Islamic Rules About Travel
Did you know that a traveller must shorten his prayers? And that he’s exempted from fasting? Do you know of the concept of hometown?
In this article we will explain the rulings regarding these issues according to the Islamic laws.
The term “hometown” in Ahkam has a different meaning to its common use.
According to Ahkam, a place is considered one’s hometown if:
- It is the place that one belongs to; it is generally his birthplace and the home of his parents.
- It is the place one chooses to spend the rest of his life in.
- It is the place one adopts as his residence for a long period of time; for example, for the purpose of studying or working, so that he’s not considered a traveller there.
- It is the place that one stays in regularly for a significant period of time. For example, people who spend their summer at their ancestral village due to the fact that it has better weather.
Is the possession of a house in a place, a condition for one to consider it as his hometown?
Answer: Not really. It is not having a house that makes a place his hometown, but rather residing there for a long time so that one is no longer considered a traveller.
For example, Ahmad is from Manchester, but he moved to London to attend university, which he is now attending for a few years. This would make London his new hometown.
Another example: Hasan lives in Baghdad for most of the year, but he has rented a house in the village for the summer. Hasan will have two hometowns, because he lives in both places and thus he’s not considered as a traveller in either of them.
One performs his prayers and fasting normally in his hometown, but once he travels out of his hometown he has to adhere to the Ahkam of travel.
What is considered travel in Ahkam?
There are three conditions one has to fulfil which will make them a traveller:
- Travelling the legal distance
- Having the intention from the beginning of the journey to cover the distance
- Lack of disruption in the journey.
We shall explain each of these briefly:
The First Condition: the distance covered must be at least 44 kilometers.
- This is the total distance of the outward and return together. For example, if one travels 30 kilometers and returns back the same distance, the distance of his journey will be 60 kilometers.
- The distance is usually measured from the end of the hometown. If it takes you, for example, 5 kilometers to reach the end of your hometown, these 5 kilometers are not considered as part of the distance travelled.
- The distance is calculated based on the path travelled, and not the straight geographic distance or the radius.
The second condition: One should have the intention to cross the required legal distance from the beginning of his journey.
- For example, if one leaves his hometown searching for a gas station, he’s not considered a traveller even if he crosses 200 kilometers, because he didn’t intend to cross the legal distance.
- But if later on the journey, he changed his mind and decided to cross the legal distance, he will become a traveller – however he should measure the distance from where he is onwards.
- Note: if one was forced to travel, for example if they took the wrong train that only stops after crossing the legal distance, then according to Ahkam he’s a traveller.
The Third condition: During the journey one shouldn’t face what breaks the Ahkam of legal travelling. There are three things which break the Ahkam of legal travelling:
- First, if during your journey you reach your hometown and stop in it, then according to Ahkam your travel is terminated, and for the continuation of the journey, you have to reset the distance measurement from this place.
- Second, the intention to stay at a place for 10 continuous days. This will break the travel and one will act as if he’s in his hometown.
- Third, to stay hesitant at a place for 30 days. If a traveller arrives at a place and doesn’t know if he would stay for 10 days or not, he should act as a traveller for 30 days. After 30 days, the condition of travel is broken and he becomes a resident.
Question: I arrived at a city for some paper work, and when I’m done, I’ll go back home. The problem is I don’t know how long it will take, it could take up to ten days or more or less. What should I do?
According to Ahkam, you remain a traveller even if you stayed for more than 10 days, because you don’t have the intention or knowledge about staying for 10 days from the beginning.
According to Ahkam, a Muqeem [مقيم] or resident, is one who intends staying for 10 days. If the conditions change and you know that you’ll certainly stay for 10 days you then become a resident at that point in time. The counting of the ten days is from the time of certainty; that is, without considering the days that have passed.
Well, we’ve learnt how one becomes a traveller. What about a traveller’s prayers, fasts and its Ahkam?
A traveller has to shorten his 4-Rek`aat [ركعت]prayers, so that Zuhr [ظهر] , Asr [عصر] and Eshaa [عشاء] prayers become 2 Rek`aat [ركعت]like the morning prayer.
With regard to fasting, a traveller doesn’t have to fast. If he is fasting and he travels after Athan of Zuhur [اذان الظهر ] , he must keep his fast for that day.
When does a traveller start applying ahkam of traveling? It starts by reaching the limit of Tarakhos [تَرَخُص] which is a place where people of the city do not see the traveller, and its sign is, when he does not see them.
Lastly, there are a few cases which are not considered as a travel in Ahkam and thus the laws of travelling do not apply in these cases:
- Any travel with the purpose of committing a sin
- One who travels frequently due to his profession, like a taxi driver or a student.
- A nomad who wanders or the one who has no permanent home and is always travelling.