These two stories from the Prophet’s (S.A.W.S.) ahadith (sayings) shed light on Allah’s happiness when we ask Him for His forgiveness for our sins. The stories also show that Allah is always looking for ways to forgive his believing slaves – we just need to make that strong intention to look inward, recognize our sins, and then to repent for those sins and ask Him for His forgiveness.
In a popular hadith, Ibn Mas’ud narrated that the Prophet said:
“Indeed, Allah is more happy with the repentance of His slave than a man who stops in a barren, desolate land; with him he has his riding animal. He then goes to sleep. When he wakes up, [he realizes that] his mount (riding animal) is gone. He searches for it until he is on the verge of dying. He then says, ‘I will return to the place wherein I lost it, and I will die there.’ He went to that place, and he was then overcome by sleep. When he woke up, his mount (riding animal) was [standing] right beside his head: and on it was his food, his drink, his provisions, and the things he needed. (If we can imagine the happiness that this person would feel in a desolate land,) Allah is more happy with the repentance of his believing slave than the aforementioned man when he finds his mount and his provisions.”
[al-Bukhaari: 6308 ; Muslim: 2744]
Another hadith relates the following story:
“Among those who came before you was a man who killed 99 people. He then asked to be guided to the most prolific worshipper from the inhabitants of the earth, and he was directed to a monk. He went to him and told him that he had killed 99 people, and he asked whether it was possible for him to repent. The monk said, ‘No.’ The man killed him (the monk too), thus making him the 100th victim. He then asked to be directed to the most knowledgeable of the Earth’s inhabitants (for guidance on the same matter), and he was guided to a scholar. He went to him and told him that he had killed 100 people, and he asked whether it was possible for him to repent. The scholar said, ‘Yes, and who will stand between you and repentance. Go to such and such land, for in it dwell a people who worship Allah, so go and worship Allah with them. And do not return to your land, for it is indeed a land of evil.’ He left, and when he reached the halfway point of his journey, he died. The angels of Mercy and the angels of Punishment disputed with one another [in regard to his case]. The angels of Mercy said, ‘He came to us repentant, advancing with his heart towards Allah.’ The angels of Punishment said, ‘Indeed, he never performed any good deeds.’ Then an angel came in the form of a human being, and both groups of angels asked him to be the judge between them. He said, ‘Measure the distance between the two lands. Whichever land he is closer to is the land that he is closer to [in terms of being of its people]. They then measured the distance and found that he was closer to the land that he was heading towards, and so it was the angels of Mercy who then took his soul.”
[al-Bukhaari: 3470 ; Muslim: 2766]
We know that Allah does what He wills. So, as He wanted to accept the repentance of His slave, He made the case turn in favor of His repentant slave.
These stories serve as a lesson for all, and especially for those who continue to turn a blind eye on their sins. The important thing to remember is that the intention to repent must be planted in our hearts as soon as possible because no one knows when our final time is going to come.
Allah says in the Quran:
“Say: O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Az-Zumar 39:53)