Rules of prayer and fasting during travel

According to the edicts of His Eminence Sayyid al-Sistani

أهمّ أحكام صَلاة وصِيام المسافر

A traveler must shorten each of their four-unit prayers to two units and break their fast based on the following conditions and details:

The travel must be lawful. Therefore, a traveler must not shorten their four-unit prayers nor break their fast if the conditions of their travel include:

  1. Distress to the parents, which would occur [out of concern for the person due to legitimate reasons (e.g., harm)] if they embark upon the travel (causing distress to one’s parents is religiously prohibited).
  2. A wife embarking on travel without the permission of her husband, unless the purpose of her travel is to fulfill an obligatory pilgrimage (hajj) (i.e., once the criteria for obligation are fulfilled) or visit her [direct] family if doing so does not entail a forbidden act that would revoke the duty to
  3. Traveling to commit an unlawful act (e.g., murder, adultery, robbery, unlawful trade) or visiting an oppressor for the purpose of aiding them in their oppression.
  4. Being indebted to someone and traveling to flee from them.
  5. Traveling to hunt for amusement, even though this form of hunting is not prohibited by Sayyid al-Sistani. However, if the purpose of hunting is to secure a livelihood, then the traveler must shorten their prayers and break their fast.

The person must intend to travel the required religiously prescribed distance, which would make them a traveler, and be content that they will maintain it (eight farsakh, which is 44 km or 23 miles one-way, or four farsakh [22 km or 13.7 mi] for each leg of a two-way or round-trip).

  1. The required religiously prescribed distance is calculated starting from the outer limits of a town. However, in very large cities, the distance is calculated from the outskirts of a given area or even a particular neighborhood if the common view or urf [of the residents] is that a person is a traveler from that point.
  2. The traveler must reach the outer limit or hadd al-tarrakhuss (as described above) before they can shorten their prayer or break their fast. This is usually the point outside the hometown where the buildings are no longer visible by the naked eye, which is approximately 3 to 4 km or 2 to 3 miles.

Traveling must not be a [regular] part of work (i.e., the nature of the work includes travel), like a pilot, navigator, or a taxi driver (NOTE: if the taxi driver works locally, they must shorten their prayer if they travel past the religiously prescribed distance). Also included is if a person’s profession requires travel on a frequent basis, such as a physician who travels more than the religiously prescribed distance to different hospitals or a teacher who travels to different universities to teach. In such cases, they must always perform their full prayers and fast the month of Ramadan even if they do not travel in certain months. However, a person must shorten their prayers if their travel for work is not frequent or if they travel and surpass the religiously prescribed distance for purposes other than work; this is because they are not considered a frequent traveler (kathir al-safar) in such circumstances. This would include a person who is [only] required to travel for their work occasionally, and the nature of their work does not include regular travel such that the criteria for a frequent traveler (kathir al-safar) would not apply. In such cases, they must shorten their prayer and break their fast when traveling beyond the religiously prescribed distance.

The traveler must not pass through an area in which their travel is interrupted or where they are no longer considered a traveler. In the following instances, they must pray full prayers and observe the fast of the month of Ramadan:

  1. Hometown (al-watan al-asli): A person’s birthplace, which remains their home unless they permanently abandon it as a place of residence (i.e., never plan to live there again). Therefore, if the person passes through their hometown during a given trip, they must perform full prayers and observe the fast if it is the month of Ramadan.
  2. Domicile of [temporary] stay (watan al-iqamah): A place where the person intends to reside for ten full days. Therefore, if one passes through a place where they intend to stay for ten days, they are no longer a traveler and must note the following:
    • If a person arrives anytime during the day, they must calculate the ten days from the time they enter the town until the same time on the eleventh day. Departure from the town is considered to be when the person intends to leave and initiates the journey away from where they were staying. However, if they arrive anytime during the night, they must calculate the ten days from the time of fajr of the following day to sunset (maghrib) of the tenth day.
    • The traveler must shorten their prayers as soon as they cross the border of the temporary domicile that they resided in for ten days (i.e., during departure), and it is not incumbent upon them to wait until they reach the outer limit (hadd al-tarrakhuss) [as they would if they were departing their home].
    • The person must reside in one place for the entire duration of ten days; however, there is no problem in leaving for a couple of hours during the day to the outskirts of town.
    • A place where a person remains for thirty days but is undecided about staying or leaving is also considered a temporary domicile. In such a case, they must perform full prayers and observe the fast(s) after the completion of thirty days (i.e., on the thirty-first day).
  1. A long-term stay (LTS): A place where a person plans to stay long-term for work, school, summer or spring vacations, or similar purposes, even if they do not own property or a home there. Such a person must pray full prayers and fast if one of the following criteria related to their stay in that place applies:[i]
    • Remain there for 6 hours during every trip, 22 days every month, for 4 years.
    • Remain there for 8 hours during every trip, 20 days every month, for 4 years.
    • Remain there for 12 hours during every trip, 15 days every month, for 5 years.
    • Remain there for 12 hours during every trip, 22 days every month, for 3 years.
    • Remain there for 24 hours during every trip, 7-8 days every month, for 4 years.
    • Remain there for 24 hours during every trip, 15 days every month, for three years.
    • Remain there for 24 hours during every trip, 22-30 days every month, for 1.5 years.

