In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
Shortening Prayers is allowed for a traveler during his or her journey. Once he or she reaches home, he or she should pray in full.
Answering your question, Dr. Wael Shehab, PhD in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar University and currently the Imam of the Downtown Toronto Masjid in Canada, states:
It is out of Allah’s mercy that He allows Muslims to shorten the 4-raka`h obligatory Prayers to 2 raka`ahs. So, a traveler can pray Zhuhr, Asr, and Isha 2 rak`ahs for each, when he is travelling for a reason that is not disobedience to Allah, and on a journey of at least 81 km. /50 mi. one way.
Legality of shortening the Prayers while one is travelling is evidenced by the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Allah says in the Qur’an, “And when you (Muslims) travel in the land, there is no sin on you if you shorten the Prayer …” (An-Nisaa’ 4:101)
Moreover, Yahya ibn Ishaq reported, “I heard Anas saying, ‘We traveled with the Prophet from Madinah to Makkah and offered two rak`ahs (for every Prayer) till we returned to Madinah.’ I said, ‘Did you stay for a while in Makkah?’ He replied, ‘We stayed in Makkah for ten days.’ (Al-Bukhari)
Once you return back to your city or home, you are not allowed to shorten the Prayers. It was your duty, therefore, to pray the Maghrib 3 rak`ahs and then the Isha 4 rak`ahs as you reached your home. If you didn’t perform Isha completely, you are to make up for it.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.