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From Prayers To Halal Food: A Guide For Muslims While Travelling

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Muslim.Sg  •  Dec 05, 2019

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Praise be to Allah.    As Muslim travellers, we have to plan so that we can happily travel without worries. From finding halal and Muslim-friendly food to how we can perform our prayer in places with limited space and across different time zones, we can still practice our faith while travelling.    Alhamdulillah, one of the beauties of Islam is the fact that it provides alternatives that ease all our obligatory duties. Islam alleviates difficulties, while preserving the well-being of humanityAllah mentioned in Surah Al-Baqarah,  
Don’t be too worried if you’re planning for your next big trip! Here are some helpful hacks that we have prepared for you to ensure your travels will be hassle-free.  
 1.How to pray while travelling 
 As Muslim travellers, while we are enjoying our vacation, we should still make prayers our topmost priority. Praying is the most basic form of showing gratitude to our Creator, who has granted us the wealth, time and health to travel.   Reported by Ibnu Umar r.a., the Prophet s.a.w. was asked about praying on sailing ship, he answered:  ”Perform your prayers on board it (in a standing position), unless you fear sinking/drowning”.   [Hadith narrated by Imam Al-Hakim]  Throughout our travels, committing to remembering our prayers can help alleviate our worries, encourage usthrough the journey, and remind us to be thankful by bringing us closer to God.  a. How and when can I combine or shorten my prayers?  Credit: Giphy  Combining and shortening prayers are defined by the terms Jama and Qasar. Combining and shortening prayers in travel is a concession that Allah has granted to us.  Jama prayers mean that you can combine two different prayers by performing them at one timing, either in the timing of the first prayer or the second prayer. Usually this applies to combining the Zohor and Asar prayers (prayed during Zohor or Asar), or the Maghrib and Isyak prayers (prayed during Maghrib or Isyak). Qasar prayers mean that you can shorten prayers while you are travelling. This only applies to 4 rakaat prayers (Zohor, Asar, Isyak) which can be shortened to 2 rakaat prayers.  However, for you to be able to combine and shorten your prayer, the minimum travel distance required is at least 2 Marhalah (meaning ‘period’ in Arabic, it is a traditional measure of distance)however contemporary scholars vary on the actual distance in kilometers. Generally, it is understood to be between 82-89 kilometers. For reference, the distance between Singapore and London is 10,841km, between Singapore and Japan is 5,246km, and between Singapore andThailand is 2,107km.  According to Syafie Fiqh School of Thought, we can combine and shorten our prayers for 5 days which include the day of arrival (1 day) and day of departure (1 day). However, there are other views that did not limit it to just 3 days.  b. How do I know when it’s time to pray during a flight?    Credit: Giphy It is very important for you to plan and know both when you will be travelling, and the prayer time during your journey to the destination. Always plan your prayers beforehand especially when you are taking a long-haul flight that can last more than 8 hours or cross multiple time zones. By planning, you can roughly prepare alternatives and ways to ease your prayer without worrying while you’re up in the sky.  Nowadays there are many mobile apps that can display prayer times from around the world. You can use these to check the prayer times of your departure and arrival destinations before getting on your flight. Some apps such as Sky Prayers and Halal Trip also allow you to keep up to date with accurate flight times and Qiblat direction while you’re in the sky! You may also use the in-flightinformation screen to double check the timing that the application provides. Some airlines even have dedicated tabs in their in-flight systems providing information on prayer times or the direction of the Qiblat. 
 However, if you do not have any access to in-flight entertainment or any applications, you can always observe the sun’s path through the plane’s window. As prayer times are based on the position of the sun in the sky, this can help give you a rough gauge of what prayer to perform. Here’s a useful graphic on determining prayer times using the sun:  
Credit: Muis ADIL Traveller’s Fiqh Module 
 
