How does one behave toward a relative who does not pray?

Question: I have a brother-in-law who rarely prays. I live with my husband’s family and [the female members of] his family sit with him even if the Imaam is praying. What should I do? I am not one of his relatives (mahram). Is there any sin upon me since I do not have the ability to advise him?

Answer: If he does not pray, then he is deserving to be boycotted. You should not greet him nor should you respond to his greeting, until he repents. This is because not praying is a great form of kufr [that takes one out of the fold of Islaam]. This is true even if the person does not deny that it is obligatory. This is according to the most correct opinion among the scholars. The Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) said:

«The covenant that is between us and them [the disbelievers] is the prayer. Whoever abandons it has committed blasphemy». This was recorded by Ahmad and the compilers of the Sunan with a sound chain.

The Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) also said:

«Between a man and disbelief and polytheism is the abandoning of the prayer». This was recorded by Imaam Muslim in his Saheeh.

However, if a person denies the obligation of the prayers then he is a disbeliever according to the consensus of the scholars. Therefore, it is obligatory upon his family to advise him and to boycott him if he does not repent. It is also obligatory to take his matter to the ruler for him to be asked to repent. If he repents, [that is accepted from him]. If he does not repent, he is to be killed. This is because Allaah has said in the Qur.aan:

{But if they repent and offer prayer perfectly and give zakaah, then leave their way free}, [Soorah at-Towbah, Aayah 5].

Also, the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) said:

«I have been prohibited from killing those who pray».

These evidences show that one who does not pray is not to have his “way left free” and there is no prohibition against killing him if he is taken to the authorities and he does not repent.

And Allaah is the One who provides guidance.

[Shaykh Ibn Baaz, Fataawa al-Mar.ah]

Published: 18 October 1999