Maalik bin Dinaar (rahimahullah) was one of the renowned pious men of his time. In his early life, he was not a pious man, and when someone asked him how he came to repent of his sins and abandon his evil ways, he related the following story about himself:
I was a policeman in my youth, and was addicted to wine. I drank day and night and led a care-free life. I bought a beautiful slave girl whom I loved most dearly. I had a daughter from her, and I was very fond of her. When this baby daughter began to walk and talk, I loved her all the more and she was very fond of me as well. The innocent child had a strange habit. Whenever she saw a glass of wine in my hand, she would snatch it away and spill it on my clothes. Being fond of her, I did not scold her. As fate would have it, my innocent child died when she was two years old and I was stunned with shock and heart-sore.
On the 15th night of Sha’baan, which happened to be the night of Jumu‘ah as well, I was dead drunk and went to sleep without performing my ‘Esha Salaah. I had the most horrible and terrible dream, in which I saw that it was the Day of Resurrection with men coming out of their graves, and being driven to the place of assembly. I was also one of them.
Suddenly I heard the noise of something following me. Looking back I saw a huge snake chasing me, close behind. Ah! It was a most horrible sight, the snake had blue cat-like eyes, its mouth was wide open and it was rushing towards me most furiously. I ran faster in terror, desperate for my life, the horrible snake still running after me and drawing closer. I saw an old man, dressed in elegant clothes, with rich perfumes wafting all around his person. I greeted him saying: “Assalaamu ‘alaikum” and he returned my greeting.
I said: “For the Sake of Allah, save me.” He said: “I am too weak to help you against such a mighty enemy, it is beyond my powers. But you must go on running, perhaps you may find some help to save you from it.”
Running wildly, I saw a cliff in front of me and climbed it, but on reaching its top, I saw beyond it the raging fire of Jahannam, with its most horrifying spectacles. I was so terrified by the snake that I nearly fall into the fire. Meanwhile, I heard a voice calling aloud: “Get back, for you are not one of them (inmates of Jahannam).”
I felt a bit relieved and began to run in the opposite direction. The snake also turned around and came after me. I saw the old man again and said to him: “Old man, can’t you save me from this python, I asked you before, but you did not help me.” The old man began to cry and said: “I am too weak to help you against such a mighty snake, but I can tell you that there is a hill nearby where they keep the sacred trusts of the Muslims. If you go up that hill you might find something of yours, kept in trust, which might save you from the snake.”
I rushed towards the hill, which was round in shape, with a large number of open curtained widows. The windows had golden shutters studded with rich rubies and most precious jewels, on each shutter hung a curtain of the rarest of silk. When I was going to climb the hill, an angel called out: “Open the windows, raise the curtains and come out of your closets! Here is an unfortunate man in misery. May be you have with you some trust of his that might help him in his distress.” The windows opened at once, the curtains went up and there issued forth from the windows a host of innocent children with faces bright as the full moon. By this time I was utterly despondent, for the snake had drawn very close to me. Now the children called their friends: “Come out quickly all of you, for the snake has drawn very close to him.” Hearing this, more children came out in crowds and among them I saw my own dear daughter who had died some time ago. She began to weep, exclaiming: “By Allah, he is my dear father!” She jumped on a swinging cradle, which seemed to be made from heavenly light and darted to me. I took her to my bosom; she lifted her left hand towards me and with her right hand motioned the snake away. The snake went away immediately. Then she gave me a seat and sat in my lap and began to stroke my beard with her right hand saying: “My dear father:
أَلَمْ يَأْنِ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَن تَخْشَعَ قُلُوبُهُمْ لِذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ
‘Has not the time come for the people of imaan that their hearts surrender to the remembrance of Allah Ta‘ala.’
I was moved to tears and asked her: “My daughter, do all of you know the meaning of the Quraan?” She replied: “We understand the Quraan even better than you.” I asked her: “My dear child, what was this snake?” She said: “It was your own evil deeds which had made it so strong, it was about to push you into Jahannam.” I asked: “And who was that old man?” She replied: “Those were your good deeds. You had made them so weak that he could not help you against the snake.” I asked: “What are all of you doing on this hill?” She replied: “We are the children of the Muslims who died in infancy. We shall live here till the Day of Resurrection, waiting to be reunited with you when you come to us at last and we shall intercede for you by our Lord.”
I then awoke terrified, and repented to Allah Ta‘ala from all my evil habits and ways. (Kitaabut Tawwaabeen – Ibnu Qudaamah, pg. 156)
Lesson: Allah Ta‘ala has blessed us with yet another chance to witness this great night (15th Sha’baan). Let us capitalise on this opportunity and make sincere taubah from all sins before it is too late. We should also strive to ‘strengthen’ our good actions, and ‘starve’ the snake of our evil deeds, so that we would not have to face any difficulty in the Hereafter.