knows precisely, then he should pray full, according to a great number of scholars, if his stay exceeds more than four days. The Hanafi School, however, puts the number of allowable days at fifteen, while a third group of scholars put it at eighteen.

The first view seems to be the safest view to follow, as it has been based on the Prophet’s practice. According to authentic reports, he stayed in Makkah for four days, and during his stay he prayed qasr; he had already known in advance how many days he would be staying. He is reported to have prayed Qasr for eighteen and twenty days on two different occasions, when, most likely, he had no idea as regards the number of days he would be staying.

Having said this, I should rush to state that if anyone follows the position of theHanafi School, he should not be blamed for his action, for theirs is a Fiqh– ruling based on acceptable practices of the Salaf as-Salih (pious predecessors). Since it is merely a question of differences of interpretation based on valid Ijtihad (creative exercise of reasoning), one should never make a big issue out of such differences of opinion among Imams.

2) The most accurate way to count the number of days for a traveler is to consider oneself a traveler only after one has crossed the boundaries of his city of residence.

Thus, in case of people living in Toronto, if they are in a long distance journey, they will be considered travelers only after they have crossed the boundaries of GTA. The days of stay are calculated by excluding the day/days of going and returning.

3) Yes, according to the vast majority of scholars and Imams, it is perfectly allowed for a traveler to combine Zhuhr and `Asr , and Maghrib and `Isha’. This ruling (known as Jam`) is based on the authentic traditions which clearly state that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had combined Zhuhr and `Asr as well as Maghrib and `Isha’ on a number of occasions while traveling.

According to the Hanafi School, however, combining prayers is allowed only during Hajj while performing the rite of standing in `Arafah. At other times, they allow only what is often termed as Jam suwari (a kind of combining): By this they mean to say that you are allowed, for instance, to delay Zhuhr and pray it at the last time of Zhuhr and then pray `Asr at the first time of `Asr.

The majority view allowing combining of prayers as mentioned earlier has been considered to be the most authentic; it has been adopted later by many scholars belonging to Hanafi School as well.

4) While combining prayers, you are allowed to make either taqdim (advancing) or ta’khir (delaying): In other words, you are allowed to advance the second prayer to the time of the first prayer.

Thus, if you are combining Zاuhr and `Asr , you can first pray Zhuhr, and then advance `Asr by praying immediately, or if you wish you can defer praying Zhuhr until the time of `Asr and then pray `Asr afterwards. The same procedure applies to combining Maghrib and `Isha’ as well. at the time of arrives, in which case, you will first pray.

An important word of caution concerning Jam` is that there is no combining of Fajr with Zhuhr, or `Asr with Maghrib, or ‘Isha with Fajr.

It is also worth mentioning that while praying Qasr during travel is highly recommended—some Imams such as Abu Hanifah even consider it as obligatory—during travel, praying Jam` is only allowed while one is actually traveling or pre-occupied with pressing circumstances. Jam` is rare, while Qasr is common.

A final remark to be made is that if a person is aimlessly wandering, he is not considered a traveler and is, therefore, not allowed to make use of the allowances of Qasr and Jam`.

Allah Almighty knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.

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