Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal is regarded very highly in Islam. He was a famous scholar and theologian from Iraq. During his old age he was traveling and needed to stop for the night. He found a masjid in a small town and prayed his salah. After offering his salah, he wanted to spend the night in the masjid and leave in the morning after Fajr. He was a very famous scholar known all throughout all the land, but he didn’t want to show off out of humility, so he didn’t introduce himself to anyone in the masjid. He thought if he introduced himself, he would be welcomed by many people, which he didn’t want to happen.
After salah, the caretaker of the masjid didn’t let Imam Ahmad stay in the masjid. So Imam Ahmad walked around the town and found a baker who took pity on Imam Ahmad. The baker invited Imam Ahmad to come and stay with him for the night.
As he made himself comfortable, Imam Ahmad watched the baker mix and knead the dough, tend the fire, and pull freshly baked loaves from the oven, all while uttering dhikr and astaghfar. Imam Ahmad was very intrigued by the baker’s behavior and decided to ask him about it in the morning.
In the morning, Imam Ahmad asked the baker about his continuous dhikr and astaghfar while baking. The baker replied that it had become like second nature and he didn’t even notice it anymore since it had been a habit for many years. After that, Imam Ahmad asked the baker if he had experienced any reward from Allah (swt) for this righteous behavior. So the baker responded jubilantly,
By Allah! Every duah I have made has been answered, but one!
Out of eagerness, Imam Ahmad asked, what was the unanswered duah? The baker said,
“To meet the famous and esteemed scholar, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal.”
Upon hearing this, tears came to Imam Ahmad’s eyes and he couldn’t hold back his emotions and immediately proclaimed,
“I am Ahmad ibn Hanbal! By Allah! I was brought to your place so that you can have your duah come true!”
This is a story which can remind us of the power of duah, and asking for forgiveness frequently. By constantly remembering Allah (swt) and asking forgiveness, Allah (swt) can bestow his mercy and blessings upon us. And Allah (swt) knows best.