Allah is Most Merciful and Forgiving, and He is glad whenever one of His servants repents sincerely so that He can wash away his sins. Keeping Allah’s Mercy foremost in mind helps man to be hopeful, and this in turn increases the desire to act righteously. However, what is equally important to keep within context is fear. Hope and fear are like the wings of a bird, and a believer has to keep them balanced.
The Messenger of Allah brought not only good tidings, but also stories and events to instill fear, for faith lies between hope and fear. A person must be hopeful when he reflects on the Mercy of Allah, and likewise be fearful of Allah’s Wrath when he reflects on his own sins. Man is living in rebellion to the wishes of Allah and should mend his ways as soon as possible.
A young man came to a shaykh and said, “I am a young man with strong desires. I cannot help looking at people when I am in the bazaar. What do I do?” The shaykh handed him a cup of milk that was full to the brim, and told him to deliver it to an address that would take the young man directly through the bazaar. He then instructed the young man that the milk should not spill, and the man said that it would not. The shaykh then summoned one of his students and told him to accompany the man through the bazaar to the destination, and to severely beat him if any milk were to spill.
This man successfully took the milk to the destination and returned to give the good news to the shaykh. The shaykh asked, “Tell me, how many sights and faces did you see in the bazaar?” The man replied incredulously, “Hadrat, I didn’t even realize what was going on around me. I was only fearful of the beating and disgrace that I would have to endure in public if a drop of milk were to spill.” The shaykh smiled and said, “It is the same with a believer. The believer fears that Allah may disgrace him in front of the entire creation on the Day of Judgment if his faith were to spill over from his heart.” Such people save themselves from sin because they constantly remain focused on the Day of Judgment.