Leaving prayer in Islam

Allah has commanded the Muslims to pray the five daily prayers. It belongs to the five pillars of Islam. When a person leaves one of the five obligatory prayers, it is deemed a great thing.

There are different opinions about what the effect is if a person leaves prayer.

The different opinions:
  1. "It is haram to leave a prayer"
  2. "It is not recommended to leave a prayer"
  3. "It is disbelief to deny a prayer, but not when leaving it"
  4. "It is disbelief if a person leaves prayer outside its appointed time"

The correct opinion as to leaving the prayer is that it is disbelief (Kufr). Even if someone would acknowledge the obligation of it. When the prayer is deliberately not prayed outside the appointed time, that is Kufr. That is according to the agreement of the Companions, tabi'een and atba tabi'een (Salaf Saliheen).

Preventing leaving the prayer

In Islam, everyone who has reached maturity is commanded to pray. The five daily prayers are a consistent routine for a Muslim.

Now it is important to know the purpose of the five prayers because it is more than just an obligation. It is also a connection that is sought with Allah.

Salaah in Arabic means 'connection'. It is an opportunity to communicate with Allah. The five daily prayers are an important part of a Muslim's life.

Building love for prayer

It is one of the building blocks of maintaining prayer. One can build this love by first of all knowing why Allah is to be worshiped.

Tawheed is a great foundation for preserving prayer. That concept includes the Oneness of Allah in His Names/Attributes, Dominion and right to be worshiped.

When one knows who Allah is and why He alone deserves to be worshiped, it becomes easier to incline to prayer.

Families who want to practice Islam lack the instruction of loving prayer. Children in those families are taught the wrong way at a young age. And that because of a lot of yelling and punishment. At a later age this does not give the child a love for prayer, but rather a bit of aversion.

Allah is pleased with the Muslim who wants to turn to Him. And the five daily prayers are an important part of that.

Valid excuses for not praying

There are several excuses for not praying in Islam. Those excuses are quite few compared to the other duties. Thus we see that prayer is an extremely important part of Islam.

Every adult Muslim is obliged to perform the prayer. Children and mentally handicapped are not obligated.

1. Forgetting to pray

It is an excuse for the Muslim if he has not prayed a prayer out of forgetfulness. It is then up to the Muslim to make up for that prayer as soon as he remembers it.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Whoever forgets a prayer, let him pray it as soon as he remembers it.” [Sahih Bukhari 597]

2. Overslept

Oversleeping sometimes happens with one of the five daily prayers. The Muslim is excused for this and should make up for it as soon as he wakes up.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Whoever overslept for a prayer must make up for it.” [Sahih Muslim 684d]

Salaf Saliheen on leaving prayer

There are different statements regarding the one who does not pray the prayer. Islam is clear about it. The traditions indicate that leaving prayer is disbelief.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "Between a man and idolatry/disbelief is the abandonment of prayer." [Sahih Muslim 82]

Besides the narration of the Prophet (ﷺ), we get extra clarity from the pious predecessors. They elaborate on this matter and even say that there is no disagreement about this.

Imam Shafi'i said: "Whoever leaves the prayer after the appointed time without a valid excuse will be asked to repent of his disbelief. [Muzani commented: 'To leave prayer is to leave the faith']" [Mukhtasar page 53 of Muzani]

Ibn Habib (student of Imam Malik) said: "The Companions of Malik believe that if a person does not pray, then he is a disbeliever. The slaughtered meat of that person is then not permissible for a Muslim to eat." [Al-Muntaqi min Sharh al-Muwatta 3/22]

Imam Ahmad said: "He who does not pray is a disbeliever." [Al-Jami' Al-Khallal 1377]

Consensus on the Kufr of abondoning prayer

Ayyub as-Sikhtiyani said: "Abandoning prayer is disbelief, and there is no difference of opinion about it." [Ta'dhim Qadr As-Salaat 2/935]

Ishaq ibn Rahawayh said: "Abandoning prayer is Kufr (disbelief). This is the view of the Sahaba up to my time. That whoever leaves prayer without a valid excuse after the appointed time is a disbeliever." [Ta'dhim Qadr As-Salaat 2/295]

Ibn Nasr al-Maruzi said: "The Sahaba are in unanimous agreement that not praying the prayer is disbelief." [Ta'dhim Qadr As-Salaat 977]

Abu Athari writes about basic principles within Islam. He uses his critical and well-researched way to spread knowledge of the first three Muslim generations.

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