Nevertheless, do note that once you have arrived at the destination, you should follow the timing prayer of that country throughout your stay there. You can use an app such as Muslim Pro for on-the-go updates on the local prayer times, or go to the local mosque or Muslim association’s website.  c. How do I pray in a moving vehicle (e.g. plane or train)?   When travelling by car, we have the chance to stop at Rest and Recreation (R&R) pit stops along highways to do our prayers. However, when travelling by other means (especially planes and long train rides)we have no stopovers and will eventually need to perform our prayers in the vehicle. 
Credit: @officeofmuftisg on Instagram   Before we start to perform our prayer, we have to take Wudu’ (Ablution) as per the rule. As most planes or long-distance trains have washrooms on the vehicles, we do not need to perform the tayammum as we have access to water. According to the office of the Mufti Singapore, you are only required to wash the Wajib parts of your body once, which are your face, upper limbs, head, and lower limbs. However, do not waste water while performing your ablution and make sure that the toilet area is clean after you use it!  Scholars agree that we should perform the five obligatory (Fard) prayers standing whilst facing the Qiblah where possibleHowever, due to the limited space, safety regulations, and other circumstances we may on a plane or train, it may not be possible to do so in such vehicles. In these situations, you may opt to face the Qiblah (prayer direction) only during the ‘Takbiratul Ihram’ and continue performing your prayer facing any direction afterwards whilst sitting. Click here to read more tipsfor praying while on a plane. 
P.S. Some airlines such as Royal Bruneian Air and Saudia Airlines have dedicated prayer areas in their planes, which you can use for your prayers. Do listen to the flight crew for safety guidelines before using these and ensure that you follow safety regulations while praying.  If all efforts fail to determine the location of the Qiblah, one is permitted to face the most precise direction to do your prayer. ‘Imran Bin Husain narrated that the Prophet s.a.w. said to him:   “Pray while standing and if you can’t, pray while sitting and you cannot do even that, then pray lying on your side.”   (Sahih Al-Bukhari)  However, according to Imam Syafie, if one is unable to perform his/her prayer in a complete state, one has to perform the prayer again upon arriving at the destination. Many airports now have prayer or multi-faith rooms in their premises, so you can look up your destination airport’s guide before arriving to see if they have suitable facilities too. 
2. How do I find halal food overseas? 
Credit: Giphy One of the most difficult challenges that we face as Muslim travellers is finding halal food overseas. Several countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong have theirlocal Muslim authorities that provide halal certification. But outside of these countries or in regions such as South America and Europe, it might be difficult to find out what is suitable or not.  
When you travel, always do some research beforehand on the Halal or Muslim-owned restaurants around you. You can look at our halal food guides here which lists halal, Muslim-owned, and other Muslim-friendly eateries in cities around the world! However, when travelling to some countries there will be a lack of halal-certified or Muslim-owned restaurants. You can consider the following points to ask the staff before deciding to eat there: 
  1. Do they have halal-certified meat? (Some restaurants may serve a fully halal menu alongside alcoholic beverages due to local drinking customs. Other places may have specific items such as chicken or beef that are halal-certified.) 
  2. Do they have seafood, vegetarian, or vegan options? (Seafood options are safe to consume, whereas many places that are purely vegetarian or vegan will have little to no animal byproducts at all.) 
  3. Is it possible to remove alcohol or other animal byproducts from the selected dishes? (For example, ask if you can substitute beer-battered fish and chips for grilled fish or a differentbatter. Other alcohol or animal byproducts to look out for include gelatin, shortening, oil derived from non-certified beef or other animals, cooking wine, and vanilla extract.)
On any options that you are choosing, you may wish to double-check with the restaurant on the ingredients of the food before you purchase. In some countries, generally they will be more than delighted to share the ingredients with you! When choosing food, it depends on personal discretion and choices. Thus, do respect the customs of local Muslims as well and avoid casting judgement. We recommend that you dine at your own discretion.  
3. How do I ensure the utensils at my accommodation are suitable? 
 
Airbnb and other homestay options have become popular alternatives to hotels, as they come with shared or private kitchen facilities so you can cook your own meals on the go. When using the kitchen equipment and utensils provided by the host, we might be wondering: “Should we do ritual cleaning, sertu before using it?”. Here are some things  to keep in mind for a fuss-free cooking experience! 
  1. You can use a shared fridge or microwave. If you are very particular, you can ensure there is no direct contact of your food with the non-halal food by properly wrapping your food beforeplacing it in the fridge.
  2. You can still use the utensils (e.g. cooking boards, pots, pans, forks, spoons) provided, just make sure that it is clean. According to Imam Annawawi, there is no need for you to do ritual cleansing (sertu) if you are confident with the cleanest of the utensils. However, if you are not comfortable with that option, you may wish to bring the sertu soap. It is so easy now that you can find it at selected supermarkets in Singapore! You may wish to refer to MUIS’ Contemporary Irsyad Series for a more detailed explanation. 
 If you would love to know more on the fiqh of travelling, do sign up for the ‘Traveller’s Fiqh course by ADIL SG. It’s free! Now, you are ready and set to go on your next great adventure. We hope that this guide will help you have a worry-free travel experience!    Credit: Giphy Happy travelling!  Ustazah Nursyahiirah and Ustaz Syazwan Elrani are members of the Asatizah Youth Network in Singapore.