Making Up Missed Prayers
Fatwa No: 83724

Question

In my lifetime I did not offer the obligatory prayers five times a day; some time I missed 2, some time 3 prayers. Can I offer that missed prayer of my lifetime now as an adjustment by offering Qaza' prayer, after each obligatory prayer every day in order to adjust missed prayers.

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  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

All Muslims have agreed upon that the prayer is an obligation on every pubescent and sane Muslim if there is no legal hindrance for performing it.

The legal reasons for abandoning a prayer is being a woman in her menstrual period, or in her confinement period, or when a person becomes unconscious, or insane, or the like.

Know that the prayer is an individual form of worship. Thus, no one can perform it on behalf of another person. The prayer is the second greatest pillar of Islam after the Shahadatayn (The Two Testimonies of Faith –which is to say: La Ilaha Illa Allah Muhammadan Rasoolu Allah; meaning: there is None worthy of worship but Allah and Muhammad is his Messenger). The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Between a person and disbelief is abandoning the prayer.” [Muslim]

Due to pieces of evidence in the Quran and the Hadeeth, all the Muslim scholars agree that whoever abandons one single prayer while denying its obligation becomes a Kaafir (unbeliever).

As for the one who does not offer the prayer at all due to laziness, such person would be demanded to repent from this bad practice according to the view of the majority of the Muslim scholars among the Maaliki, Shaafi’i and Hanbali Schools of jurisprudence. If he does not repent, then he will be killed.

The Maaliki and Shaafi’i Schools are of the opinion that he will be killed as a Had (i.e. the corporal punishment determined by the Islamic Law). But this opinion is not so strong since the evidence of the Sharee’ah allows killing a person only for three reasons as mentioned in the Hadeeth in which the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “It is not lawful to kill a Muslim except for one of three cases: adultery after marriage, killing someone purposely, becoming an apostate (leaving the religion of Islam.

The Hambali School is of the opinion that the person who gives up the prayer –i.e. never performs it –should be killed since he becomes a Kafir. This opinion is most correct based upon much evidence. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Between a person and disbelief is abandoning the prayer.

Abu Burdah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “The pact between us and them is the prayer, whoever gives it up becomes an unbeliever.

Therefore, if a person abandons only one prayer without any legal reason till its fixed time has passed, his deeds become nullified. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said in an authentic Hadeeth: “Whoever gives up ‘Asr prayer, his deeds become invalidated.” Just imagine how worse it would be if one abandons many prayers.

Shaqeeq ibn ‘Abdullah, who was a well-known Taabi’i (one among the generation that followed the generation of the Companions) said: “The Companions of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) did not consider the abandonment of any act as being Kufr with the exception of the prayer.

Thus, if we conclude that the one who neglects the prayer due to laziness becomes a Kaafir, then such a person should renew his belief and he is no longer required to make up the missed prayers and missed days of fasting. He must only repent sincerely and perform voluntary deeds as much as possible. He is not subjected to any expiation other than repenting sincerely and continuously asking for the Forgiveness of Allah.

But those who are of the opinion that such a person (who gives up the prayer due to laziness) does not become Kafir, they obligate on him to make up the missed fast and prayers.

Finally, we say that it is better in order to be on the safe side for such a person to make up the missed prayers even if it takes him a long period of time.

Allah knows best.

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