In the name of Allaah, Most Merciful, Bestower of Mercy.
Imaam Abu Muhammad Al-Hasan b. `Alee b. Khalaf al-Barbahaaree (died 329H, rahimahullaah) stated in his Sharhus-Sunnah (point 35):
“Shortening the prayer whilst upon a journey is a Sunnah.”
Shaikh Saalih al-Fawzaan (hafidhahullaah) commenting upon this stated in It-haaf al-Qaaree (vol. 1):
From the allowances that the Sharee`ah has brought as ease for the worshippers, and as a means of lifting from them burden, is shortening the prayers whilst upon a journey. And that is to shorten the prayers that are normally four Rak`ahs down to two. This is proven by way of the Qur’aan wherein Allaah, the Most High, stated:
وَإِذَا ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَن تَقْصُرُوا مِنَ الصَّلَاةِ إِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَن يَفْتِنَكُمُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا ۚ
And when you travel throughout the land, there is no blame upon you for shortening the prayer, [especially] if you fear that those who disbelieve may disrupt [or attack] you.
What is apparent from the verse is that it is not permitted to shorten the prayer except in a state of fear. However this apparent difficulty was removed because Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) was asked: “Why do we still shorten our prayer when we are in a state of security?” He replied (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam):
“That is a charity which Allaah has bestowed upon you, so accept the charity of Allaah.”
[Muslim, no. 686 from `Umar Ibn al-Khattaab (radiyallaahu `anhu)]
So the Prophet (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) would shorten the prayers on all of his journeys. He would shorten the four rak`ahs of a prayer to two. This is the Sunnah, and if one was to still prayer the full four, then that is allowed. However that contradicts what is better [which is to shorten].
So the shortening of the prayers (al-Qasr) is an allowance, and whoever wishes to perform it has done what is best. And whoever wishes to leave it and complete the four rak`ahs then there is no harm in that, because praying the full is the origin. The author has mentioned this affair because accepting the allowances of the Sharee`ah are from the affairs of the `aqeedah. So in that is a refutation of the mutashaddideen (the extremists) who do not accept the allowances given in the Sharee`ah.
It is reported in numerous [mutawaatir] hadeeth that the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) would shorten his prayer in all of his journeys and travels, during Hajj, `Umrah, battles and other than that. Ibn `Umar (radiyallaahu `anhumaa) said:
I accompanied the Prophet (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) upon the journeys, and he did not exceed upon two rak`ahs up until Allaah took his soul. I accompanied Abu Bakr (radiyallaahu `anhu), and he did not exceed upon two rak`ahs until Allaah took his soul. I accompanied `Umar (radiyallaahu `anhu), and he did not exceed upon two rak`ahs until Allaah took his soul. Then I accompanied `Uthmaan (radiyallaahu `anhu), and he did not exceed upon two rak`ahs until Allaah took his soul. Indeed Allaah said:
لَّقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ
“There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent example.” [Al-Ahzaab: 21].
[Reported by Muslim 1/479, no. 689]
A similar narration has been reported from Ibn Mas`ood (radiyallaahu `anhu) in Saheeh Muslim, no. 695.
Anas Ibn Maalik (radiyallaahu `anhu) said:
I went out with Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) from Madeenah to Makkah, and he prayed two rak`ahs followed by two rak`ahs [in each four rak`ah prayer] until he returned.
So it was said:
How many days did he remain in Makkah?
[Reported by Muslim 1/481, no. 693]
As for the Ijmaa` (consensus of ahlus-Sunnah): Ibn Qudaamah (rahimahullaah) said:
The scholars have agreed that whoever embarks upon a journey, he shortens the Salaah – whether it be Hajj, or `Umrah, or Jihaad – that he shortens the four rak`ah prayers to two rak`ahs.
[Al-Mughnee of Ibn Qudaamah 2/225]
How many people lose out on following this excellent example of the Prophet (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) and his Companions, due to their desire to fanatically follow the Madh-hab!