Why Is My Supplication Not Answered?

  Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn

Allāh says: ‘‘And your Lord says: Call upon Me and I will, respond to your supplication.’’ [Sūrah al-Ghāfir, 40:60] So why is it that a person’s duʿāʾʾʾʾ (supplication) is sometimes unanswered?

bismallah

  It is the weapon of the believer as is reported by al-Ḥākim in his 'Mustadrak' from the Ḥadīth of ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu) from the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) that he said, 'Supplication is the weapon of the believer, the pillar of the religion, and the light of the heaven and earth.'


CHAPTER ONE: SUPPLICATION IS A CURE

Supplication is from the most beneficial types of healing, it is the enemy of illness and affliction - repressing it and treating it, preventing its occurrence, removing it or at least alleviating it. It is the weapon of thebeliever as is reported by al-Ḥākim in his 'Mustadrak' from the ḥadīth of ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu) from the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) that he said, "supplication is the weapon of the believer, the pillar of the religion, and the light of the heaven and earth."

[Abū Ya`lā [no. 439], ibn Adee [2/296], al-Ḥākim [1/492] and al-Qudaa`ee [no. 143].

The ḥadīth is maudu` as declared by al-Albānī.

Al-Haythamī says in 'Majma` al-Zawāʾid' [10/147], "the isnād contains al-Ḥasan ibn Abī Zayd and he is abandoned." Refer to: 'ad-Da`eefah' [no.179, 180].]

Supplication takes one of three positions against illness:

1) It is stronger than the illness and therefore represses it.

2) It is weaker than the illness and therefore the illness overcomes it and afflicts the servant, however it is still possible that it alleviate the illness.

3) That they be of equal strength and prevent each other from happening in the servant.

Al-Ḥākim reports from the ḥadīth of Āʿishah (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu) that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said, "caution is of no avail against the decree but supplication benefits those things that have occurred and have not yet occurred. For indeed while the tribulation is descending the supplication meets it and they remain struggling with one another until the Day of Judgement."

[Reported by al-Ḥākim [1/492], at-Ṭabarānī in 'al-Awsaṭ' [no. 4615] and in 'ad-Du`aa' [no. 33], al-Bazzaar [3/29], al-Khaṭīb in his 'Taareekh' [8/453] and ibn al-Jawzī in 'al-Waahiyaat' [no. 1411]

The isnād to the ḥadīth is da`eef but the ḥadīth is ḥasan is due to witnesses.

Refer to: 'Ṣaḥīḥ al-Jāmiʿ [2/1279 no. 7739].]

He also reports the ḥadīth of ibn ʿUmar from the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) that he said, "supplication brings about benefit to those things that have occurred and those things that have not yet occurred. So devote yourselves to supplication O servants of Allāh!"

[Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh [Eng. Trans. 1/472], al-Tirmidhī [no. 3548] and al-Ḥākim [1/493].

The ḥadīth is ḥasan due to witnesses as declared so by Al-Sakhāwī and al-Albānī.

Refer to: 'Ṣaḥīḥ al-Jāmiʿ [1/641 no. 3409] and 'Maqaasid al-Ḥasanah' of Al-Sakhāwī [pg. 255 under no. 486].]

He also reports the ḥadīth of Thawbaan from the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) that he said, "nothing but supplication averts the decree and nothing but righteousness increases the lifespan. Indeed, a person is deprived of provision due to performing sins."

[Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh [Eng. Trans. 2/1026]. Reported by Aḥmad [5/277, 280], ibn Mājah [chpt. 10, no.90], al-Ḥākim [1/493], ibn Abī Shaybah [10/441], ibn Hibbān [no. 1090], al-Baghawī [6/13] and al-Qudaa`ee [no. 831].

The isnād is da`eef but the ḥadīth has a support that strengthens it from the ḥadīth of Salmān with the words, "nothing but supplication averts the decree, and nothing but righteousness increases the life-span." Reported by at-Ṭabarānī in 'al-Kabīr' [no.6128], al-Tirmidhī [no.2139] and others.]

CHAPTER TWO: BEING EARNEST AND PERSISTENT IN SUPPLICATION

From the most beneficial of treatments is to be earnest and persistent in supplication. Ibn Mājah reports in his Sunan the ḥadīth of Abū Hurayrah from the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) that he said, "Allāh is Angry at whosoever does not ask of Him."

[Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh [Eng. Trans. 1/473]. Reported by al-Tirmidhī [no.3373], ibn Mājah [no. 3827], Aḥmad [2/443], al-Ḥākim [1/491] and al-Bayḥaqī in 'ad-Da`waat al-Kabīrah' [no. 22] with a good isnād. The ḥadīth has a witness with a da`eef isnād from the ḥadīth of Anas reported by at-Ṭabarānī in 'ad-Du`aa' [no.24] and the ḥadīth of Nu`maan ibn Bashīr reported by the authors of the Sunan.]

