Why are our prayers not accepted? What is the reason for a prayer not to be accepted?

Details of the Question

- Is dua (prayer/supplication) a deed of worship?
- Is practical dua necessary for a dua to be accepted? How should it be?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Supplication is a deed of worship. Our main principle and aim in supplications must be worship. Otherwise, it is false to consider supplication as merely a petition for needs, which should be accepted.

Sometimes we supplicate to ask for something. However, what we ask for is seemingly not accepted. In spite of this, we should not quit supplicating. If what we ask for is accepted by Allah and given to us, it is more than favorable to us. However, if it is not accepted and not given to us, we should not say “My supplication has not been accepted”. Contrarily, we should say “Allah accepted that supplication of mine for the hereafter or in a better way in this world.”

Actually, that supplication is not in vain; we should try to supplicate more and more eagerly thinking that we will have the return for it in the hereafter since it is a kind of worship.

Allah says in the Quran: “Call on Me; I will answer your (prayer)” (al-Mu’min, 40:60).

Putting this verse forward, some people say: “Although Allah says “Call on Me; I will answer your prayer”, why are some of our supplications refused although we supplicate a lot?” In this matter, the scholars agree to say that Allah says “I will answer” and not “I will accept”. Imagine that you see a doctor and say “Doctor, give me this medicine”. Of course, the doctor will answer you but it does not mean that the answer will be positive. If the medicine you ask for is not good for you, he will not give it to you or maybe he will give you a better one.

Similarly, Allah, the All-wise, responds to our supplications. However, He sometimes gives exactly what we ask for, or gives a better one than what we ask for, or does not give it at all as He knows it is bad for us.

After this short explanation, let us talk about the conditions for a supplication to be accepted:

- First of all, the supplication must be something acceptable.

- Then it must be made with a sincere and sinless tongue.

- If possible, it must be done after making wudu and having halal food.

- Supplication made in holy places, especially mosques, at holy times especially in the month of Ramadan and holy nights such as Laylatul Qadr, Laylatul Barat, after prayers especially morning prayer are likelier to be accepted.

The more one leaves these conditions out in his supplications, the less effective the supplications will be.

There are different kinds of supplication:

For instance, you have an examination tomorrow. The supplication for the examination is studying. It is called practical supplication.

After finishing studying, we raise our hands and say “My Lord, give me what is good for me”; and it is verbal supplication. One should supplicate sincerely and be ready to accept the result because Allah knows that what we want sometimes may not be good for us, but we do not know. As Allah, who has infinite mercy, knows that it will not be good for us, He accepts that supplication in a different way.

Hazrat Maryam’s mother dedicated her to the mosque when she was about to be born. And when she saw that her child was not a boy but a girl, she was surprised and sad. Emphasizing that example, Islamic scholars say that Allah definitely accepts our supplication.

Sometimes He accepts them in a different and better way. And Hazrat Maryam (Mary) was a girl equal to a hundred boys. One cannot say that Allah did not accept her supplication. As a matter of fact, He accepted her supplication in a better way. And sometimes one thinks that his supplication is never accepted on the earth. However, his supplication is accepted in a better and more elevated way in Heaven.

Questions on Islam

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