Ahkam in Brief - Travelling and Travellers

Ahkam in Brief. Ahkam of travellers and travelling.

Did you know that a traveller must shorten his prayers and that he is exempted from fasting? Do you know of the concept of hometown? In this episode 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 either:Number one: it is the place that one belongs to, it is generally his birthplace and the home of his parents. Number two: it is the place one chooses to spend the rest of his life in. Number three: 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. Number four: it is the place that one stays in regularly for a significant period of time. For example, people who spend their summers at their ancestral village due to the fact that the weather there is pleasant.

Question: is the position of a house in a place, a condition for one to consider it as his hometown? 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, Ahmed 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, Hassan lives in Baghdad for most of the year, but he has rented a house in the village for the summer. Hassan 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 adher to the Ahkam of travel.

What is considered travel in Ahkam?

There are three conditions which will make a person traveller. 1)Travelling the legal distance, 2)having the intention from the beginning of the journey to cover the distance and 3)lack of disruption in the journey. We shall explain each of these briefly.

The first condition: the distance covered must be at least 44 kilometres. This is the total distance of the outward and return together. For example, if one travels 30 kilometres and returns back the same distance, the distance of this journey will be 60 kilometres. The distance is usually measured from the end of the hometown. If it takes you, for example, five kilometres to reach the end of your hometown, these five kilometres 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 is not considered a traveller, even if he crosses 200 kilometres because he didn't intend to cross the legal distance. But if later on in 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.On that 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 is 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 outcome of legal travelling.

First, if during your journey you reach your hometown and stop in it, then according to outcome, 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 your place for ten continuous days. This will break the travel and one will act there as if he's in his hometown.

Third, to stay hesitant at a place for thirty days. If a traveller arrives at a place and doesn't know if he would stay for ten days or not, he should act as a traveller up to thirty days after thirty days, the condition of travel is broken and he becomes a resident.

A question: I arrived to the city for some paperwork and when I'm done I'll go back home. The problem is, I don't know how long it will take. What should I do?

A Muqim or a resident is one who intends staying for 10 days, but because you don't have the intention or knowledge about staying for 10 days from the beginning, you remain a traveler, even if you stayed for more than 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 10 days is from the time of certainty without considering the days that have passed.

Well, we've learned how one becomes a traveler. What about the travelers' prayers, fasts and its Ahkam? A traveler has to shorten his 4 raka'at prayers, so that Dhuhr, 'Asr and Isha' prayers become 2 raka'a like the morning prayer.

With regards to fasting, a traveler does not have to fast. If he is fasting and he travels after the adhan of Dhuhr, he must keep his fast for that day.

When does a traveler start applying Ahkam of travelling? It starts by reaching the limit of tarakhkhus, which is the place where people of the city do not see the traveler and the traveler 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.

DISCLAIMER: The content of this clip is based on the fatawa of the Grand Ayatullah Al-Sistani and is presented in a simplified form. Therefore, for the exact definition and explanation, please refer to the original sources or ask someone authorised to answer.