It was narrated to us by Moḥammed bin Ibrāhīm bin ‘Isḥāq رحمه الله, who said – it was narrated to us by Aḥmed bin Moḥammed al-Hamdāni, who said – it was reported to us by Aḥmed bin Ṣāliḥ bin Saʿd al-Tamīmi, who said – it was narrated to us by Mūsa ibn Dāwūd, who said – it was narrated to us by al-Walīd bin Hishām, who said – it was narrated to us by Hishām bin Ḥassān, from al-Ḥassan bin Abī al-Ḥassan al-Baṣri, from ʿAbd al-Raḥmān bin Ghanam al-Dūsi, who said:

Muʿādh bin Jabal entered upon The Messenger of Allāh صلى الله عليه وآله crying, and greeted him so the greetings were returned upon him – then he said: Oh Muʿādh, what makes you cry?
He replied: Oh Messenger of Allāh, at the door there is a young man who is tender in his flesh, pure in colour, and beautiful in image, crying over his youth the type of crying that of a mother who has lost their child. He wants to enter to see you.
The Messenger of Allāh صلى الله عليه وآله said: Bring in the youth, oh Muʿādh.
So the youth entered upon him, and greeted him so the greetings were returned upon him – then he said: What makes you cry, oh youth?
He replied: How do I not cry while I have committed a sin, that if Allāh, Mighty and Majestic, were to judge me for just a part of it he will enter me into the hell fire, and I do not envision anything except that he punishes me for it, and will never forgive me.
The Messenger of Allāh صلى الله عليه وآله said: Did you associate anything as partners with Allāh at all?
He replied: I seek refuge in Allāh from associating anything as partners with my Lord.
He said: Did you kill a soul that Allāh has forbid?
He replied: No.
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله said: Allāh will forgive you your sins even if it were the like of an immovable mountain.
The youth replied: Indeed it is greater than an immovable mountain.
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله said: Allāh will forgive you your sins even if it were the like of the seven worlds and their oceans and sand grains and trees and what is within them from the creations.
He replied: Indeed it is greater than the seven worlds and their oceans and sand grains and trees and what is within them from the creations.
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله said: Allāh will forgive you your sins even if it were the like of the seven heavens, and its stars and the throne and the chair.
He replied: Indeed it is greater than that.
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله looked at him as if he was angry, and then said: Woe upon you, oh youth. Is your sins greater or your Lord?
So the youth fell down upon his face saying: Glory be to my Lord! There is nothing greater than my Lord. My Lord is greater, oh Prophet of Allāh, than any greatness.
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله said: So will the great sins be forgiven by the Great Lord?
The youth replied: No, by Allāh, oh Messenger of Allāh.
Then the youth remained quiet.
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله said to him: Woe upon you, oh youth, will you inform me of one of your sins?
He replied:Yes, I will inform you that I was an exhumer of graves for seven years. I would take out the dead and remove their grave-shroud. Then a young girl from one of the daughters of the Anṣār died. When they carried her to her grave and buried her, and then her family left concealed her, I went to her grave and exhumed her, took her out and removed her grave-shroud and left her naked on the side of her grave, and left. Then Satan came to me and began to beautify her for me, saying: “Don’t you see her stomach and her whiteness? Don’t you see her hips?” He did not stop saying this to me until I had returned to her, and I did not possess any power over myself until I had copulated with her and left her in her place. Thereupon a voice from behind me said: “Oh youth, woe upon you from Recompensor of the Day of Recompense. The day we both stand just as you have left me bare-naked among the dead army, and removed me from my grave and pillaged my grave-shroud, and left – I will stand sideways for my recompense. Woe upon your youth from the fire.” Thus, I do not have hope that I will ever smell the fragrance of paradise. So what do you see for me, oh Messenger of Allāh?
The Messenger of Allāh صلى الله عليه وآله said: Get away from me, oh immoral one, I fear that I will be burnt by your fire, and how close you are to the fire! How close you are to the fire!
He صلى الله عليه وآله did not stop saying this and pointing to him until he went far away from in front of him. He left and went to Madīna and equipped himself from there, then went to one of its mountains and engrossed himself in worship there. He wore a cloak made of hair, chained both hands to his neck, and called out: Oh Lord, this is Your servant Bahlūl1, shackled in front of You. Oh Lord You are the One who truly knows me, and You remove from me what You know. Oh Master oh Lord, I became of those who regret, and I came to Your prophet repenting, whereupon he kicked me out and increased me in fear. So I ask You, by Your Name and Your Majesty and Your Might and Your Sovereignty, that you do not disappoint me with my plea. Oh my Master, do not void my supplication, and do not make me despair from Your Mercy.
He did not stop saying this for forty days and nights. The predatory animals and beasts were crying for him. When forty days and nights were completed, he raised his hands to the sky and said: Oh Allāh, what did You do in regards to my needs? If you have answered my supplications, and forgiven my faults, then send inspiration to Your Prophet. However, if You do not answer me my supplication, and do not forgive me my mistakes and desired my punishment, then hasten the burning from your fire – or the punishment in this life so it destroys me, and rid me from scandal on the Day of Judgement.
Thereafter, Allāh, Mighty and Majestic, sent inspiration down upon His Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله: And those who, when they commit an immorality, meaning fornication, or wrong themselves, meaning committing a sin greater than fornication and the exhuming of graves and looting of grave-shrouds, remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins, saying fear Allāh so hasten your repentance, and who can forgive sins except Allah ? He, Mighty and Majestic, is saying that My servant came to you, oh Moḥammed, seeking repentance; and you kicked him out. So where shall he go? and to who should he strive towards? and who should he ask to forgive him his since except for me? Then He, Might and Majestic, said and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know, He is saying that they do not commit fornication or exhuming the graves or looting the grave-shrouds, those – their reward is forgiveness from their Lord and gardens beneath which rivers flow [in Paradise], wherein they will abide eternally; and excellent is the reward of the [righteous] workers.2
When this āyah was sent down upon The Messenger of Allāh صلى الله عليه وآله, he set out reciting it while smiling. He said to his companions: Who will lead me towards that repentant youth?
Muʿādh said: Oh Messenger of Allāh, we were told that he is in such and such location.
So the Messenger of Allāh صلى الله عليه وآله left with his companions until they reached that mountain, and climbed to him in search of the youth, whereupon thy found him standing between two boulders with his hands chained to his neck. His face had become blackened and his eyelids had fallen from crying. He was saying: Oh my Master, You had perfected my creation, and beautified my image, if only You would let me know what You intend for me. Will You burn me in the fire? or will You make me dwell in near proximity to You? Oh Allāh You indeed increased goodness for me, and blessed me, if only You would let me know what my final destination will be – to Paradise will you take me, or to the fire will You steer me? Oh Allāh my mistake is greater than the heavens and the earth, and You capacious chair and great throne, if only you would let me know if you forgive my mistake, or if you will expose me with it on the Day of Judgement?
He did not stop saying the like of this while he was crying and spreading dirt upon his head. The predatory animals were all surrounding him and birds circulating above him – and they were all crying due to his crying. The Messenger of Allāh صلى الله عليه وآله approached him and detached his hands from his neck and dusted off the dirt from his head and said: Oh Bahlūl, rejoice, for you have been emancipated by Allāh from the fire.
Then he صلى الله عليه وآله said to his companions: Like this you make amends for your sins, just as Bahlūl has made amends.
He then recited to him what Allāh, Mighty and Majestic, had revealed regarding him, and gave him glad tidings of Paradise.

