Traveling at Night: Disliked?
There is nothing wrong in traveling at night as long as the roads are safe and there is nothing that threatens one’s life, religion, or wealth.
In his response to the question, Sheikh Muhammad ibn Adam Al-Kawthari, a teacher of various traditional Islamic sciences at Jami`at `Ulum Al-Qur’an in Leicester, says:
It is not forbidden or disliked to travel at night. The Shar`ah does not specify any particular time of the day or night for traveling or desisting from traveling. One may choose to travel at any given time of the day or night as long as it is safe and there is no other external factor prohibiting travel such as the time of Prayer is about to end and one has not yet performed it.
In fact, there is a hadith that encourages traveling at night. Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) related that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “You should travel during the night (duljah), because the land is rolled up at night [i.e. traveling is faster at night than it is during the day].” (Abu Dawud)
Mullah Ali Al-Qari (may Allah have mercy on him) stated in his renowned commentary of Mishkat Al-Masabih entitled Mirqat Al-Mafatih that the term “duljah ” in this hadith refers to either traveling during the early part of the night or traveling during any part of the night. He stated that the latter meaning is more suitable; hence, it is encouraged to travel during any part of the night. He further explained that the meaning of the hadith is that one should not suffice with traveling during the day, but rather, one should travel during the night as well, because it is easier and faster.
Having said the above, if traveling at night is unsafe and one fears harm because of weakness or the route is unsafe, or one fears being tempted and mislead by Satan into committing a sin, then it is disliked to travel at night, especially when alone. The following hadith was mentioned in this context:
`Abdullah ibn `Umar(may Allah be pleased with him) related that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “ If people knew what I know about being alone, no rider would travel at night alone.” (Al-Bukhari and At-Tirmidhi)
Al-Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him) recorded this hadith under the heading “Traveling Alone” and At-Tirmidhi (may Allah have mercy on him) under the heading “The Dislike (karaha) of One’s Traveling Alone” demonstrating that this hadith is more about traveling alone, than traveling at night.
In conclusion, there is nothing wrong with traveling at night; rather, it is encouraged if it is more convenient. However, it is disliked if it is unsafe to travel – such as traveling alone in empty and remote areas – or one fears committing a sin. As for well-traveled routes where there are likely to be helpers, it is not disliked. Traveling during the night on planes, trains, ships and buses is also fine, as long as it is safe, because the one who travels by these means is not considered to be alone and is generally safe.