Muhammad ibn Sammak (r) relates:
“Musa ibn Muhammad ibn Sulaymaan al-Haashimi was a very wealthy nobleman of the Bani Umayyah clan. He would remain engaged in eating, drinking and merrymaking all the time, having the most elegant, luxurious clothes to wear and indulging in all kinds of lusts and sensual pleasures. He was a handsome young man with a face as beautiful as the moon, and he lived in a palace enjoying the company of beautiful women and men, completely disconnected from the worries and cares of the world. Allah s.w.t had showered upon him all kinds of worldly bounties and favours; his annual income amounted to three hundred and three thousand (303,000) gold coins, all of which he spent on entertainment and lustful pursuits. He lived in a towering mansion, which had large windows on one side which opened out on to the main road, and he would sit beside one of these and watch the women walking outside. The windows on the other side of the mansion opened out to a beautiful garden, from which cool, fresh breezes blew, laden with the sweet fragrance of flowers. In the middle of the floor of his palace stood a big domed pavilion, fashioned out of ivory, studded with nails of silver and polished with gold. This young Haashimi sat in this pleasure-dome, with a gem-studded turban tied around his head, reclining on a throne covered with jeweled brocade, in the company of his close friends and companions, his attendants standing respectfully at a distance, awaiting his orders. In front of the pavilion sat a company of dancers and singing girls; whenever he wanted to listen to music, he just raised his eyes to the sitar, without ever having to utter a word, and the singers came forward to play the instruments and sing songs. When he wanted the music to stop, he just gestured once towards the instruments and the music stopped. This entertainment and amusement continued late into the night when, intoxicated with excessive alcohol and overpowered by sleep, he would tell his friends to leave and would then spend the night with any girl he desired. In the mornings he played chess and dice. Nobody ever talked to him about depressing matters or about death and disease. His parties were devoted to merrymaking, amusement and gossip. Each day people brought him rich varieties of the rarest perfumes from all over the country and beautiful vases filled with sweet-smelling flowers.
This young man, Musa, spent 27 years of his life in such indulgences. One night, when sitting as usual in his pavilion, he heard a melodious voice coming from a distant place, very unlike the voices of his own singers, but so sweet and enchanting that it made him restless. He ordered the music to stop, and then leaned out of his window to listen to the voice attentively. The voice floated on the air, then became silent, then became audible again. The young nobleman ordered his servants to go and fetch the source of this captivating melody. While their master continued his wine-drinking session, the servants tracked the voice to a thin young man, weak in body and dressed in two simple white cloths, standing in salaah before Allah s.w.t and reciting from the Quran. They caught hold of the man, and without even telling him why, took him out of the Masjid into the palace and presented him to their master, saying,
“Here is the person you wanted sir.”
The nobleman, who was now dead drunk and not in his proper senses, asked,
“Who is this man?”
The servants told him that he was the one whose voice the nobleman had heard a short time ago. The nobleman asked where they’d found the man, and they said that he was offering salaah in a Masjid and reciting from the Quran. The nobleman then asked the ragged, poor young man what he was reciting, and he started reciting [verses have been loosely translated from the Surahs mentioned at the end] :
“ I seek refuge in Allah, against Shaytaan, the damned one. Surely and absolutely, the pious and the righteous will be in the delight of jannah…they will be reclining on their couches, gazing, enthralled, at the wonders of jannah. Their faces will shine with the radiance of their delight. They will be given pure wine to drink, which shall be sealed with musk. Verily! You should envy one another in these matters, and hasten to exceed others in gaining these blessings of jannah, and these blessings can only be earned as reward for good deeds, so race one another to excel in good deeds. And that wine is mixed with the water of tasneem, a spring from which the friends of Allah shall drink…the water of tasneem is a speciality, served undiluted and pure to those closest to Allah, and mixed with wine for the rest.”
The poor young man then said to the nobleman,
“O you lost in delusion! What comparison do your palace, pavilion and couches have with those in jannah? Those will be raised couches lined with silk brocade, with green cushions, and they will be placed on carpets the embroidery of which will stun the eyes. While reclining on these couches, the inhabitants of jannah will see two beautiful gardens from which two streams shall be flowing. In these gardens there will be every kind of fruit in pairs, such that each fruit will have two different delicious tastes. The fruits of these gardens will neither be exhausted, nor forbidden, unlike the gardens of this world, from which not everyone is allowed to eat.
The righteous will be in a blissful state, in these Gardens where they will hear no idle, rude talk, wherein are gushing springs and couches raised and goblets set at hand and cushions arranged, and silken carpets spread on all sides so that they may sit and lie wherever they wish, and they will be in cool shade. This is the reward of the righteous, while the reward of the disbelievers is jahannam.
