Fate of one who believes that missing prayers deliberately is only sin and not Kufr
Fatwa No: 351028

Question

Respected Shaykh,
In fatwa no. 83724, you have mentioned that the scholars differed with regards to a person becoming a disbeliever if they deliberately miss a prayer (or prayers) out of laziness. Some said that this person still remains a believer while others said that he has become a disbeliever. Each group has their evidences. My question is with regards to an individual who used to miss prayers out of laziness, believing that it is a sin, but not Kufr (disbelief). On the Day of Judgement, if it turns out that missing prayers out of laziness was indeed Kufr, will this individual be judged based on what he believed and heard from scholars (that it is not Kufr), or will he be judged according to what turns out to be the truth (in this case, that it is Kufr)? I realise that no one knows what will happen in the Hereafter, but I was just wondering if there was a discussion on this subject among the scholars, especially given that actions are judged based on intentions, and this individual had no intention of committing Kufr.

Answer

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

First of all, it should be known that deliberately missing a prayer is one of the gravest and most serious sins in the sight of Allah. The scholars agreed upon the fact that the one who abandons one single prayer is worse than the one who commits adultery, theft, drinking alcohol, and murder as Ibn Al-Qayyim  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him underlined, and he cited the scholarly consensus in the beginning of the book on prayer.

That said, scholars held different views as to whether abandoning the prayer is Kufr and takes the doer out of the fold of Islam or not. Assuming that the reasoning of those who held that abandoning prayer is Kufr is the correct opinion and it turns out on the Day of Judgment that the one who abandons prayer is a disbeliever in the sight of Allah, then the ruling on that person is that he is a disbeliever who will abide eternally in Hellfire. The fact that he did not believe that he was a disbeliever in the worldly life does not affect the ruling in this regard because he knew that it is forbidden to abandon the prayer in the Shariah of Islam.

Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him stated in his book As-Saarim Al-Maslool that if the Muslim commits an act of Kufr which he does not believe to be an act of Kufr, while knowing that it is forbidden in Shariah, then he is declared a disbeliever.

Allah, The Exalted, says (what means): {And if you ask them, they will surely say, "We were only conversing and playing." Say, "Is it Allah and His verses and His Messenger that you were mocking?" Make no excuse; you have disbelieved after your belief. If We pardon one faction of you - We will punish another faction because they were criminals.} [Quran 9: 65-66]

He  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote in his commentary of these verses:

"This indicates that they did not think that they had committed an act of disbelief; rather, they thought that it did not constitute disbelief. So Allah explained that ridiculing Allah and His revelations and His Messenger constituted disbelief and meant that the person had disbelieved after having believed. This indicates that they had faith, albeit weak, and they did this prohibited action knowing that it was prohibited, but they did not think that it constituted disbelief. However, it was disbelief by means of which they became disbelievers, as they did not think that it was permissible."

Allah knows best.

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