Some of the Muslims go onto the internet every day for many hours, talking to their friends in chatrooms. As a result of this, some of them delay the prayer, and some (of the men) have stopped going to the masjid for prayer in congregation. What is your advice to them?
ANSWER by Shaykh Muhammad 'Umar Baazmool, instructor at Umm Al-Quraa University in Makkah
Allaah, the Glorified and Exalted, has said about the prayer :
( Verily the prayer has been prescribed upon the believers at set times )
So the Muslim must offer his prayers within the times that the Sharee'ah has defined. In a hadeeth of the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam), when he taught a man the earliest time for the prayers to be offered one day, and then taught him the latest times they could be offered the next day, he said:
"The prayer is (to be offered) between these two (times)." 
So the one who does not offer his prayer in the proper time, then he has fallen into something haraam, one of the major sins. And if he has delayed the prayer beyond its time totally with no legitimate excuse, then he is to be included in those who the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) referred to when he said:
"...Whoever has abandoned the prayer, then verily he has disbelieved." 
This is due to his abandoning of the prayer on purpose with no legitimate excuse, this is considered abandoning the prayer. The Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) said:
"The covenant that exists between us and them is the prayer, so whoever has abandoned the prayer then he verily has disbelieved." 
From the different ways that are considered abandoning the prayer is delaying it until its time is over with no legitimate excuse. Being busy talking to the people about things that are not emergencies is not a legitimate excuse.
The Muslim has to be one who guards over his time carefully. He must use the days of his life to benefit him. He must not let his time pass by except in a beneficial way. The Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) said:
"There are two blessings that many people do not take advantage of: good health and free time." 
So then free time is a blessing. If you do not use it for what will benefit you in the Next Life, then you have misused this blessing since you caused your chance to benefit from it to be lost. In another hadeeth:
"The two feet of a servant will not move from their places until he is asked about four things: about his youth and how he spent it; and about his lifespan and what he did with it; and about what how well he acted upon his knowledge; and about his earnings - where he got it from and what he spent it on." 
So he will be asked about his lifespan. And it has also been said: "Take benefit from five before five: your free time before you become busy; your life before your death; your good health before you become sick..."
And there are many other statements from the early Muslims that are encouragements for the Muslim to keep close watch over his time and not waste it.
So then if this is what is said about wasting time alone, then what about someone who wastes time and neglects Islaamic obligations?! He occupies himself talking on the internet in chatrooms, and then misses the times for the prayers, not praying them in their proper times. He ignores the prayer in congregation totally, or maybe neglects it occasionally. This person is a sinner, and he has fallen into one of the major sins, since the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) said:
"Whoever abandons the prayer, then he verily has disbelieved." 
And without a doubt, he is included in this hadeeth. The kufr (disbelief) being referred to in this hadeeth is of two types. If a Muslim agrees that prayer is obligatory on him, but he acts lazily in the way described here, then his kufr is the lesser form of kufr. The word kufr here means a great act of disobedience, as no sin is referred to as kufr, except that it is from the major sins.
So my advice to this brother and those like him is that they must fear Allaah with regards to their time and their lives, and that they must spend their time beneficially in obedience to Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic. They must not neglect their obligations, as they are going to be accountable for all of that on the Day of Judgement, and Allaah knows best.