Are the good deeds of a person who does not perform prayers not recorded?

The Details of the Question

- It is written in some hadiths that the good deeds of a person who does not perform prayers will not be recorded.
- Accordingly, will the thawab of the dhikr a person who does not perform prayers makes reach righteous people when he donates it?
“The first thing a person will be questioned about on the Day of Judgment is prayer (salah). If his prayers are proper, his other deeds will be accepted too. If his prayers are not proper, none of his deeds will be accepted.” (Tabarani)
“The deeds of worship of a person who does not perform prayers will not be accepted.” (Abu Nuaym)
“The deeds of worship of a person who abandons performing prayers deliberately will not be accepted and until he starts performing prayers...”

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

A hadith narration regarding the issue is as follows:

“The first thing a person will be questioned about on the Day of Judgment is prayer (salah). If his prayers are proper, his other deeds will be accepted too. If his prayers are not proper, he will be disappointed (none of his deeds will be accepted).” (see Nasai, Salah, 9, h.no: 322)

It is not clear whether the statement “If his prayers are proper, his other deeds will be accepted too. If his prayers are not proper, none of his deeds will be accepted” included in the hadith is part of the hadith or the statement of the narrator. (see Nasai, ibid)

The last sentence in Tabarani’s narration means “If his prayers are proper, his other deeds will go for nothing”. (see al-Awsat, h.no: 1859)

Hafiz Haythami states that the hadith in question, which Tabarani narrates in Awsat is not sound. (see Zawaid, 1/291-292) 

If there is a sound hadith meaning “No deeds of a person who does not perform prayers will be accepted” or “The deeds of worship of a person who does not perform prayers will not be accepted”, it is necessary to understand those hadiths as follows: “The other deeds of worship of a person who does not perform prayers will not be perfect.”

As a matter of fact, the phrase “none of you will be a believer” in the hadith None of you will be a perfect believer till he wishes for his (Muslim) brother what he likes for himself” (Bukhari, Iman, 7; Muslim, Iman, 71-72) means “none of you will be a perfect believer.” It does not mean “He is an unbeliever”.

It is necessary to understand those hadiths - if there is a sound narration -, as the other deeds of worship of a person who abandons performing prayers is not regarded perfect. For, prayer is the pillar of the religion; when such an important deed of worship is abandoned, it will definitely affect the thawabs of other deeds of worship.

The following information is included in the sound narrations regarding the issue:

“The first thing for which a person will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection will be his prayer (salah). If it is found to be complete, it will be recorded as complete. If his prayers are incomplete, his other deeds will be accepted. If his prayers are not proper, Allah will say: ‘Look and see if you can find any nafilah / sunnah prayers with which to complete what he neglected of his fard prayers.’(see Nasai, Salah, 9, h.no: 321)

Haythami states that the hadith above is sound. (Zawaid, 7/291)

In Ahmad b. Hanbal, Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah’s narration, the statement “Zakah and other deeds are like prayer” exists after the sentence “If his prayers are not proper, Allah will say: ‘Look and see if you can find any nafilah / sunnah prayers with which to complete what he neglected of his fard prayers.’” That is, the incomplete parts of fards are completed with sunnah/nafilah deeds of worship. (see Tuhfatul-Ahwazi, 2/384)

As it is seen in the last statement, no matter what deed it is, if a fard is incomplete, it is completed with nafilah deeds. Accordingly, “no deed will go for nothing due to other deeds that are not done.”

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