During his old age, while Imam Ahmed was traveling he stopped by a town. After the prayers, he wanted to stay for the night in the masjid yard because he didn’t know anyone in the town. Owing to his humility, he hadn’t introduced himself to anyone thinking that if he did, he would be welcomed by many people.
Failing to recognize Ahmed Ibn Hanbal, the caretaker of the mosque refused to let him stay in the mosque. Imam Ahmed tried numerous times, but the guard did not accept his requests. Frustrated, Imam Ahmed resolved to spend the night in the masjid yard. The guard became furious. As Imam Ahmed was quite old, the caretaker had to drag him out of the mosque. On seeing this, a baker from a nearby place felt pity for this man (Imam Ahmed) and offered to be the host to him for the night. During his stay with the baker, Imam Ahmed observed that the baker would constantly recite Istighfar (seek forgiveness from Allah). Imam Ahmed asked the baker if the constant practice of saying Istighfar had any effect on him.
The baker responded, “By Allah! No duaa (supplication to God) I made except that it was answered but one.”
“And what is that?” asked Imam Ahmed.
“To be able to see the famed Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal!” Replied the baker.
On this, Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal said that Allah had not only listened to his dua but had dragged him (Imam Ibn Hanbal onto his (the baker’s) doorsteps.
[Summarized from Al Jumuah magazine, vol 19, issue 7]
This story is a reminder of the power of saying Istighfaar (seeking forgiveness) frequently. Let’s remember that the prophet s.a.w used to say Istighfaar frequently during the day.
Tafseer Al-Qurtubi states:
A man complained to Al-Hasan about a drought, and he said to him: “Pray to Allah for forgiveness.”
Another man complained to him of poverty and he said to him: “Pray to Allah to forgive you.”
Another man said to him: “Pray to Allah to bless me with a child.” He said: “Pray to Allah for forgiveness.”
Another complained to him that his garden was dry. He said to him: “Pray to Allah for forgiveness.”
He was asked about it and he said: “This is not my personal opinion, for Allah says in Surah Nooh (interpretation of the meaning): ‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord, verily, He is Oft Forgiving; He will send rain to you in abundance. And give you increase in wealth and children, and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers.” Tafseer Al-Qurtubi (18/301-302)
Sayyidul Istighfar (lit. The Chief of Forgiveness)
(The picture above is for the Arabic)
Allahumma anta rabbee la ilaha illa anta, khalaqtanee wa-ana ‘abduka, wa-ana ‘alaa ‘ahdika wawa’dika mas-tata’tu, a’oothu bika min sharri ma sana’tu, aboo-o laka bini’matika ‘alaya, wa-aboo-o bizambee, faghfir lee zunoobi fa-innahu la yaghfiruz-zunooba illa ant.
‘O Allah, You are my Lord, none has the right to be worshiped except You, You created me and I am Your servant and I abide to Your covenant and promise as best I can, I take refuge in You from the evil of which I committed. I acknowledge Your favor upon me and I acknowledge my sin, so forgive me, for verily none can forgive sins except You.’
The Prophet, Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Aalihi Wa Sallam, added, “If somebody recites it during the day with firm faith in it and dies on the same day before the evening, he will be from the people of Paradise and if somebody recites it at night with firm faith in it and dies before the morning he will be from the people of Paradise.”