I remember that in one of your posts you said something to the effect that the commands of Qur’an cannot be changed by Sunnat.
My question is: what about the shortening of prayer in travel? The verse of the Qur’an says when you are in travel and “fear the enemy”. However, Hadith says that the Prophet(pbuh) extended the allowance to general travel even if there are no fears of enemy and the Sunnat remained like this.
You have rightly stated that the Sunnah – or anything else – cannot abrogate or alter a Qur’anic decree. To understand the issue of shortening of prayers better, let us look into the Holy Qur’an and see what it has to say about the matter. Here is the translation of the Qur’annic verse dealing with the issue:
When you set out in the land there is no blame on you if you shorten your prayers, if you fear that the disbelievers may attack you. Indeed these disbelievers are your open enemies. (Al-Nisaa 4: 101)
This verse clearly guides that one can cut his prayer short when he is:
Has some fears from the enemy
The basic reason of the allowance is the presence of fear (or anxiety to be more accurate). This fear was felt from the attacks of the enemy at the time the Holy Qur’an gave this directive. Obviously it is the fear that is the cause for the allowance not the war. War, due to the anxiety it entails, can significantly hinder our concentration and mental involvement in prayers. Nevertheless, this state of mind can be caused by any other factor, for example, one thinks that one may miss a bus from the next station or may miss a plane for one’s destination and because of that will be stranded for days or one may be concerned about reaching his destination before sunset. There can be numerous examples of mental anxieties, while one is in a state of traveling. Such circumstances, obviously, cause a comparable unrest and mental disturbance and make one anxious.
The Prophet (pbuh) applied the directive of the Qur’an, regarding the allowance of shortening of prayers, to other situations which could cause a similar mental and psychological state for a traveler, to the one referred in the Qur’an. Such extensions of directives to situations entailing similar causes can by no means be termed as abrogation or alteration of a directive. Had the Prophet (pbuh) rescinded any of the conditions entailed in the Qur’anic directive, it would then definitely have looked upon as an alteration of the Qur’anic directive. Nevertheless, as we can see from the explanation above, this is not the case.
I hope this helps.
Tariq Mahmood Hashmi
July 30, 2002