How Do We Deal With a Relative Who Does Not Pray?

October 28, 2007

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How do we deal with a relative who does not pray?
Q: My husband has a brother who doesn’t pray, except very rarely. I live with my husband’s family, and they sit by him, even while the Imam is praying, so what must I do, for I am not among his close relatives, so is there a sin upon me if I can’t correct him?

A: If he doesn’t pray, he needs to be abandoned. Don’t say hello to him, and don’t respond to his greetings, until he repents, because leaving prayer is the greatest blasphemy. Even if he has not denied its obligation, according to the most scholarly opinion, the Prophet (PBUH) said, “The difference between us and them is prayer, and whoever leaves it is a disbeliever.” This was taken from Imam Ahmed and the authors of the Sunans, and has a solid chain of transmission. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “[The difference] between men and unbelievers and polytheists is the leaving of prayer.” This was taken from Imam Muslim in his book of Hadiths. And if he renounced the necessity [of prayer], then he is a disbeliever according to the consensus of the learned scholars. It is incumbent upon his family to admonish him and abandon him if he does not return to the fold, [lit repent, do penitence], and it is necessary to bring the issue to a religious authority in order that he may call him to repent. If he does not repent he will be killed, for God Almighty said “If they repent and stand in prayer, and give charity, leave him be.” And the Prophet (PBUH) said “Killing those who pray is forbidden.” So this indicates that if he does not pray, do not leave him be, and there is no prohibition on killing him, if you bring the issue to a religious authority and he still doesn’t repent.
God is the Arbitrating Authority.
Sheikh Ibn Baz

Taken from Fataawa al-Maraa “Fatwas on Women” by Sheikh Ibn Baz, Sheikh Authimein, and Sheikh Jabreen. Riyadh, Dar al-Watan lil-Nashr, 1993/1414. Translated by Josh Berer

Vocabulary and Translation Notes

إثم- Sin

استحق- Need to, become necessary to

تاب / يتوب- Repent, offer penitence

استتاب- To make one repent

Translation Notes

حتى ولو كان- Even during…This was a very confusing phrase to deal with.

العهد- In this context it means “difference” as opposed to contract, agreement, or era.

إن لم يجحد وجوبها- “If he did not deny its obligation”

إجماع Consensus, one of the four major sources of jurisprudence.

لم يتب- “He did not repent” The verb is hollow, so in the Jussive (majzoom) case, the weak root is dropped.

خلو السبيل- Let him free, leave him be.

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