Unanswered prayers

Two months ago I promised to answer a question my brother asked (which I mentioned in the root of all evil post) that is; why is God not answering my prayers? I’ll be frank by saying you can never know the true reason for something happening or for it not happening (not until the day of qiyamah at least) but nonetheless Allah does not leave us completely hopeless.

The most common way I’ve heard that question answered is that Allah never says no to prayers; it is always either a yes, a not yet or I have something better in mind for you. People who utter things like this are no doubt on the right track; they are optimistic and have faith in Allah. Others not so much and I can understand why. We humans seek clarity in all matters; I have a real problem and I need a definite answer, not an answer like ‘Allah has something better in mind’. What is better? How much longer do I have to be in pain? Is the thing really better?

You ask all these questions knowing very well they cannot be answered, which will only increase your misery. A contentious person with a pessimistic outlook in life will be a lot miserable than someone who is optimistic and going through the very same thing. The sad/miserable feeling you get, is a result of the problem you have; they are not one and the same. Allah can change the problem, but you have to work on the feeling and a way to do that is to change your mindset; by becoming more positive and having faith in Allah.

I shall begin by saying something that may sound a little bit off tangent but is of great importance. If you read the Quran you’ll notice that at different points Allah addresses himself as We, He and I. With regards to ‘we’ I’ll just quickly put out there that it doesn’t mean Allah has partners or helpers, linguistically it is actually befitting for someone of great power to address him/herself as ‘we’.

The use of I in the Quran is my main focus. When Allah uses I, it could mean two things: too much love (for who or what He is referring to in the ayat) or too much anger.

In suratul baqarah (2:186) Allah said “And when my slaves ask you (O Muhammad SAW) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near. I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright.

Allah could have used He instead of I but by using I, he is signalling a great deal of closeness and love. When someone makes a lot of dua in arabic, you use the word dua but when someone makes dua one time you call that da’watal. If you read the same ayat in arabic, Allah said dawata alddai (I respond to the person that calls on me even once).

Allah doesn’t say something like where were you all year? You never made any salat and even if you did your mind was a million miles away and it was always said in haste. No, Allah said he would respond even to the person that calls on Him just once. I said that just to knock off all doubt and fears that our prayers would go unanswered by Allah; even in situations where our track record with Him is not the very best.

When it comes to prayers that are yet to be answered, I have some thoughts. When you want to meet someone very important, does it usually happen on your schedule or on the important person’s schedule? It is always on the important person’s schedule but subhanallah our rabb is the most merciful. There isn’t a time you can’t reach him; he is available and accessible 24/7.

On the other hand, there are things you yourself have to do. In the ayat Allah says ‘so let them obey me and believe in me, so that they may be led aright’. Here Allah says you are asking Him for a better job, for health, protection and all kinds of things it’s okay, but He is asking you for things too. In the Fatiha what do we ask Allah for? Guidance, but what does Allah want from us? Ibaddah; iyyakana abuddu waiyyaka nastaeen (you alone we worship, and you alone we ask for help).

Waiyyaka nastaeen means we ask you for help but before we ask Allah for help, we tell Allah what we will do for Him (iyyakana abuddu; you alone we worship). But this ayat of baqarah that was revealed in ramadan, Allah said he would answer you whenever you call first, and then after you should answer him. Subhanallah Allah kept himself second and placed us first in this ayat; emphasising how special ramadan is.

Tawakkul in Allaah is very important; knowing that Allah has got your back, that the problem is merely transient, that there’s a good and greater reason all this is happening and your role is to trust Him and know He will come through.  At the beginning I mentioned the common ways people answer the question why is Allah not answering my prayers? Now i’ld like to make clearer the 3 ways in which prayers are answered; cause no dua goes unanswered by Allah.

One, your prayer gets answered exactly the way you wanted. You wanted a 100 out of 100 on your test scores, you got it. You want your book to be sold out in the first week, every copy got sold.

