Allah is not far, supplication is always granted

Among the signs of love and mercy of Allah to His servants is that he does not make any barrier for any of His servants to appeal to him. In this divine relation (between a servant and his Lord), a person is commanded to communicate directly with Allah without having to go through a ‘broker’. There is no medium between Allah and His servants.

Islam rejects all elements of idolatry that turn creatures into make belief gods replacing the true God. Islam regards the appeal to grant supplication from mortals as shirk (joining others in worship with Allah). It is regardless of who the mortal is, whether he is a Prophet or a holy person.

A Muslim is forbidden from going to their graves and exclaiming: “O so and so, please help me!” Or exclaiming: “O Prophet! Please solace my soul!” Or exclaiming: “O holy man! Please cure my disease!”

That kind of act is considered as shirk. A believer only supplicates Allah. Allah says (translated as):

“And who is more astray than one who invokes besides Allah, such as will not answer Him to the Day of Judgment, and who (in fact) are unconscious of their call (to them)? And when mankind are gathered together (at the Resurrection), they will be hostile to them and reject their worship (altogether)!” (Surah al-Ahqaf: 5-6).

Allah says (translated as):

“He merges night into day, and He merges day into night, and He has subjected the sun and the moon (to His Law): Each one runs its course for a term appointed. Such is Allah your Lord: To Him belong all dominion. And those whom ye invoke besides Him have not the least power. If ye invoke them, they will not listen to your call, and if they were to listen, they cannot answer your (prayer). On the Day of Judgment they will reject your “Partnership”. And none, (o man!) can tell thee (the truth) like the one who is acquainted with all things.” (surah Fatir: 13-14).

Therefore, the act of invoking other than Allah, either by appealing to idols openly or by calling up names of holy men such as Abdul Qadir al-Jailani or the ‘wali songo’ (the nine holy men of Javanese origin) or whatever is included into acts of shirk that are prohibited by the texts of al-Quran and al-Sunnah.

The Prophet s.a.w really guarded the issues of akidah (belief and adherence to the creed of Islam). It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that a man said to the Prophet s.a.w:

Whatever that Allah and you desire.” Then the Prophet said to him: “Are you trying to make me the partner of Allah? In fact (say): Whatever that Allah desires.” (Reported by al-Imam Ahmad, ranked as sahih (sound) by al-Albani, Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah, 1/266).

Just compare the stringency of the Prophet with the teachings of some leaders of cults or Sufism that bring out all elements of miracle in them so that they will be revered by their followers. In the end, they become as if they are Gods being worshipped or the representatives of God who determine the rejection or acceptance of the acts of worship of their followers. Even more, the destiny of their followers also seems to be in their hands.

Similarly, overzealous followers who revere their religious figure excessively can in the end fall into the phenomenon of shirk. This kind of excessive reverence made many individuals to be regarded as holy and divine. It is to the extent that they are labeled as ‘the holy ones’ implicating as if they are guarded from making mistakes. Subsequently, the ignorant people will come to their graves to solemnize their oaths or to ask for their wishes to be granted. When I went to Urumuqi in China, they told me about a cave there which they believe is the cave stated in the Ashabul Kahfi story mentioned in the al-Quran. Many visit it to commit shirk by asking for their wishes to be granted there. I told them that on this earth, who knows how many caves there are alleged to be the place for Ashabul Kahfi. It is happening in Turkey, Jordan and other countries. All are claims but without proofs. It is similar with the historical places of the Prophets whose existences are being advocated by some quarters. There are no signs that can determine the authenticity. Even if the allegation was true, the Prophets were not Gods to whom someone can ask for wishes from. This was what happened to Prophet Jesus. From being a Prophet sent forth by Allah, in the end people appointed him as the son of God. Asking from religious or pious people that have passed away to grant wishes is shirk. Islam does not acknowledge that kind of deed. The authentic Islam is free from all elements of stupidity that know no borders.

Some try to defend those acts by saying: “It is just that those people are close to Allah and we, on the other hands, are far from Allah. Thus, we use them as mediums just like we use mediums when we want to get close to a minister or a king.” I told them this: “Do you think that the characters of Allah are similar to those of your ministers or kings?” That kind of claim is being contradicted by al-Quran tenaciously. Allah says (translated as):

“Is it not to Allah that sincere devotion is due? But those who take for protectors other than Allah (say): “We only serve them in order that they may bring us nearer to Allah.” Truly Allah will judge between them in that wherein they differ. But Allah guides not such as are false (by saying baseless things) and ungrateful (by committing shirk).” (Surah al-Zumar: 3)

In the al-Quran, after Allah narrates about the month of Ramadan and the obligation of fasting, Allah straightaway mentions the effectiveness of supplication. This indicates that there is a strong relation between fasting in the month of Ramadan and Allah’s promise to grant the supplication of His Servants. Allah says (translated as):

“When My servants ask thee concerning me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me: let them also, with a will, listen to My call, and believe in Me: that They may walk In the right way.” (surah al-Baqarah: 186)

Thus, Allah is always close to us, hears and grants our supplication. Anybody can reach Him. No guards or mediators can prevent a servant to plead and beg from his Lord. It is regardless of who the servant is, whatever race he is and whatever language he uses in supplicating, whatever life history he has be it bad or good. God is always willing to listen and grant their supplications the way that He desires. The more wishes and requests a servant has the more affectionate and intimate Allah is towards him. It is completely different from the behavior of this weak being of ours. No matter how good a person is to us but if we ask for favors too often, the feeling of annoyance and tiresomeness will creep into his soul. Glory to Allah, He is above such character. He tells us to supplicate and supplicate a lot. It is because supplication is the symbol of one’s submission to the Most Exalted being. Allah says (translated as):

“And your Lord says: “Call on Me; I will answer your (prayer): but those who are too arrogant to serve me (supplicate to Me) will surely find themselves In Hell – In humiliation!”” (surah Ghafir: 60).

A person sometimes does not realize the fact that when he supplicates to Allah he is actually performing an immense act of worship. Even though it seems like he is supplicating to fulfill his own interest but in truth, he is testifying his honest belief to the oneness and uniqueness of Allah as well as his submission to the True God. Therefore, because of that the Prophet stated:

“Supplication is itself the worship.” (Reported by Abu Daud and al-Tirmizi, sahih)

If a servant spends the whole night supplicating Allah, it means he is performing an immense act of worship all night long.

Our supplications are in effect always granted by Allah. If it seems like it is not granted, probably there are some factors hindering it. It can possibly be that the supplication would not bring any benefit if it were granted. Allah is Most Knowing. It is like when we wishes to marry someone whom we like and we pray for Allah to make that someone to be our spouse. Allah knows best if that is not good for us and He chooses for us another person to be our spouse. Or probably Allah grants the supplication of others whom He desires more to grant. Or probably Allah grants the supplication of that someone who wishes for other to be his/her spouse. Anything is possible. Nevertheless, supplication made is never wasted. High rewards is definitely given and if it seems like the supplication is not granted, it will be substituted with other goodness in this world and Hereafter. The Prophet said:

“No Muslim who supplicates not for sin nor for severing the ties of blood except Allah will bestow him with one of three things: whether He expedites in granting it or He reserves it to be given in the Day of Judgment or He saves him from harm in which the intensity matches that of his supplication. (Reported by Ahmad, al-Bazzar and Abu Ya’la with a sahih chain of reporters.)

Therefore, some of our supplications are granted by Allah in this world. Some are not granted due to the benefits that only Allah knows and the supplication is reserved by His side to be paid off with much better and more essential reward in the Afterlife. It can also be that the supplication is substituted with other benefits such as by being saved from various harms and most of the time, it is out of our expectation. So many harms befall other people but we are saved by Allah from them not because we supplicate for it or because we are smart but probably, our supplication for other things is substituted with the protection from unexpected harms. Sometimes, He does not grant our requests due to His Mercy on us, probably because He wishes to save us instead. He is Most Knowing. If the supplication were granted, probably we would be drifting away or would have to endure things that can jeopardize our life in this world or Hereafter. We actually have similar tendency. When a father does not fulfill the wishes of his son, it does not indicate signs of hatred. More than that, most of the time it is due to his love to his son because he worries that harms will befall his son if he gives in to his request. Glory be to Allah, He is above all of us but the fact is, His blessing is always abundant. If He deferred our supplication, there must be a benefit to it.

On the other hands, we have to understand that supplication means request. One must be conscientious in making a supplication. Thus, it is not considered as supplicating if we do not understand what we are supplicating for. Because of that, I am so amazed by some people who supplicate but without knowing its meaning. Some of them memorize the Arabic texts of supplication because they want to be the ‘anchorman’ for reciting supplication in various functions. Unfortunately, some do not understand the supplication that they recite and similarly, the ones who pronounce amen to it do not understand it too. Some people complain saying that the Arabs in Masjidilharam (in Mecca) and Nabawi Mosque (in Medina) do not make supplication collectively after the prayer indicating that their footing of Islam is weak. To this I say: Islam was not sent down in our own hometown but it was sent down in Mecca and Medina. Those people are doing what had been practiced by the Messenger of Allah. Furthermore, one who performs the prayer is told to supplicate while still in the prayer and to recite the zikr (remembrance of Allah) after the prayer. In the hadith, we are taught to supplicate while prostrating and after reciting the tasyahud (the last recitation in a prayer) before pronouncing the salaam (for concluding the prayer). Those are the times when supplication is most effective. The Prophet said:

“The nearest a servant comes to his Lord is when he is prostrating himself, so make supplication (in this state).” (Reported by Muslim).

The Prophet also told us about the effectiveness of making supplication after tasyahud and before pronouncing salaam in a prayer:

“Supplicate and it will be effectual, request and it will be granted.” (Reported by al-Nasai, its chain of reporters is sahih).

When we see people not holding up their hands supplicating loudly and collectively, it does not mean that they do not supplicate. Probably, we do not understand enough, not knowing that they may have supplicated in their prayer much earlier than we do. If the supplication is to be made after the prayer collectively, surely in many cases the desire of the imam and makmum (those following behind imam in prayer) is not the same. Therefore, we cannot get angry when we see a person supplicating all by himself.

Give words of advice to those who recite a supplication without knowing its meaning or pronounce amen to it without knowing its content. Even more saddening is when the supplication is recited with the kind of tone and rhyme that does not depict the subservient condition of a servant who is pleading to Allah. For some of the tones, even we would debate it if someone speaks to us with those tones. Is it appropriate to supplicate Allah the Exalted with that kind of tone? Indeed, it is true what was stated by the Messenger of Allah:

“Supplicate Allah the Exalted in a condition that you are confident it will be granted. Know that Allah will not accept supplication that comes from an oblivious and unconcerned heart.” (Reported by al-Timizi, ranked as sahih by al-Albani).

Let us learn about the religious texts on supplication because it is very essential for our life in this world and Hereafter.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin. The author are former Mufti of Perlis, Malaysia, lecturer in University Science of Malaysia and currently at Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Oxford attending “Visiting Research Scholar” funded by British Council.

Translation by Umm Hajar (

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