Question: Salat is a very great act of worship. For this reason, isn't it gravely sinful to abandon it?
It certainly is gravely sinful. As a matter of fact, it is declared in hadith-i sharifs:
(Allahu ta'ala does not accept the other deeds of a person who does not perform salat deliberately [without a valid excuse]. He will be away from the protection of Allahu ta'ala until he repents of it.) [Isfahani]
(Whoever abandons the five daily salats will be deprived of the protection and security of Allahu ta'ala.) [Ibn Majah]
(Whoever does not perform salat is not a Muslim. Whoever does not make wudu' has no salat.) [Bazzar]
(Performing salat or not performing it is the distinction between faith [iman] and disbelief [kufr].) [Tirmidhi]
(Salat is the head of faith and savior from Hell.) [Miftah-ul-Janna]
Question: What are the bad consequences of abandoning the five daily salats?
It causes a lot of bad consequences. Hadrat Sayyid Abdulhakim Effendi stated:
Above all, one who does not offer the five daily salats is considered to be doing wrong to all Believers because a person performing them prays for Believers at each salat by saying "Assalamu 'alayna wa 'alaa 'ibaadil-laa-his saa-li-heen." If one does not perform salats, one will deprive Muslims of this prayer, which is repeated 21 times when sunnat salats, too, are taken into account. On the Day of Resurrection, all Believers will get their rights from those who abandon the five daily salats.
Whoever is lazy in performing salat, does not appreciate its value, and takes it lightly will face many punishments:
His life will not be good or beneficial. He will lead a life full of diseases, immorality, insults, and disgrace. Pious Muslims will not treat him with respect. Moreover, he will be afflicted by kinds of deprivations and trouble. He will not reap the benefits of his health. Those who work at bad jobs are mostly the ones who do not perform salats or who are lazy in performing them. Similarly, those who work at laborious, exhausting, and grueling jobs are mostly such people, too. He who offers salats properly is estimable and honorable in the sight of pious Muslims, his friends, and his relatives.
A person who performs salats regularly has a facial beauty other than the beauty he was born with. But he who does not perform salats cannot attain this beauty whatever he does to beautify and adorn himself and even if he takes a bath every day and puts on new clothes daily. Even if he puts on fragrant scents, he cannot hide his disgusting body odor from those who notice it.
He who performs salats has a lovely face. His body, clothes, and underwear do not smell even if he does not frequently have a bath and not change his underwear for days. However, a person who does not perform salats cannot obtain this clean state and grace even if he frequently takes a bath and changes his underwear too often. He is not given rewards even if he gave alms to the poor many times a day, made orphans happy by providing them with food and clothes, read the Qur'an for days, went on pilgrimage every year, and did such kinds of acts of worship and good deeds. As Allahu ta'ala assigned these times to the five daily salats, one has to spend them in salat. He who does not perform the five daily salats is considered to be committing the cruelty of distorting the particular order of these times that were arranged by Allahu ta'ala. For this reason, goodness and barakah (being able to achieve more with few resources, doing much in little time, and producing a lot with little effort) is removed from all of his activities, and his prayers are not answered, either.
When a person offering salat says, "O my Lord," Allahu ta'ala responds, "Ask for whatever you want, and I will carry it out." But He does not say it to a person who does not perform salats. Only a salat offered properly can bring about goodness, blessings, and mercy. All Muslims and creatures since Hadrat Adam have rights in salat. If salat is abandoned, Allah's mercy remains veiled. All creation holds a grudge against an individual who abandons salat because he causes the coming of Allah's mercy to stop. He will be devoid of the good effects of Muslims' prayers. When he dies, he cannot sufficiently benefit from the Fatiha Sura recited by a Muslim passing by his grave. Because Allahu ta'ala does not admit such types of people to salat, which is considered to be a special service at the grade of divinity, they have been expelled from this important service. He will be deprived of the advantages he would otherwise enjoy.
He who has abandoned salats will be confined to bed with a deteriorated appearance. He will soil his clothes, bedding, and the other things, thus making them terrible. It will be such that even his close relatives, children, wife, and parents will feel extreme disgust at the sight of his death. No one will respect him. Even if such a person is a great ruler, he will die in a disgusting way.
When a person not performing salats is at the time of death, there will be signs of horror and symptoms of anxiety and gloom in his eyes. Then there will be signs that he is fixing his eyes on the sky. His eye color will change. He will stare at upward or downward, so that it will not be possible to look at his eyes. His nostrils will become dry. He will be in a despicable and wretched state even if he is on a featherbed in a decorated room or even if he lives in a palace in luxury and splendor.
The faith of a person avoiding salat weakens. As such a person does not have respect for salat, angels, the dead, and the other creatures do not have respect for him, either. At the time of death, he will look very unkempt. However, the one who performs salats will, when he dies, look the same as he was before dying. Anyone who sees his dead body will think that he is sleeping.
