Calculating the travel distance for Londoners
It is clear in principle and in accordance to fiqh that a city is determined customarily based on the distance where the populace is settled irrespective of the size [of the population] and the wide distance they are spread; all of it is considered one city. A settlement which is customarily considered outside the city will be deemed a separate locality even if it is contiguous.
In view of that, to whatever distance a settlement is called London up to that point all of it will be one city. At present London is divided into 33 boroughs which are governed by its councils. However, this division is for administrative purpose only. According to the custom and the law the whole of Greater London is considered one city. Hence, a muqim (resident) will not calculate the journey distance from the boundary of their respective boroughs rather it will be calculated after exiting where the settlement of London finishes.
The amenities around [the outskirts of] London which in shariah terms is called ‘fina’ [are counted as part of the city]. For example, public parks where people play football or go for a walk or jog as well as factories have the same ruling as that of the settlement. As in the travel distance will be calculated after passing [the fina]. The farms that exists outside London do not fall within the ruling of the fina (outskirt).
It should be noted that the M25, the well-known motorway orbiting London, cannot be considered a definitive boundary for London. Rather in whichever direction of London one is travelling, the settlement will be used [in determining the boundary]. If the settlement extends to the M25, in that direction, the M25 will be declared the city boundary. If in any direction the settlement extends beyond the M25 and that part is commonly considered within London, in that case the M25 will not be the boundary of London [there]. Rather the city boundary will be determined from the end of the settlement. If in any direction the settlement does not reach the M25 such that between the M25 and the settlement there are farms etcetera as a barrier as is the case in the boroughs of Redbridge and Bromley, [in such a case] the settlement will form the boundary and not the M25.
(و في عقود رسم المفتي و شرحه1) والعرف في الشرع له اعتبار – لذا عليه الحكم قد يدار. (و في البحرالرائق2) قيد بالمصريين ... للإحتراز عن نية الإقامة في موضعين من مصر و احد أو قرية واحدة، فإنها صحيحة لأنهما متحدان حكما، ألا تري أنه لو خرج إليه مسافرا لم يقصر. (و في العلائية) من خرج من عمارةموضع إقامته من جانب خروجه و إن لم يجاوز من الجانب الآخر. (وفي الشامية تحته3) و أشار إلي أنه يشترط مفارقة ما كان منتوابع موضع الإقامة كربض المضر و هو ما حول المدينة من بيوت و مساكين فإنه في حكم المصر و كذا القري المتصلة بالربض في الصحيح بخلاف البساتين و لو متصلة بالبناء لأنها ليست من البلدة ... و أما الفناء و هو المكان المعد لمصالح البلد كركض الدواب و دفن الموتي و إلقاء التراب فإن اتصل بالمصر اعتبر مجاوزته و إن انفصل بغلوة أو مزرعة فلا.
It is stated in Malfuzat Faqih al-Ummat4,
- A person asked (Mufti Mahmud al-Hasan Gangohi), ‘When should a person start qasr?’ He replied, ‘When they leaves the settlement, they should start qasr.’ The questioner asked, ‘What if the city is very large and made of many mile? If one has to travel from one end or middle and start the journey from the other end, can they do qasr as soon as they leave their house?’ He replied, ‘The ruling of this case is the same in that they start qasr after they have left the city or the outskirts of the city. Hadrat Ali had said, “Had we exceed that part we would have prayed two rak’at” (as in would have qasr).’
It is stated in Ahkam Musafir5 of Mufti In'am al-Haq Sitamuri (may Allah almighty raise his ranks),
- A city which extends beyond 77.25 kilometres in that when one leaves from their home they are not able to traverse the city boundary except that they have travelled more than the shariah limit for a journey such as the case of Bombay etcetera. In that circumstance, until the person has not the crossed the boundary of the wide city they will not be considered a musafir according to the shariah. Hence, it is not permissible to do qasr before passing the city boundary rather the rulings of shariah will take effect after crossing the boundary.
و الله أعلم
[Shaykh al-Hadith Mufti] Umar Faruq Lawharwi
3 Muharram 1427
ShahrLondon Walon Ke Kiye Musafat Safar
In Fiqhi Jawahir. 1429. 1st Ed. Vol 4, p. 62-65.
Kosamba, India; Jamia Abu Hurayrah.
Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami (Translator)
7 Safar 1436
30 November 2014