Sunnah Prayers While Traveling - Yes or No? (Ahadith 904 - 905)


Assalamu`alaykum,
Bismillah.

Volume 2, Book 20, Number 205:
Narrated Hafs bin 'Asim:
Ibn 'Umar went on a journey and said, "I accompanied the Prophet and he did not offer optional prayers during the journey, and Allah says: 'Verily! In Allah's Apostle you have a good example to follow.' " (33.21)

Volume 2, Book 20, Number 206:
Narrated Ibn 'Umar :
I accompanied Allah's Apostle and he never offered more than two Rakat during the journey. Abu Bakr, 'Umar and 'Uthman used to do the same.

It was the practice of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when travelling to pray the obligatory prayers only, and it was not narrated that he used to pray the regular Sunnah prayers either before or after the fard prayers. 

It was narrated that ‘Aasim ibn ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab said: “I accompanied Ibn ‘Umar on the way to Makkah. He led us in praying two rak’ahs of Zuhr prayer, then he left and we left with him until he came to where his luggage was. He sat down and we sat with him, then he looked towards the place where we had prayed, and he saw some people standing and he asked, ‘What are these people doing?’ I said, ‘They are praying voluntary prayers.’ He said, ‘If I wanted to pray (naafil or Sunnah prayers) after the fard prayer I would have completed my prayer (i.e., not shortened it).’ O son of my brother, I accompanied the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) whilst travelling and he did not add anything to these two rak’ahs until Allaah took him (in death); and I accompanied Abu Bakr and he did not add anything to these two rak’ahs until Allaah took him (in death); and I accompanied ‘Umar and he did not add anything to these two rak’ahs until Allaah took him (in death); and I accompanied ‘Uthmaan and he did not add anything to these two rak’ahs until Allaah took him (in death). And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 
‘Indeed in the Messenger of Allaah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow’
[al-Ahzaab 33:21].”

But an exception is made from the above in the case of the regular Sunnah prayer of Fajr, which is to be performed when travelling just as it is performed when one is not travelling. Ibn al-Qayyim said: 
“It was the practice of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when travelling to pray only the obligatory prayers, and it was not narrated that he used to pray the regular Sunnah prayers either before or after the fard prayers, apart from Witr and the Sunnah of Fajr, which he never omitted whether he was travelling or not.” 
Zaad al-Ma’aad, 1/473 

And he said: 
“His adherence to praying the Sunnah of Fajr was stronger than with all other naafil prayers, so he did not omit it or Witr whether he was travelling or not. When he was travelling he would still pray the Sunnah of Fajr and Witr and adhere to that more than all other naafil prayers. It is not narrated that he prayed any other regular Sunnah prayer when he was travelling.” 
Zaad al-Ma’aad, 1/315

Read this post for further details.

The point is that it is prescribed to omit the regular Sunnah prayers for those who are travelling, and to limit it to the two Sunnah rak’ahs of Fajr. It is also prescribed for the traveller to continue to pray Salaat al-Witr, qiyaam al-layl, Duha and prayers done for specific reasons, and naafil prayers in general. From this you may understand that what some people say, that part of the Sunnah whilst travelling is not to pray Sunnah, is wrong. Apart from the fact that this does not make sense, it also goes against the saheeh Sunnah narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). The correct view is that not praying Sunnah whilst travelling refers to the regular Sunnah prayers that are done before and after Zuhr, and after Maghrib and ‘Isha’. And Allaah knows best.
Wassalam.