Traveling every-day and shortening prayers

Q646 :Our water desalination plant is about 140 km from Jeddah on the Gizan Road. More than half of its staff comes daily from Jeddah. People have expressed different viewpoints on whether to shorten their prayers when they are at the plant and whether to combine Zuhr and Asr together. Please explain.

A646 : Although fast cars could cover the distance between Jeddah and this place in little over an hour, still the distance is a bona-fide travel which means that the concessions given to travelers apply to people who travel there from Jeddah, whether daily or occasionally. When we consider a concession given by God, we must remember that this is something that He has granted in order to make things easier for people when certain elements or factors apply to them. Going from Jeddah to this desalination plant at Shoaiba qualifies as travel even by our modern standards and fast means of transport. A daily trip is no less valid for the exercise of a concession than a weekly or a monthly one. If we take the distance, then it is longer by at least 50 km than the distances scholars have mentioned as the minimum amount of travel. However, some scholars are of the view that the distance is immaterial, but the actual travel is the thing that counts. They say that any trip that people consider as travel qualifies for the exercise of the relative concessions. Before the introduction of the modern means of transport, a trip of 20 or 25 km qualified as travel, if it was between two villages or two towns. Covering a similar distance may not be considered as travel if it involves going from one end of the city to another. This opinion has considerable validity. Any person who travels daily from Jeddah to this desalination plant is considered a traveler. He may exercise all the concessions that travelers have. With regard to prayer, one concession that all schools of thought approve is the shortening of every obligatory prayer consisting of four rak'ahs to two rak'ahs only. The concession of combining the two prayers of Zuhr and Asr or the two evening ones of Maghrib and Isha is also approved by most schools of thought. Some say that it is applicable when needed, while others say that it applies all the time [during travel]. Whichever view you take will have its valid evidence.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )