Answered by Ustadha Sulma Badrudduja
Question: There is a hadith of a man who killed 99 people, then asked a scholar if there was repentance for him. The scholar said no, so the man killed him. Then he want to another scholar who said there is repentance for him if he leaves his city of bad people for a city of good people. The man died on his way to the other city. Since he was closer to the city of good people, he went to Paradise.
In this hadith did the man actually begin his repentance, or did he intend to repent after he reached the other town??
Also, Bukhari narrates:
“None of you will truly believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself”. (narrated by Bukhari)
Does this mean that if you don’t love for your brother what you love for yourself than you are a kafir?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I hope you are doing well inshaAllah.
(1) Both Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim narrate versions of this hadith.
There are many beautiful lessons to be learned from it. Clearly, among these
lessons is the generosity of Allah’s forgiveness to His repenting
servants, as well as the value of seeking and keeping righteous company.
Also among the lessons, the scholars mention the virtue of knowledge over
worship without knowledge. This is taken from the two answers given to the
sinful man — the first one, which led him to despair and more sin, was
given by a monk solely devoted to worship, while the second one, which saved
the man, was given by a scholar with sound knowledge.
Regarding your specific question, the man actually did begin his repentance.
The great scholar Ibn `Allan in his commentary on Riyad al-Salihin says that
the man departed in a state of repentance. The directive to go to the other
city was in order to strengthen his tawba (repentance from sin) and his
turning to Allah.
(2) This hadith has also been mentioned by both al-Bukhari and Muslim.
Scholars and numerous hadith commentators have explained that what is
intended by “belief,” from the words “none of you will believe,” is a
complete or perfected belief. Therefore, the basis and essential belief
still remains for one who is not characterized by the noble character trait
of loving for his brother what he loves for himself. Such a person would by
no means be a disbeliever. [Al-Nawawi, Sharh Muslim; Ibn `Allan, Dalil
al-Falihin li Turuq Riyad al-Salihin]
And Allah knows best.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani