Is It Kufr for a Muslim to Abandon His Prayer?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Dr. Muhammad Fayez Awad


Is it kufr for a Muslim to abandon his prayer?


Prayer is one of the foundational pillars of this religion. It has come second in order after the Declaration of Faith (shahada) that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

It is established in Hadith Jibril (Gabriel), blessings and peace be upon him, when he asked the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) regarding Islam, he said: “Islam is that you bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger; that you establish the prayer (salat); give charity (zakat); fast in Ramadan (saum); perform the pilgrimage (Hajj) when you have the means.”

Many texts from the Noble Quran and Sunna point towards the importance of prayer and upon those that maintain it, as well as encouraging its persistence and warning those who neglect it.

So, the Muslim who intentionally leaves his prayer due to laziness while

recognizing that it is obligatory, is not considered a disbeliever.

This also goes for leaving the obligatory fast, giving the zakat, and performing Hajj for whoever can.

The one who neglects the aforementioned has openly sinned (fisq) and has committed a sin from the major sins; thus, he must repent to Allah Most High and seek His forgiveness while repeating his missed prayers, even if they are many.

The Hanafis have provided evidence for their school of thought (madhab). It is the opinion of the vast majority of the umma that the person who neglects his prayer intentionally has not committed kufr. The following aya attests to this.

“Indeed, Allah does not forgive associating others with Him in worship but forgives anything else of whoever He wills. And whoever associates others with Allah has indeed committed a grave sin.” [Quran, 4:48]

Allah Most High forgives all sins of whoever he wants besides associating partners with Him; thus, leaving the prayer intentionally is a sin below shirk, and is not considered shirk.

There is a Hadith that says, “The covenant between us and them is prayer, so if anyone abandons it, he has then committed kufr.”

Such narrations aim to prompt fear in a person and do not imply that someone has left the folds of Islam.

For a person to resemble the disbeliever by abandoning his prayer, suggests that the prayer is the distinguishing sign between the disbeliever and the Muslim, concerning their actions. There are many examples in the Hadith literature, “You must never revert to infidelity after my death by cutting off one another’s heads. Fighting among Muslims is not kufr but rather known to be a sin among the major sins.”

What this means is, after my passing away (i.e. Allah’s Messenger), do not be like the disbelievers who would fight each other as the people from the period of ignorance used to.

It is surprising for a Muslim to abandon his prayer, for it is a pillar of the religion and the first thing he’ll be asked about in the grave once questioned regarding his faith.

So we encourage the youth, both men and women, to maintain their prayers and not abandon them. For whoever upholds the prayer, it shall be a light for him and save him on the day of resurrection.

[Shaykh] Dr. Muhammad Fayez Awad

Shaykh Dr. Muhammad Fayez Awad, born in Damascus, Syria, in 1965, pursued his Islamic studies in the mosques and institutes of Damascus. A graduate of the Islamic University of Medina in 1985, he holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Bahauddin Zakariya University in Pakistan.

He has extensive experience developing curricula and enhancing the teaching of various academic courses, including conducting intensive courses. Shaykh Awad has taught Fiqh, Usul al-Fiqh, Quranic sciences, the history of legislation, inheritance laws, and more at several institutes and universities such as Al-Furqan Institute for Islamic Sciences and Majma‘ al-Fath al-Islami in Damascus.

He is a lecturer at the Sultan Muhammad al-Fatih Waqf University in Istanbul, teaching various Arabic and Islamic subjects, and teaches at numerous Islamic institutes in Istanbul. Shaykh Awad is a member of the Association of Syrian Scholars, a founding member of the Zayd bin Thabit Foundation, a member of the Syrian Scholars Association, and a member of the Academic Council at the Iman Center for Teaching the Sunna and Quran.

Among his teachers from whom he received Ijazat are his father, Shaykh Muhammad Muhiyiddin Awad, Shaykh Muhiyiddin al-Kurdi, Shaykh Muhammad Karim Rajih, Shaykh Usama al-Rifai, Shaykh Ayman Suwaid, Shaykh Ahmad al-Qalash, Shaykh Muhammad Awwama, and Shaykh Mamduh Junayd.