Assalamualaikum ustaz. What is the ruling for a person who purposely leaves a prayer but with the intention that he’ll replace it later?
Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those who follow his footsteps until the Last Day.
We begin our answer with the evidences from al-Quran and al-Hadith regarding the warnings for those who intentionally leave their prayers. We cite from the book al-Kabair (pg. 30-36) by Imam al-Zahabi as the following:
“Prayer is likened to a relationship of a slave with his God, where if a person severs the tie, he has committed a grave sin, even more so if he denies its obligation and belittles those tie the bond that he can be considered a disbeliever if he doesn’t repent and return to his Lord.”
Allah SWT states:
فَخَلَفَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ خَلْفٌ أَضَاعُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَاتَّبَعُوا الشَّهَوَاتِ فَسَوْفَ يَلْقَوْنَ غَيّاً (٥٩) إِلَّا مَن تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحاً
“But there came after them successors who neglected prayer and pursued desires; so, they are going to meet evil – Except those who repent, believe and do righteousness,” 
Ibn Ababs RA said: “The meaning of ‘neglecting prayer’ doesn’t mean completely missing the prayer, rather, it is performing it in the final remaining time of the prayer.”
Said bin Musayyib Rahimahullah said: “The meaning of ‘neglecting prayer’ is a person who doesn’t pray zohor until it is asar time and doesn’t pray asar until it is maghrib time and does pray maghrib until it is the time for isyak and doesn’t pray isyak until it is the time for subuh and doesn’t pray subuh until the sun has risen, Hence, whoever dies when doing as such and didn’t repent (before he dies), then Allah SWT will place him among the sinners and for that he will also enter the lowest of hell.”
Allah SWT states:
فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُصَلِّينَ، الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَن صَلَاتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ
“So, woe to those who pray. [But] who are heedless of their prayer.” 
Heedless from performing prayer and neglects prayer.
Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqas RA said: “I once asked the Messenger PBUH regarding those who are heedless in his prayer. He answered: “It is delaying his prayer (from its intended time until the time of the following prayer). The people who prayed are called the musalliin. However, because they were heedless in their prayer and delaying it, they are warned of the Wail hell where the punishments are grave. Some say Wail is a valley in Jahannam (hell), of which if the mountains of this world are thrown in it, then the mountains would melt due to the scorching heat. And this is the final place for those who neglect and are heedless with their prayer and delay it until its time is over. Except those who repent to Allah SWT and regret their mistake.”
Allah SWT states:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُلْهِكُمْ أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ عَن ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ
“O you who have believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah. And whoever does that – then those are the losers.” 
According to commentary scholars, they say: “Dhikr to Allah or remembrance of Allah in this verse means performing the five prayers. Whoever is distracted by his property or children or business and seeking of sustenance with the management of his farm from praying in its time, then they are from among the losers, for the Prophet PBUH said:
إِنَّ أَوَّلَ مَا يُحَاسَبُ بِهِ الْعَبْدُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مِنْ عَمَلِهِ صَلَاتُهُ، فَإِنْ صَلَحَتْ فَقَدْ أَفْلَحَ وَأَنْجَحَ، وَإِنْ فَسَدَتْ فَقَدْ خَابَ وَخَسِرَ
“The first of his deeds for which a man will be taken into account on the day of resurrection will be his prayer. If it is sound, he will be saved and successful, but if it is unsound, he will be unfortunate and miserable.” 
Allah SWT has stated in al-Quran regarding the position of the dwellers of hell who didn’t pray. Allah SWT states:
مَا سَلَكَكُمْ فِي سَقَرَ (٤٢) قَالُوا لَمْ نَكُ مِنَ الْمُصَلِّينَ (٤٣) وَلَمْ نَكُ نُطْعِمُ الْمِسْكِينَ (٤٤) وَكُنَّا نَخُوضُ مَعَ الْخَائِضِينَ (٤٥) وَكُنَّا نُكَذِّبُ بِيَوْمِ الدِّينِ (٤٦) حَتَّى أَتَانَا الْيَقِينُ (٤٧) فَمَا تَنْفَعُهُمْ شَفَاعَةُ الشَّافِعِينَ
“[And asking them], “What put you into Saqar?” They will say, “We were not of those who prayed, nor did we used to feed the poor. And we used to enter into vain discourse with those who engaged [in it], And we used to deny the Day of Recompense Until there came to us the certainty.” So, there will not benefit them the intercession of [any] intercessors.” 
The Prophet PBUH further said:
الْعَهْدُ الَّذِي بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَهُمُ الصَّلَاةُ، فَمَنْ تَرَكَهَا فَقَدْ كَفَرَ
“The covenant between us and them is prayer, so if anyone abandons it, he has become an infidel.” 
The Prophet PBUH also said:
إِنَّ بَيْنَ الرَّجُلِ وَبَيْنَ الشِّرْكِ وَالْكُفْرِ تَرْكَ الصَّلَاةِ
“Verily between man and between polytheism and unbelief is the negligence of prayer.” 
This means if a person purposely leaves his prayer and denies it, it will lead to disbelief. In Sahih al-Bukhari, there is a statement of the Prophet PBUH:
مَنْ فَاتَتْهُ صَلَاةُ الْعَصْرِ حَبِطَ عَمَلُهُ
‘Whoever leaves the `Asr prayer will have all his (good) deeds annulled.” 
The Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ تَرَكَ الصلاةَ متعمِّدًا فقَدْ بَرِئَتْ منْهُ ذِمَّةُ اللهِ
“Do not neglect any prescribed prayer deliberately, for whoever neglects it deliberately no longer has the protection of Allah.” 
The Prophet PBUH also said:
أُمِرْتُ أَنْ أُقَاتِلَ النَّاسَ حَتَّى يَشْهَدُوا أَنْ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّداً رَسُوْلُ اللهِ، وَيُقِيْمُوا الصَّلاَةَ وَيُؤْتُوا الزَّكاَةَ، فَإِذَا فَعَلُوا ذَلِكَ عَصَمُوا مِنِّي دِمَاءَهُمْ وَأَمْوَالَهُمْ إِلاَّ بِحَقِّ الإِسْلاَمِ وَحِسَابُهُمْ عَلَى اللهِ تَعَالىَ
“I have been ordered to fight against the people until they testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and until they establish the salah and pay the zakat. And if they do that then they will have gained protection from me for their lives and property, unless [they commit acts that are punishable] in Islam, and their reckoning will be with Allah.” 
The Messenger PBUH said:
مَنْ حافظَ عليْهَا كانَتْ له نورًا وبرهانًا ونجاةً يومَ القيامةِ، ومَنْ لمْ يحافظْ عليهَا لمْ يكنْ لَهُ نورٌ ولا برهانٌ ولا نجاةٌ وحُشِرَ يومَ القيامةِ معَ فرعَونَ وهامانَ وقارونَ وأُبَيِّ بنِ خلفٍ
“If anyone keeps to it (his prayers), it will be light, evidence and salvation for him on the day of resurrection; but if anyone does not keep to it, it will not be for him light, evidence, or salvation, and on the day of resurrection he will be associated with Qarun, Pharaoh, Haman, 1 and Ubayy b. Khalaf.” 
Umar bin al-Khattab RA said: “A person is not considered good in Islam if he leaves his prayers.”
Ali RA was asked regarding a woman who doesn’t pray, he replied: “Whoever doesn’t pray then he doesn’t have a religion.” Hadith narrated by al-Tirmizi and al-Hakim.
Ibn Mas’ud said: “Whoever doesn’t pray, then he doesn’t have a religion.”
Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma said: “Whoever intentionally leaves prayer only once, then he’ll face Allah in His wrath.” Narrated by Ahmad and Abu Daud.
Ibn Hazm Rahimahullah said: “There is no sin graver than shirk, except for a person who delays his prayer from the true time or wrongfully killing a mukmin.”
Ibrahim al-Nakhaie Rahimahullah said: “Whoever leaves prayer, then he is a disbeliever.” Such is the same opinion by Ayyub al-Sakhtiani.
Aun bin Abdullah Rahimahullah said: “Indeed, a person who enters the grave, he’ll be asked about his prayer and it is the first that’s going to be asked. If he passes, then only his other deeds are considered. If his prayer didn’t fulfil the conditions, then the rest of his deeds aren’t considered.” 
Leaving Prayer with the Intention to Qadha
In answering the above issue, we state the following:
Indeed, the act of purposely leaving prayer is prohibited and a grave sin (major sin). Imam al-Zahabi stated this fact in detail in his book that explains about major sins, which is al-Kaba’ir (pg. 30-36), which we cited at the beginning of this discussion. Some scholars even ruled a person who intentionally leaves his prayer as an act of renouncing Islam or disbelief.
There are numerous evidences from the Quran and hadith which mention the warnings and threats as well as grave punishments for the doer. Thus, we advise us all to never underestimate the issue of intentionally leaving prayer although when one replaces it later. Leaving prayer due to one’s laziness is also the attribute of the people of nifaq (munafiq – hypocrites).
If what is stated in the question has happened or is intended, then we suggest you immediately repent to erase the intention of ever leaving one’s prayer. Then, it is obligatory to perform qadha’ (if one has already missed his prayer). Truthfully regret the action and never repeat it.
Reflect on the statement of Allah SWT in Surah al-Muddatthir:
مَا سَلَكَكُمْ فِي سَقَرَ (٤٢) قَالُوا لَمْ نَكُ مِنَ الْمُصَلِّينَ (٤٣)
“[And asking them], “What put you into Saqar?” They will say, “We were not of those who prayed,” 
Hence, remember that praying at the specified time is an obligation that must be fulfilled. Allah SWT states:
إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَابًا مَّوْقُوتًا
“Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times.” 
Ibn Mas’ud RA when commenting on this verse said that for every prayer it has its own specified time, it is obligatory to perform it in its specified time, the same as the times specified for the performance of the worship of hajj. 
Syeikh al-Maraghi stated that Allah SWT set specific times for prayer. This means that these rulings from Allah are an obligation that one must perform in the specified time as soon as possible. Among the wisdoms is that if the times aren’t specified, surely people will not perform it and neglect it. (See Tafsir Al-Maraghi, 5/143-144)
The maintenance of prayer is also an important commandment. Allah SWT states:
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَىٰ صَلَوَاتِهِمْ يُحَافِظُونَ
“And they who carefully maintain their prayers.” 
Among the meaning of ‘يُحَافِظُونَ’ is maintaining prayer by performing it in its specified time. Ibn Mas’ud, Masruq, Ikrimah and Said bin Jubair said: “They are those who maintain their prayers and the times of prayer.” 
May Allah SWT grant us the strength in performing prayer in its specified time and at the beginning of it. Amin.