Why is my du‘a not being answered?

Ibn ‘Aṭāillāh al-Iskandari [d. 709AH/1309CE] says in his famous work, al-Ḥikam – or “Aphorisms”:

6. If, in spite of intense supplication, there is a delay in the timing of the Gift, let that not be the cause for your despair. For He ﷻ has guaranteed you a response in what He ﷻ chooses for you, not in what you choose for yourself; and at the time He ﷻ desires, not the time you desire.

‘Abd al-Majīd al-Shurnūbī [d. 1348H/1929CE] explains this aphorism in his work, Sharḥ al-Ḥikam:

That is, let not a delay in the timing of a gift [response] – despite persistence and firm continuance in making du‘a – be a cause to despair about a response to the du‘a. For Allah, transcendent is He, has guaranteed you a response, as per His ﷻ words: “Call upon Me, and I will respond to you” [60:40] in what He ﷻ chooses for you, not what you choose for yourself. For He ﷻ knows what is better for you than you do. Perhaps you may ask for a thing, the denial of which is better for you.

The author writes later: “Sometimes He ﷻ gives while depriving you, and sometimes He ﷻ deprives while giving to you.” This is witnessed by those who realise the station: It may be that you hate a thing though it is good for you, or love a thing though it is bad for you. Allah knows, but you know not.” [2:216] This is why one of the gnostics stated: “His ﷻ withholding from you is, in reality, a form of giving.”

Likewise, He ﷻ has guaranteed you a response in the time He ﷻ chooses, not in the time of your choosing. You ought to cultivate a Moses like patience, for patience and avoiding hastiness more befits the servant. Don’t you see that Moses would supplicate against Pharaoh and his people, and Aaron would say: “Amen” to it: “O Lord, destroy their riches and harden their hearts so that they persist in disbelief, until they face the painful torment.” [10:88] Yet only after forty years were their prayers answered, as He ﷻ said: “Your prayer is answered. Follow, both of you, the right path and do not walk in the footsteps of those who know not.” [10:89] In one ḥadīth [it says]: “Indeed, Allah loves those who are persistent in supplicating.” It has also been related that when a righteous slave supplicates to Allah, exalted is He, Gabriel says: O Lord, your slave wants a need of his fulfilled. So Allah ﷻ responds: “Leave my slave; for I love him and love to hear his voice.”

So, O aspirant, fulfil what Allah ﷻ has instructed you with in respect to supplication, and submit to His ﷻ will. Perhaps you will be responded to by Him ﷻ withholding from you and giving you other than what you were seeking, by which you are then granted the greatest good, and even more. [10:26]


Source: The Humble “I”
Picture by: Umar Khan ©

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