Ruling on a person who said to his Salah-abandoning friend, "You are Kafir"
Question: In a discussion with a friend about Islam, he told me that he never performs Salah (Prayer), so I said to him, "You are Kafir (disbeliever), because Allah (Exalted be He) says: Then do you believe in a part of the Scripture and reject the rest? Then what is the recompense of those who do so among you, except disgrace in the life of this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they shall be consigned to the most grievous torment. " My friend replied, "So are you," and he mentioned the Hadith that whoever accuses a Muslim of disbelief is a disbeliever. After that, I left my friend, so that the discussion would not get heated. What is the ruling on what we said and did we commit a sin by having such a discussion?
Answer: The sound opinion is that whoever abandons Salah is a Kafir (disbeliever), even if they do not disavow it, and this is the preponderant opinion of most scholars, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) said in a Sahih (authentic) Hadith, That which differentiates us from them (non-Muslims) is our performance of Salah. He who abandons it, becomes a disbeliever.(Recorded by Imam Ahmad and Ahl-ul-Sunan (Abu Dawud, Al-Tirmidhy, Al-Nasa'y and Ibn Majah) on the authority of Buraydah ibn Al-Hasib (may Allah be pleased with him) with a Sahih Sanad (chain of narrators)). The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said, What makes one a disbeliever and a polytheist is abandoning Salah (Prayer). (Related by Imam Muslim in his Sahih). The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said, The peak of the matter is Islam, its pillar is Salah, (Related by Imams Ahmad and
(Part No. 10; Page No. 264)
Al-Tirmidhy (may Allah be pleased with them) with a Sahih Sanad (chain of narrators) on the authority of Mu`adh ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him)). There are also other Hadiths to this effect.
It is therefore obligatory upon anyone who abandons Salah to hasten to perform Tawbah (repentance) to Allah, regret, and determine not to return to this remissness.
Some scholars are of the opinion that anyone who abandons Salah has committed a major sin and minor disbelief. This opinion is based on what is mentioned in some Sahih Hadiths regarding the virtue of Tawhid (monotheism) and that anyone who dies while realizing it will enter Paradise. However, this cannot be used as evidence in this subject, as it means that if someone adheres to the obligations of Islam, including the obligation of Salah, they will enter Paradise and receive the reward that has been promised to the pious people. But those who refuse to observe them will receive the punishment with which Allah threatened the impious. If a person says, "La ilaha illa Allah (there is no god but Allah)" and believes in Tawhid, but denies the obligation of Salah, they are disbelievers, and the saying of "La ilaha illa-Allah" and believing in Tawhid will not benefit them, according to the opinion of all Muslim scholars. Therefore the ruling on whoever abandons Salah out of leniency and little concern but does not deny its obligation, is like the ruling on someone who denies it, according to the soundest of the opinions of scholars. Their Shahadah (Testimony of Faith) will be of no benefit, because they have also abandoned the implication of these words, which includes performing Salah. So if anyone believes in Tawhid, testifies that there is no god but Allah, but mocks anything of the Din (religion) of Allah, they will be Kafirs (disbelievers). Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says: Say: "Was it at Allâh (عز وجل), and His Ayât (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations) and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) that you were mocking?" Make no excuse; you disbelieved after you had believed.
(Part No. 10; Page No. 265)
The same ruling applies to whoever pronounces the Shahadah and believes in Tawhid, but denies the obligation of Zakah (obligatory charity), Sawm (Fast) in Ramadan, Hajj (pilgrimage) for those who are able, or denies the prohibitions of Zina (sexual intercourse outside marriage), theft, sodomy, and other similar acts. If someone denies these things or any one of them, they are considered disbelievers, according to the Ijma` (consensus) of the scholars, even if they offer Salah, observe Sawm, and pronounce Shahadah, because this makes their Iman (Faith) deficient, impairs their Din, and excludes them from Islam. Therefore, believers should be cautious of this important matter, and of abandoning or neglecting Salah, because if they do so they will be disbelievers, even if they do not deny its obligation, according to the soundest of the opinions of scholars as mentioned previously. This ruling is based on the Hadiths mentioned above and others. We ask Allah to set right the conditions of Muslims and guide the disbelievers and the disobedient to sincere repentance.
The Prophet said, "Whoever accuses a Muslim of disbelief is in fact a disbeliever." This is referring to someone who wrongly declares another person as a disbeliever. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "If someone says to his brother, 'O Enemy of Allah!' or says, 'O Kafir', and his brother is not like that, it (the accusation) will revert to him (the accuser)."However, saying to someone "you are a disbeliever due to abandoning Salah" is correct and the accusation will not revert to the speaker and will not become a disbeliever. By saying so, the speaker follows Allah's Orders and fulfilling one of His Rights. He is doing something that is obligated by Allah concerning deeming this type of person a disbeliever, and so he will be rewarded for this and will not be regarded as disbelievers. This is because a disbeliever is someone who has abandoned Salah and who is stubborn and arrogant. May Allah save us and all Muslims from that!