Sometimes we look at our heap of sins, at our bad habits, at our personality flaws and think to ourselves, ‘At this age and time how will I ever change?’ We feel like there is no hope for us especially after we tried to change but we kept sliding back to our same old destructive habits. Yet there is always hope. Always. Allah S.W says ‘Do not despair from the mercy of Allah’. All we have to do is keep striving to be better individuals, keep praying for ourselves and others and watch Allah take us out of the trash pit.
A beautiful story of sheikh Malik ibn Dinar is just one of the proofs that Allah’s mercy is endless.
Malik ibn Dinar used to be an alcoholic and a highway robber. Everyone knew him for those traits until it became his identity. One day he comes across a poor man and a rich man trying to buy bread from another man. The man only had one bread remaining and just as the poor man paid for it, the rich man offered to pay quadriple the price for the same bread. The poor man said to the seller, “Please I really need the bread. My daughters will starve to death if they don’t get something to eat.” But the rich was still ready to pay more for the bread. Malik ibn Dinar was triggered by this and went to them whilst very angry. He paid the seller more than what the rich man had paid so that the poor man can get the bread. But the rich man still added more money. Malik added some more money again. It went on like that until the poor man got the bread. He then said to the poor man, “When your daughters eat tonight, tell them to pray for Malik ibn Dinar” and he went away.
Years went by and Malik was still an alcoholic and a robber. When he wanted to marry he couldnt get a wife because of his reputation. So he bought a slave, freed her then married her. He really loved his wife and God blessed them with a daughter called Fathima.
Malik was very attached to his daughter and vice versa. They had a very close bond. And sometimes when Malik was seated with Fathima on his lap while he drinks wine his daughter told him, “Father I dont like this. I hate this” referring to the alcohol. Malik knew that his daughter hated the wines and alcohol but he still couldn’t stop his bad habits.
A time came when Fathima became very ill and passed away at a very tender age. Malik was so shattered and was drinking even more now to forget his pain. He hadn’t slept for days and one time, he fell into deep sleep due to the excess fatigue.
In his sleep, he dreamt that it was the day of judgement and the world looked chaotic. A monster (in some narrations they say it was a huge snake) emerged and started running after him. Malik ran away but the monster was still running behind him. He reached a cliff and below him was jahannam and behind was the monster. He decided to go to another direction, still running. He arrived at the coast of an ocean and a very old man in a white robe was seated at the coast. He went towards him to ask for help but the old man was very frail and weak. He just pointed to Malik to a direction and Malik followed the way. He kept running, the monster still behind him until he reached to a hill with small beautiful cave openings. He saw children, girls at the entrance of the caves and he immediately knew these were the daughters of the poor man he bought the bread for. The girls started calling out “Fathima come save your father! Fathima come save your father!”
Fathima appeared and motioned to the monster and it faded away.
Then she said to him:
“My dear father, ‘Has not the time come for the believers (who indulge in sins) that their hearts should submit in all humility to the remembrance of Allah and to the truth which is revealed’ (Al-Hadeed:16)”. He was moved to tears and asked her “My dear child, what was this monster?” She said “It was your own evil deeds which had made it so strong that it was about to push you into Jahannam”. Heasked “And who was that white-robed old man?” She replied “That were your good deeds and you had made them so weak with your scanty good deeds that he could not help you against the monster(though he suggested to you a means of escape.)” One of the few good deeds was the one he helped the poor man get bread for his daughters.
His daughter then asked him, “Father isn’t it time yet to repent?” Then he woke up from his sleep saying, “Yes it is time. Yes it is time.”
He stood up and went to the masjid. The imam (it is said that it was Imam Shafii, Allahu a3lam) led the prayer and recited the same verse that his daughter had recited to him.
‘Has not the time come for the believers (who indulge in sins) that their hearts should submit in all humility to the remembrance of Allah and to the truth which is revealed’ Malik was weeping uncontrollably. After the prayers he went home, packed his clothes and went off to Madina to acquire deen knowledge. He thereafter became a very famous, pious and knowlegable sheikh who propagated Islam.
It is through his pain for losing his child that Malik ibn Dinar repented. Many times Allah puts us in a difficult situation or takes something beloved from us just to make us realize how much we need Him. So do not ever give up on yourself or even on someone else. This story of repentance is a reminder for us that the door of repentance is open to even the most devilish sinner. Allah’s mercy remains endless and He guides whomsoever He wills. Keep working on yourself. Don’t be discouraged by your sins or by irrational thoughts that Allah will never help you or accept your repentance. Another lesson we get from Malik’s story is the importance of sadaqa and dua in a person’s life. You just never know when or how or what will lead to your/someone else’s guidance. May Allah guide us all. Ameen.