Ibn Hazm, “It has come from ‘Umar, ‘Abdurahman ibn ‘Auf, Mu’azh ibn Jabal, Abu
Hurairah and other companions that anyone who skips one obligatory prayer until
its time has finished becomes an apostate. We find no difference of opinion
among them on this point.” This was mentioned by alMunzhiri in at-Targheeb wa
at Tarheeb. Then he comments, “A group of companions and those who came after
them believed that an intentional decision to skip one prayer until its time is
completely finished makes one an unbeliever.
The people of this opinion include ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas, Mu’azh ibn Jabal, Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah and Abu ad-Darda’. Among the non-companions who shared this view were Ibn Hanbal, Ishaq ibn Rahwaih, ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak, anNakha’i, al-Hakim ibn ‘Utaibah, Abu Ayyub as-Sakhtiyani, Abu Dawud at-Tayalisi, Abu Bakr ibn Abu Shaibah, Zuhair ibn Harb, and others.
Some hadith make it clear that such a person should be killed. For example:
Ibn ‘Abbas reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “The ties of Islam and the principles of the religion are three, and whoever leaves one of them becomes an unbeliever, and his blood becomes lawful: testifying that there is no god except Allah, the obligatory prayers, and the fast of Ramadan.” (Related by Abu Ya’la with a Hassan chain.) Another narration states, “If anyone leaves one of them, by Allah he becomes an unbeliever and no voluntary deeds or recompense will be accepted from him, and his blood and wealth become lawful.” This is a clear indication that such a person is to be killed.
Ibn ‘Umar related that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said, “I have been ordered to kill the people until they testify that there is no god except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and they establish prayer and pay the Zakah. If they do that, their blood and wealth are protected from me save by the rights of Islam. Their reckoning will be with Allah.” (Related by alBukhari and Muslim.)
Umm Salamah related that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “There will be rulers over you who will do good and evil things. Whoever hates these (latter) acts will be innocent of them. Whoever denies them will be safe, but (not) one who accepts and follows them.” They asked, “Should we kill them?” He said, “Not if they pray.” (Related by Muslim.) Therefore, he made it unlawful to kill even an unjust ruler who observes his prayers.
Abu Sa’eed reported that ‘Ali, while he was in Yemen, sent the Prophet some gold, which he then divided among four people. A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, beware of Allah.” The Prophet said, “Woe to you. Of all the people of the earth, am I not the most dutiful in being aware of Allah?” Khalid ibn al-Walid said, “O Messenger of Allah, shall I kill him?” He said, “Perhaps he is one of those who pray.” Khalid said, “How many people say with their tongues what is not in their hearts?” The Prophet said, “I have not been ordered to look into the hearts of people, nor to rip open their bellies.” (Abridged from al-Bukhari and Muslim.) In this hadith also, prayer is given as the reason for not killing a person. It is understood, therefore, that not praying would have resulted in the person’s killing.
Even though the preceding hadith clearly rule that one who discards salah becomes an unbeliever and should be killed, many early and later scholars (excluding Abu Hanifah, Malik and ash-Shafi) believe that such people become evildoers who must repent.
If such a person does not repent, he is to be killed, that being the prescribed punishment, according to Malik, ash-Shai’i and others. Abu Hanifah maintains that such a person is not to be killed, but must be given a minor punishment and confined until he prays. They say the hadith that calls such people unbelievers refer to those who deny the prayers, and so on. They say that any other interpretation is contradicted by other texts. For example, Allah says, “Lo! Allah does not pardon one who gives Him partners. He pardons all save whom He wills” (an-Nisa’ 116). There is also a hadith related by Abu Hurairah and recorded by Ahmad and Muslim in which the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “Every prophet has a special supplication that is answered. Every prophet hastened to make his supplication, but I concealed mine and will use it for my nation on the Day of Resurrection.
It will be granted--Allah willing--to whoever dies without associating any partners with Allah.” Al-Bukhari also recorded that Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “The person who will be the happiest due to my intercession is the one who says, ‘There is no god but Allah’ sincerely from his heart.”
Says ash-Shaukani, “The truth of the matter is that he becomes an unbeliever who is to be killed for his unbelief. The hadith authenticates that Islamic law calls one who does not pray an unbeliever. It has also put the performance as the barrier between a believer and an unbeliever. Abandoning prayer means he may be called an unbeliever. We need not concern ourselves with arguments presented by those of the opposing opinion. We can say to them: It is not impossible that some types of unbelievers may obtain forgiveness or may have a right to intercession, such as the unbelief of those who pray to ( our) qiblah. Nevertheless, the fact remains that they commit some sins which the Islamic law views as unbelief. To turn to the other narrow interpretations is just redundant.”
Who Must Pray
Prayer is obligatory upon every sane, adult Muslim. ‘Aishah related that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said, “The pen is raised for three (meaning: there is no obligation upon three): one who is sleeping until he wakens, the child until he becomes an adult, and one who is insane until he becomes sane.”
As to the authenticity of this report, it is recorded by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmizhi, an-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, and al-Hakim, who grades it Sahih according to the criterion of al-Bukhari and Muslim. AtTirmizhi classifies it as Hassan.
Although it is not obligatory for a child to pray, it is a must that his guardian order him to do so when he is seven, and he should beat him if he does not pray after he reaches the age of ten. A minor should practice praying until he reaches puberty. ‘Amr ibn Shu’aib related from his father on the authority of his grandfather that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “Order your children to pray when they reach the age of seven. Beat them (if they don’t pray) when they reach the age of ten. And have them sleep separately.”
The hadith is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and al-Hakim. The latter grades it sahih according to Muslim’s criteria.
The Number of Obligatory Prayers
The number of prayers prescribed by Allah is five. Ibn Mahyraiz narrated that al-Makhdaji, from the tribe of Kananah, heard Abu Muhammad--a man in ash-Shams--saying, “The witr prayer is obligatory.” He said he went to ‘Ubadah ibn as-Samit and informed him of this. ‘Ubadah corrected him, saying, “Abu Muhammad is mistaken. I heard the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, say ‘Allah has laid five prayers upon His slaves. Whoever fulfills them and does not miss any of them will have a pact with Allah that He will let him enter Paradise. Whoever does not come with them will have no pact with Allah.
If He wishes, He may punish him, and if He wishes, He may forgive him.” (Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah.) In one version it states, “Or one who comes with a deficiency in them or who degrades their duties.” Talhah ibn ‘Ubaidullah narrated that a Bedouin with unkempt hair came to the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, and said, “O Messenger of Allah, inform me of what Allah has made obligatory on me as regards praying.”
He said, “Five prayers, unless you do others voluntarily.” He asked the Prophet to inform him about fasting, and he said, “The fast of Ramadan, unless you do others voluntarily.”
Then he asked him about charity...and the Messenger of Allah informed him of the Islamic legislations. The Bedouin then said, “By the One who has honored you, I shall not voluntarily add anything to it, nor shall I be deficient in what Allah has ordered me to do.” The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, then said, “He will enter Paradise if he is truthful (to what he said).” (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)
To be Continued