Al-Awzaa`ee mentions from az-Zuhree from Urwa from Āʿishah (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu) that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said, "Allāh Loves those who are earnest and persistent in their supplications."

[Reported by Uqailee in 'ad-Du`afaa' [1/198/2], al-Fʿalákee in 'al-Fawaa`id' [2/89], ibn Adee [7/163] and at-Ṭabarānī in 'ad-Du`aa' [no. 20].

The ḥadīth is maudu.

Refer to: 'Silsilah ad-Da`eefah' [no. 637], 'Irwá al-Ghaleel' [no. 677] and 'Talkhees al-Habeer' of ibn Hajr al-Asqʿalánee [2/194 no.716]]

Imām Aḥmad reports in his 'Kitāb al-Zuhd' from Qatādah from Muwarraq that he said, "I have not found a deserving similitude for the believer except in the case of a person on the sea floating on a raft supplicating to his Lord, 'my Lord! My Lord!' so that perchance Allāh, the Mighty and Magnificent, may save him." ['Kitāb al-Zuhd' of Imām Aḥmad [2/273, chpt. 'Akhbaar Muwarraq al-Ijlee.'] and Abū Nu`aym in 'al-Hilya' [2/235]]

CHAPTER THREE: BEING IMPATIENT WITH SUPPLICATION

From the reasons that prevent the servant from attaining the fulfillment of the supplication is his being hasty and impatient, so when the answer is delayed or slow in coming he becomes frustrated and gives up supplicating. This person is like the one who sows a seed or plants a flower, watering it and tending to it, then when it is delayed in appearing or flowering he leaves it and neglects it.

In Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī from the ḥadīth of Abū Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said, "your supplications will be answered as long as you are not impatient by saying, 'I have supplicated to my Lord but He has not answered.'" [Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī [Eng. Trans. 8/236 no. 352]]

In Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim from the ḥadīth of Abū Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said, "the supplication of the servant will always be answered provided that he does not supplicate for something sinful or supplicate to sever the ties of kinship and provided that he is not impatient." It was asked, "O Messenger of Allāh, what is impatience?" He replied, "he says: 'I have supplicated and supplicated but I have not received an answer' then he becomes frustrated and leaves off supplicating." [Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim [Eng. Trans. 4/1430 no. 6595]]

In the Musnad of Aḥmad from the ḥadīth of Anas that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said, "the servant will always be in a state of good as long as he is not impatient." They asked, "how is he impatient?" He replied, "he says, 'I have supplicated to my Lord but he has not answered.'"

[Aḥmad [3/193-210], Abū Ya`lā [no. 2865], at-Ṭabarānī in 'al-Awsaṭ' [no. 2518] and in 'ad-Du`aa' [no. 21], and ibn Adee [6/2219] Its isnād is ḥasan and the ḥadīth is also reported via another route from by al-Bazzaar [4/37].]

==============

CHAPTER FOUR: THE BEST TIMES FOR SUPPLICATION

When the servant comibnes with his supplication, the presence of the heart and its being attentive and devoting itself solely to Allāh, sincerely asking Him for the desired matter, doing so at one of the six times when the supplication is more likely to answered - these being:

1) The last third of the night.

2) At the time of the aẓan.

3) Between the aẓan and iqāmah.

4) At the ends of the prescribed prayers.

5) From the time the Imām ascends the pulpit to the time the prayer has finished on the day of Jumu`ah.

6) The last hour after the prayer ʿAṣr.

Alongside this the servant appends to this fear and reverence in the heart, beseeching his Lord in a state of humility and submissiveness. He faces the Qiblah and is in a state of purity, he raises his hands to Allāh and begins by praising and extolling Him, then he invokes peace and blessings upon Muḥammad, His servant and Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam). He precedes mentioning his need by seeking forgiveness from Allāh and then he earnestly and sincerely makes his request as one who is needy and impoverished, supplicating to Him out of hope and fear. He seeks the means of getting close to Him by mentioning His Names and Attributes and making the religion sincerely for Him Alone. Before making supplication he gives in charity. If all this is done then this supplication will never be rejected especially if the servant employs the supplications that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) informed us would be accepted or if his supplication includes mention ofAllāh's Greatest Name.

…..

 {Translators' notes: the proofs for the above times and recommendations

1) From Abū Hurayrah (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu) that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said, "Our Lord, the Blessed and Most High, Descend every night to the lowest heaven when only the last third of the night remains and says, 'who is calling upon Me so that I may respond? Who is seeking My forgiveness so that I may forgive Him." Reported by Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim [Eng. Trans. 1/365 no. 1656]

2) From Anas (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu) that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said, "when the aẓan is proclaimed, the doors to the heaven open and the supplications are answered."

