Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
An elderly lady travels from London to a town just outside London, to visit her daughter and son-in-law. Due to the very large size of London and the nature of the travel links in and around London, the quickest route is by road and entails leaving the municipal boundary of London and traveling on the orbital motorway which surrounds London. The total journey by road in this way is more than 60 miles. Sometimes when this lady cannot get a lift by car she travels by train, this takes much longer, but is probably less than 48 miles. On some occaisons she travels out by one mode (e.g. train) and travels back by another (e.g. by road). Is it permissible for this lady to shorten her prayers whilst at her daughter’s s house? It is important to take the masleha of people into account when arriving at fatwa’s. For very large modern cities like London (which in many way’s are aggregations of towns like Bromley, Richmond, Enfield, etc) to travel from one part of London to another might well be a hardship for people, such as my relative, who’s case I am describing above and might well take a considerable amount of time (e.g an unpleasant 4 hours by train), in this case is it really valid to consider traveling within one city as not being a valid part of qasr travel?
Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
Jazakum Allahu khayran for your nasiha regarding considering the best interest of people–the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said that, “Religion is sincere concern.”
However, the primary texts are clear regarding this matter: one is only considered a traveller once one leaves city limits–and city limits are known in modern cities. In Islamic history, there were many large cities that (though smaller in size than n modern cities) took a long time to cross by horse or on foot, so this ruling isn’t entirely unique.
And Allah alone gives success.