Converting to Islam is a simple process: say the shahada (testimony of faith) and mean it. (There's a bit of a debate about witnesses: Do I need to convert in front of witnesses to become a Muslim?) However, my experience is that there are a lot of requirements for staying within the "folds of Islam", such as not flatly contradicting an Article of Faith.

Question: Can someone end up leaving Islam through neglect?

I'm envisioning a hypothetical Muslim, who accepts Allah as the unique God and Muhammad as His Prophet, but simply does nothing regarding their religion, simply never thinking about Islam. Their day-to-day decisions are unaffected by their religion.

If I understand correctly, one can still be a Muslim, yet only uphold the first Pillar of Islam (i.e., faith), which doesn't require any particular action, just belief. I.e., one is still a Muslim even if one does not pray, pay zakat, fast during Ramadan, and perform hajj.

  • "even if one does not pray" There's many scholars who consider someone who does not pray on purpose to be a kafir, see this thread.
    – G. Bach
    Dec 15, 2017 at 1:36
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    Welcome back. Hope you had a successful Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (I presume this is the reason).
    – III-AK-III
    Dec 17, 2017 at 1:22
  • @III-AK-III It's the teaching period here, so I'm teaching (busy) and going to Chinese class (also busy). Dec 17, 2017 at 1:49

2 Answers 2


All Praise to Allah Subhanahu wa Taala and blessings of Him be on Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him His family and companions.

Can someone end up leaving Islam through neglect?

A person could not end up leaving Islam through neglect rather he could leave his Iman through negligence because anyone who believes Allah Swt as his God and Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him as a final Messenger is a Muslim and to leave Islam or disbelieving this basis of Islam could not be done unconciously or unintentionally so there are two different terms "Muslim" and "Mu'min" which are coherent but are applied differently.

The bedouins say, "We have believed." Say, "You have not [yet] believed; but say [instead], 'We have submitted,' for faith has not yet entered your hearts. And if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not deprive you from your deeds of anything. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful."(49:14)

Also see this hadith (Nasai)

As you mentioned that even if a person doesnt think of his religion but believe on this absolute faith so still in this condition he can not be entitled as a disbeliever and no one should assume another muslim as being unfaithful without evidence in this regard.

When the Prophet (ﷺ) stood up to offer As-Salat (the prayer) he asked, "Where is Malik bin Ad-Dukhshum?" A man replied: "He is a hypocrite. He does not love Allah and His Messenger." The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Do not say that. Do you not know that he said: La ilaha illallah (there is no true god except Allah),' seeking His Pleasure. Allah has made the fire of Hell unlawful for him who affirms that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah."(Bukhari)

If a Muslim does not perform the other rituals of Islam or abandons prayers without claiming it to be as non mandatory so he would be considered as a fasiq i.e religiously corrupt but not a disbeliever.This is an agreed upon view.

Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "Jibril came to me and gave me glad tidings, that whoever dies without associating anything with Allah, then he will enter Paradise. I said: "Even if he commits adultery and theft?" He said: "Yes."(Tirmidhi)

A man once came to the learning circle of Imam Abu Hanifah rahimahullah and asked whether or not his neighbor was a Muslim. He asked that if his neighbor died whether he had to wash his body, bury him, and pray the janazah prayer over him.Imam Abu Hanifah asked him, “Why do you think that he is not a Muslim?”he says he has no iman in the signs of Allah that he sees, he does not fear Allah,he says he does not have any hope for Paradise, he says he does not fear the Hell Fire,when he prays, we see him praying without any bowing (ruku) or prostration (sajdah), he says he eats meat that he already finds dead and he says that he doesn’t like truth and he loves corruption.” The Imam smiled and looked around his circle of students and fellow scholars. He asked them, “What do you say after listening to this account? Is this man’s neighbor a Muslim?”The students and scholars gave an opinion that he is not a muslim then Imam said, “Have you not heard the hadith of the Prophet(peace be upon him) wherein he said, “Think good of the believers He continued and said, “If a man’s faith can be divided into 100 parts, and if 99 of them are corrupted and false, and even one is sound and whole, then we look at that sound part first, disregard the other 99 parts, and consider him as a believer.”.... (for complete part read over here)

Allah Swt and His Messenger knows best.

