There’s a story related in Sahih Bukhari emphasising the vastness and generousness of Allah’s mercy. The Prophet (saws) picked on certain events throughout history to show their importance. This emphasised a certain message that he was trying to convey to us. Since the events of the past are so numerous, the ones chosen to be related and preserved in his words till the end of time must be of great importance. Whenever we hear stories of the past we should always remember that Allah had chosen those stories to be related as a great occurrence.
There was a man who had heartlessly murdered 99 people, when all of a sudden he felt remorse over what he had done. He asked the people in his town if they knew anyone who was pious enough to get advice from. They recommended to him an ascetic who lived in the mountains. So the man went to this learned person and told him about the past and his wishing to repent for his actions. He asked the man, “Will Allah forgive me?”. The learned man was so shocked by everything he had heard that he said “No, you will not be pardoned.” So the murderer killed him as well!
He felt remorse yet again and asked the people if they knew anyone else. They recommended to him another scholar who they were acquainted with. Again, the murderer asked the same question, “Will Allah forgive me?” Being a truly wise man and knowing Allah’s all-encompassing mercy and His ability to forgive anything, the scholar replied “Of course you will be pardoned, repent at once!”
The wise man also gave him some advice, telling him of a city where there were devoted worshippers of Allah. He recommended that he move there to be around them and not to come back to his town, which was the place of evil. So the man started towards that town and on the way he died.
The angels of mercy descended upon him and so did the angels of punishment. They started arguing over him. The angels of mercy said “This man had repented and was seeking Allah, so he is ours.” The angels of punishment said “This man had never done anything good in his life and did not even complete his repentance.” Allah sent another angel to them in the form of a man, and both parties took him as their arbitrator.
This angel said “Measure the distance of the earth between the two cities, and let him be assigned to the one he is closest to.” When the angels measured the distance, it just so happened that he was nearer the town of his destination just by a hand-span, and so the angels of mercy took away his soul to paradise. Another version narrates that Allah had ordered the earth to be stretched such that he became closer to the city of piety and further from the city of evil.
- Allah’s mercy is all-encompassing and He can forgive any sin, even the most heinous such as murdering 100 people, at least 1 of whom was a pious person
- After repenting from a sin, we should always immediately take steps to avoid returning to it again
- We should not fall into despair when we sin, because if we repent and turn back to Allah, He will help us be among those who are forgiven