The relied-upon opinion among the Hanbali school regarding the disbelief (kufr) resulting from abandoning prayer has two scenarios:
First Scenario: If a person abandons prayer while denying its obligation. If the person is knowledgeable, their act is considered an act of disbelief. Similarly, if they are ignorant but aware of its obligation, it is deemed an act of disbelief. If they are ignorant and unaware of its obligatory nature, they are not considered disbelievers, especially if the textual evidence is not clear to them.
Second Scenario: If a person abandons prayer out of negligence and laziness. In this case, disbelief is not attributed to them unless certain conditions are met:
- The first condition is that the Imam or his deputy calls them to perform the prayer.
- The second condition is that the individual obstinately refuses to pray, meaning they intentionally refrain from performing it until the time for the next prayer becomes tight [i.e. about to run out] and they still refuse to pray. For example, if they are called to perform the Dhuhr prayer, they refrain from it until the time for the Asr prayer becomes tight yet they still refuse to pray.
- The third condition is that they are given a chance for three days to repent.
- The fourth condition is that they are pressured and are repeatedly called to pray. It means that the individual should be consistently reminded or prompted to pray and they should feel the constriction or discomfort caused by this persistent reminder.
Other points to keep in mind:
- Disbelief due to abandoning prayer is not universally applicable to all four schools of Islamic jurisprudence.
- The specific conditions outlined by the Hanbali school need to be considered to determine whether the act constitutes disbelief. If any of these conditions are not met, the person is judged to remain within the fold of Islam.
- Even according to the stance of Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, a person is not considered disbelieving unless they completely cease praying, not praying even once or twice. Therefore, this would not apply to someone who prays only on Fridays, only at work, or only during Ramadan. The abandonment of prayer must be comprehensive to apply.
- As for the other three schools, Hanafi, Maliki, and Shafi’i, those who neglect prayer out of laziness are not deemed disbelievers.