The Ruling Of The One Who Abandons Salaah, By Sh. Saalih Al-Fawzaan
The scholars are of two opinions concerning the one who does not pray. He who abandons salaah rejecting its obligation is regarded as an apostate by consensus.
As for abandoning salaah out of negligence/laziness (even if he acknowledges its obligation), there is a difference of opinion among the scholars. Those who say that even one who abandons it out of negligence (even if he acknowledges its obligation) is an apostate include scholars like Imaam Ahmad, ‘Abdullaah Ibn Al-Mubaarak, Imaam Al-Awzaa’ee, Ibraheem An-Nakha’ee and a group of other scholars. Ibn Al-Qayyim mentioned that there was an Ijmaa’a (consensus) among the sahaabah in relation to this opinion.
Regarding this Shaykh Saalih Al-Fawzaan mentions:
“The scholars view his crime of abandoning salaah, as we have mentioned previously, as greater than the crime of zina (fornication or adultery), drinking intoxicants, stealing and taking a life without justice.
[Killing The One Who Does Not Pray]
Subsequently, they hold the opinion that if he abandons the salaah out of negligence (even if he acknowledges its obligation), then it is an obligation that he be killed as a punishment for his crime. Even those scholars who say that he is not guilty of major disbelief (kufr al-akbar), which removes him from the religion of Islaam, say that repentance should be sought from him and if he repents then he is forgiven and should be left alone, however if he refuses then he should be killed.
[Reason For Killing Him]
Those scholars who hold the opinion that he leaves the religion of Islaam due to major disbelief also believe that if he is killed, then he is killed as an apostate.
However, those who hold the opinion that he does not leave the religion of Islaam believe that he is only killed as a capital punishment; nonetheless he is still a Muslim.
In any situation, the people of knowledge all agree that he should be killed if he rebels and refuses to pray.
[Don’t Be Lax Due To The Difference Of Opinion Regarding His Kufr (Whether Its Major Or Minor)]
So what is to be understood regarding the statement of some scholars that the one who abandons the salaah out of negligence has not disbelieved, is not that he should be left alone without any punishment or penalty. Instead he should be held accountable and strongly encouraged to establish the salaah; and if he rebels and refuses, then the scholars agree that he should be killed either as an apostate or as someone who capital punishment was justified against.
A few of the scholars who hold the opinion that he has not disbelieved, namely the Hanbalees,also hold the opinion that he should not be killed, instead he should be imprisoned until either death overtakes him or he repents and resumes establishing the salaah.
Thus we have learned that he is a criminal to all of the scholars and it is not permissible for him to be left alone, unaccountable for his crime of abandoning the salaah and to continue on in the earth of Allaah amongst the slaves of Allaah while he is rebellious against the command of Allaah, The Glorified and Exalted.
All of this points to the importance of the salaah in the religion of Islaam and its tremendous position with the scholars.”
[“The Virtues Of Salaat” by Shaykh Saalih Al-Fawzaan, Pp.57-58]