See the following table for more clarification:

 

# Hours each dayDays each monthNumber of yearsRuling
(1) 24 hours22-30 days1 ½LTS
(2) 24 hours15 days3LTS
(3) 24 hours7-8 days4LTS
(4) 24 hours6 daysless than 5
greater than or equal to 5
LTS does not apply;
Precaution must observed (ii)
(5) 24 hours4 daysless than 7
greater than or equal to 7
LTS does not apply;
Precaution must observed (ii)
(6) 12 hours22 days3LTS
(7) 12 hours15 days5LTS
(8) 12 hours6 daysless than 7
greater than or equal to 7
LTS does not apply;
Precaution must observed (ii)
(9) 8 hours20 days4LTS
(10) 6 hours22 days4LTS

One must not be a frequent traveler or be someone who has no permanent residence such as a nomad with no permanent home, those who have a mobile home, etc.: Someone who travels [frequently] beyond the religiously prescribed distance (23 miles) for any reason and not necessarily for work. This includes, for example, frequent visits to check on one’s parents, visits to the holy shrines, visiting believers, for amusement, or a patient who goes to the hospital frequently for long term treatment. A person is considered a frequent traveler, such that they must pray a full prayer and fast in the month of Ramadan, whenever they travel, by the following criteria:

  1. If they plan to travel ten days every month, for six months in one year, then they must observe precaution for the first two weeks by shortening their prayer as well as praying in full, and by observing the fast (if in the month of Ramadan) as well as making it up later. After the first two weeks they should pray a full prayer and fast anywhere that they travel.
  2. If they plan to travel ten days every month, for three months each year for two years or more, then they must observe precaution for the first two weeks by shortening their prayer as well as praying in full, and observing a fast (if in the month of Ramadan) as well as making it up later. After the first two weeks they should pray a full prayer and fast anywhere they travel.
  3. If they plan to travel eight to nine days every month for six months in one year, then they should shorten their prayers as well as pray in full, and observe a fast (if in the month of Ramadan) as well as make it up later.
  4. If they travel less than the three aforementioned scenarios, they must shorten their prayers and break their fast.

See the following table for more clarification:

#The overall durationNumber of days or tripsRuling
(1) Six months in one year, or three months every year for two years or more10 days each monthFrequent traveler
(2a) Five months in one year, or 2 ½ months every year for two years or more9 days in a month and 11 days in the following month (repeated in this sequence)Frequent traveler
(2b)Five months in one year, or 2 ½ months every year for two years or more8 days in a month and 12 days in the following month (repeated in this sequence)Frequent traveler
(2c) Five months in one year, or 2 ½ months every year for two years or more7 days in a month and 13 in the following month (repeated in that same sequence)Frequent traveler
(2d) Five months in one year, or 2 ½ months every year for two years or more9 days in one monthPrecaution must be observed (i.e., pray a shortened prayer as well as a full prayer, and observe a fast and make it up later)
(2e) Five months in one year, or 2 ½ months every year for two years or more8 days in one monthPrecaution must be observed (i.e., pray a shortened prayer as well as a full prayer, and observe a fast and make it up later)
(2f) Five months in one year, or 2 ½ months every year for two years or more6 days in one month and 14 in the following month (repeated in this sequence)Precaution must be observed (i.e., pray a shortened prayer as well as a full prayer, and observe a fast and make it up later)
(2g) Five months in one year, or 2 ½ months every year for two years or more5 days in one month and 16 in the following month (repeated in this sequence)Precaution must be observed (i.e., pray a shortened prayer as well as a full prayer, and observe a fast and make it up later)
(2h) Five months in one year, or 2 ½ months every year for two years or more4 days in one month and 16 in the following month (repeated in this sequence)Not a frequent traveler
(2i) Five months in one year, or 2 ½ months every year for two years or more7 days or less every monthNot a frequent traveler
(2j) Five months in one year, or 2 ½ months every year for two years or more10 days or more every monthPrecaution must be observed (i.e., pray a shortened prayer as well as a full prayer, and observe a fast and make it up later)
(2k) Five months in one year, or 2 ½ months every year for two years or more9 days or less every monthNot a frequent traveler
(3a) Four months in one year,
Two months every year for two years or more
12 days or more every monthPrecaution must be observed (i.e., pray a shortened prayer as well as a full prayer, and observe a fast and make it up later)
(3b) Four months in one year,
Two months every year for two years or more
11 days or less every monthNot a frequent traveler
(4a) Three months in one year, or 1 ½ months every year for two years or more15 days or more every monthNot a frequent traveler
(4b) Three months in one year, or 1 ½ months every year for two years or more14 days or less every monthNot a frequent traveler
(5a) Two months in one year, or one month every year for two years or more22 days or more every monthNot a frequent traveler
(5b) Two months in one year, or one month every year for two years or more21 days or less every monthNot a frequent traveler

[i] In the first month one must observe precaution by praying a shortened prayer as well as a full prayer and by observing a fast (if during the month of Ramadan) and making it up later.

[ii] Pray a shortened prayer as well as a full prayer, and observe a fast (if during the month of Ramadan) and make it up later.