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How is Abandoning the Prayer Shirk?

Shaykh Muhammad ‘Akkoor


Question: May Allaah bless you and treat you well, our Shaykh. As it relates to Shirk, what is the meaning of the Hadeeth:

“Between a man and Shirk and Kufr is the abandonment of the prayer.”

And what type of Shirk is this? May Allaah, bless you.

Answer: As for the statement of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam):

“Between a man and Shirk and Kufr is the abandonment of the prayer.”

The Shirk in this situation is that the action is intended for other than Allaah, the Exalted. So he who abandons the prayer in totality or he abandons that which is obligatory from it; such as sincerely seeking the face of Allaah, the Majestic and High, and performing it in the manner that Allaah and His Messenger have desired, such as him allowing to enter into his worship an intention other than intending (the face of) Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, then he has become, from this perspective, a Mushrik.

As for his having disbelieved, then it is by abandoning the second foundation from the foundations of Al-Islaam, which the companions, may Allaah be pleased with them did not deem the abandonment of any action to be disbelief other than the prayer. So he who abandons the prayer then he has destroyed the religion. This is because the prayer is action based evidence; if the person is consistent in his prayer this this is a proof that that which is within his heart is firm. If there is deficiency in his prayer, or if the worshipper has laxity regarding it, or laziness from performing it, or he is showing off with it, then in this state his Eemaan is not firm, as it is firm within the one who performs the prayer in the required manner.

So the statement that the abandonment of the prayer is Shirk or Kufr is from this perspective. If he intends by his prayer other than that which Allaah or that which the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) intended, such as him (desiring) that someone from the people should see him, or he is seeking some need from the Dunyaa by way of it; such as recognition, praise, or commendation, or to get the people not to harm or punish him, then he has associated partners in his action. For he has entered into his act of worship that which is not from it. As for Kufr, then it would be because he has abandoned that which Allaah has commanded him with and does not deem it to be obligatory so he has little desire for it, then at that time he becomes a Kaafir or a Mushrik. This is the meaning of the Hadeeth and Allaah knows best.

Translated by: Raha ibn Donald Batts


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