Answered by Shaykh Abul ‘Ataa Ahmad Banaja (may Allah preserve him)
Question: What is the most correct view on the one who dies and never prayed, when he was able, based on the Hadith that Allah will take out of the fire those who have an atom weight of Eeman and those who testify shahada. If this hadith is authentic, and does this mean that the one who die without praying may enter into Jannah eventually because he confessed sincerely shahada even though he never acted on the pillars except taking Shahadah?
Answer: You are asking about the person, that he never prayed in his life when he was able to pray. A behavior like this is impossible being made by a Muslim. Its impossible, like Shaikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullah said: we cannot accept the statement of a person who claims himself as a Mu’min and he refused to pray for his whole life, when he was able. Its impossible for him to have Eemaan in his heart. This is a sign of his heart free of Eeman and sign of his Riddah (apostasy) and he is not a Muslim.
The mas’alah Khilaafiyah between the ‘Ulamaa is regarding the person who prays sometimes and leave the prayers sometimes out of laziness and busying with worldly affairs. He is still a Muslim according to the correct opinion, for the many Ahaadeeth mentioned, like, Hadith Abee Sa’eed, Hadith Anas, Hadith Hudhaifah and Hadith ‘Ubaadah Bin Saamit. The latter Hadith is as follows:
عن عبادة بن الصامت رضي الله عنه قال : سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول : خَمْسُ صَلَوَاتٍ افْتَرَضَهُنَّ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى ، مَنْ أَحْسَنَ وُضُوءَهُنَّ وَصَلَّاهُنَّ لِوَقْتِهِنَّ ، وَأَتَمَّ رُكُوعَهُنَّ وَخُشُوعَهُنَّ ، كَانَ لَهُ عَلَى اللَّهِ عَهْدٌ أَنْ يَغْفِرَ لَهُ ، وَمَنْ لَمْ يَفْعَلْ ، فَلَيْسَ لَهُ عَلَى اللَّهِ عَهْدٌ ، إِنْ شَاءَ غَفَرَ لَهُ ، وَإِنْ شَاءَ عَذَّبَهُ
رواه أبو داود، و صححه الألباني رحمه الله في صحيح سنن أبي داود
Ubadah ibn as-Samit said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: “Allah, the Exalted, has made five prayers obligatory. If anyone performs ablution for them well, offers them at their (right) time, and observes perfectly their bowing and submissiveness in them, it is the guarantee of Allah that He will pardon him; if anyone does not do so, there is no guarantee for him on the part of Allah; He may pardon him if He wills, and punish him if He wills.”
Recorded by Abu Dawud, and authenticated by Al – Imam Al-Albaany
So there is a difference in between the person that he prays sometimes and he leaves the prayer sometimes out of laziness, and the person that never prayed in his life, even if he was able, even (if he has) been asked, been ordered, been warned and still remain as a person that who will never pray. This behavior cannot be from a Muslim.