No matter how much food a person leaving salats eats, his agony of hunger will not subside. It will intensify more and more instead, so that he cannot bear it. No matter how much good food he may be given, this pain, suffering, and agony cannot be alleviated. This suffering cannot be soothed away. He will always suffer from hunger. His hunger will increase by degrees. In the end, he will breathe his last, writhing in pain. Abandoning salats is a major sin, and the severity of the punishment is in accordance with the offence committed.
He who offers salats regularly has a cheerful, glowing, and luminous face at the time of death. Signs of joy and happiness are evident on his face and in his eyes. When he sees his own shortcomings and Allahu ta'ala's grace and favors, beads of sweat will pour down his forehead. Drops of water will appear at his nostrils. His nostrils and the lowest parts of his ears will sweat lightly. He will smell good. His skin color will change to a nice tone. Pleasant smells will spread around the place he is in, and he will die with his thirst and hunger satisfied as if he ate the most delicious and luscious meals.
Acts of worship are not a part of faith (iman). That is, he who does not do an act of worship though he believes that it is obligatory or who commits a prohibited act though he believes that it is prohibited does not become a disbeliever (kafir). However, this consensus does not apply to salat. According to the Hanbali Madhhab, one who leaves a salat without a legitimate excuse becomes a disbeliever, so he is put to death. He is not washed or shrouded. Salat al-Janaza is not offered for him, and he is not buried in Muslims' cemetery. A rope is tied around his foot. A large hole is dug and he is put in it like a filthy dog. Earth is put on it. No sign representing that it is a grave should be put on it. According to the madhhabs of Shafi'i and Maliki, he is killed as a punishment because he is committing a major sin. According to the Hanafi Madhhab, he is beaten and put in prison until he starts salat. Abandoning salat causes one to die without faith, while offering it leads to happiness both in the world and in the world to come.
Question: Suppose that a person does not perform five daily salats. Is it not possible for him to be a pious and devout Muslim by doing good deeds and donating things to charity instead of the five daily salats?
Just as it is not possible to make a profit without having capital, so it is not possible to be a devout and pious Muslim without offering the five daily salats. Such an individual is not given rewards (thawab) in return for his good deeds. Our Master the Prophet stated, "A person who does not offer salats is not given rewards for his acts of worship" (Abu Nu'aym).
Salat is the pillar of the religion. He who offers it has upheld his religion, and he who does not offer it has demolished his religion. One should offer salats at their recommended times and by observing their conditions and recommended acts and in congregation if possible. Hadrat Muhammad Ma'thum said, "If one fails to do one of these, it would be right if one mourned it." It is stated in a hadith-i sharif:
(When a Believer starts offering salat, the gates of Paradise are opened. The curtains between his Lord and him go up. This state lasts until the salat is over.) [Tabarani]
Question: A friend of mine said, "Salat, alone, cannot make one enter Paradise." Another friend of mine said, "One cannot enter Paradise without offering salat." Which one is true?
Both statements contain truth and untruth. Offering salats is not sufficient reason for entering Paradise. If a person offering salat does not follow the aqidah of Ahl as-Sunnah wa'l Jama'ah, he will certainly enter Hell. However, he will enter Paradise in the end if he dies a Muslim. But it is very difficult for a person with a corrupt aqidah (matters to be believed in) to die a Muslim. If his corrupt aqidah has caused him to fall into disbelief, he will remain in Hell eternally then.
Similarly, if he who does not perform salat dies a Muslim, he enters Paradise after suffering the punishment for his sins. However, it is a difficult thing for such a person to die a Muslim. Hadrat Imam-i Rabbani states, "On the Day of Resurrection, one will be questioned about salat first. If one's salats are found correct, the questioning about his other deeds will be easy with the help of Allahu ta'ala" (Vol.2, Letter 67) .
Question: Some people say, "I do not offer salats, but I give alms to the poor. I feel pity for animals. These are acts of worship, too. Salat, alone, is not sufficient. Duty is sacred. Duty first, and salat later." If a person who does not perform salat does good deeds, will they be acceptable?
Saying "Salat, alone, is not sufficient" means taking salat lightly. Salat is like faith. Just as no reward is given in return for any act of worship or good deed of a non-Muslim, so no reward is given in return for any act of worship of a person not performing salat.
(The acts of worship of a person are not accepted if he does not perform salat.) [Abu Nu'aym]
It is not right to stop one from offering salat by saying, "Duty is sacred. Duty first, and salat later." When one performs salat, one is not considered to have encroached on the rights of one's employer. That is, the employer does not have the right to stop his employees from offering salat.
