I was recently informed that occasionally the Prophet ﷺ, whilst travelling, prayed the full Ṣalāh rather than the two Rakaʿāt. Is this true and will the Ṣalāh be valid?
بسم اللہ الرحمن الرحیم
According to the Ḥanafī school of thought, it is not permissible for a traveller to perform Dhuhr, ʿAṣr and ʿIshā as four Rakʿāt. Almighty Allah has instructed the traveller to shorten the prayer and this is obligatory without choice (Badāʾiʿ al-Ṣanāʾiʿ, 1: 91). There are certain traditions that suggest that the Prophet ﷺ occasionally performed the full four Rakʿāt (Sunan al-Dāraquṭnī, 2297; Sunan al-Bayhaqī, 5422, 5424). However, Ḥāfiẓ Ibn al-Qayyim (d. 751/1350) suggests Zād al-Maʿād (1: 450) that these narrations are not reliable and that the Prophet ﷺ never performed the full four Rakaʿāt under normal circumstances.
If someone however performs four Rakʿāt by mistake, then according to the Ḥanafī school of thought, his Ṣalāh will only be valid if he sat in the first Qaʿdah and recited in the first two Rakʿāt, in which case the extra two Rakʿāt will be regarded as Nafl (Radd al-Muḥtār, 2: 128; Fatḥ al-Qadīr, 2: 32). In addition, he must perform Sajdah Sahw (Aḥsan al-Fatāwā, 4: 77), and if he does not, it will be Wājib (necessary) to repeat the Ṣalāh within its time, otherwise if the time has elapsed, it will not be necessary to repeat the Ṣalāh (Fatāwā Maḥmūdiyyah, 11: 585).
Allah knows best
16 Ṣafar 1427 / 16 March 2006