Two, you didn’t get exactly what you asked for, but Allah gave you something else in return or he saved you from an affliction. For example you needed a visa to visit a particular country (with a tangible reason) and you prayed to Allah to help make it happen, but your application got rejected. Let’s say you got the visa, instead of going straight home from the embassy, you decided to make a u turn and stop by at a friends to celebrate the good news not knowing that exactly 10 weeks from then, when you decide to travel to the country, your plane will develop some engine problems that would result in a crash.

There were survivors and you happened to be one of the lucky survivors however you became paralysed from the neck down; that’s what would have happened. You don’t know this but Allah does and because of this trust you have in Him, he changes the course of your destiny by not answering your dua; He made it so that the visa application would be declined. That same day you left the embassy with no visa, you accepted it was the will of Allah. The thought of going to see a friend never crossed your mind, so you headed straight home.

On your way home, something incredible happenes; your car got scratched by another. Both drivers climb out to survey the damage. The other driver seeing how bad it was was willing to settle for a decent price; as he was to blame. His face looks familiar, then you realise that he was the investor you’ve been wanting to meet for over a year, but the opportunity never came. You seized that opportunity to lay down your ideas and Allah opened the investors heart and you landed a huge contract with him. Yes you lost the visa, yes your car got damaged, but Allah saved you from being paralysed from the neck down which to be honest is enough, but not only did he save you from that he opened a great door of opportunity.

The third way your prayers are answered is if you got nothing for it in this dunya. On the day of judgement it is narrated that there will be a person who will see right next to him, mountains full of rewards. He sees this mountain of rewards and he thinks I didn’t even live that long to get these rewards, they can’t be mine. So as he is looking at the little piles next to him, he notices that for a long time, no one came to claim the mountain full of rewards and then the person says “Oh Allah, I have a question”. “What my servant?” He said “these mountain full of rewards who are they for?” Allah says “For you my servant” He says “For me? Allah for me?” Allah says “My servant, you were in this dunya, while you were in the dunya you used to make dua to me. That dua you used to make to me every single day, I never accepted it. But what I did in return is, I gave you a reward and I kept on giving you rewards for the dua you used to make to me and today those duas are mountains of reward. And he would say “Oh Allah, in that case why did you accept any of my duas?” Subhanallah. If only we understood and had faith in Allah.

The Prophet [ﷺ] said: “Allah is shy when a servant of his raises his hands up to make dua and he returns it empty.” Sunan Abu Daawoud. Subhanallah.

It is also narrated that “the person who does not ask from Allah Ta’ala, Allah Ta’ala becomes angry with him.”[at Tirmidhi, Ahmad]. How can you waste such an opportunity?

For those who are desperate for their prayers to be heard, there are special places and times according to the sunnah in which duas are always accepted:

  • Make dua in mosques and in masjidul haram (in makkah)
  • Make dua just before fajr/dawn
  • Make dua during the last third of the night
  • Make dua when it’s raining
  • Make dua between the Adhaan and the Iqamaah
  • Make dua during salatul istijabah (this is a special timing only on fridays) this could be from the time the Imaam ascends the pulpit, to the time the prayer has finished on the day of Jumuah or the final hour of the Asr prayer (which is the most favourable opinion according to most scholars).

To round of with here is a checklist for one making dua:

  • Make sure your clothing and food is halal. The prophet [ﷺ] quoted the example of a traveler who travels a long distance and is now dishevelled and unkempt. He raises his hands to Allah and cries out “ya rabb, ya rabb” whilst his food is haram, his drink is haram and his clothing is haram. How can he be responded? We have to make sure our source of income, food, drink and clothing are halal and pure if we want our prayers to be answered by Allah.
  • It is preferable to face the qiblah when making dua.
  • Make sure your palms are facing upwards towards the heavens and beg in humility to Allah.
  • Never give up on your dua. Keep knocking at the door of Allah swt. The Prophet[ﷺ] said the invocation of any one of you is granted [by Allah] as long as he does not show impatience by saying “I have invoked Allah but my request has not been answered.” [Sahih al-Bukhari, Muslim].
  • Make dua during times of ease and difficulty. The prophet[ﷺ] said if you remember Allah during times of ease, He will remember you during times of hardship.

I pray Allah swt answers all our duas.

Have a delightful week ^.^

4 thoughts on “Unanswered prayers

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