Prayers: Ahead of time

Q468 :As I am traveling to India, I believe that I will not be able to offer prayers during the journey. Please explain whether I can offer prayers before take off. If, for instance, my flight is at 2 p.m., can I offer Asr and Maghrib prayers at the same time as Dhuhr? Do I shorten these prayers as well?

A468 : Shortening prayers is a concession given to travellers after they have started their journey. In other words, if you live in Riyadh and you are traveling from it, you can start shortening your prayers once you are out of the city. If you are traveling by plane, it is when the plane has taken off that you can start reducing your prayers. If is only Dhuhr, Asr and Isha that can be shortened from 4 to 2 rak'ahs. Maghrib and Fajr remain as they are. When traveling, we are allowed to combine prayers, but the combination applies only to joining Asr with Dhur, or joining Maghrib with Isha. Fajr cannot be joined to any other prayer. It is permissible to join each two of these prayers at any point in their time range. So, you can bring Asr forward to the time of Dhuhr or leave Dhuhr to the time of Asr. The same applies to Maghrib and Isha. That gives us a long time gap which is sufficient for any journey. However, if you are traveling by plane and you have taken off, say, just before Dhuhr time, and your first stop will be after Maghrib has fallen due at your destination, then you offer your prayers on the plane, in your seat. You do the bowing and prostration with your head and body as far as you can. Obviously it is not possible to block the passage in between the seats for your prayers. As I say, when you pray on the plane you reduce your prayers to 2 rak'ahs each, except for Maghrib which remains at three rak'ahs.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )