Will he who abandons the prayer remain in the Hell-Fire eternally, if he abandons it whilst believing it to be obligatory and only abandons it due to negligence?
Yes, based upon the view that he is a disbeliever.
(The Prophet ﷺ said): “The Pact that is between us and them is the prayer. So, whoever abandons it has certainly disbelieved“
Narrated by Buraida ibn Husaib (may Allah be pleased with him) in At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasaaii and Ibn Majah
“Between a man and between shirk and kufar is abandoning the prayer“
Narrated by Jaabir (may Allah be pleased with him) in Muslim
Thus, there is no doubt that he will remain in the fire eternally.
This is what we believe regarding he who abandons the prayer and does not prostrate to Allah a single prostration or offer to him a single bow, he who abandons the prayer completely, whereby it is not known whether he offers a single prayer. These proofs clearly indicate that he is a disbeliever, so there must be no uproar regarding this.
We say based upon the compelling proofs, whoever dies as a disbeliever will remain in the Hell-Fire for eternity. These proofs indicate this clearly and also indicate that there is no intercession for the abandoner of the prayer, so there is no difficulty in (reaching this) viewpoint due to the aforementioned evidences.
However, based upon the opinion that he is not a disbeliever, then he will not remain in the Hell-Fire forever, because he is from the sinful and rebellious muslims, this is as long as he does not reject its authenticity and obligation. In this case he is a sinful and rebellious muslim that has exposed himself to the punishment of Allah.
The scholars of past and present have differed in this issue. However the correct viewpoint is that whoever abandons the prayer (completely) has disbelieved in Allah due to the consensus of the companions of The Prophet ﷺ:
“They did not view the leaving of anything as an act of disbelief except the prayer“
Narrated by Abdullah Ibn Shaqeeq in At-Tirmidhi.
In addition to the two aforementioned ahadeeth.
There are also other proofs that suggest that the abandoner of the prayer is a disbeliever. General proofs such as the hadeeth of Hudayfah (may Allah be pleased with him) that we recently came across in (our lesson of ) Sahih al-Bukhari:
(Hudayfah – may Allah be pleased with him – said to a man who had not completed his bowing during the prayer)
“..if you die (upon this prayer) you have died upon other than Islam.”
The scholars understood from this, if the one who prays however has not perfected his prayer, will die upon other than Islam. So how about he who has abandoned the prayer completely? When he dies he will die upon other than the religion of Islam with more right, thus he is a disbeliever.
What kind of Islam does he, who has abandoned the prayer have? He has nothing from Islam.
This is the only pillar that a muslim if he abandons, disbelieves by way of that. As for the remaining pillars, such as Hajj and other than it, a person does not become a disbeliever by abandoning it, except if he rejects its authenticity and obligation.
We therefore do not have a pillar from the acts of worship, that a person becomes a disbeliever by abandoning it except the prayer. As for the remaining pillars, a person is sinful by abandoning it.
The person who does not perform hajj whilst he is capable, is a sinner and not a disbeliever. The person who does not fast (the month of) ramadan whilst he is capable and has reached the age of accountability, is a sinner and not a disbeliever.
As for he who has abandoned the prayer, he is a disbeliever based upon the clear and authentic proofs that have come declaring him to be a disbeliever.
Why have (these proofs) not come for fasting or for hajj? They have not come clear as they have come regarding the prayer. This has not occurred except to show its importance and as an indication of this matter (i.e. that whoever abandons the prayer is a disbeliever).
Answered by: Shaykh Abu Bilaal Al hadhramy – may Allah preserve him
Translated by: Abu Sufyaan Saami Al-Ghaani