Reported by at-Tayaalisee [no. 2106], at-Ṭabarānī in 'ad-Du`aa' [no.485] and others with a ḥasan isnād and is made ṣaḥīḥ due to supports. Refer to: al-Ṣaḥihah [no. 1413] and the notes of F. Zamrali to

'al-Targhīb fī ad-Du`aa' [pg. 76-77 no. 35]

3) From Anas (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu) that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said, "the supplication made between the aẓan and the iqāmah will not be rejected."

Reported by Abū Dāwūd, al-Tirmidhī [no. 212, 3594], Aḥmad [3/119], ibn Abī Shaybah [no. 8465] and others with a da`eef isnād but the ḥadīth has supports which make it ṣaḥīḥ.

Refer to: 'Irwá al-Ghaleel' [no. 244], the notes of F. Zamrali to 'al-Targhīb fī ad-Du`aa' [pp. 75-78, no. 35].

4) From Abū Umaamah (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu) that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) was asked, "when is the supplication most likely to be accepted?" He replied, "in the last depth of the night and at the end of the prescribed prayers." Reported by al-Tirmidhī who said that it was ḥasan and al-Albānī agreed.

5) From Abū Mūsá (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu) that he heard the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) saying concerning the hour in which the supplications will be answered on the day of Jumu`ah, "it is between the time that the imām sits (on the pulpit) and the time that the prayer is completed."

Reported by Muslim and Abū Dāwūd Shaykh ʿAlī Ḥasan said, "this (time) is problematic, however this is not the place to explain it."

6) From Jābir (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu) that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said, "the day of Jumu`ah has twelve hours, and during one of the hours you will not find a Muslim servant (of Allāh) asking Allāh for something except that He will give it to him. Seek it in the last hour after the prayer of ʿAṣr" Reported by Abū Dāwūd [Eng. Trans. 1/270 no. 1043], al-Nasāʿī and others.

7) Abū Dāwūd reports the ḥadīth of Fudaalah ibn Ubaid that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) heard a man supplicating in prayer. He did not glorify Allāh and neither did he invoke blessings on the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam). The Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said, "he made haste." He then called him and said to him or to those around him, "If any one of you prays, he should commence by glorifying his Lord and praising Him; he should invoke peace and blessings on the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) and thereafter he should supplicate Allāh for anything he wishes."

Abū Dāwūd [Eng. Trans. 1/390 no. 1476], al-Tirmidhī [no. 3476], al-Nasāʿī [3/44], Aḥmad [6/18] and others with a ḥasan isnād. Refer to the notes of F. Zamrali to 'al-Targhīb fī ad-Du`aa' [pg. 11].

8) From ʿAlī (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu) that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said, "every supplication is veiled until one has invoked peace and blessings upon the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam)."

Reported by ibn Mukhlid in 'al-Muntaqaa' [1/76] and al-Aṣbahānī in 'al-Targhīb' [2/171] and others.

The ḥadīth is ḥasan due to supports. Refer to: al-Ṣaḥihah [no. 2035] and Ṣaḥīḥ al-Jāmiʿ [no. 4523]}

CHAPTER FIVE: SOME OF THE REASONS FOR SUPPLICATION BEING ANSWERED

Frequently we find the supplications that are answered to be those that comibne dire need with the persons sincerely turning to Allāh Alone, or due to a good deed that the person performed before the supplication and Allāh made it to be the reason behind His answering the supplication as a way of showing appreciation, or the person supplicated at a time in which the supplication will be answered etc.

Someone may think that the reason of the supplication being answered lies in the wording of the supplication itself and he takes to this wording only, ignoring the other matters that this supplicator comibned when supplicating. This is like a person who takes a medicine at a recommended time and in a recommended way and thereby benefits from it, another person sees this and thinks that taking the medicine on its own suffices to bring about benefit. This is incorrect and in fact this is an area in which many people have erred.

For example a person may supplicate at a time of dire need by the side of a grave and this supplication be answered. Now an ignorant person may see this and think that the reason behind the supplication being answered lay with the grave and not know that the reason actually lay in the person being in dire need and his sincerely resorting to Allāh. If this person, when being in this situation, had supplicated in a house from amongst the houses of Allāh then this would have been better and more beloved to Allāh.

CHAPTER SIX: SUPPLICATION IS LIKE A WEAPON

Supplications and seeking refuge are of the level of a weapon. The strength of the weapon lies in the strength of the one wielding it and not merely in its own natural strength. So when the weapon is complete having no defect and the arm wielding it is strong and any obstacles are absent - then the weapon will cause harm to the enemy, and when any of these three matters are absent then the desired effect of the weapon will also be absent. Similarly, when the supplication, in and of itself, is corrupt, or the supplicator does not comibne his heart with his tongue at the time of supplication, or for some reason there be an obstacle preventing the answer - then the desired outcome will not be achieved.

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