Imaam Ahmad bin Hambal (rahimahullah) had a neighbour who was living a life of sin, evil and shameless deeds. One day, he came to the gathering of Imaam Ahmad bin Hambal (rahimahullah) and made salaam to him. To his disappointment, Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullah) replied to his salaam, but he did not show him attention and make him feel very welcome. Instead, Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullah) seemed to feel uncomfortable to be near this man (as his sins and evil ways were well known to all).

As soon as the man noticed that Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullah) was uncomfortable to be near him, he said, “O Abu ‘Abdillah (rahimahullah)! Why are you uncomfortable in my presence? I saw a certain dream, and through this dream, I have completely changed my life and I am no longer the sinful person that you knew me to be.” Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullah) asked, “What dream did you see?”

The man replied, “I saw Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) in my dream. In the dream, it appeared as though he was on an elevated area with many people seated below him. One by one, the people were standing and asking Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) to make du‘aa for them. As they would stand and make their request, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) would make du‘aa for them, until I was the only person left. I also wanted to stand and ask Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) to make du‘aa for me, but I felt embarrassed and ashamed because of my evil actions and ways.

Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) then asked me, “O so-and-so! Why do you not stand and ask me to make du‘aa for you?” I replied, “O Rasul of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)! Due to my sins, I feel ashamed and embarrassed to ask you to make du‘aa for me.” Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) replied, “If it is because of shame and embarrassment, then stand and ask me for du‘aa. I will still make du‘aa for you, as you do not speak ill of my Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum).” I stood and Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) made du‘aa for me. When I woke up afterwards, I found that Allah Ta‘ala had blessed me by placing in my heart complete hatred and disgust for all the sins that I was involved in.”

When Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullah) heard this man’s story, he said, “Share this incident with people and do not forget it, as it is beneficial and inspiring.”

(Kitaabut Tawwaabeen – Ibnu Qudaamah pg. 275)

Lessons:

1. We are all weak and can all fall into sin. However, even if we are stuck in the worst of sins, we need to do one thing – always remember that what we are doing is sin and try to feel ashamed of ourselves, because we have displeased Allah Ta‘ala. As long as we are ashamed and know that what we are doing is wrong, the door of repenting and reforming will remain open. If we begin to think that the sin is ‘nothing major’, and it’s ‘not a train smash’, then very soon we won’t regard it to be a sin at all. At that point, it becomes almost impossible for a person to leave the sin and repent.

2. If anyone speaks ill of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum), he is actually attacking those people who were the ‘main men’ and closest of people to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Naturally, this is a severe sin and causes hurt to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). On the contrary, if we respect them and show love for them, we will gain the love of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).

3. Only Allah Ta‘ala can inspire a person to change his life and can place hatred and disgust for vice and evil in his heart. We should continuously make du‘aa to Allah Ta‘ala to bless us with the love of good deeds and the hatred of sins.

4. Stories of people changing their lives and the incidents of the pious are filled with many lessons and are very inspiring. We should all participate in the ta‘leem in our homes and in the musjid, as well as attend deeni programmes as often as we can so that these stories may inspire us all.