Imaam Ahmad said that the one who does not pray because of laziness is a kaafir. This is the more correct view and is that indicated by the evidence of the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger, and by the words of the Salaf and the proper understanding. (Al-Sharh al-Mumti’ ‘ala Zaad al-Mustanqi’, 2/26).
Among the evidence to be found in the Qur’aan is:
“Then, there has succeeded them a posterity who have given up As-Salaat (the prayers) [i.e. made their Salaat (prayers) to be lost, either by not offering them or by not offering them perfectly or by not offering them in their proper fixed times] and have followed lusts. So they will be thrown in Hell. Except those who repent and believe (in the Oneness of Allaah and His Messenger Muhammad), and work righteousness. Such will enter Paradise and they will not be wronged in aught.” [Maryam 19:59-60]
The evidence of the Sunnah that proves that the one who neglects the prayer is a kaafir includes the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “Between a man and shirk and kufr there stands his neglect of the prayer.” (Narrated by Muslim in Kitaab al-Eemaan from Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)).
It was narrated that Buraydah ibn al-Husayb (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: ‘The covenant that distinguishes between us and them is the prayer, and whoever neglects it has disbelieved (become a kaafir).’” (It was narrated by Ahmad, Abu Dawood, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nisaa’i and Ibn Maajah).
‘Abd-Allaah ibn Shaqeeq said: the companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not think that neglecting any deed made a person a kaafir, apart from neglecting the prayer. This was reported by al-Tirmidhi and al-Haakim, who classed it as saheeh according to the conditions of (al-Bukhaari and Muslim).
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