Who is a Musafir?


I wish to find out what is the criteria used to define who is a Musafir? I have heard that once you pass 40 miles and in other narrations I have heard once you cross 48 miles? I have also read that when the Rasool (S.A) spent more than 15 days in one place he would pray his salaah as normal. Additionally, what is the position of joining and shortening salaah when on journey?


With respect to the main source which determines who is a musaffir, the Jurist of Islam has used different traditions as the criteria which all lead to the same conclusion.

According to the tradition narrated by the famous Tabi’ee, Ataa bin Abi Rabah, he said that both Abdullah Bin Umar and Abdullah Bin Abbass (R.A.) used to perform the Salaat of journey (2 rakaats) and also delayed their Ramadhan fasts (a concession which is given to travelers (musaffirs)) when they covered a distance of four ‘Burd’ or more. (Recorded by Imam Baihaqi and Ibnul Munzir with a sound sanad). Imam Bukhari has also mentioned it and said that four Burd is sixteen farsakh. While commenting on this the great scholar of Hadith Hafiz Ibn Hajar Asqalani says that the renowned scholar of the Arabic Language, Fara’a mentions that the word ‘Farsakh’ is Persian and one Farsakh equal to three miles. As such sixteen Farsakh will equal to forty eight miles. There are other traditions wich indicates to the distance of four Burd being the criteria for becoming a musafir. As explained, 4 Burd = 16 Farsakh; one Farsakh = 3 miles and 16 farsakh = 48 miles.

Many other Jurists have used the tradition which speaks of the distancecovered in a period of 3 days/nights to be the criteria for becoming amusafir. It is narrated from Ali Bin Rabia that he ask Abdullah Bin Umar (R.A.), ‘what distance should a person cover in order for him to shorten his Salaat (i.e. perform the Salaat of journey)’. Ibn Umar said, ‘Do you know where is Suwaida’ (a name of a certain place). He (Ali Bin Rabia) said, ‘No,’ however, I have heard about it’. Abdullah Bin Umar then said, ‘It is a distance of three nights and more, when we travel to such distance we shorten our Salaat’. (Recorded by Muhammad Bin Hassan in his Athaar with a sound sanad). Similarly Ibraheem Bin Abdullah says that he heard Suwaid Bin Ghaflah Al-Jufi saying, ‘When you travel for 3 days/nights shorten your Salaat (i.e. for journey) (Recorded by Muhammad Bin Hassan in Al- Hujaj with a sound sanad).

Ibn Jareer has also recorded the tradition of Umar (R.A.) where he (Umar) said, ‘Salaat shall be shortened when a distance of 3 days/nights journey is covered. (Recorded in Kanzul Ummal). Allama Aini the famous commentator of Sahih Al- Bukhari states that this has been the Fatawa (Religious Verdict) of Uthman Bin Affan, Abdullah Bin Masood, Suwaid Bin Ghaflah, Sha’bi, Nakhi, Thauri, Ibn Hajaj, Abu Qilaba, Shuraik Bin Abdullah, Saeed Bin Jubair, Muhammad Bin Sireen. They have all stated that the distance covered in the period of 3 days and nights of travel shall be the criteria for making a person a musafir. However such travel for this period must not be continuous. It is a moderate travel which includes the break that is needed for the performance of Salaah, taking meals and resting at intervals during the day and sleeping at night. The Fuqaha (Jurists) have further estimated the distance which can be covered in such travels over the mentioned period and have concluded that it is a distance of forty eight miles.

As such, even though each group of Jurists has used different traditions as their source they have all arrived at the same conclusion of 48 miles.

It is evident that when a person spends 15 days or more in a place he must perform the normal salaah and would not be allowed to shorten it (i.e. perform the salaah of journey).

In this regard Mujahid has narrated that whenever Abdullah Bin Umar (R.A.) made an intention to stay for fifteen days in a place he would perform his complete salaah. (Recorded by Ibn Abi Shaiba with a sound sanad). Muhammad Bin Hassan has also narrated in Al- Hujaj with a sound sanad that whenever Ibn Umar (R.A.) wanted to stay in Makka for fifteen days he would perform the complete four rakaats.

Saeed Bin Musayyab, the great Tabi’ee has stated, ‘when you enter a city and you wish to stay for fifteen days, then complete your Salaah’. (Recorded in Kitab Al- Hujaj with a sound sanad).

