ONE day, as Ali Bin Abu Talib and Al-Hussain Bin Ali (may Allah be pleased with them) were walking together, they heard a man supplicating to Allah. He was begging Allah to forgive him for his sins. His sincere tone and eloquent words aroused the interest of Ali who asked his son to call him.

When Hussain (may Allah be pleased with him) caught up with the man, he saw that he was clean-looking, clean-smelling, with nice clothes and altogether handsome- except that he seemed to be paralyzed on the right side of his body. Al-Hussain said, “Answer the summons of the Leader of the Believers, Ali Bin Abu Talib.”

Dragging his right side, the man followed Al-Hussain back to where Ali was waiting for them.

When Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) asked the man about his antecedents , he said:

“I was well-known among the Arabs for my frivolous and sinful exploits. Merciful and kind, my father would constantly admonish me and advise me to mend my ways.

He would remind me of Allah’s punishment, saying, ‘My son, do not go against Him who punishes with the Hell-fire!’ When he would persist in advising me, I felt his voice grating on my nerves. I would get so frustrated that I would beat him with harsh blows.

In response to my blows, he one day said, ‘By Allah, I will fast without breaking my fast and I will pray without stopping to sleep.’ He fasted for an entire week, but seeing no change in my behavior, he climbed a camel and set off to perform Hajj.

His parting words were, ‘I am going to the House of Allah, and there I will seek help from Allah against you.’ When he reached Makkah, he embraced the Cover of the Ka’ba and supplicated against me, asking Allah to make me paralyzed on one side of my body.

By the One Who raised the sky and sends down the rain, no sooner did my father finish his supplication than I became paralyzed on my right side, which became like a piece of wood. Anyone that would then pass by me would point to me and say, ‘Allah answered his father’s supplication against him.'”

“What did your father do then?” asked Ali.

“O Leader of the Believers, after he became pleased with me, I asked him to go back and invoke Allah on my behalf. He agreed to do so. I walked alongside him as he rode on his camel, until we reached a place called the Valley of Arak.

When we reached there, a group of birds flew away from a tree, their sudden movement frightened the camel. As the camel raced off in a state of fright, my father fell off it and died.”

It was certainly late for the man, but not too late. Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) advised him to continue to supplicate and to repent for his past misdeeds.

Ali then parted from the man, but before leaving him, he taught him the supplication that a person in distress should say. (The narration does not specifically mention which supplication it was that Ali taught the man)

– Stories of repentance published by Darussalam