There’s a story related in
Sahih Bukhari emphasizing the vastness and generousness of Allah’s forgiveness
and mercy towards the creation. The Prophet (pbuh) picked on certain events
throughout history to show their importance. This emphasized 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
Once there was a man who
had cold-bloodedly murdered 99 people, when all of a sudden he felt regretful
over what he had done. He asked the people in his city if they knew anyone who
was pious enough to get information from. They recommended to him an ascetic
who lived in the mountains. So the man went to this scholarly 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 taken aback by everything he
had heard that he said “No, you will not be forgiven.” So that person killed
him as well!
He felt guilt and regret
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 any wrong doings of
His creations, the scholar replied “Of course you will be pardoned, if you repent
at once!” The wise man also gave him some advice, telling him of a city where
there were devoted worshippers of Allah and recommended that he move there to
be around them and not to come back to his town, which was the place of evil
and immoral practices. So the man started towards that town. He died on the way.
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 to
end the quarrel 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 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.
This story is a reminder of
the power of forgiveness and the fact that Allah’s mercy is all-encompassing and He can
forgive any sin, even the most heinous ones (except shirk). Therefore, Islamic
stories about forgiveness encourage us not to fall into despair or lose hope
since repentance and forgiveness is a miracle drug and can turn the tides.