Assalam-o-alaikum Mufti Sahab-If a one is a traveler and is returning to their town but first proceeds to the local Masjid and prays Dhur salat by themselves. If the person's house is not in the same town as the Masjid, maybe ten minutes or so away, will the person make two (musaffer) or four rakah (not musaffer)?
First of all, it is important to know that if a Musafir wishes to pray behind a Muqeem (stationed) Imam, then he must follow the Imam by offering prayer in complete and he will not be allowed to avail the Qasr concession.
If the town of residence and the town in which local Masjid is located are separated by an open land area, then one should perform Qasr prayer at that Masjid while returning from a Shar'i journey. However, if the two towns are joined by buildings (residential or commercial) and there is no open land area in the direction of travel then one is obligated to offer complete prayer. In such a case, the local Masjid will be considered the Masjid of one's own locality.
The open land area separator rule is applicable in the direction of travel and not in its entirety.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Ikram ul Haq
Darul Ifta of Rhode Island
04 Rabi-ul Thani 1431/ March 19 2010