Ruling on one who abandons the prayer – Part 1/5

Q: “What is the ruling on the one who abandons the prayer? And what is the difference between kufr `amali (disbelief of the limbs) and kufr i`tiqaadi (disbelief of the heart)?”

Shaikh al-Albaani:

The one who abandons the prayer has two states: either he believes that the prayer is legislated or he denies it. So in this second state, he is a disbeliever by consensus of the Muslims. The same goes for whoever denies a matter that is ma`loom min ad-deen bidh-dharoorah (known by every Muslim to be part of the religion without having to study it in order to know it) – for instance, whoever denies fasting then such a person is a disbeliever, or whoever denies Hajj, or any other matter that is ma`loom min ad-deen bidh-dharoorah. So there is no difference of opinion about this: whoever denies the prayer’s being legislated is a disbeliever.

But if there is a man who does not deny the prayer and acknowledges its being legislated, but when it comes to practice he does not perform it, he does not pray – maybe he does not pray at all or maybe he prays sometimes – so in this case, if we say that this man has disbelieved, this saying would not apply to him at all because disbelief is denial (jahd), and he is not denying the prayer’s being legislated like He تعالى said regarding the disbelievers: {And they denied them though their ownselves were convinced thereof}.[1]

If we take an example of some person who does not pray, but when he is asked ‘Why don’t you pray O my brother?’ he says to you: ‘May Allaah grant me success in making tawbah and forgive me, by Allaah the dunyaa has kept me busy, these children have kept me busy,’ this type of talk. Of course this talk is not an excuse for him at all, but it gives us a beneficial piece of information – which we can’t know because we can’t see what’s in his heart – telling us that he believes that the prayer is legislated, as opposed to if the answer was, may Allaah forbid: ‘O my brother, the time for this prayer is gone, this was during a time when the people were uneducated, they were unclean, they needed a particular type of cleanliness, purity, exercise; and now it’s time has gone, now there are new means that free us of prayer’ – this man has disbelieved and so goes to Hell, {and evil is that destination}.[2] But if the answer was as in the first example: ‘May Allaah grant us success in making tawbah and forgive us…’ and this type of talk that tells us that he does not deny the prayer’s being legislated. So if we said that this man is a disbeliever, we would be contradicting the reality because this man is a believer – a believer in the prayer’s being legislated, a believer in all of Islaam – so how can we declare him a disbeliever?

Hence, we say that there is no difference between the one who abandons the prayer and the one who abandons fasting and the one who abandons Hajj and the one who abandons any physical act of worship with regard to whether he is declared a disbeliever or not. When is he declared a disbeliever? If he denies. When is he not declared a disbeliever? If he believes. So it is not allowed to declare a believer to be a disbeliever by consensus, and as proof there are many hadeeths with the ending: ‘Make whoever (sincerely) said laa ilaaha illallaah enter Paradise’ while he does not have an atom’s weight of good deeds, but he has an atom’s weight of faith (eemaan) so this faith is what prevents him from abiding in the Fire forever, and he enters Paradise even if it is after he becomes a black charcoal.[3] However, this is the one who testifies that none has the right to be worshiped except Allaah and that Muhammad ﷺ is the Messenger of Allaah, and believes in all that has come from Allaah and His Messenger; but he does not pray or does not fast or does not perform Hajj or the like, or he steals or fornicates – there is no difference with regard to all these things when placed on the scales of kufr `amali and kufr i`tiqaadi [i.e. they all fall under the former].

For instance, a man fornicates – do we declare him a disbeliever? You will say, no. I say, no, take it slow. We have to see, does he say that fornication is haraam? Or does he say as some of the ignorant people say: ‘Who cares about haraam and halaal’? If he says this to me, he has disbelieved. Likewise the one who steals, or any sin – for example the man who backbites people and we say to him: ‘Fear Allaah, the Messenger said: ‘Backbiting is you mentioning about your brother that which he dislikes,’[4] and he replies: ‘Who cares about ‘the Messenger said’ and the like,’ then he has disbelieved. It is the same with all rulings of the Legislation whether it is a positive ruling i.e. an obligation or a negative ruling i.e. a prohibition that must be avoided. So if he regards any of these prohibitions to be permissible in his heart, he has disbelieved. But if he commits it in practice while believing that he is disobeying, he has not disbelieved.

Thus, there is no difference with regard to this among all rulings of the Legislation, whether they are obligations or prohibitions. The obligations must be performed and it is not permissible to abandon them. But whoever does so out of laziness, it is not allowed to declare him a disbeliever; and whoever does so out of denial has disbelieved. Likewise, whoever regards any of the prohibitions to be permissible has disbelieved. There is no difference with regard to this at all between the obligations and prohibitions.”


[1] Surah an-Naml 27:14
[2] Surah Aal `Imraan 3:162
[3] Saheeh al-Bukhaari 7439, 7510, 6560; Saheeh at-Targheeb 3639
[4] Saheeh Muslim 2589

[silsilat ul-hudaa wa nnoor 8/5 / alalbaany.com]

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4 thoughts on “Ruling on one who abandons the prayer – Part 1/5

  1. as salaam alaiki! ohh mashaa’ Allaah! how beautiful is the ‘ilm, I love to look into the differences of opinions between our olders, may Allah grant all them al jannatul firdaws ameen!

    baraka Allahu fik for all! wa as salaam alaikum

    1. wa ‘alayki ssalaam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh wa maghfiratuh, wa feeki baarakAllaah!

      may Allaah guide us to that which is correct in all the affairs in which there is ikhtilaaf, aameen.

      i will be posting parts 2 and 3, and perhaps 4 inshaaAllaah, the shaykh brings in a lot of nice evidences, this post was just mainly the fatwa

  2. ameen!!!

    I will spred it inshaa’ Allaah and I am waiting eargely for parts #2…3…and 4 inshaa Allaah!.

    May Allah make all your affairs ease fil dunya wal akhyrah, and may Allah make your blog very heavy in your mizam ameen!

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