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Mon. Nov 23rd, 2020

A MUST READ: Prayers during transit and the missing bond in Islam

By Shaykh AbdelAziz AlThanyan

Shaykh AbdelAziz AlThanyan travelled internationally with a group of the council of senior scholars of Saudi Arabia. The plan was to meet at the airport a little bit before the onset of ‘Asr time and he recounts the day saying,

“I prayed dhuhr in congregation at the masjid and then arrived at the airport. After we had entered the plane and the doors were closed, an announcement was made that takeoff was being delayed due to weather. Next to me was Shaykh Dr. Abdullah Al-Mutlaq. I told him that Asr time had come in and invited him to pray but he told me that he had already prayed. After I prayed, I inquired from the scholars present and found that they had prayed ‘Asr in a wide variety of forms that can be summed up as follows:

The first form, Shaykh Abdullah Al-Mutlaq upon arrival at the airport prayed ‘Asr two rak’ahs. He explained that he had prayed according to the position of Ibn Taymiyyah who allowed combining the prayers without requiring immediate succession due to the prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam at hajj praying Maghrib, then waiting for the companions to unload their cargo and then praying isha after. There was thus a gap between the two combined prayers.

The second form: Shaykh Abdullah AlMani waited in the airport and did not pray. He entered the airplane and after the time of ‘Asr entered he prayed it in two rak’ahs. When I asked him he said that he viewed the airport as still being a part of the city and so no travel had been undertaken. His travel did not begin until he ascended the vehicle of travel (the plane).

The third form: Shaykh Salih Al-Humayyid, who did not pray Dhuhr until he reached the airport. Upon arrival there he prayed both Dhuhr and Asr combined and shortened. When I asked him he said that he did that in the airport because upon its arrival he intended and committed to travel and so he prayed Dhuhr and Asr combined and shortened.

The fourth form: Shaykh Saad AlShithry who prayed Dhuhr as a resident in Riyadh. Upon arriving at the airport he then repeated Dhuhr shortening it and combining it with ‘Asr.

The fifth form: some of the attendees prayed Dhuhr and Asr in Riyadh, combining them but not shortening them. Shaykh Abdullah Al-Mutlaq was asked about that and allowed it. Shaykh Salih Al-Humayyid also allowed it.

The sixth form: Shaykh Abdullah Al-Mutlaq mentioned that a person can pray Dhuhr and Asr combined and shortened in their home based on their intention and commitment to travel. This is because the companions Anas ibn Malik and Abu Busra Al-Ghifari combined and shortened before ascending their mounts, so if someone were to combine and shorten Dhuhr and Asr in their house based on their intention and commitment to travel it would be acceptable.”

To conclude, these scholars varied in their understanding of the texts and their interpretation. Due to this their legal verdicts (fatwa) and actions varied as well, however they were respectful of each other’s positions although they were from the same school of thought. And if this number of positions can be found within one issue amongst scholars from the same school of thought and from the same city, what then should be expected of the variety present in the Ummah as far and wide as ours? We should be even more considerate of the variety of positions from a tradition as rich as ours and willing to accommodate each other with open hearts and minds

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