Imam Ahmed bin Hambal had no idea why he was eager to go to Basrah, a hostile city 532.5 kilometres away from Baghdad.
He didn’t have any motive to go to Basrah; he neither had any friends nor any relatives to motivate himself to undertake such a long journey.
When he arrived there, it was the time for Isha prayer, so he joined the congregation. He was tired and wanted to take a rest. Thus, he decided to sleep in the mosque. At that time the keeper of the mosque came and asked about the intention of Imam Ahmed. Imam said, “I want to rest here, I am a traveller”. The mosque keeper said, “you can’t do so, you can’t sleep in the mosque.”
Note: Imam Ahmed bin Hambal was extremely famous, well known and beloved for his knowledge and humbleness. However, at that time there were no cameras or social media for people to learn about each other from distance. Hence, the mosque’s keeper couldn’t recognize Imam Ahmed physically despite he was famous and revered by every single Muslim.
Imam Ahmed was pushed around by the person asking to get out of the mosque. After putting Imam Ahmed away, he locked the mosque.
Then Imam Ahmed wanted to sleep on the terrace of the mosque. And when he went there the angry keeper came and pushed him out onto the street saying it was not allowed to sleep even on the terrace of the mosque.
However, there was an old man, a baker on the other side of the road. The baker was watching the scene while processing bread dough. He asked Imam Ahmed (not knowing who Imam Ahmed was) to come to his place. He said, “you can stay at my place, I have a place, even though it’s small.”
Imam Ahmed bin Hambal recognized a unique character in the baker. The baker was doing istighfar (words of repentance) continuously while doing his job.
Imam Ahmed contemplated for some time and asked the baker “how long have you been doing this for?” Baker said that it had been 30 years.
Imam Ahmed wanted to know the result of his action. Because, he knows the virtue of repenting. He asked the baker about it.
The baker answered “Blessings from Allah. There is nothing I asked but Allah will grant it to me. Everything I ask Allah, is immediately granted except one dua.”
Imam Ahmed wanted to know what could be this one dua which was not granted.
Imam asked, “what is that dua?”.
“I asked Allah to grant the privilege of meeting with Imam Ahmed bin Hambal in person.”, replied the Baker.
Tears flowing down, Imam Ahmed bin Hambal cried, “I am Imam Ahmed! Allah Akbar, Allah has brought me far from Baghdad to Basrah and even pushed by the mosque’s keeper to the road because of your istighfar.”
That’s the power of repentance. Allah loves the one who repents frequently.
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “If anyone constantly seeks pardon (from Allah), Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide sustenance for him from where he expects not.”
So, do istighfar frequently and constantly every day. Pray to Allah to distant every pandemic and calamity. InshaAllah we will succeed.
Keep your tongue moist with the following words of forgiveness
I seek forgiveness from Allah
May Allah guide us and protect us from every evil thing and every calamity. Aameen