One of the greatest tests and trials that a Muslim might be afflicted with is that his dua is not answered! Hence why the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) would pray to Allaah that his dua mot be amongst those duas that are not responded to. In particular he would pray: "O Allaah! I seek your refuge from knowledge that is without benefit, and from a heart that does not become fearful, and from a soul that is never satisfied, and from a dua that is not responded to!" (Muslim)
So the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) would actually make a dua that is dua be answered! There are a number of factors that have been mentioned in the ahadith that cause ones dua not to be accepted. Insha Allaah from this edition, we will focus on some of these causes so that we may avoid them.
Haram Sustenance: Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: "O People! Allaah is al-Tayyib (pure), and He only accept that which is pure! Allah has commanded the believers what He commanded the Messengers, for He said, "O Messengers! Eat from the pure foods, and do right", and He said, "O you who believe! Eat from the pure and good foods We have given you". Then the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) mentioned a traveller on a long journey, who is disheveled and dusty, and who stretches forth his hands to the sky, saying, "O my Lord! - While his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothing is unlawful, and he is nourished unlawfully; how can he be answered?." (Muslim) In this hadith, we are informed about one of the greatest causes of ones dua not being responded to. Consider the example that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) gave of this man who combined in many of the factors that aid the dua in being accepted.
Firstly, he was traveling, and not just a small journey, but rather a long one. He was away from his family for a long time, and the land that he was in is far away.
Secondly, his appearance was one that extracts sympathy for his situation, for he was disheveled and dusty, tired and dirty.
Thirdly, he raised his hands to the sky to the al-Hayi (The Shy) hoping that they would not be returned empty.
Fourthly, he made tawassul with one of Allaahs most powerful and comprehensive Names, that of al-Rabb, which is one of the best Names of Allaah, so that it had more chance of being accepted. Yet, despite all of these factors and regardless of his following the necessary etiquette, his dua was not responded to.
Not only that, but the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) made a point of stressing how ridiculous it was that he expected his dua to he answered, for he stated: ".... how can he be answered, implying that the sin of eating haram sustenance is so great that there is no point in him hoping to have his dua accepted.
So it is essential that one who wishes that his dua be accepted ensure that he eats from pure money, money that has been earned with permissible means, and that he eats pure food, food that he is allowed to eat. Sad ibn Abi Waqqas (RA), one of the Prophets famous Companions was once asked, "Why is it that your duas are responded to, amongst all of the other Companions?" He replied, "I do not raise to my mouth a morsel except that I know where it came out of (Sharh al-Arbaain)