The Shepherd Prays for a Sinner
Submitted by Professor Nazeer Ahmed
There once lived a sinner in a little town at the edge of the desert. He was a cheat, a gambler, a drunk and was steeped in other wrongdoings. People did not like him.
He grew old and died, as do all human beings. So notorious was he for his evil deeds that no one came to his janaza (funeral) prayers. They even refused to bury him in the town cemetery.
The sinner had a son. Unlike his father, the boy was virtuous, of good character. Since no one came for the funeral prayers, the boy took his father’s body in a cart to the desert, there to pray for him and bury him.
As he was digging the grave, a shepherd passed by with his sheep.
“What are you doing?” asked the shepherd of the boy.
“I am digging a grave for my father”, said the boy. “He was unpopular with the townspeople for his wrongdoings. So I brought his body here to say the funeral prayers and bury him.
The shepherd’s heart melted at the dedication of the boy for his father. He took the shovel from the boy’s hands and helped dig the grave. The two of them said the prayers for the deceased and the shepherd said a prayer for the dead man. Then they buried the man.
That night the boy had a dream. He saw his father in heaven surrounded by Allah’s mercy.
“How are you, my father?” asked the boy.
“God accepted the prayers of the shepherd and granted me bounties from His divine Grace. I am so happy here”.
The boy was curious to know what prayer the shepherd had said for his father. He searched all around and finally caught up with him.
“What did you say in your prayers that earned my father the grace of God, even though he was known for his evil deeds?”
“I knew your father and he had also done me wrong. But I forgave him” the shepherd said. And I prayed for him: “O my Rabb! I am your unworthy servant. I am only a shepherd. This man did me wrong but I forgave him. You are the Forgiver of all Forgivers and Provider to all the worlds. Forgive this man, erase his sins and grant him from your choicest bounties.”
“Find someone to forgive, so that He may forgive you.”