There are two similar ahadith with different translations:

إِنَّ بَيْنَ الرَّجُلِ وَبَيْنَ الشِّرْكِ وَالْكُفْرِ تَرْكَ الصَّلاَةِ
Verily between man and between polytheism and unbelief is the negligence of prayer.
Sahih Muslim 82 a

بَيْنَ الرَّجُلِ وَبَيْنَ الشِّرْكِ وَالْكُفْرِ تَرْكُ الصَّلاَةِ
Between man and polytheism and unbelief is the abandonment of salat.
Sahih Muslim 82 b

It looks like the relevant Arabic word is ترك, which Wiktionary translates to to leave, to relinquish. The impression I get from the English translation is that it means permanently.

Question: How to accurately translate ترك in the context of the hadith "Between man and polytheism and unbelief is the [abandonment/negligence] of prayer"?

This is relevant to my previous question here: Can someone end up leaving Islam through neglect?

Google Translate gives a ranking of translations, favouring "leave" over "neglect":

Google Translate results for ترك

  • 1
    As an Arabic speaker and Arabic being my mother tongue, I can unhesitatingly tell you that ترك means “leave off/relinquish” - Neglect (which carries the connotations of ignoring) is definitely NOT the accurate definition. There’s a whole set of Arabic words that mean neglect. As far as ترك being temporarily or permanently, it is dependent on the context of the phrase - which is not explicitly clear from the Hadith you have quoted. Although I have no doubt that the initial reading of the Hadith leans towards a “permanent” meaning, in the sense of someone quitting his prayers.
    – Shadi
    Commented Dec 27, 2017 at 4:18
  • Relevant: concordance within the Quran and entry in Lane's Arabic lexicon
    – UmH
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 11:13

1 Answer 1


Tark تَركَ can mean to leave/abandon/release with an open probability to get back to something, whereas in the context of the hadeeth, The word Tark تَركَ gives the notion of ceasing to pray, whether that is permanent or willingly temporary.

Dismissing Prayers

A related verse that sheds light on the topic of the hadeeth is :

فَخَلَفَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ خَلْفٌ أَضَاعُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَاتَّبَعُوا الشَّهَوَاتِ ۖ فَسَوْفَ يَلْقَوْنَ غَيًّا - 19:59

sahih International translation

But there came after them successors who neglected prayer and pursued desires; so they are going to meet evil -

Yousuf Ali Translation

But after them there followed a posterity who missed prayers and followed after lusts soon, then, will they face Destruction,-

Quranic wording

Allah, exalted He is, eloquently used the term أَضَاعُوا which means originally to lose something... you lose due to negligence, or you lose if you are willingly not paying attention or taking care. I think you can see how this word covers the meaning, which is permanent or willingly temporary.

Tark تَرَكَ in Quran

For your reference, the word Tark تَرَكَ in Quran can be one of three meanings:

To reject/abandon/leave intentionally

وَتَرَكْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ يَمُوجُ فِي بَعْضٍ ۖ وَنُفِخَ فِي الصُّورِ فَجَمَعْنَاهُمْ جَمْعًا -

18:99 And We will leave them that day surging over each other, and [then] the Horn will be blown, and We will assemble them in [one] assembly.

another example of leaving willingly, on purpose

وَاتْرُكِ الْبَحْرَ رَهْوًا ۖ إِنَّهُمْ جُندٌ مُّغْرَقُونَ - 44:24 And leave the sea in stillness. Indeed, they are an army to be drowned."

The other meaning that appeared in Quran is to be forced/unwillingly to leave/abandon something

كَمْ تَرَكُوا مِن جَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ - 44:25 How much they left behind of gardens and springs

Third Meaning is what a person leaves as inheritance after death

يَسْتَفْتُونَكَ قُلِ اللَّهُ يُفْتِيكُمْ فِي الْكَلَالَةِ ۚ إِنِ امْرُؤٌ هَلَكَ لَيْسَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ وَلَهُ أُخْتٌ فَلَهَا نِصْفُ مَا تَرَكَ ۚ وَهُوَ يَرِثُهَا إِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّهَا وَلَدٌ ۚ فَإِن كَانَتَا اثْنَتَيْنِ فَلَهُمَا الثُّلُثَانِ مِمَّا تَرَكَ ۚ وَإِن كَانُوا إِخْوَةً رِّجَالًا وَنِسَاءً فَلِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الْأُنثَيَيْنِ ۗ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ أَن تَضِلُّوا ۗ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ - 4:176

They request from you a [legal] ruling. Say, " Allah gives you a ruling concerning one having neither descendants nor ascendants [as heirs]." If a man dies, leaving no child but [only] a sister, she will have half of what he left. And he inherits from her if she [dies and] has no child. But if there are two sisters [or more], they will have two-thirds of what he left. If there are both brothers and sisters, the male will have the share of two females. Allah makes clear to you [His law], lest you go astray. And Allah is Knowing of all things.

And Allah knows best.

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