What does duty mean? Duty is to do what is commanded by the commander and not to do what he prohibits. If two commanders orders do not agree, the superior commanders order will be done. In the military and official posts, the primary duty is to do the superior commanders order. Who is the most superior commander? Duty certainly is sacred because a hadith-i sharif says, "The best of humans is he who benefits them" (Kudai).
Allahu ta'ala, the most superior Commander, stated how one can be beneficial to people. The first duty is to do the commandment of the most superior commander. What does the most superior Commander say? He says, "The most important duty after faith is to perform salat." The acts of worship and good deeds of a person not performing salat are not accepted, and his earnings lack barakah.
Performing salat does not retard one's work. On the contrary, he makes every effort to be able to do his job with all his heart. Such a person fears the rights of people and harams. He does not neglect his duty. Saying "I do not have time to offer salat" or making up some other excuse is the tactic of one who is lax about salat. It is being unaware of the importance of salat. A hadith-i sharif says, "If one does not perform his salat willfully without a legitimate excuse, Allahu ta'ala renders his other deeds useless" (Imam-i Ghazali).
Allahu ta'ala does not give rewards in return for the good deeds of a person not performing salat. (Safar-i akhirah [The Journey to the Hereafter])
Question: I fail to offer salats within their appointed times due to the pressures of work. A friend of mine says that Islam is the religion of easiness so I can combine all five salats. He told me to perform all five salats at a time when I go home at night. How can I perform salats without interrupting my work?
You must do your work without missing any of the five salats. The most important act of worship for a Muslim is salat. Work may be interrupted, but salat should never be missed. There is no good in the work of a person who skips his salats.
It does not befit a pious Muslim to think that he will cope with his salats somehow in the course of his work. The purpose of a pious Muslim is salat. He tastes the most enjoyable moments during salat. Whoever has set salat as his purpose, his other affairs will be made easier.
To attain happiness both in the world and in the Hereafter and in order for our affairs to be beneficial, we must give precedence to salat and must not start working without performing salat. There is no good in an activity that stops one from offering salat.
One cannot combine salats due to the pressures of work. They can be combined if there is the danger that one will fail to perform a salat within its appointed time for any reason whatsoever. In this case, one can combine them to be able to perform them within the prescribed time. Secondly, the salats that were not performed in the daytime cannot be combined at night. In case of extreme necessity, one can combine Salat az-Zuhr with Salat al-Asr and Salat al-Maghrib with Salat al-Isha by following the Hanbali Madhhab. Salat is more important than all other considerations. If it is not possible to perform it standing, it can be performed sitting. If it cannot be performed sitting, it can be performed lying. If there is no water available or using water causes harm, tayammum is performed instead of wudu'. All these testify to the importance of salat. Our Master the Prophet said, "Salat is the pillar of the religion" (Tabarani, Bayhaqi).
Just as there is no building without pillars, so being a Muslim is impossible without salat.
Question: If I start performing salats after I get married, will the sins that I committed in the past because of abandoning salats be forgiven?
Salat, unlike hajj, is not performed once in one's lifetime, so you cannot plan to delay performing salats until after marriage or military service. Salat is like meals eaten every day. For example, is it proper to say that you will not eat a meal for several days or you will eat after getting married?
Question: If one leaves a salat and is not sorry for it when its prescribed time has expired, does it cause one to fall into disbelief?
Yes, one falls into disbelief, but what does "not being sorry for it" mean? If a person who does not offer a salat or who drinks alcohol or who does not wear hijab continues committing these sins by saying, "I had better perform salats" or "I had better not drink alcohol" or "I had better wear hijab," he or she is not a disbeliever. If he or she is committing these acts but at the same time fasts the month of Ramadan, he or she is not called a disbeliever, either. We, too, commit some sins and gossip. It is stated in a hadith-i sharif that gossiping is worse than fornication. We sometimes have a bad opinion of other Muslims. But we consider what we do to be a sin. Similarly, if a person not performing salats thinks like this, he or she is not called a disbeliever. But he or she is in danger if he or she says, "My heart is pure even though I do not perform salats, not wear hijab, and drink alcohol. I see those who do not drink alcohol and offer salats. Am I inferior to them?" But if he or she knows that what he or she does is not right and thinks, "If I wore hijab or performed salats, I would be better than they," he or she does not fall into disbelief.
Question: Which one is more sinful: drinking alcohol and gambling or leaving a salat?
Not performing a salat or not observing a fast of Ramadan, that is, not doing a fard act, is more sinful because the sin incurred due to omitting a fard act is greater than the sin incurred due to committing a haram act. The rewards (thawab) earned in return for abstaining from a haram act are many times more than the rewards earned in return for doing a fard act.
