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Don’t Give Up On That “Unanswered” Prayer

Continuing to ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for that seemingly unanswered dua’ over and over again may seem impossible or pointless, but it is not.

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I know sometimes you think it’s unfair and you wonder why God isn’t blessing you with the dua’ you’ve been making when you’ve tried so hard and done things right for so long. An unanswered prayer is a part of every human’s life. You want to get married and despite all your efforts and your commitment to doing things right, you’re still so alone. You’re trying to have a baby, and despite months or years of trying, you have friends who didn’t even want to get pregnant but are conceiving children. You want to get that particular job or get into that particular school and yet…the doors are closed for you, again. And you wonder: what am I doing wrong? Is God mad at me? And you’ve often caught yourself wondering…what’s the point in me still making this dua’ which is not being answered, anyway? 

Sometimes you think it’s unfair that God isn’t blessing you when you’ve tried so hard and done things right for so long. I myself wanted something so badly and I kept praying for it, pouring my heart into begging God to give it to me. But after making dua’ for a while, eventually I would make that dua’ while saying to myself, “God probably wants to test me. He knows how much I want this, so He probably will give me the opposite of it just because I want it so badly.” 

Continuing to ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for that thing over and over again may seem impossible or pointless, but it is not. With training yourself to hold a positive opinion of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and to recognize His wisdom even when you cannot understand it in the moment, inshaAllah, you will feel the patience to persist by shifting your understanding of a prayer which seems unanswered. Holding these two views in your heart will help you persist in praying for your unanswered prayer, for what you want and never giving up hope in the power of your dua’ and the promise that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will answer it.  

Having a Good Opinion of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)

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After praying with so much devotion for something and losing hope in Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) willingness to grant me what I wanted, one day I realized: God says:

أَنَا عِنْدَ ظَنِّ عَبْدِي بِي

“I am as My servant thinks I am.” [Hadith Qudsi;Al Bukahri]

Why would He give me what I want when all I’m thinking is about how much He wouldn’t give it to me? If I don’t even believe He’ll give it to me, if while I’m praying for it I’m thinking He will withhold it–then why would I be blessed with it? The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught us that we should pray for something while we are certain that God will answer us. It might not come in the same way we want it–but, then again, maybe it will!

Maybe it’ll be better, or maybe we’ll get it in the Hereafter, or perhaps something evil will be prevented and averted from us because of our prayer. In all those scenarios there is one common factor: God will answer. And all the more so, His answer to that dua’ will always be good.

With this newly found positive conviction, I went back to begging God to grant that specific dua’ for me; but this time, I was fervently certain that He would answer me. As the months went by and as one year merged into the next, every time a doubt would enter my heart, I cast it away. I screamed at it! I would say: He has to answer. He will answer. This is Al Mujeeb–The One Who Responds! This is Al Kareem–The Generous! This is Al Wadud–The Loving!

And you know what? He answered my longed-for dua’.  He did. And in a way and timing which was beyond my wildest hopes and dreams. I know what some of you are thinking–that I’m just special in getting my unanswered prayer. At times this took ten years to come to fruition for me. This is not something only I’ve experienced, it’s a story I hear from others all the time. The answer is always there; it just may not be how you expect.

Don’t give up. Ibn Ataillah made this profound statement, “When God inspires your tongue to ask, know that He wants to give.” Have that fervent certainty that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will answer your dua’ in the best way for your particular circumstances as you continue to ask Him.   

Shifting Our Understanding of How Dua’s are Answered

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When it seems like a dua’ I’ve made for so long is not answered, I have to remind myself that our prayers are always being answered, but just not always in exactly the same way we are asking for them. So know that even if you don’t feel it, He is protecting you in what He withholds from you. Know that whenever you pray, He answers. But He answers in His timing, when it’s best for you. And if it turns out that it’s not best for you in this life–then without a doubt, it’ll be waiting for you in the next. 

The fact of the matter is that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is All-Knowing and All-Wise and The Best of Planners, not me. Thus,it may be that I am making a dua’ which is in actuality not in my best interests for my deen, dunya, or akhirah, and He is answering in the way He knows will be best for me in all three. In hindsight I have realized, and I’m sure for many of you have as well, sometimes what I’ve so desperately insisted upon has made me sick: physically, spiritually, or mentally, and I realized that God was protecting me by withholding it. Other times, what I want has come, but delayed to a better time and in a better way than I could have imagined.

As Imam al Ghazali said, “As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good; I was actually being re-directed to something better. You must convince your heart that whatever God has decreed is most appropriate and most beneficial for you.” Convince your heart that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is always answering your prayers and always in the best way possible for your very specific, intimate circumstances, even when we don’t see or understand how He is. 

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Maryam Amir received her master’s in Education from UCLA. She holds a second bachelor’s degree in Islamic Studies through Al-Azhar University. Maryam has studied in Egypt, memorized the Qur’an and has researched a variety of religious sciences, ranging from Quranic exegesis, Islamic jurisprudence, Prophetic narrations and commentary, women’s rights within Islamic law and more for the past 15 years. She’s featured in a video series on faith produced by goodcast.net called The Maryam Amir Show. She actively hosts women who have memorized Quran from around the world to share their journeys through the #FOREMOTHERS campaign. She is an instructor with SWISS and Hikmah Institutes. She has been interviewed for her work by major news outlets including BBC, NPR and CBS. Maryam’s focus in the fields of spiritual connections, identity actualization, social justice and women’s studies have humbled her the opportunity to lecture throughout the United States and the world, including in Jerusalem, Mecca, Medina, Stockholm, London, Toronto and more. She holds a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and speaks multiple languages. She is the creator of “Qariah: The Women Quran Reciters App” which will be released by Ramadan 2022 inshaAllah. To learn more about the app or connect with Maryam online, find her on instagram: @themaryamamir.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Amer Rizvi

    January 5, 2022 at 5:40 PM

    Salam! I enjoyed reading your article. I just wanted to add that one reason why many Muslims don’t repeat their supplications over and over again is because it just gets plain boring! This is why it’s so important to use prophetic supplications. The supplications taught us by Prophet Muhammad, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, were designed to maintain our interest. They start with the names and attributes of Allah, and are very comprehensive in nature; they give you the bang for the buck! You will never get bored if you use prophetic supplications. Many Western Islamic scholars say that you should supplicate in your own language as these supplications are more likely to come from your heart. I disagree! If you learn just a little Arabic and start supplicating in the prophetic language, you’ll really start enjoying making supplications, and you’ll never “give up on that unanswered prayer,” inshaa Allah! In fact, supplicating will become the most enjoyable thing to you in this life!

  2. Rohani Ways

    February 12, 2022 at 3:19 AM

    When Allah created duas for his disciples, it was to show them that they should always work on their own goals.

    They should not give up after working on them make them. He taught that Regularity makes you spiritually strong further in life-related goals. At Every start of your day, you have to connect regularly with Allah’s path. Recite Durood Sharif or Surah al-Ahzab 27 times you get what you want.

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