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Some prayers would be considered unreasonable, e.g., asking Allah to turn the Earth into cheese (as a silly, proof of concept example). In these settings, we can expect Allah to be unresponsive to the prayer, and it may even be viewed negatively. As such, I expect one should only pray about matters for which it is feasible for Allah to answer. This leads to the conundrum as to which prayers are worthwhile. In this question, I want to focus on infertile women.

Question: Is it reasonable for an infertile woman to pray to bear a child?

It would entail praying for a miracle, which might be considered unreasonable due to being an excessive request.

Allah answered such a prayer from the Prophet Zechariah:

I fear evil from my kinsmen after I am gone; and my wife is barren, so grant me an heir out of Your special grace, one that might be my heir and the heir of the house of Jacob; and make him, Lord, one that will be pleasing to You. Quran 19:5-6

So We accepted his prayer and bestowed upon him John, and We made his wife fit (to bear a child). Verily they hastened in doing good works and called upon Us with longing and fear, and humbled themselves to Us. Quran 21:90

However, there is a distinction due to Zechariah being a prophet.

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  • You ask about rationality in a matter of faith? I mean I guess you haven't yet watched or got involved in videos or tv programs of or with preachers, where they encourage you to go ahead asking Allah because there are lots of daily miracles. From a point of view of a believer it's always reasonable to ask Allah for anything one really wants or needs, but from a logical view it won't be. Of course one could consider the situation of a prophet like Zakaria or Ibrahim as a special case, but we believe that Allah says "kun fa yakkun"/"be and then it is". – Sassir Jul 14 '16 at 6:34
  • Here a fatwa islamqa.info/en/10097 and a video praising a kind of du'a youtube.com/watch?v=IaVTDUtUTIc just as an example. – Sassir Jul 14 '16 at 6:43
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    This is why I give the "cheese Earth" example. I'm confident Allah could turn the Earth into cheese if he wanted to, but at the same time, I'm confident he wouldn't, regardless of how much someone prays for that (as the Earth is necessary to sustain his people). A reasonable, believing person could assume that such a prayer would go unanswered. Now, what I'm asking for is if a reasonable, believing woman could hope for her infertitlity to be cured by prayer. It might not be possible, e.g. because a miracle of this magnitude might be reserved for prophets (and Muhammad is the last prophet). – Rebecca J. Stones Jul 14 '16 at 6:56
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I made a fast research in some tafsir books:

Al-Qurtoby said that Verse 19:7

... "O Zechariah, indeed We give you good tidings of a boy whose name will be John. ...

Includes three aspects: the miracle or maybe honor (both words could be used for كرامة al-Qurtoby used) of answering his supplication, the power of giving a boy, and the third the assignment for a name that has not yet been given before.

In al-Bahr al-mohhet it was said the fact that the Quran quotes the supplication of Zakria three times in different surats means that he was asking Allah for a long time, some even pretend between the dua' and the "answer" 40 years passed.

So the story is in first place used as an example of the importance of patience in asking Allah and making supplication and trust in Allah. Al-Qurtobi in the context of the story also emphasized the fact that it is allowed and recommended to pray to bear and quoted a number of ahadith on the matter like this in sahih al-Bukhari and verses like 3:38 and 37:100. This is what i could conclude also from this article (in Arabic) quoting the story of Zakaria and an other quoting the story of Ismael. So scholars don't regard this as a special case rather than an example of Allah's power and as an example of

"Be," and it is كُن فَيَكُونُ (See for example 2:117, 3:47, 3:59, 6:73, 16:40, 19:35, 36:82 and 40:68

One could say the major view of scholars is one must trust Allah when making dua' (this means one must be certain that Allah will answer as explained in the hadith, see also this hadith qudsi). Du'a is always recommended and one must be patient, as Allah hears it but we don't know the wisdom behind whether he answers it fast or not...
Therefore praying and asking Allah to have offspring is valid as you can read in the fatwa i posted in my comment.

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