Praise be to Allaah.
Prayer is the most important symbol of Islam; Allah
emphasized its importance when He chose the heavens to be the place where
He enjoined it upon our Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be
upon him) during his ascent into heaven (Mi‘raaj). And He also emphasized
its importance when He first enjoined it upon His Prophet Moosa (peace be
upon him), when He spoke to him alone on the right side of al-Toor, and
said to him (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, I am Allaah! Laa ilaaha illa Ana (none has the right to be
worshipped but I), so worship Me, and perform As‑Salaah
(Iqaamat‑as‑Salaah) for My remembrance” [Ta-Ha 20:14].
He emphasized its importance when He made it the foundation
and pillar of faith. Whoever neglects it will be more neglectful of other
duties, and whoever prays regularly, it will be light and a protection for
him on the Day of Resurrection. Hence it is the main aspect of the straight
path and the one of the fundamentals of the true religion, as Allah says
(interpretation of the meaning): “And they were commanded not, but that
they should worship Allaah, and worship none but Him Alone (abstaining from
ascribing partners to Him), and perform As‑Salaah (Iqaamat‑as‑Salaah) and
give Zakaah, and that is the right religion” [al-Bayyinah 98:5].
If the Muslim recognizes the importance of prayer in the
Islamic religion and have respect in his heart for what Allah has enjoined
of honouring the symbols of Allah, as He says (interpretation of the
meaning): “Thus it is an obligation that mankind owes to Allaah] and
whosoever honours the Symbols of Allaah, then it is truly, from the piety of
the hearts” [al-Hajj 22:32], then he will realize that distracting one
who is praying and trying to make him laugh or move or speak is a kind of
tampering with what is sacred, and there is the fear that the one who does
this will come under the heading of those who mock the symbols of Islam,
which is one of the causes of falling into apostasy, Allah forbid. The
Prophet (blessing and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “If the one who
passes in front of one who is praying knew what (sin) he incurs, he would
realize that waiting for forty is better than passing in front of him.” The
narrator, Abu’l-Nadr, said: I do not know whether he said forty days or
months or years. Narrated by al-Bukhaari (510) and Muslim (507). What level
of sin is incurred by the one who deliberately distracts one who is praying
or tries to make him laugh by moving or speaking? There can be no doubt that
it is a grave sin.
The hadeeth mentioned in the question is not saheeh, and is
not narrated in the books of Sunnah and reports. Rather Imam Ahmad (may
Allah have mercy on him) said: There is no saheeh hadeeth about laughing
[i.e., in prayer]. End quote.
Al-Tahqeeq fi Ahaadeeth al-Khilaaf,
by Ibn al-‘Jawzi, 1/198
Shaykh Ibn Jibreen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked
the following question:
How sound is the hadeeth, “Whoever makes a praying person
laugh has made Allah weep”?
The hadeeth with this wording is not saheeh, but there is no
doubt that if you are talking to one who is praying and making him hear
words until he starts to laugh and thus invalidates his prayer, you are the
cause of that. It is not permissible to make a praying person laugh and the
like. End quote.
Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan (may Allah preserve him) was asked
the following question:
Is it narrated in the Sunnah that “Whoever makes a believer
laugh whilst he is praying has made one thousand angels weep”? If it is not
saheeh, then what is the sin that results from that?
I do not know of any basis for this hadeeth, but it is not
permissible for the Muslim to distract his brother whilst he is praying or
to make him confused about his prayer. If a person can prevent one who wants
to walk in front of him when he is praying, and there is a stern warning
concerning that, then it is more appropriate that the stern warning should
apply to the one who makes him laugh and distracts him from praying. The one
who passes in front of a person who is praying may have a need to do that,
but there is no need to joke and make a praying person laugh, and to
distract him from his prayer. So the one who does that incurs a great deal
of sin. End quote.
And Allah knows best.