Travelling during the prophet`s time was mostly on camels and on foot. They would camp during the heat of the day, eating time and sleeping time. So they would ride camel and walk in the morning, late afternoon and during tahajjud time. Averagely, approximately 25.6 kilometres(or 16 English miles) was covered in one day. So the prophet Swalallahou `Alaihi Wa sallam said that 3 days of travelling makes up a shar`ee travel:
عَنْ نَافِعٍ عَنْ ابْنِ عُمَرَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ لَا تُسَافِرْ الْمَرْأَةُ ثَلَاثَةَ أَيَّامٍ إِلَّا مَعَ ذِي مَحْرَمٍ
The beloved prophet Swalallahou `alaihi wa sallam said:’’A woman should not undertake any journey of 3 days, but she should have a mahram accompanying her.’’(Bukhari)
So you would become a traveller according to shariah for 3 days journey, 25.6 kms *3 = 77kms. So when you head for a journey of 77 kms or more (or 48 english miles or more) outside your home town or village, then you become traveller.
We are aware of the differences of opinion on the exact minimum travelling distance: 78 kms, 82.2 kms, 86 kms, etc. But we have taken the least mileage(i.e. 77 kilometres) on the basis of ihtiyat and precaution. Because in travelling, we take the least as a matter of ihtiyat and precaution. For example, fuqahas have taken the shortest day of the year in consideration for calculating distance of a day(Shami). That is, the least that may occur:
(مسيرة ثلاثة أيام ولياليها) من أقصر أيام السنة
But if you are more convinced on any of the above opinions, then it is democratically permissible for you to follow any of them.
Nonetheless, if you are heading for a journey of 77 kilometres or more, then you would become musafir(traveller) as when you come out of the town you stay. If your town is densely populated, then you become musafir(traveller) when you leave the famous border of your town. But if you live in a village and the village is not densely populated and it has got cultivation in its outskirt, then you become musafir(traveller) when you leave the buildings or houses of your village. In other words, when leaving for your journey, if you stop by the cultivation ground in the outskirt of your village, then your 4 rakaats farzs salaahs becomes obligatorily 2 rakaats because you are already a musafir(a traveller). Please refer to your local muftis as to from which boundary you become traveller (musafir).
Know that once you are musafir(a traveller), then you should obligatorily perform 2 Zohr, 2 Assr and 2 Esha. Fajr, Maghrib and witr remain unchanged. Refer to below:
عَنْ مُجَاهِدٍ عَنْ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ قَالَ فَرَضَ اللَّهُ الصَّلَاةَ عَلَى لِسَانِ نَبِيِّكُمْ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي الْحَضَرِ أَرْبَعًا وَفِي السَّفَرِ رَكْعَتَيْنِ وَفِي الْخَوْفِ رَكْعَةً
Hazrat Ibn Abaas r.a. said: ‘’Allah Ta`ala has prescribed the obligation of performing salaah for non traveller 4 rakaats, traveller 2 rakaats.. prescribed through the (mubarak) tongue or wordings of your prophet Swalallahou `Alaihi Wasallam.’’(Muslim)
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According to a sahih hadith of Abu Dawood, the beloved prophet Swalallahou `Alaihi Wasallam used to undertake most of his journeys on THURSDAYS:
عَنْ كَعْبِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ قَالَ قَلَّمَا كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَخْرُجُ فِي سَفَرٍ إِلَّا يَوْمَ الْخَمِيسِ( سنن أبي داود )
So if you have a choice on booking your departures, then sunnah to choose Thursdays. Although permissible to travel any day of the week.
Great scholars of several generations advised us to perform istikharah before undertaking a journey(Baihaqi, Nawawi). And know that it is sunnah to perform 2 rakaats nafils before leaving home, as a means of protection for the home(Tabrani).
Although salaah is made short during travelling, but still it is farz to perform it on time. So try to leave home with wouzu and a bottle of water. If you are travelling by plane, then take an empty plastic bottle for your toilet needs and wouzu. If possible, wear a moza(leather sock) on wouzu before leaving. Since wouzu facilities are scarce, then a massah on mozah will facilitate to complete wouzu in the plane.
A small plastic water sprayer that is normally used to spray water to flowers can be very useful during travelling. One may spray the face, arm, etc and then pass hands several times to wet the face or arm or feet. But one should spray so much to make the washing drips with at least 2 drops. Less than that would not be washing, but a massah. So important to spray so much that it drips a few drops while you pass your hands over the washed area. You may carry with you the sprayer or the bottle empty and then fill it in the plane. This is a very convenient and economical way of doing wouzu in planes. The photo of a water sprayer can be found on http://islam-qna.org/Questions.asp?LN=EN&QID=685.
Remember that your doing wouzu in a public facility of Airport or in the plane exhibit our characters for others. So important to be careful not to leave the toilet area wet with wouzu water. Use wet tissues to wash clean yourself in the toilet and then water and finally dry tissues. Do calculate Qiblah direction so that you avoid facing qiblah during toilet and also avoid giving back to Qiblah. If obliged, then avoid as much as possible and then do istighfaar.(Tirmizi)
After wouzu, use dry tissues to soak dry the spilled water around the bathroom sink, so that the toilet may be used comfortably by other passengers. Expose politeness of muslims to better toilet for others. And administratively, muslims will be able to use public places easily. Else I have seen hostesses stopping other muslims to perform wouzu due to excess spilling of water of previous passengers.
If there are time or facility constraints, then know how to complete the minimum of wouzu:
The four farzs of wouzu are:
1. Wash face completely once.
2. Wash both arms once including elbows.
3. Massah of a quarter of the head.
4. Wash both feet once including ankles.
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Allah Ta`ala has taken the beloved prophet Muhammad Swalallahou `Alaihi Wasallam by air from Makkah to Jerusalem. Then from there to the skies. This prove that travelling by air is ok. Also Allah Ta`ala said that we should travel on the ground to see the greatness of Allah Ta`ala creations:
قُلْ سِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَانْظُرُوا كَيْفَ بَدَأَ الْخَلْقَ ثُمَّ اللَّهُ يُنْشِئُ النَّشْأَةَ الْآخِرَةَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
Say: “Travel on the land and see how (Allah) originated creation, and then Allah will bring forth (resurrect) the creation of the Hereafter (i.e. resurrection after death). Verily, Allah is Able to do all things.”(29:20)
So recommended to travel to see the greatness of Allah Ta`ala by sightseeing the natural sights, the different people and their languages and also ponder upon how Allah Ta`ala replaced the reign of a particular land from a nation to another nation. But best is to travel by including in our agenda to invite people towards Islam. Today muslims travel a lot around the world, particularly for business. But the importance to include invitation towards Islam in their agendas has come out unfortunately.
The shariah give permission to travel for a licit and halaal motivation. Be it business, seeing the greatness of Allah, seeing the ruins of transgressors, family visits and for Hajj and Umrah. But to travel only for sightseeing without any spiritual motivation is discouraged by shariah. Reported in Abu Dawood that a sahabah asked the permission to travel for tourism. The beloved prophet Swalallahou `Alaihi Wasallam answered: ‘’The tourism of my Ummah is to strive in the path of Allah.‘’(Abu Dawood)
عَنْ أَبِي أُمَامَةَ أَنَّ رَجُلًا قَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ائْذَنْ لِي فِي السِّيَاحَةِ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِنَّ سِيَاحَةَ أُمَّتِي الْجِهَادُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى سنن أبي داود
But one should be prepared for a travel. Because there exist lots of dangers and difficulties during travelling. That is why when once you attain the goal of your travel, then you should try to return home without pause.
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ السَّفَرُ قِطْعَةٌ مِنْ الْعَذَابِ يَمْنَعُ أَحَدَكُمْ نَوْمَهُ وَطَعَامَهُ فَإِذَا قَضَى نَهْمَتَهُ مِنْ وَجْهِهِ فَلْيُعَجِّلْ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ صحيح البخاري
The beloved prophet Swalallahou `Alaihi Wasallam said: ‘’Travelling is a piece part of punishment. Because it prevents one from his sleep and from his food. So once you have attained the goal of your destination, then return quickly to your family(home).’’(Bukhari)
The travelling that composes most of dangers is Sea travelling. Unless necessary, sea travelling should be avoided. Cruises are not recommended by Shariah. The beloved prophet Swalallahou `Alaihi Wasallam said: ‘’One should not opt for sea travelling except when necessarily going for Hajj or Umrah or going in the path of Allah. Because there is fire under the sea, and further under this fire is a sea.’’(Abu Dawood)
عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لَا يَرْكَبُ الْبَحْرَ إِلَّا حَاجٌّ أَوْ مُعْتَمِرٌ أَوْ غَازٍ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّ تَحْتَ الْبَحْرِ نَارًا وَتَحْتَ النَّارِ بَحْرًا سنن أبي داود