These traditions show that when a person intends to stay in a city for fifteen days or more (after he has become a musafir) then he must perform his Salaat in a complete manner, however if he stays for less than fifteen days he must shorten his Salaat.

According to the majority of scholars from among the Sahabahs, Tabieen and the renowned Imams of Fiqh it is essential to shorten ones Salaat while he/she is on journey. This view, in our opinion is the correct one since it is supported by authentic and strong evidence from the Sunnah.

In this regard the tradition of Aisha (R.A.) states, ‘Salaat was made compulsory as two rakaats in residence and on journey, then the Salaat of journey remained established as two rakaats while the Salaat of residence was increased’. (Reported by Bukhari and Muslim).

In another tradition narrated by Abdullah Bin Umar (R.A.) he said, ‘I accompanied the Prophet (S.A.S.) on journey and he never performed more than two rakaats (i.e. the salaat of journey) until he died and I accompanied Abu Bakr (R.A.) on journey and he never exceeded two rakaats until he passed away and I accompanied Umar (R.A.) on journey and he never performed more then two rakaats until Allah took him away and then I accompanied Uthman on a journey and he also did not perform more than two rakaats until Allah took his soul and Allah has said, ‘Verily in the Messenger of Allah you have the best example’. (Reported by Bukhari and Muslim).

Based on these traditions it is established that the Salaat of journey is two rakaats which must be performed instead of four rakaats. (i.e. in those Salaat which have four rakaats of Fard Salaat).

With respect to the joining of Salaat on journey, there are differences of opinion among the Sahabas, Tabieen and the early Jurists of Islam. It is however unanimously agreed that the joining of salaat on the occasion of the Hajj Pilgrimage at Arafah and Muzdalifah should be done as it is clearly evident from the statement as well as the action of the Prophet (S.A.S.).

Joining in the case of traveling etc. is evident from certain traditions which shows that the Prophet (S.A.S.) would sometimes join two Salaat when he was undertaking a journey. Because of these traditions a number of scholars have accepted the position that joining Salaat on journey is permissible.

Other scholars however have not accepted this opinion and have clearly stated that joining is not permissible except at Arafah and Muzdalifah during the Pilgrimage. This is the opinion of: Abdullah Bin Masood (R.A.) (Sahabi), Saad Bin Abi Waqas (R.A.) (Sahabi), Abdullah Bin Umar (R.A.) (Sahabi). (according to the tradition of Abu Dawood). This is also the position held by certain Tabi’een, such as Ibn Sereen, Hasan Basri, Jaabir Bin Zaid, Makhool, Amr Bin Dinar, Sufyan Thauri, Umar Bin Abdul Azeez, Salim, Laith Bin Saad, Aswad, Ibraheem An Nakhi and others. Imam Abu Hanifa has adopted this position as well Imam Malik (based on the tradition 0f Ibnul Qaasim). In establishing this opinion the above scholars have cited the tradition of Abdullah Bin Masood (R.A.) which has been recorded by Imam Bukhari as sound and authentic. He (Ibn Masood) said that he has never seen the Messenger of Allah (S.A.S.) performed any Salaah out of its time besides the joining at the time of Hajj.

As for those traditions which indicate to the act of joining, the scholars have stated that in appearance it looked as if two Salaats were joined, however in reality there was no joining. Instead, one Salaah was performed at its ending time while the other was performed in its beginning time.

This argument has been substantiated by many traditions by some of which are recorded by Imam Tahawi in his book Sharh Ma’ani Al Athaar. Other traditions which indicates to this position is the tradition of Abdullah Bin Masood (R.A.) which states, ‘The Messenger of Allah (S.A.S.) always performed Salaat on its time exept at Muzdalifa and Arafa’ (Recorded by Nasai with a sound sanad). Similarly Aisha (R.A.) states, ‘On journey, the Messenger of Allah (S.A.S.) would delay Zuhr (to its last time) and advance Asr (to its beginning time) and would delay Magrib (to its last time) and advance Isha (to its beginning time). This act is further established in the tradition of Abdullah bin Masood (R.A.) as recorded by Tibrani in Al- Kabeer. He (Ibn Masood) states that ‘the Prophet (S.A.S.) joined between Magrib and Isha. He delayed one to its last time and brought one forward to its beginning time’.

This in our opinion is the correct position and one is advised not to join two Salaat for the sake of journey.

And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan