177561: Does the fact that Allah answers the prayers of the disbelievers indicate that what they believe is true?
The supplication of the disbelievers, if it is a supplication to someone other than Allah, such as the supplication of the Christians to their object of worship the Messiah (peace be upon him) or to the Virgin Mary, or the supplication of idol worshippers to their idols, is a supplication based on misguidance that will not bring any benefit; rather it will be a cause of punishment for them in the Hereafter, because it is associating others with Allah, may He be exalted.
Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“For Him (Alone) is the Word of Truth (i.e. none has the right to be worshipped but He). And those whom they (polytheists and disbelievers) invoke, answer them no more than one who stretches forth his hand (at the edge of a deep well) for water to reach his mouth, but it reaches him not, and the invocation of the disbelievers is nothing but an error (i.e. of no use)”
[ar-Ra ‘d 13:14].
Ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him) said in his Tafseer (2/785):
What is meant is that just as the one who stretches forth his hand to the water, either to take some of it from a distance will not benefit from the water that does not reach his mouth, similarly these mushrikeen who worship another god alongside Allah will never benefit from that in this world or in the Hereafter. End quote.
The supplication of the disbelievers to Allah may be answered sometimes, for reasons such as establishing proof against the disbelievers or to prove their disbelief, denial and stubbornness; or to restore justice to those among them who have been wronged, because Allah enjoins justice and forbids injustice; or because He has guaranteed to provide for them in this world, so if they ask Him for provision He grants it to them; or to manifest His kindness, generosity and blessing to all people.
Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And when harm touches you upon the sea, those that you call upon besides Him vanish from you except Him (Allah Alone). But when He brings you safely to land, you turn away (from Him). And man is ever ungrateful”
“Say (O Muhammad SAW): Who rescues you from the darkness of the land and the sea (dangers like storms), when you call upon Him in humility and in secret (saying): If He (Allah) only saves us from this (danger), we shall truly be grateful.
Say (O Muhammad SAW): Allah rescues you from it and from all (other) distresses, and yet you worship others besides Allah”
[al-An‘aam 6: 63-64]
“Is not He (better than your gods) Who responds to the distressed one, when he calls Him, and Who removes the evil, and makes you inheritors of the earth, generations after generations. Is there any ilah (god) with Allah? Little is that you remember!”
“And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Verily! Man is indeed an extreme wrong-doer, - a disbeliever (an extreme ingrate, denies Allah’s Blessings by disbelief, and by worshipping others besides Allah, and by disobeying Allah and His Prophet Muhammad SAW)”
The apparent meaning of these verses indicates that the fact that Allah answers some of the prayers of the disbelievers is to prove their disbelief and denial, and to establish proof against them, or to manifest His mercy, grace and kindness by helping those who are in desperate need and saving those who are in distress.
The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Fear the prayer of the oppressed, even if he is a disbeliever, for there is no barrier (between it and Allah).”
Narrated by Ahmad, 12140; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh at-Targheeb wa’t-Tarheeb, 2231
This indicates that Allah responds to the prayer of the disbeliever who is wronged, because Allah enjoins justice and forbids injustice, and He restores justice to those who are wronged even if they are disbelievers, because His justice is perfect.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said in Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa, 1/206:
All of mankind, both believers and disbelievers, ask of Allah and Allah may answer the supplication of the disbeliever. If the disbelievers ask Allah for provision, He grants them provision and water. If harm touches them at sea, they will turn to no one except Him. Then when He brings them safely to land, they turn away and man is ever ungrateful. End quote.
He also said in Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa, 1/233:
With regard to answering the prayers of those who ask, in general terms Allah answers the supplication of the one who is in distress and of the one who is wronged, even if he is a disbeliever. End quote.
The fact that Allah answers the supplication of the disbelievers does not imply that He loves them or that He supports or honours them, or that He is pleased with their religion and beliefs. Rather that might be part of letting them get carried away (in their misguidance) and hastening good things for them in this world so that they may taste the punishment in the Hereafter. Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, does not love the disbelievers and is not pleased with them or their disbelief.
Ibn al-Qayyim said in Ighaathat al-Lahfaan, 1/13:
Not everyone whose supplication Allah answers has attained His pleasure or love, nor is He pleased with his actions. He may answer the prayers of the righteous and evildoers, believers and disbelievers.
Many people offer supplication in which they overstep the mark, or stipulate conditions, or ask for things for which it is not permissible to ask. Then they get that or some of it, and they think that their actions are righteous and pleasing to Allah, but they are in the same position as one who is given abundant wealth and children so that he might get carried away (in his misguidance), whilst he thinks that Allah is hastening to give him all good things. But Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“So, when they forgot (the warning) with which they had been reminded, We opened to them the gates of every (pleasant) thing, until in the midst of their enjoyment in that which they were given, all of a sudden, We took them to punishment, and lo! They were plunged into destruction with deep regrets and sorrows.”
Supplication may be an act of worship for which the one who does it will be rewarded, or it may be asking to have one’s needs met but that may be harmful to the individual: either he will be punished as a result of what he gets or he will be lowered in status, so he gets his needs met but is punished for neglecting his duties or overstepping the mark. End quote.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said in Iqtida’ as-Siraat al-Mustaqeem, p. 89
Not everyone to whom Allah grants provision and help, whether in response to his supplication or otherwise, is among those whom Allah loves and helps; rather He, may He be glorified, grants provision to believers and disbelievers, righteous and evildoers. He may answer their supplication to give them what they ask for in this world, but they have no share of the hereafter.
The scholars stated that some disbelievers who were Christians besieged a Muslim city and their water ran out, so they asked the Muslims to give them some fresh water and they would lift the siege from them. The Muslim leaders discussed the matter and said, rather we should leave them until thirst has weakened them, then we can defeat them. Then the Christians prayed for rain and asked Allah to give them water, and He answered their prayer. Some of the common people were confused, so the king said to one of the scholars: Say something to explain the situation to the people. So he issued instructions that a minbar be set up for him and he said: O Allah, we know that these are among those whose provision You have guaranteed, as You say (interpretation of the meaning): “And no (moving) living creature is there on earth but its provision is due from Allah” [Hood 11:6]. They called upon You in distress, and You answer the one who is in distress when he calls upon You. You granted them rain, because You have guaranteed their provision and because they called upon You in distress, not because You love them or because You love their religion. Now we want to see a sign that will make faith steadfast in the hearts of Your believing slaves. So Allah sent against them (the enemy) a wind that destroyed them, and so on.
Under this heading also comes one who may offer supplication but overstep the mark in doing so, either by asking for that which is not appropriate or by offering supplication in which there is disobedience towards Allah, whether it be by associating others with Him (shirk) or otherwise. Then if he gets some of what he wanted, he think that this is an indication that his deed was righteous. He is like the one who is given abundant wealth and sons so that might get carried away (in his misguidance), so he thinks that good things have been hastened for him. But Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Do they think that We enlarge them in wealth and children,
We hasten unto them with good things (in this worldly life so that they will have no share of good things in the Hereafter)? Nay, but they perceive not”
When Allah answers some of the supplications of the disbelievers, it takes the form of fulfilling some of their wishes with regard to worldly matters.
But when Allah answers the supplication of the Muslim, one of three things happen: either he is given what he asked for, or an equivalent evil is diverted from him, or it (the reward for the supplication) is stored up for him in the Hereafter.
The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “There is no Muslim who offers supplication in which there is no sin or severing of ties of kinship, but Allah will give him one of three things in return for it: either what he asked for will be hastened for him, or (reward) will be stored up for him in the Hereafter or an equivalent evil will be diverted from him.”
Narrated by Ahmad, 10749; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 2199
Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Fath al-Baari, 11/95:
Everyone who offers supplication receives a response, but the response may vary. Sometimes he will get exactly what he asked for, and sometimes he will be compensated (with something equivalent). There are saheeh hadeeths which speak of that. End quote.
Please see also the answer to question no. 153316
And Allah knows best.