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Not performing salat and disbelief

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by FatwaCentre.org

Salam Mufti
I have been doing research on the topic of muslims who abandon salah do they qualify as muslims or not. Many prominent scholars like one salafi Shaykh Asim Al Hakeem say that muslims who refuse, seldom pray or do not pray at, all qualify as almost kafirs or even complete kafirs. For obvious reasons if such a muslim is declared a kafir since he does not pray salah, ulemas will also declare his nikah as invalid and children born in that relationship as illegitimate. Hence I have a few scenarios to discuss as below
1) If any person believes in islam and calls himself a muslim but has not prayed for few years will he qualify a muslim in those years when he did not pray salah at all?
2) If a muslim in a period of 1 year prayed occasionally like once in 2 months, though atleast seldom prayed in 1 year will he remain in islam or not?
3) If a muslim was having issues with certain rulings about islam like issue of tolerance towards non-muslims as a result was low in faith and did not wanted to pray until his questions are resolved, while this period lasted for 4 months in which he did not pray at all, will he qualify as a muslim in this brief period or not?
4) If a muslim couple though they believe in islam but pray very occasionally, what will be the status of their nikah and children, will they be legitimate or not?
I will await and request your reply.


If a person denies the obligation of salat or makes a mockery and belittles salat then that person will leave the fold of Islam. This is because the obligation of salat is explicitly stated in the Qur’an, hence, if someone denies it then they are denying a part of the Qur’an.

If however a person believes that salat is obligatory, but they do not perform salat due to laziness or negligence, then there is a difference of opinion amongst the scholars as to whether or not that person leaves the fold of Islam.

According to the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i school and one opinion of the Hanbali school, the person remains a believer though they will be sinful for their actions. Another opinion of the Hanbali school states that the person will leave the fold of Islam.

As we follow the Hanafi school of law the answer to all four questions above is that the person will remain a Muslim provided they believe in the essential components of Islam including the obligation of salat. Yes, they will be sinful for not praying during that time and must make up the missed prayers.

There are some hadiths that use the word ‘kufr’ regarding a person who abandons salat, for example:

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

“Between man and between polytheism and unbelief (kufr) is the abandoning of salat.”

He also said;

“Between disbelief and faith is abandoning the salat.”

These hadiths if taken literally seem to indicate that a person leaves the fold of Islam for abandoning salat. However, this does not necessarily have to be the case. The Qur’an and sunnah make use of the word iman and kufr for different meanings. Sometimes it could be to determine whether or not a person has left the fold of Islam whilst at other times the terms could be used to show the severity of an action.

ِSome scholars have clarified this by breaking kufr into two categories: The first kufr is denying essential aspects of faith such as belief in a Allah, His Messengers, the obligation of salat etc. This type of kufr is at total conflict with faith and will take one out of the fold of Islam.

The second type of kufr is regarding one’s actions. This type of kufr can be further broken down into two types. The first are those actions which are at total conflict with faith, such as bowing down to a cross. These actions will take a person out of the fold of Islam. The second type are those which are not at total conflict with faith and will not take a person out of the fold of Islam, however, they are a severe form of disobedience and therefore have been termed as actions of kufr.

There are numerous hadiths where the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) has used the word kufr for sinful acts or has stated that a person is not a believer for carrying out certain acts. These hadiths are from this last category of kufr and are stating that in reality the individual is a believer, however, as the matter is so severe the term used to describe the act is kufr.

For example, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said: The one who commits illegal sexual intercourse is not a believer at the time of committing illegal sexual intercourse and a thief is not a believer at the time of committing theft and one drinking alcohol is not a believer at the time of drinking. Yet, (the gate of) repentance is open thereafter.

This hadith are not stating that a person comes out of the fold of Islam if they commit unlawful sexual intercourse, or if they steal or drink alcohol. Ibn Hajar, the great hadith scholar, states that we are not aware of anyone who has rendered such a person as a disbeliever. Rather the hadith is stating that such a person cannot achieve the rank of a perfect believer as they are doing acts of a disbeliever.

In one hadith the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said: One who goes to a fortune teller and believes in what they say, they have disbelieved in what was revealed to Muhammad (may Allah bless him and give him peace).

These types of hadiths clearly use the word kufr (disbelief) but again are not stating that a person actually leaves the fold of Islam and does not believe in what was revealed to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace).

Going back to the matter stated in the question, those hadiths that seem to indicate that a person leaves the fold of Islam due to missing salat can be interpreted in this light and therefore are not stating that a person leaves the fold of Islam, rather that person cannot achieve the level of a perfect believer and that their actions resemble those who disbelieve.

If you would like to learn more about the detail of belief and disbelief we would advise taking our course on classical Islamic creed.

Classical Islamic Creed

الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (1/ 352)
ويكفر جاحدها) لثبوتها بدليل قطعي (وتاركها عمدا مجانة) أي تكاسلا فاسق (يحبس حتى يصلي) لأنه يحبس لحق العبد فحق الحق أحق، وقيل يضرب حتى يسيل منه الدم وعند الشافعي يقتل بصلاة واحدة حدا، وقيل كفرا

قوله: وعند الشافعي يقتل) وكذا عند مالك وأحمد، وفي رواية عن أحمد، وهي المختارة عند جمهور أصحابه أنه يقتل كفرا، وبسط ذلك في الحلية

الإنصاف في معرفة الراجح من الخلاف للمرداوي (1/ 404)
وَهَلْ يُقْتَلُ حَدًّا، أَوْ لِكُفْرِهِ؟) عَلَى رِوَايَتَيْنِ. وَأَطْلَقَهُمَا فِي الْهِدَايَةِ، وَالْمُسْتَوْعِبِ، وَالْكَافِي، وَالْهَادِي، وَالتَّلْخِيصِ، وَالْبُلْغَةِ، وَابْنُ عُبَيْدَانَ، وَالزَّرْكَشِيُّ، وَالشَّارِحُ. إحْدَاهُمَا: يُقْتَلُ لِكُفْرِهِ، وَهُوَ الْمَذْهَبُ. وَعَلَيْهِ جُمْهُورُ الْأَصْحَابِ. قَالَ صَاحِبُ الْفُرُوعِ، وَالزَّرْكَشِيُّ: اخْتَارَهُ الْأَكْثَرُ. قَالَ فِي الْفَائِقِ: وَنَصَرَهُ الْأَكْثَرُونَ. قَالَ فِي الْإِفْصَاحِ: اخْتَارَهُ جُمْهُورُ أَصْحَابِ الْإِمَامِ أَحْمَدَ. وَذَكَرَهُ الْقَاضِي فِي شَرْحِ الْخِرَقِيِّ، وَابْنُ مُنَجَّا فِي شَرْحِهِ وَغَيْرُهُمَا، وَهُوَ ظَاهِرُ الْمَذْهَبِ. وَذُكِرَ فِي الْوَسِيلَةِ: أَنَّهُ أَصَحُّ الرِّوَايَتَيْنِ. وَأَنَّهَا اخْتِيَارُ الْأَثْرَمِ وَالْبَرْمَكِيِّ. قُلْت: وَاخْتَارَهَا أَبُو بَكْرٍ، وَأَبُو إِسْحَاقَ بْنُ شَاقِلَا، وَابْنُ حَامِدٍ، وَالْقَاضِي، وَأَصْحَابُهُ، وَغَيْرُهُمْ. وَقَدَّمَهُ فِي الْفُرُوعِ، وَالْمُبْهِجِ، وَالرِّعَايَتَيْنِ، وَالْحَاوِيَيْنِ، وَإِدْرَاكِ الْغَايَةِ، وَهُوَ مِنْ الْمُفْرَدَاتِ. وَالرِّوَايَةُ الثَّانِيَةُ: يُقْتَلُ حَدًّا، اخْتَارَهُ أَبُو عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنُ بَطَّةَ. وَأَنْكَرَ قَوْلَ مَنْ قَالَ: إنَّهُ يَكْفُرُ، وَقَالَ: الْمَذْهَبُ عَلَى هَذَا. لَمْ أَجِدْ فِي الْمَذْهَبِ خِلَافَهُ، وَاخْتَارَهُ الْمُصَنِّفُ. وَقَالَ: هُوَ أَصْوَبُ الْقَوْلَيْنِ، وَمَالَ إلَيْهِ الشَّارِحُ، وَاخْتَارَهُ ابْنُ عَبْدُوسٍ فِي تَذْكِرَتِهِ

صحيح مسلم (1/ 88)
قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ جَابِرًا، يَقُولُ: سَمِعْتُ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ: «إِنَّ بَيْنَ الرَّجُلِ وَبَيْنَ الشِّرْكِ وَالْكُفْرِ تَرْكَ الصَّلَاةِ»

سنن الترمذي ت بشار (4/ 309)
عَنْ جَابِرٍ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: بَيْنَ الكُفْرِ وَالإِيمَانِ تَرْكُ الصَّلاَةِ

صحيح البخاري (8/ 164)
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ: قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «لاَ يَزْنِي الزَّانِي حِينَ يَزْنِي وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ، وَلاَ يَسْرِقُ حِينَ يَسْرِقُ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ، وَلاَ يَشْرَبُ حِينَ يَشْرَبُهَا وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ، وَالتَّوْبَةُ مَعْرُوضَةٌ بَعْدُ

فتح الباري لابن حجر (12/ 115)
لَا يَزْنِي الزَّانِي وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ لَا نَعْلَمُ أَحَدًا كَفَّرَ أَحَدًا بِالزِّنَا وَالسَّرِقَةِ وَالشُّرْبِ يَعْنِي مِمَّنْ يُعْتَدُّ بِخِلَافِهِ قَالَ وَقَدْ رُوِيَ عَنْ أَبِي جَعْفَرٍ يَعْنِي الْبَاقِرَ أَنَّهُ قَالَ فِي هَذَا خَرَجَ مِنَ الْإِيمَانِ إِلَى الْإِسْلَامِ يَعْنِي أَنَّهُ جَعَلَ الْإِيمَانَ أَخَصَّ مِنَ الْإِسْلَامِ فَإِذَا خَرَجَ مِنَ الْإِيمَانِ بَقِيَ فِي الْإِسْلَامِ وَهَذَا يُوَافِقُ قَوْلَ الْجُمْهُورِ إِنَّ الْمُرَادَ بِالْإِيمَانِ هُنَا كَمَالُهُ لَا أَصْلُهُ وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ

مسند أحمد ط الرسالة (15/ 331)
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، وَالْحَسَنِ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: ” مَنْ أَتَى كَاهِنًا، أَوْ عَرَّافًا، فَصَدَّقَهُ بِمَا يَقُولُ، فَقَدْ كَفَرَ بِمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ

Fath al-Mulhim 2:57

Answered by:
Ifta Research Fellow

Checked & Approved by:
Mufti Abdul Rahman Mangera
Mufti Zubair Patel

This answer was collected from FatwaCentre.org, which is overseen by Dr. Mufti Abdur-Rahman Mangera.

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