Checked & Revised
Abu Khuzaimah Ansaari
It is correct that the one who intentionally abandons the prayer is a disbeliever and that his fast, as well as other acts of worship, are not correct (i.e., accepted) until he repents to Allah (Exalted is He), due to the saying of Allah, Mighty and Majestic:
وَلَوْ أَشْرَكُوا لَحَبِطَ عَنْهُمْ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
“But if they associated partners [with Allah], all that they used to do would have been of no benefit to them.” (Surah Al-An’am, 6:88)
Additionally, the meaning of this Ayah is supported by numerous other Ayat and Ahadith which indicate that the actions (i.e., worship) of the one that abandons the prayer are fruitless. Some of Ahlul-‘Ilm (the People of Knowledge) took the view that the one who acknowledges the obligation of the prayer, but leaves it off due to laziness and carelessness, then his fast and other acts of worship are not in vain (i.e., they consider him to be a Muslim). However, the first position is correct – the one who intentionally abandons the prayer is a disbeliever, even if he acknowledges its obligation, due to the numerous evidences for this position. From these evidences, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
“Verily between a man and between shirk (polytheism) and kufr (disbelief) is the abandonment of the prayer.” (Sahih Muslim no.82)
and he ﷺ also said:
“The covenant between us and between them (the disbelievers) is the prayer, so whoever abandons it has disbelieved.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi no.1621, Sunan ibn Majah no.1079, Sunan An-Nasa’i no.464, Musnad Imam Ahmad 5:346)
This hadith has been narrated by Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i, At-Tirmidhi and ibn Majah through the path of Buraydah bin Al-Husayb Aslami (may Allah be pleased with him) with a sahih sanad (authentic chain of narration).
Taken from ‘Ahkam wa Masa’il Ramadan’ (p.51,52)
TN: Imam Al-Sabuni mentions, “And the Ahlul-Hadith differed over the Muslim that intentionally abandons the obligatory prayer, so Ahmad bin Hanbal and a group from the scholars of the Salaf (may Allah have mercy upon them) made takfir of him on account of that, and removed him from Islam, due to the authentic narration: ‘Between the slave and between Ash-Shirk is the abandonment of the prayer.’ And the way Ash-Shafi’i, his companions, and another group from the scholars of the Salaf took is that he has not disbelieved (major disbelief), as long as he continues to believe in its obligation.” (Aqidatus Salaf wa Ashabul Hadith p.279, Dar Al-‘Asimah edn.)
Shaykh ibn Al-‘Uthaymin said, “Verily he does not disbelieve except by abandoning the prayer permanently, meaning he has settled himself upon the abandonment of the prayer, so he does not pray Dhuhr, nor ‘Asr, nor Maghrib, nor ‘Isha, nor Fajr, then this is the one who has disbelieved. So if he prays one or two of the obligatory prayers, then he has not disbelieved, because this is not the one who has abandoned the prayer, and surely the Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Between a man and between Ash-Shirk and Al-Kufr is the abandonment of the prayer’ and he did not say: ‘abandonment of a prayer.'” (Sharh Al-Mumti’ 2:27, Dar ibn Al-Jawzi edn.)
Regardless, those that abandon a single prayer should be aware that they have fallen into a grave matter, Imam Adh-Dhahabi narrates that Ibn Hazm said, “There is no sin, after Shirk, more severe than abandoning the Prayer until its time ends and killing a Muslim unjustly.” (Kitab Al-Kaba’ir p.91, Dar Al-Mirath An-Nabawi edn.)
And Allah surely knows best.