Question: Some people say, "When a person gets old, he cannot perform acts of worship easily as he could when he was young. He cannot maintain his wudu' nor perform salats properly because of aches and pains. He cannot fast the month of Ramadan. How can he make up the salats and fasts that he omitted when he was young? For this reason, one must not abandon salats and fasts in order to make them up later." If a person never got old and always remained young, would it be permissible for him to abandon salats and fasts and to make them up later on?
It would never be permissible. Performing salats has nothing to do with getting old. If he always remained young and made up all his salats and fasts without difficulty when he retired, he would still be considered to be committing sins as he delayed them. A hadith-i sharif says:
(If a person does not fast for a single day in Ramadan, he cannot earn the thawab of this single day, even if he fasts all the year round instead of it.) [Tirmidhi]
Salat, like Ramadan fast, is an act worship performed at specific times, so it must be done at prescribed times. To abandon a single salat is greatly sinful. The sin for it is not forgiven even if one makes it up later. One must make repentance for it as well.
He who makes up all his missed salats and fasts when he retires will only escape punishment, but he cannot earn the great rewards given in return for salats and fasts. Similarly, a person who does not sacrifice an animal on Eid al-Adha can only escape punishment if he gives its value to a poor person later on. But he cannot earn rewards for it.
It is a grave sin to omit a fard salat, and it is also a grave sin to postpone making up this omitted salat. This grave sin becomes twice itself in wickedness at each length of time wherein one could perform the omitted salat. It is fard to make repentance when one postpones making it up. (Se'âdet-i Ebediyye)
Question: It is said, "Whoever does not perform salat has no share from Islam." This statement means that a person not performing salat is a disbeliever. So does it not go against the aqidah (matters to be believed in) of Ahl as-Sunnah wa'l Jama'ah?
This statement is a hadith-i sharif, which is written in various hadith books. There are many hadith-i sharifs stating that leaving a salat is an act of disbelief. Some of them are as follows:
(Whoever abandons salat willfully is a disbeliever.) [Tabarani]
(Whoever does not perform salat has no religion.) [Ibn Nasr]
(Whoever does not perform salat is not a Muslim.) [Bazzar]
(The distinction between us and disbelief is salat. Whoever abandons it becomes a disbeliever.) [Nasai]
(Faith means salat. A Believer is he who performs it meticulously by observing its time and other requirements.) [Ibn Najjar]
The hadith-i sharif "He who does not perform salat has no share from Islam" and the other hadith-i sharifs are explained as follows in the book Endless Bliss:
The Ahl as-Sunnat savants unanimously said, "Acts of worship are not a part of faith." But there was not unanimity concerning salat. Such imams in fiqh as Imam-ı Ahmad bin Hanbal, Ishak bin Rahawayh, Abdullah bin Mubarak, Ibrahim Nahai, Hakam bin Utayba, Ayyub Sahtiyani, Dawud Tai, Abu Bakr bin Shayba, Zubayr bin Harb and many other great savants said that a person who intentionally omits a salat becomes a disbeliever. (The section dealing with the importance of salat)
It is written in Al-Fiqh ala al-Madhahib al-Arbaah:
Hanbalis, Abdullah bin Mubarak, Ishak bin Rahawayh, and some scholars of the Shafi'i Madhhab said: A person who leaves a salat deliberately without a valid excuse becomes a disbeliever. This ruling was narrated from Hadrat Ali, too. They cited as proof the fifth verse of Surah at-Tawba, which says, "If polytheists repent, perform salat, and give zakat, set them free." Our Master the Messenger of Allah explained this verse as follows:
(I am commanded to fight with polytheists until they say "La ilaha ill-Allah," perform salat, and give zakat.) [Bukhari]
The scholars of the other three madhhabs said, "If one does not regard salat or zakat as a duty, does not believe that it is obligatory, is not sorry for omitting it, and does not know that one is committing a sin by doing so, one becomes a disbeliever." That is, according to the madhhabs of Hanafi, Maliki, and Shafi'i, a person not performing salat does not become a disbeliever. He becomes one if he takes it lightly.
Question: The hadith-i sharif "If a person, without any excuse, performs a salat after its due time, he will be burned in Hell for as long as 80 huqba," which has been quoted from the book Targhib-us-salat, is written in Endless Bliss. Why is it a sin to perform a salat?
What is a sin is not to perform a salat, but to leave it deliberately to perform it after its appointed time. If he makes repentance and makes that salat up, he will escape the punishment because a hadith-i sharif written in Maktubat (a collection of Hadrat Imam-i Rabbani's letters) says, "If one does not perform a salat deliberately within its prescribed time and not make it up later, one will suffer torment in Hell for as long as 80 huqba [one huqba means 80 years of the next world]" (Letter 266).
This means that a person who makes repentance and makes up his missed salats, or he who benefits from intercession or Allahu ta'ala's forgiveness in the Hereafter though he did not make them up, will escape punishment.