  • "If a Muslim does not perform the other rituals of Islam or abandons prayers without claiming it to be as non mandatory so he would be considered as a fasiq i.e religiously corrupt but not a disbeliever.This is an agreed upon view." This is contradicted by this answer, some prominent scholars do hold abandoning prayer as tantamount to disbelief.
    – G. Bach
    Dec 15, 2017 at 11:51
  • @G.Bach thanks for your consideration ,there are some different opinions in hanbalis and other scholars but majority of the scholars are of the view and there is a consensus on this fact that until they disregard its obligatory nature they would be considered as muslims please see this seekershub.org/ans-blog/2011/11/01/…
    – Syedah
    Dec 16, 2017 at 3:11
  • "but majority of the scholars are of the view and there is a consensus" That makes the majority demonstrably wrong, in this case.
    – G. Bach
    Dec 16, 2017 at 4:29
  • "That makes the majority demonstrably wrong, in this case. " According to whose view that makes those esteemed scholars wrong.
    – Syedah
    Dec 16, 2017 at 15:06
  • According to what you said yourself: "there are some different opinions in hanbalis and other scholars" - this means there is no consensus.
    – G. Bach
    Dec 20, 2017 at 14:11

Faith is action, not just belief. Not only is it possible for someone to leave the folds of Islam through neglect, but also it happened during the time of the Prophet ﷺ during the battle of Tabūk.

وَلَئِن سَأَلْتَهُمْ لَيَقُولُنَّ إِنَّمَا كُنَّا نَخُوضُ وَنَلْعَبُ قُلْ أَبِاللَّهِ وَآيَاتِهِ وَرَسُولِهِ كُنتُمْ تَسْتَهْزِئُونَ ۝ لَا تَعْتَذِرُوا قَدْ كَفَرْتُم بَعْدَ إِيمَانِكُمْ إِن نَّعْفُ عَن طَائِفَةٍ مِّنكُمْ نُعَذِّبْ طَائِفَةً بِأَنَّهُمْ كَانُوا مُجْرِمِينَ

If you ask them (about this), they declare: "We were only talking idly and joking." Say: "Was it at Allah, and His Ayat (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and His Messenger (SAW) that you were mocking?" Make no excuse; you have disbelieved after you had believed. If We pardon some of you, We will punish others amongst you because they were Mujrimun (disbelievers, polytheists, sinners, criminals, etc.).

Surat At-Tawbah 9:65-66

In his Tafsir, At-Tabari mentioned the occasion over which the verses above were revealed. 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar narrated that during the battle of Tabūk, a man said: "We have not seen any people more desirous than our reciters [of the Qur'an] when it comes to their stomachs, lie as much, or are as cowardly when facing [the enemy]." Another man responded: "You lied, for you are a hypocrite. I will surely tell the Messanger of Allah." When the Prophet was informed, the verses above were revealed to him. 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar said he saw one of those hypocrites hanging to the Prophet's camel, being dragged on top of rocks, saying: "O' Messanger of Allah, we were only talking idly and joking." The Prophet ﷺ answered him with the above verse. Ibn Kathir mentioned the same story in his tafsir, and Ibn Is-hāq said that the one who was pardoned was Makhsiy ibn Humair (from Banu Ashja'). This story shows us that Allah decreed that group as disbelievers although they declared the shahadatayn, prayed, fasted, etc. They went out of the folds of Islam through an act of neglect through their tongues.

After the death of the Prophet, all the tribes of the Arabian peninsula — save for Mecca, Medina and Jawatha — apostatized. There were three common forms of apostasy:

  1. Some tribes refused to pay zakah.
  2. Some tribes reverted to idol worshipping.
  3. Some tribes declared themselves followers of false prophets, e.g., Musaylimah al-Hanafi, Al-Aswad al-'Ansi, Tulayha al-Asadi, and Sajah bint al-Harith.

