Muslims must pray at least five times a day. Salah, the name given to the ritual prayer, is a fundamental pillar of belief. Prayer times are fixed. This means each prayer has a timeframe within which worshippers must offer that prayer.
It is simple enough to keep track of the timings of each prayer at home. However, things are not as straightforward while traveling. Differences in time zones and uncertainty regarding the place can make it hard to know when to pray.
There are ways in which Muslims can figure out timings for each prayer while traveling. Technology, for instance, has made this task even easier.
Each of the five prayers; Fajr, Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib, and Isha have prescribed times.
There are multiple Hadiths regarding timings for each prayer. The Holy Prophet (SAW) relayed the timings of each prayer based on the movement of the Sun.
It is not enough to pray the Salah. In Islam prayer needs to fulfill certain prerequisites and proper timings are one such prerequisite.
Prayer during travel can be challenging. Travelers may not always have access to a place where they can do ablution or find a clean place to worship. Figuring out the Prayer timings can also be an issue. Here are a few ways Muslims can figure out timings for prayer with relative accuracy:
Technology has made things exceptionally easy. Many mobile applications available for free can alert worshippers when the time for prayer begins.
One such mobile app is Muslim and Quran. The app uses a location feature to know travelers' exact whereabouts and provide prayer alerts based on their current location.
Another app is the HalalTrip Islamic Travel app which includes the prayer times and qibla feature along with its unique In-flight prayer times and direction finder where you'll be able to find the Qibla wherever you are.
Since most mobile applications use the location feature, there is no need for users to adjust the time. In this manner, mobile applications are extremely accurate and up-to-date.
The great thing about mobile applications is that many are free. They also include many other helpful features. Users can find Qibla directions, and access the Holy Quran or authentic Hadith easily.
If you cannot use a mobile app for any reason, then there is still a way to remain punctual in prayer. At the time of the Holy Prophet (SAWW), timings for each prayer were determined using the movement of the Sun.
Time for the Fajr prayer begins after nightfall and concludes before the breaking of the dawn. The morning prayer should be offered before the first rays of sunrise begin.
A Hadith narrated by the Holy Prophet’s (SAWW) wife, Aisha (RA), clearly indicates that Fajr is a pre-dawn prayer:
The believing women covered with their veiling sheets used to attend the Fajr prayer with Allah's Apostle, and after finishing the prayer they would return to their home and nobody could recognize them because of darkness.
[Sahih al-Bukhari 578, Book 9, Hadith 54]
Zuhr is the noon prayer. Time for noon prayer begins as soon as the sun starts to decline once it reaches its peak. If you are outside you can determine the time by looking at the shadows. The size of the shadow is nearly the same as the size of any object.
Regarding the Zuhr prayer the Hadith goes:
Abu Sa’id (RA) recorded that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "Pray Zuhr prayer when it becomes (a bit) cooler as the severity of heat is from the raging of the Hell-fire."
[Sahih al-Bukhari 538, Book 9, Hadith 15]
The next prayer is Asr which is the mid-afternoon prayer. The time for this prayer begins after Zuhr. Asr can be offered till the Sunsets.
Maghrib is the sunset prayer. Time for Maghrib begins just after sunset and lasts until the redness of the Sun disappears completely.
As narrated by Salama (RA): We used to pray the Maghrib prayer with the Prophet (ﷺ) when the sun disappeared from the horizon.
[Sahih al-Bukhari 561, Book 9, Hadith 38]
Finally, comes the night prayer, or Isha. The time for this prayer starts once the Sun has set completely. Worshippers can offer Isha until Fajr.
Travelers can easily observe the time of the day whether they are traveling by sea, air, or road. It is easy to determine the times of prayer through this method.
Allah (SWT) has made obligatory certain acts of worship upon the believers. Since Allah (SWT) is All-Knowing and All-Merciful, He has made certain exceptions for His servants.
Traveling at the time of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) had been a difficult task. Travelers used to bear the elements and travel for days just to complete a journey. In modern times, however, traveling is much easier.
Muslims can pray on the plane, ship, train, or whichever means of transport they are using. It is better to offer prayers than to delay them. This means worshippers can pray while sitting in their seats on the plane.
Despite this, Allah (SWT) provides the believers with ease during traveling. Muslims can perform dry ablution if access to clean water is difficult.
In addition to this, Muslims can shorten prayers during travel. These are Qasr prayers. Muslims must offer these if they travel a distance of more than 55 miles (88.7 km) away from their home.
If a Muslim plans to stay in a foreign place for less than 15 days, they can shorten prayers. If, however, the stay is longer than 15 days they should not shorten their prayers.
Qasr prayer is a favor of Allah (SWT) and it is better to shorten prayer and invoke the favor of Allah. It is more beneficial to shorten the prayer during travel.
Allah (SWT) requires believers to perform duties towards Him, yet He is well aware of human limitations and difficulties that they face. The ease provided during travel is just one example of His many blessings upon His believers.
This guest post was written by Rafia Tahir. Rafia Tahir provides guest-blogging and copywriting services. Her educational background in the technical field and business studies helps her in tackling topics ranging from career and business productivity to web development and digital marketing. She is a certified Quran Scholar and she occasionally writes articles for Muslim And Quran.