This is extracted and adapted from Shaykh Ibn Ata Allah Iskandari’s (r.a) al Hikam.
Do not despair when, in spite of intense supplication, there is a delay in receiving the expected gift. He has guaranteed that He will respond in what He chooses for you, and not what you choose for yourself, and at the time He chooses, not the time you desire. – Shaykh Ibn Ata Allah Iskandari (r.a)
Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri says on above statement that Allah responds to the yearning Du`as (supplication) and calls from a sincere heart. Calls for help are caused by His decree that we return to Him, thus the time and way of His response is in His loving hands. What is expected of creation is that it calls upon, depends on and trusts in the perfect ways of the Creator, for He always knows our true state and the appropriate remedy and provisions for the journey unto Him.
Sheikh Ibn `Abbad al-Rundi (r.a) explains this as following:
The ruling of the servant is that he should not choose anything against the will of his Master. Likewise, he should not assert the suitability of one a condition over another. This is because he is ignorant in all ways. The servant sometimes dislikes a thing which is good for him and sometimes loves a thing which is bad for him [allusion to al-Qur’an 2:216].
Shaykh Abul Hasan al-Shadhili (r.a) said on this, “Do not choose from your affair anything; rather, decide not to choose. Additionally, flee from this decision, from your fleeing, and from all things to Allah Mighty and Exalted be He.” [Allah Most High has said], “Your Lord creates what He wills and chooses.” [al-Qur’an 28:68]
The servant should surrender himself to his Lord and know that the choice is for Him in all of his conditions, even if this opposes his own aims and desires. So when he prays and requests something from His Lord in which there is some benefit, he should become convinced of being answered. Allah Most High has said: And your Lord says, call upon Me and I shall answer you.” [al-Qur’an 40:60] He Most High has also said: When My servant asks you of Me, verily I am nearby. I answer the prayer of the supplicator when he calls upon Me.” [al-Qur’an 2:186]
Anas (r.a) has narrated that the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w) said, “No supplicator makes a prayer except that Allah answers his prayer, turns away a similar amount of evil from him, or takes away from him some of his sins in accordance with the prayer, as long as he doesn’t pray for a sin or cutting off family ties.”
If this is the case, being answered is absolutely attainable for every supplicator according to the true promise which has [just] been mentioned. However, Allah is in charge of answering prayers. He answers them when He wills, and sometimes being denied or experiencing a delay counts as an answer or a giving, as those who have understanding of Allah Most High know. So, let not the servant despair of the bounty of Allah Most High when he is denied or [forced] to wait even if he earnestly persisted in his prayer and request. Sometimes, the delaying [of what he asked for] until the hereafter is better for him. It has been related in some accounts that the servant will be raised up and Allah will say to him, “Did I not command you to put your needs in front of me?” The servant will answer, “Yes, and I did put my needs in front of You.” Then, Allah Most High will say, “You haven’t asked for anything except that I have answered you concerning it. However, I granted you some of it in the world and what I didn’t give you in the world is stored up for you. So, take it now.” The servant will then say [upon seeing what is stored up for him] , “Would it be that He didn’t fulfill any of my needs in the world.”
The forbiddance hastening answers to prayers has been related from the Messenger of Allah Muhammad (s.a.w) in his statement, “Each one of you is answered as long as he does not try to hasten, so he says, ‘I prayed and [my prayer] was not answered.'”
Prophets Moses (musa) and Aaron(Haroon) (a.s) supplicated against Pharaoh about which Allah has informed, “Our Lord, efface their wealth and harden their hearts so they will not believe until they see the painful punishment.” [al-Qur’an 10:88] Then Allah informs [us] that He answered their prayers with His Statement (Glorified be He and Exalted), “Both of your prayers’ have been answered, so stand firm and do not follow the way of those who do not know.” [al-Qur’an 10:89] [The scholars] have said that between the statement, “Both of your prayers’ have been answered”, and the destruction of Pharaoh was a period of forty years.
Shaykh Abul Hasan al-Shadhili (r.a) said concerning Allah’s Statement: “…so stand firm,” [above] that it means not to try to hasten what both of you have asked for. And the statement, “…and do not follow the way of those that do not know,” [is referring to] those who try to hasten answers [to their prayers]. The rank and portion (i.e. the love of Allah and being in accordance with His pleasure) that the servant receives because of merely persisting in supplication is sufficient.
It has been related from the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) that he said, “Allah loves those who earnestly persist in supplication.”
Anas ibn Malik has related from the Messenger of Allah Muhammad (s.a.w) said, ” Angel Jibril (a.s) says, ‘O Lord, your servant, so and so, [is asking you]. So, Fulfill his need.’ Allah then says, ‘Leave my servant alone, for I love to hear his voice.'” The point of this is that Allah hastens giving some people their needs because he dislikes their voice. So, let the servant be afraid of this when he is trying to speed up the answer to his prayer
Shaykh Muhammad `Abd al-`Aziz al-Mahdawi (r.a) said, “Every one who does not leave his preference while supplicating and become content with the Truth [Most High’s] preference is being gradually lured into destruction. [Allah says] about such a person, ‘Fulfill his need because I do not like to hear his voice.’ ” So when the servant is with the preference of the Truth [Most High] and not with his own preference, he is answered even if not given. And, actions are according to their final outcome.
Sometimes being answered has preconditions about which the supplicator has no knowledge. Therefore, the answer is delayed because of not meeting these or some other prerequisites. Among these prerequisites is evincing a hard pressed need. Some of those who know Allah have said that when Allah wants to answer a person’s prayer he makes them feel a hard pressed need while supplicating. As for feeling a hard pressed need, the servant can not realize it by himself in all conditions. One of the scholars defined the one who feels a hard pressed as the person who raises his hands in front of Allah while not regarding any [previous good] action from himself. This is a noble state and a lofty station which is hard to obtain for most people.