وعن أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الخُدْرِيِّ رضي الله عنه أَنَّ نَبِيَّ اللَّهِ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قَالَ: « كَانَ فِيمَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَكُمْ رَجُلٌ قَتَلَ تِسْعَةً وَتِسْعِينَ نَفْسًا فَسَأَلَ عَنْ أَعْلَمِ أَهْلِ الْأَرْضِ فَدُلَّ عَلَى رَاهِبٍ فَأَتَاهُ، فَقَالَ: إِنَّهُ قَتَلَ تِسْعَةً وَتِسْعِينَ نَفْسًا فَهَلْ لَهُ مِنْ تَوْبَةٍ؟ فَقَالَ: لَا. فَقَتَلَهُ فَكَمَّلَ بِهِ مِائَةً، ثُمَّ سَأَلَ عَنْ أَعْلَمِ أَهْلِ الْأَرْضِ، فَدُلَّ عَلَى رَجُلٍ عَالِمٍ فَقَالَ: إِنَّهُ قَتَلَ مِائَةَ نَفْسٍ فَهَلْ لَهُ مِنْ تَوْبَةٍ؟ فَقَالَ: نَعَمْ، وَمَنْ يَحُولُ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ التَّوْبَةِ، انْطَلِقْ إِلَى أَرْضِ كَذَا وَكَذَا فَإِنَّ بِهَا أُنَاسًا يَعْبُدُونَ اللَّهَ فَاعْبُدْ اللَّهَ مَعَهُمْ، وَلَا تَرْجِعْ إِلَى أَرْضِكَ فَإِنَّهَا أَرْضُ سَوْءٍ، فَانْطَلَقَ حَتَّى إِذَا نَصَفَ الطَّرِيقَ أَتَاهُ الْمَوْتُ ( وفي رواية أخرى: فَأَدْرَكَهُ الْمَوْتُ فَنَاءَ بِصَدْرِهِ نَحْوَهَا)، فَاخْتَصَمَتْ فِيهِ مَلَائِكَةُ الرَّحْمَةِ وَمَلَائِكَةُ الْعَذَاب.ِ فَقَالَتْ مَلَائِكَةُ الرَّحْمَةِ: جَاءَ تَائِبًا مُقْبِلًا بِقَلْبِهِ إِلَى اللَّهِ، وَقَالَتْ مَلَائِكَةُ الْعَذَابِ: إِنَّهُ لَمْ يَعْمَلْ خَيْرًا قَطّ.ُ فَأَتَاهُمْ مَلَكٌ فِي صُورَةِ آدَمِيٍّ، فَجَعَلُوهُ بَيْنَهُمْ، فَقَالَ: قِيسُوا مَا بَيْنَ الْأَرْضَيْنِ، فَإِلَى أَيَّتِهِمَا كَانَ أَدْنَى فَهُوَ لَهُ. فَقَاسُوهُ فَوَجَدُوهُ أَدْنَى إِلَى الْأَرْضِ الَّتِي أَرَادَ، فَقَبَضَتْهُ مَلَائِكَةُ الرَّحْمَةِ». متفقٌ عليه.
Narrated Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri may Allah be pleased with him- that the Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him- said (English translation):
“There was among those before you a man who had killed ninety-nine souls. Then he asked about the most knowledgeable person on earth, and was directed to a monk. He went to him and said to him that he had killed ninety-nine souls, so was there any repentance for him? The monk replied: ‘No.’ So he killed him and completed with him one hundred.
He then asked about the most knowledgeable person on earth, and was directed to a scholar. He asked the scholar that he had killed one hundred souls, so was there any repentance for him?
The scholar replied: ‘Yes, what stands between you and repentance. Go to so and so land, for there is a group of people who worship God there, so worship God with them. And do not return to your land, for it is an evil land.’ The man set out until he reached half of the way when death struck him.
The angels of mercy and the angels of punishment had a dispute about him. The angels of mercy said: ‘He came repentant, turning his heart to Almighty God.’ The angels of punishment said: ‘He had never done any good deed.’
An angel in the form of a human came to them and they appointed him a judge between them. He said: ‘Measure the distance between the two lands, and to whichever land he is closer, he belongs to it.’ They measured it and found him closer to the land he sought, so the angels of mercy took him.”
And In another narration: “So he was closer to the righteous village by one hand span, and so was considered from its dwellers.” Related by Al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim.
Qatadah said: “Al-Hasan said: ‘It was mentioned to us that when the angel of death came to him, he stuck out his chest toward the righteous village.’ ”
The Almighty God is the Most Merciful and Most Forgiving. However, in order to get that mercy and forgiveness, the son of Adam is instructed to turn to God in repentance and seek His Guidance. Just like in this world things do not come to us but we have to go and get them, the same is true in good deeds. The son of Adam is instructed to seek guidance to find it. The Muslim is instructed to do good deeds and avoid sins to obtain God’s pleasure and win His Paradise.
The Companion of the Prophet, Anas Ibn Malik -may Allah be pleased with him, reported that Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “The Almighty God said: ‘When a slave of Mine draws near to Me a span, I draw near to him a cubit; and if he draws near to Me a cubit, I draw near to him a fathom. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.’ ” Related by Al-Bukhari.
Thus, we see the great mercy of God and His bounty, but the Muslim must do his part and turn back to God. In the above true story, the sinful man killed 99 souls, but he felt remorse and regret for disobeying God. He then embarked on his path back to God. The man was instructed to leave his evil place and move to another town and worship God with its pious people. When the man couldn’t reach his desired destination and was overtaken by death, he indicated his sincere repentance and showed his effort by sticking out his chest toward the other righteous town. And that half span distance of sincerity and righteousness was the final judge between Doom-perdition and Salvation, and between Hell and Paradise.
Indeed, a small good gesture, a little good deed, a sincere righteous deed could be worth a great reward with God, but we should take the time and effort to do it. Likewise, sometimes abstaining from a sin or resisting a temptation could lead to higher levels in Paradise, but we have to strengthen our resolve and overcome our weakness to succumb to it to gain the reward. Indeed, the path of Guidance and virtue is clear and the path of evil and vice is clear. And we have to be prudent which path to take and sensible of the consequences we may face. We ask God to guide us and show us the Right Path.