Wrong to maltreat person who neglects prayer
Fatwa No: 329608

Question

Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu. I am from Sri Lanka. I heard a speech regarding the prayer. The speaker mentioned that if a person neglects the prayer, he is worse than a dog. Moreover, he said that if that person would be suffering and dying and would need some water to be cured, it would be preferable not to give water to him as he is one of those who neglect the prayer. Please let us know, if a person neglects the prayer, is he a disbeliever? Can we let him die? Wassalaam.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

There is no doubt that neglecting the prayer (Salah) out of laziness (and not out of rejection and disbelief in the obligation) is a grave sin. Ibn Al-Qayyim  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him cited the scholarly consensus on the fact that neglecting the prayer is graver than committing adultery, drinking wine, theft, and murder. However, the scholars held different views as to whether such a person is a disbeliever or not. According to the majority of the scholars, he is not to be declared a non-Muslim. This is the view that we adopt in Islamweb, although some senior scholars, such as Imaam Ahmad, according to the prevalent view of the Hanbali School, held that such a person is a disbeliever. Please, refer to fatwa 84235.

As for saying that he is not to be given water if he is dying, then that is wrong. On the contrary, the Muslim should show kindness towards a dying person who neglected the prayer and encourage him to say the Shahaadah (the two testimonies of faith). He should be gentle with him and remind him to have good expectations of his Lord. Perhaps this would make his ending good and Allaah may forgive him.

As for the remark that such a person is worse than a dog, if the sayer follows the scholarly view that the person who neglects the prayer is a disbeliever, then he is allowed to say this as a general description because Allaah, The Exalted, described the disbelievers as animals; He says (what means): {They are not except like livestock. Rather, they are (even) more astray in (their) way.} [Quran 25:44] Allaah, The Exalted, also likened the disbeliever to the dog; He says (what means): {So his example is like that of the dog: if you chase him, he pants, or if you leave him, he (still) pants.} [Quran 7:176]

However, based on the scholarly view held by the majority of the scholars that such a person is a Muslim and that his action does not take him out of Islam, then it is enough to say that he is among the worst of Muslims, that his sin is one of the gravest and most serious sins, and that he is exposing himself to severe punishment unless Allaah forgives him. Scholars held different opinions as to whether he should be declared a disbeliever or not, as has been stated above. Indeed, it is not becoming of a person who loves this religion to put himself in a position in which his affiliation to Islam is a matter about which there is a scholarly difference of opinion.

Allaah knows best.

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