Might a Muslim who does not perform prayers die as an unbeliever?

The Details of the Question

There are a lot of Muslims who do not perform prayers. They say those people might die as unbelievers because they do not perform prayers. I want to ask this: If a Muslim believes that performing prayers is fard but does not perform prayers, will or might he die as an unbeliever at the last breath?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

​It is something related to ghayb (the unknown/unseen) whether a person will die as a believer or not at the last breath. It is not possible to acquire information about the issues related to ghayb through the mind and senses; we can know only what was informed by revelation (wahy).

As a matter of fact, Allah Almighty states the following in the Quran:

“…Nor does any one know what it is that he will earn on the morrow: Nor does any one know in what land he is to die. Verily with Allah is full knowledge and He is acquainted (with all things).” (Luqman, 31:34)

It is possible for anyone to die as a believer or an unbeliever at the last breath. It is not possible to make a decree about it.  

Belief and deeds cannot be thought of separately. It is often mentioned in the Quran that the main feature of the believers is “performing prayers”. (see al-Baqara, 2/3, 43, 45, 177, 277; al-Maida, 5/55; etc.)

“To establish regular prayers and to fear Allah: for it is to Him that we shall be gathered together.” (al-Anam, 6/72) As it can be seen in the verse above, prayer was rendered fard clearly.

It is stated that prayer, which is the most important deed of worship after belief, cannot be abandoned even in a very extraordinary state like war (an-Nisa, 4/102). The following is stated in another verse: “Nay, seek (Allah´s) help with patient perseverance and prayer: It is indeed hard, except to those who bring a lowly spirit.” (al-Baqara, 2/45) Thus, the relationship between belief and prayer is shown in another aspect.  

Therefore, a life without prayer weakens belief gradually and might lead a person to unbelief.

A person who believes that prayer is fard but who does not perform prayers becomes a sinner. It is certain that he will deserve punishment unless he repents for acting contrarily to Allah’s command and gives it up.

On the other hand, it is more probable for a person to die in the same way as he lives.

In conclusion, it is necessary for a Muslim to strengthen his belief with deeds, to pray to Allah in order to die as a believer at the last breath, to live in a way that is expected from him and to fulfill the deeds of worship as much as he can.

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