Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas
Question: Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said: “When a person meets Allah after neglecting his prayer, he will meet him as if he had not worshipped him at all, nor done any good deeds.”
Awn bin Abdullah said: “When a person is buried, the first question which will be asked him will be concerning the prayer. If that is accepted from him, his other deeds will be looked at, but if that is not accepted from him, no other deeds will be looked at.”
Do the above mean that if you do not pray at all or you do not do your prayers properly (you miss prayers without a valid reason or you delay your prayers etc) then Allah will not accept nor reward any of your other good deeds?
Answer: assalamu `alaykum
I pray you are well.
No, the narrations do not mean that neglecting prayers entail lack of acceptance of one’s other good deeds.
The first narration you mention is not found in any of the primary sources dedicated to gathering prophetic narratives, as indicated by Imam `Iraqi in his sourcing of the narrations found in the Ihya `Ulum al-Din.
As for the second narration, it was narrated by Tabarani in his Awsat through Anas ibn Malik (Allah be well pleased with him) as well as Diya’ in his Mukhtara. In meaning, it supports the first narration you mentioned.
The Meaning of these Narrations
It is clear in the Qur’an that Allah Most High will compensate individuals for any act of good they did, even if slight. Thus, He Most High says, “whoso has done an atom’s weight of good shall see it.” [99:7]
Similarly, there are other narrations similar to the one’s you cited that clearly demonstrate the acceptance of one’s other acts of good. Thus, it is narrated from Abu Hurayra that the Prophet (Allah bless him) said, “The first thing the slave will be taken to account for on the Day of Judgment will be his prayers. If they have been fulfilled soundly then he will be felicious and successful. If they are not fulfilled soundly then he is unsuccessful and at loss. If something has diminished from the actions obligatoy upon him, Allah will say, ‘Look! Is there anything for my slave from any of the supererogatory actions through which that which has dimished from the actions obligatory upon him will be completed?’ Then all his remaining actions will be judged as such.” [Tirmidhi; Nasa’i; Ibn Majah; Ahmad]
This clearly shows that other actions will be accepted even if one’s prayers were lacking. The narrations that state otherwise must therefore be understood in light of these verse and sound narrations.
As such, the narration you mention should be understood as:
1. A statement of emphasis to demonstrate the importance of prayer and a warning to people not to neglect its performance in the soundest way possible for one.
2. An indication that the sound fulfillment of the prayer is a means to attaining divine-success in one’s other acts of worship.
3. A report outlining the potential laxity by which one’s other works will be judged if their prayers are in order. May Allah overlook all of our faults and misdeeds.
[Munawi, Fayd al-Qadir/al-Taysir]
And Allah knows best
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani