As-salamu alaykum. I have a general question about prayers. Are the prayers of non-believers (i.e. Christians, Jews, etc.) accepted by Allah? If this is false, when certain prayers are answered for non-Muslims, is it just by coincidence? I ask this question because a prayer and the will of Allah brought me to Islam. I would also like to express my gratitude to your staff who helped me throughout the process! Even though I was not a Muslim, I asked Allah to guide me to the Truth; therefore, He answered my prayers. I would greatly appreciate a response to my question. Jazaka Allahu khayran.
Salam Dear Bethany,
Welcome to Islam and thank you for your question.
You ask whether Allah answers the prayers of non-Muslims, but you yourself answered it, in part, when you said that you prayed for guidance and He answered you.
However, that is only part of the answer. Allah says that He answers people when they call upon Him, but not when they call upon others.
We often hear of people who are not even believers calling on God (Allah) in times of distress, such as when they are faced with death.
Even though these people are usually mushriks (those who associate others with Allah), if they call upon Allah in a time of need, He answers them.
Allah says what means:
Say, “Who rescues you from the darknesses of the land and sea [when] you call upon Him imploring [aloud] and privately, ‘If He should save us from this [crisis], we will surely be among the thankful.’ Say, “It is Allah who saves you from it and from every distress; then you [still] associate others with Him.” (Quran 6:63-64)
He also tells us in chapter 14, verse 34 what means:
And He gave you from all you asked of Him. And if you should count the favor of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful.
However, if a prayer is directed to someone other than Allah — whether that be Jesus, Mary, a saint, an idol, an ancestor, or anyone or anything else — the prayer is useless.
Allah says what means:
True prayers are to be directed to Him alone; and those to whom they pray instead of Him do not respond to them at all, but they are like one who stretches his hands towards water so that it may reach his mouth (by itself), while it is not to reach it. And the prayer of the disbelievers (that they make to false gods) is nothing but straying in void. (Quran 13:14)
No Such Thing as Coincidence
Allah is Ar-Rahman, which is variously translated as “The Most Gracious”, “The Compassionate”, or “The All-Merciful”. That mercy extends to all of His creatures—Muslim and non-Muslim, human and non-human, living and non-living.
That is why we have our five senses, our sustenance, rain, the change of day and night, and all the other innumerable bounties given to us by our Creator.
But what about those millions of people around the world who will tell you that Jesus or such-and-such saint answered their prayers? What they got in response to those prayers was no more than what was already written for them.
Even if they hadn’t prayed, they would have gotten that thing. Nothing happens by coincidence or chance. Allah is totally in control of the destiny and fate of each living thing.
Only sincere supplication to God (Allah) alone can change what is written.
So, Allah (God) does answer non-Muslims when they ask Him for something. But if they are asking from anyone else, be it Jesus, Mary, or any other saint or god, anything else they get is only what was already written for them.
I hope this helps answer your question.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)