On the Legal Ruling Regarding Refraining from Prayer
Learn, my Muslim brother (May Allah cause you to stick to virtuous and righteous deeds, and protect you from sins and destructive deeds), that the conditions of prayer are: sanity, adulthood, and purity from menstruation and postnatal bleeding. Thus, whoever refrains from prayer altogether (May Allah forbid) after reaching the age of puberty, with a sound mind, his legal judgement depends on his situation, which consists of one of these two states:
The first state: He refrains from prayer, denying its obligation or rejecting its legality entirely. The scholars have agreed that such a person is a disbeliever and an apostate from the religion. Shaykh al-Qannubi says: ‘If he left the prayer renouncing it, he would be mushrik [a disbeliever or polytheist] by Consensus. This is because the obligation of prayer as an integral part of the religion is necessarily well known. And whoever denies what is necessarily known of the fundamentals of the religion, he would be mushrik (May Allah forbid).
The legal ruling: He must be asked to repent to Allah. If he does so, all that he left of prayers in the state of denial would be forgiven; otherwise, he is given the ruling of apostasy. This applies to anyone who denies what is of the fundamental basics of the religion.
The second state: He refrains from prayer carelessly, out of laziness, without denying or rejecting its obligation. The legal ruling: by doing so, he is sinful and has committed a minor kufr, not a major one. He must be asked to repent three times. If he does so, he should make up what he did not perform out of negligence. If he insists and does not repent, his case should be referred to the legal judge to estimate his due punishment.
I quote below from the book al-Mukhtasar al-Muﬁd fi al- Kaffarat, which means The Beneficial Summary of Expiations, a juristic issue regarding one who refrained from prayer deliberately, out of carelessness or laziness, then he wanted to repent to Allah. Besides making up the missed prayers, a disagreement between scholars took place as to whether he must expiate, just like one who refrained from fasting, or not.
The quotation reads: ‘Some scholars maintained that there is no obligatory atonement for abandoning prayer to start with. This opinion was held by the two Shaykhs, al-Khalili and al- Qannubi. The reason is that the default ruling states that a Muslim’s wealth is untouchable. Thus, nothing could be taken away [from its owner} without considerable legal cause. However, if he gave one expiation, for the sake of precaution, that would be good. This opinion (atonement not being compulsory in this case) is held by Shaykh Munazil, one of the Ibadi scholars from Khurasan.
The Reliable Jurisprudence of Prayer; by: Al-Muatasim Al-Mawali