How scorching will that fire be! The wrongdoers will stay in jahannam forever…never will the intensity of the torment ever be lowered, and these people will lie therein in everlasting despair. Surely the wrongdoers are in error and are acting in sheer insanity. They will realize their foolishness on the day when they will be dragged upon their faces and thrown into the Fire, and it will be said to them ‘Experience now the touch of the Fire to which you called!’ These people will be in blazing hot fire, scalding water and thick, stinging black smoke. They will yearn to ransom themselves from the Torture on that Day at the price of their children, and spouse and brothers and the family that supported them, and every single person in the world, if it could liberate them somehow. No! That can never be. The Fire will peel the very skin off their bodies…it calls out to those who turned their backs on the truth in this world and hoarded unlawful wealth, eager to roast them. These people will be in extreme agony and the wrath of Allah will be upon them, and they will never leave this state of suffering.”
After the poor man had recited a good many aayaat about jannat and jahannam, the Haashmi nobleman rose from his seat and embraced him, weeping and crying profusely. He told his friends to go away, and himself went into the courtyard of his palace with the poor man, where he sat on a rug and wept with pure, deep remorse over his past sinful youth, while the poor young man sat with him till dawn, admonishing him to repent and exhorting him to start a life of piety. The nobleman made sincere tawbah of his sins and made a covenant with Allah that he would sin no more. In the morning, he made public tawbah in front of his friends and other people, and thereafter occupied a corner of a Masjid, leading a life of devotion and holy seclusion. He gave away as charity all the assets of his house, distributed all his belongings amongst the poor, dismissed all his servants, set free most of his slaves, sold others and spent the money received in return for the cause of Allah. He made full requital of all the wrongs that he had done to others, paid all that was due from him to the people, and returned all things that he had taken wrongfully and forcibly, to their owners. Then he entered a life of austerity, wearing coarse cloth and eating plain barley bread. He stood all night in nafl salaah, fasted by day and began to lead a life of self-mortifying austerities. So much so that the sages and spiritual Shaykhs of his time would come to look at him, and would advise him not to punish himself so severely, saying,
“Take pity on yourself…Allah is Most Merciful and His Bounty is beyond our imagination. He gives huge awards for little efforts.”
But he would reply,
“O my friends! You have no idea how much I have sinned against my Lord. I have defied His commandments day and night. I indulged in the most heinous crimes…” and he would start weeping again.
This young man then undertook a journey for Hajj, travelling all the way on foot, dressed in coarse cloth and carrying only a cup and a small bag of provisions. He reached Makkah, performed Hajj, and stayed there afterwards till his death.
During his stay in the blessed city of Makkah, the nobleman used to go to hateem (the semi-circular part around the Ka’aba) by night, and spent the whole night whimpering, weeping and crying before Allah, saying in the course of his Du’a [the Du’a has been left in Urdu, as no English translation, no matter how accurate, can reflect the pain and regret in his words]:
“Ay meray Maula! Meri kitni khalwatein (time spent alone) aisi guzar gaein jin mein main ne tera khayal bhi nah kiya. Main ne kitnay baray baray gunaahon se tera muqaabla kia. Meray Maula meinay naiki koi bhi nahin ki, aur meray gunah meray saath reh gaye. Halaakat (destruction) hai meray liay uss Din jis din Tujh se mulaqaat ho gi. Meray liay bohat hi ziada halaakat hai uss din jiss din mera Aamal Naama (Book of Deeds) khola jaaye ga. Ahhh! Woh meri ruswaaiyon (embarrassment) se aur gunaahon se bhara ho ga. Balkeh mujh par tou abhi hi teri naraazgi se halaakat utar chuki hai. Aur uss din bhi meray liay halaakat ho gi jab tu ghussa karay ga unn sab ihsaanon (favours) par jo hamesha tu ne mujh par kiay, aur unn sab naematon (blessings) par, jin ka hamesha mein ne gunaahon se muqaabla kia, aur tu meri unn saari harkaton ko dekhta raha. Meray Aaqa! Teray siwaa mera konsa thikaana hai jahan bhaag kar chala jaaun? Tera siwaa kon shaks aisa hai jis se iltija (request) karun? Teray siwaa kon hai jis par kisi qism ka bharosa karun? Meray Aaqa mein iss qaabil har giz nai hun keh tujh se Jannat ka sawaal karun…lekin mehaz (solely relying on) teray karam se, teri ataa se, teray fazal se, iss ki tamanna karta hun keh tu mujh par Rehm farmaa de aur meray gunaah maaf kar de.”
AYATS FROM SURAHS: at-Tatfeef, ar-Rahmaan, al-Waaqi’ah, al-Haaqqah, al-Ghaashiyah, az-Zukhruf, al-Qamar,al-Ma’aarij, ash-Shoorah and al-Maa’ida.
RESOURCE: Translation of the book “Fazail-e-Sadaqaat”, written by Maulana Muhammad Zikriyya (r).