Q: I get very hesitant to travel as I miss out on my salaah or make qazaa. Please help me by letting me know how many rakaats per salaat are required when travelling and from how many kilometers away from home does this apply, and more importantly how to determine qiblah at a hotel or service station.
A: 1) Traveling is no excuse to miss any salaah. It is for this reason that Shariah has made a concession in certain rules for a traveler; so that the traveler can fulfill his or her acts of worship. Don’t be hesitant or apprehensive. The following rules will help.
2) All the 4-rakaat salah are halved for a traveller; so zuhar, asr, and eshaa will be read as 2 rakaats and not four. Fajr and Maghrib salah remain the same. The sunnat salaah are waived, so one does not need to read any sunnats unless one is settled in the hotel accommodation and has enough time to read sunnats.
3) One becomes a Musaafir (traveler in terms of Shariah) when one leaves home with the intention of traveling a journey of 77.7 kms or more and will stay in one town/city for 14 days or LESS. Then the halving of all 4 rakaat salaah will apply.
4) Determining of Qiblah: There are several ways of doing this. One is using a wrist watch with dials. Keep the watch in a way that 12 is towards sun. Then between the SHORT hand and the 12 will be your NORTH. Now you just need to know how many degrees north is the qiblah. For example, in P.E. our qiblah is 15 degrees North East. You can also simply check where sun rises and sets then that will give you east and west, and from there north and south. Normally in South Africa Qiblah is North East.
At night you can use the southern cross stars which will give you south; the opposite will be North, etc.
I trust the above gives an understandable explanation.
Mufti Siraj Desai