Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- If the husband does not deny the obligatory character of prayer, but rather he does not perform it out of laziness, it is your duty to admonish him and always urge him to observe this duty, using all means available to accomplish the task.
2- You are not permitted to refuse your husband’s bed if he does not pray. By doing so, you will be guilty of driving him further into sin.
Answering your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
There is no doubt that your husband is committing the most heinous sin by neglecting prayers. Prayer is indeed the most fundamental pillar of Islam after the Shahadah. These are our means of salvation as the Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said: “There is no guarantee of protection from the hell-fire for someone who does not pray.”
It is, therefore, important to remind your husband to establish prayer and thus return to Islam faithfully.
Drinking, as everyone knows, is the mother of all evils. Allah wants us to shun it totally for He says that this is the only way to prosper.
Having said this, I must say that your husband is still considered a Muslim so long as he does not consider his sins as lawful and permissible. Committing a sin is one thing but considering them halal is another issue. Therefore, since your husband does not fall in this category (i.e. Kufr) he is still considered a Muslim but a sinful one.
It is, therefore, permissible for you to be married to him and fulfill your conjugal duties to him. You are not permitted in Islam while remaining as his wife to refuse to have conjugal relations. By doing so, you will be guilty of driving him further into sin. So continue and advise your husband and persuade him to embrace Islam fully and wholeheartedly, and do not refuse to cohabit with him. May Allah inspire us with wisdom and piety.
Elaborating on this issue, Dr Abdel-Fattaah Idrees, Professor of Comparative Islamic Jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, states:
Prayer is one of the fundamental pillars of Islam, and neglecting it is counted as a major sin that incurs Allah’s Wrath. If the husband does not deny the obligatory character of prayer, but rather he does not perform it out of laziness, it is your duty to admonish him and always urge him to observe this duty, using all means available to accomplish the task. This means that you are allowed to use any means that will make your husband get back on the right track and obey Allah and His Messenger.
If you do so, you will, Insha’ Allah, earn a great reward for enjoining what is good and setting right what is wrong. Accordingly, you are allowed to sleep alone in another bed as a way of pressuring him to pray, but you are not allowed to refuse to have sex with him if he wishes to do so, because his demand to make love to you is one of his rights as a husband.
Therefore, sleeping in a separate bed serves as a means of trying to force your husband to be regular in prayer, but you may not refuse to have sex with him as this is one of his marital rights.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.