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Are People Killed For Their Non-Observance Of The Prayer?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org
Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat


Assalamu ‘alaykum.

In a Maliki fiqh book, I’ve read that a person who doesn’t pray will be executed. What is the Hanafi stance on this? Will a person who refuses to pray be executed? If this ruling was applied, won’t it mean that a ruler will have to execute a huge portion of the Muslim world? How is this beneficial?


Wa ‘alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well.

Yes, that is the position of the Maliki school. The Hanafi school’s ruling is that such people are to be imprisoned until they do pray. (al Mawsu’a al Kuwaitiyya) However, these rulings need to be understood in their proper context.

Context of the Narations

At the start of Islam, in the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), it was important to ensure that people’s practice of the din was strong. A deviation then would have compounded as time went on, and it would have been a much bigger issue centuries later.

For this reason, there are strong wordings in many narrations, such as, “Whoever leaves [the prayer] has rejected.“ (Tirmidhi) Scholars have explained that such wordings are intentionally intensified (taghliz), and this does not mean they are literal. Not praying does not take one out of Islam – unless one rejects the obligation of the Prayer.

Context of the Rulings

These rulings were derived in the context of people living in a Muslim state willingly. This means they agree to follow all the laws, just as is the case with any state.

The laws regarding the prayer were there to ensure a certain level of public practice was maintained. This is for everyone’s benefit. In this life, and in the next. The context of the prayer’s significance in the Akhira is important too.

Also, if religious and moral standards slip on a public level, many people who are vulnerable are likely to be influenced by matters that are detrimental to them. This is why media has age ratings, for example. Without a fiter, standards fall significantly everywhere.

The Prayer was deemed the boundary for outward practice that needs to be upheld, as people are free to practice how they want behind closed doors. Also, with the significance of the prayer, anyone who neglects it is likely to neglect other aspects of the din. Note also, that the Prayer has a purifying and uplifting element that affects everyone.

Contemporary Applications

The above was, in the time the schools of law were codified, most likely a theoretical discussion. However, with the slipping of religious and moral standards in many places, and the sheer number of people not praying today, the ruling would not be enforced if there was a proper Muslims state.

As you pointed out, many would be affected, so it would not be viable. The focus would be on promoting religious knowledge and guidance. This is the needs people have as these matters affect them forever in the Akhira.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani


This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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