Hasan Basri is revered as one of the greatest saints of early Islam. Brought up in Basra, he met many companions of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam including seventy of those who fought at the Battle of Badar.

Hasan Basri’s neighbour Simeon, a fire worshipper, fell ill and was on deathbed. Hasan called on him and found him discoloured with fire and smoke.

Fear God, Hasan counselled him. You have passed all your life amid fire and smoke. Embrace Islam so that God may have mercy on you.

Three things keep me from becoming a Muslim,
Simeon replied. First, you speak ill of the world, yet you run after worldly things day and night. Second, you fear facing death, yet you do not prepare for it. Third, you believe in seeing God’s face, yet you do everything contrary to His good pleasure.

This is the token of those who know truly, Hasan commented. Now if believers act as you describe, what have you to say? They acknowledge the unity of God whereas you have spent your life in fire worship. You who have worshipped fire for seventy years and I who have never worshipped fire – we are both carried off to Hell. Hell will consume both you and me. God will pay no regard to you; but if God so wills, the fire will dare not burn one hair
of my body. For fire is a thing created by God; and the creature is subject to the Creator’s command. Come now, you who have worshipped fire for seventy years; let us both put our hands into the fire, then you will see with your own eyes the impotence of fire and the omnipotence of God. Saying that Hasan thrust his hand into the fire and held
it there. Not a particle of his body was affected or burnt.

When Simeon saw this he was amazed. The dawn of true knowledge began to break. For seventy years I have worshipped fire, he groaned. Now only a breath or two remains to me. What am I to do? Become a Muslim, Hasan replied.

If you guarantee in writing that God will not punish me, said Simeon, then I will believe. But until I have it in writing, I will not believe it. Hasan wrote it down and the witnesses endorsed the document. Then Simeon wept bitterly and accepted Islam. He spoke his last testament to Hasan. When I die, bid them wash me, then commit me to the earth with your own hands, and place this document in my hand. This document will be my proof. Having charged Hasan thus, he spoke the attestation of faith and died. They washed his body, said the prayer over him, and buried him with the document in his hand.

That night Hasan went to sleep pondering what he had done. How could I help a drowning man, seeing that I am drowning myself? Since I have no control over my own fate, why did I venture to prescribe how God should act? With this thought he fell asleep and saw Simeon in a dream glowing like a candle; on his head was a crown, robed in fine raiment, he was walking with a smile in the garden of Paradise. How are you, Simeon? Hasan inquired.
Why do you ask? You can see for yourself, Simeon answered. God Almighty of His bounty brought me nigh His presence and graciously showed me His face. The favours He showered upon me beggar description. You have honoured your guarantee; so take your document. I do not need it anymore.

When Hasan awoke, he saw that parchment in his hand. O God, he cried, I know well that what You do is without cause, save of Your bounty. Who shall suffer loss at Your door? You grant a fire worshipper of seventy years to come into Your near presence because of a single utterance. How then will You exclude a believer of seventy years?

[Extracted From Tahir ul Qadri’s book , Spiritualitism]