What is the decree on not performing prayers? Does a person who does not perform prayers become an unbeliever; or, does he become only a sinner?

The Details of the Question
I read many hadiths. Most of them state that a person who abandons prayers becomes an unbeliever; one of them states that his deeds will be annulled. How did the scholars who say a person who does not perform prayers does not become an unbeliever but becomes a sinner interpret these hadiths?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Prayer is a definite fard based on the Quran, hadiths and consensus. Prayer is a lofty duty that has to be fulfilled by all sane Muslims who have reached the age of puberty. Those who fulfill this fard worship attain many graces and help of Allah

To deny that prayer is fard makes a believer exit religion. However, those who do not perform prayers due to laziness without denying that it is fard will undergo great harms and loss spiritually.

Believers are ordered to perform prayers in many verses in the Quran. The following verse states that performing prayers is a definite obligation and duty for believers:

"…For such prayers are enjoined on believers at stated times." (an-Nisa, 4/103)

The following is stated in a hadith regarding the issue:

"Allah rendered five daily prayers fard for every male and female Muslim." [Majmaul Anhur (Sharhu Damad), Ihya Publications, 1/68; see Bukhari, Zakat, 1, 64]

Prayers were rendered fard as five times a day on the night of Miraj (Ascension) eighteen months before the Migration. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and believers performed prayers before Miraj, too. However, they performed prayers twice a day –in the morning and in the evening. They were not fard, but mandub.

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