Performing prayers is a great worship; therefore, it is a major sin to abandon performing prayers. Can a person who does not perform prayers be punished?
In Islamic law, hadd penalties are penalties that were determined by Allah and His Messenger (pbuh) for certain crimes. Ta’zir penalties are penalties that were not clearly determined by revelation and that were left to the decree of the judge and ijtihad of scholars.
There is no hadd penalty stated by Allah and His Messenger (pbuh) about those who do not perform prayers. Doubtlessly, there are commands and encouragement for prayers in verses and hadiths. It is said that the key to the bliss in the world and the hereafter is prayer. There are serious warnings stating that the result of not performing prayers will be dangerous. As a matter of fact, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) states the following in a hadith narrated by Burayda:
“The difference between unbelievers and us is prayer that we have undertaken to perform. A person who abandons prayers becomes an unbeliever.” (Nasai, Salat, 8)
It has been discussed by scholars whether a person who does not perform prayers or a person who abandons performing prayers by denying is meant by the decree “becomes an unbeliever” in the hadith. Hafiz says, “Disregarding prayer becomes a reason for unbelief.” The decree that a person who abandons performing prayers by “denying” becomes an unbeliever exists in Nihaya. Acting upon the apparent meaning of the hadith, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal holds the view that a person who does not perform prayers becomes an unbeliever. Malikis, Shafiis, and Hanafis do not decree that a person who does not perform prayers becomes an unbeliever unless he denies prayers. However, they offer a person who does not perform prayers to repent at once. If he does not repent, ta’zir penalty is in question until he repents in the three madhhabs mentioned above. As we have mentioned above, ta’zir penalty is a penalty that can be given based on the decree of the judge or ulul-amr.
On the other hand, the white pages of knowledge and guidance institutions throughout Islamic history are full of numerous examples of guidance that takes encouraging, easing and endearing performing prayers to the forefront.
In that case, the only way of solution about prayer today seems to be enlightening, guiding and informing people about prayer, easing, endearing and encouraging prayer, and giving glad tidings about prayer. The deeds like frightening, warning by grave torture or hellfire, using force, accusing of unbelief, condemning, despising and alienating people will be contrary to the following order of the Prophet (pbuh):
“Give good news; do not make people hate; make things easy; do not make them difficult.” (R. Salihin, 635)
This is not acceptable for prayer, which is a very delicate and decent worship. If it is thought that prayer is a warm bond of communication containing full peace between a slave and his Lord, it is understood better that prayer needs to be endeared to people. It is clear that even pronouncing an arbitrary penalty that is not based on revelation about prayer will cause big problems and drawbacks especially today. It will cause people to be alienated from prayer and what is more dangerous from the religion of Islam.
“The prayers are fine, but to perform them every single day five times is excessive. Since they never end, it becomes wearying.” When a man uttered the statement above, Badiuzzaman Said Nursi answered him through five warnings that silenced the soul, satisfied the heart, promised hope to the spirit, guided the mind, eliminated apprehensions, scattered heedlessness and tidied our daily life; thus, he preferred the way of easing, giving glad tidings and endearing, showing that the way of forcing or punishing is actually closed. (Sözler, p. 243)
- What is the decree on not performing prayers? Does a person who does not perform prayers become an unbeliever; or, does he become only a sinner?
- Some claim that not performing the prayer is idolatry and unbelief. To what extent are these claims correct?
- If the environment in which we are musafir (traveler) is comfortable, is there any objection for performing prayers in full? Which one is better; performing prayers fully or shortening them?
- How can I be saved from laziness about performing prayers? What can save me from it? What can I do to perform my prayers on time and not to miss them?
- Fiqh decree on abandoning prayers