Abu Bakr launched the wars of apostasy campaign against all three groups without differentiating between those who prayed and fasted but did not pay zakah, and those who falsely claimed prophethood.

The hypothesis of upholding only the first pillar of Islam and neglecting the other four pillars was put into practice numerous times over the course of history. There are many authentic hadiths (see Sunan Ibn Majah 36/124 and 37/4300, for instance) that bring good tidings to those who declare the shahadatayn. The Prophet ﷺ, however, taught us that good (or bad) intentions alone are not to be rewarded (or punished). For instance, each one has one's share of adultery through the eyes, the ears, the tongue, or the heart — but only what one puts into effect through a form of action that rises to the level of being punishable (see Sahih Muslim, Book 46, Hadith 33).

This is what prompted Al-Hasan al-Basri — when told about a group of people that claimed to have good intentions toward Allah, and that their faith (the shahadatayn) in their heart was enough — to say: "They lied, by Allah. If they had good intentions, good deeds would follow. Faith is what lies within the heart, and is put into effect through actions." Needless to say, when it comes to worldly matters, this concept is very clear. We rarely, if ever, see a student pass an exam simply by declaring they know the answers to all the questions ... within their heart or mind.

Finally, there are rules that govern what nullifies Islam. Saying the shahadatayn gets one into Islam, but does not necessarily keep one within the folds of Islam (e.g., someone who says the shahadatayn then curses Allah and his Messanger), but this is a different topic.

  • Salam please correct me if I am wrong the verse from Surah Tawbah you have mentioned is about the Munafiq and not only this verse but from verse 38 to 98 is about those munafiqun "hyporcites " which would be complete different topic as in actual they truly didnt accept Islam however they claimes and referring here would it not be irrevelant as you mentioned in the end that " but this is a different topic." because the questioner has asked "I'm envisioning a hypothetical Muslim, who accepts Allah as the unique God and Muhammad as His Prophet, but simply does nothing regarding their religion".
    – Syedah
    Dec 18, 2017 at 4:14
  • see this recitequran.com/en/tafsir/en.ibn-kathir/9:65 also tabari rahimullah has mentioned that verse regarding munafiq ,another is how the other examples like idol worshipping following false prophet could be concluded out for the negligence.I just need assistance in it JazakAllah khair
    – Syedah
    Dec 18, 2017 at 4:24
  • @Faqirah, wa alaikum as-salam, sister. Yes, the verses are about the hypocrites, but there is nothing that says they never really accepted Islam initially. Hypocrites may have well accepted Islam, then left the folds of Islam while pretending to remain Muslims. The main point of the verse in Suart At-Tawbah is "Make no excuse; you have disbelieved after you had believed." The question is about leaving the folds of Islam through neglect, without specifying if this was declared publicly or not, which some of the hypocrites did. Jazaki Allah khaira.
    – III-AK-III
    Dec 18, 2017 at 12:50
  • @Faqirah, the idol worshipping and following false prophets do not constitute leaving the folds of Islam out of neglect. Not paying zakah is (according to the question: "one is still a Muslim even if one does not pray, pay zakat, ...").According to the companions, there was no differentiation between the three groups, and they waged war against all three groups alike.
    – III-AK-III
    Dec 18, 2017 at 14:55
  • Thanks for your help brother ,didnt Abu Bakr radiAllahu anhu fought with those who refuse to accept zakah as an obligation correct me please , see this sunnah.com/bukhari/24/5 ,in this hadith "Abu Bakr said, "By Allah! I will fight those who differentiate between the prayer and the Zakat as Zakat is the compulsory right to be taken from the property " so it signifies that those werent who were refusing to pay zakah out of laziness so in such a case could we consider it as a negligence.
    – Syedah
    Dec 18, 2017 at 17:03

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