1.Bahlūl: On the apparent it seems that this is the name of the youth, or at least a name that was given to him, either by himself, the narrator or the people in general. However, literally it means clown or fool.
2. Āle ʿImrān (3:135-136)

حدثنا محمد بن إبراهيم بن إسحاق ( رحمه الله ) ، قال : حدثنا أحمد بن محمد الهمداني ، قال : أخبرنا أحمد بن صالح بن سعد التميمي ، قال : حدثنا موسى ابن داود ، قال : حدثنا الوليد بن هشام ، قال : حدثنا هشام بن حسان ، عن الحسن بن أبي الحسن البصري ، عن عبد الرحمن بن غنم الدوسي ، قال : دخل معاذ بن جبل على رسول الله ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) باكيا ، فسلم فرد عليه السلام ، ثم قال : ما يبكيك يا معاذ ؟ فقال : يا رسول الله ، إن بالباب شابا طري الجسد ، نقي اللون ، حسن الصورة ، يبكي على شبابه بكاء الثكلى على ولدها يريد الدخول عليك . فقال النبي ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) : أدخل علي الشاب يا معاذ . فأدخله عليه ، فسلم فرد عليه السلام ، ثم قال : ما يبكيك يا شاب ؟ قال : كيف لا أبكي وقد ركبت ذنوبا إن أخذني الله عز وجل ببعضها أدخلني نار جهنم ، ولا أراني إلا سيأخذني بها ، ولا يغفر لي أبدا . فقال رسول الله ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) : هل أشركت بالله شيئا ؟ قال : أعوذ بالله أن أشرك بربي شيئا . قال : أقتلت النفس التي حرم الله ؟ قال : لا ، فقال : النبي ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) : يغفر الله لك ذنوبك وإن كانت مثل الجبال الرواسي ، قال الشاب : فإنها أعظم من الجبال الرواسي ، فقال النبي ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) : يغفر الله لك ذنوبك وإن كانت مثل الأرضين السبع وبحارها ورمالها وأشجارها وما فيها من الخلق . قال : فإنها أعظم من الأرضين السبع وبحارها ورمالها وأشجارها وما فيها من الخلق . فقال النبي ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) : يغفر الله لك ذنوبك وإن كانت مثل السماوات السبع ونجومها ومثل العرش والكرسي . قال : فإنها أعظم من ذلك . قال : فنظر النبي ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) إليه كهيئة الغضبان ثم قال : ويحك يا شاب ، ذنوبك أعظم أم ربك . فخر الشاب لوجهه وهو يقول : سبحان ربي ! ما شئ أعظم من ربي ، ربي أعظم يا نبي الله من كل عظيم . فقال النبي ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) : فهل يغفر الذنب العظيم إلا الرب العظيم ! قال الشاب : لا والله ، يا رسول الله ، ثم سكت الشاب . فقال له النبي ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) : ويحك يا شاب ألا تخبرني بذنب واحد من ذنوبك . قال : بلى ، أخبرك أني كنت أنبش القبور سبع سنين ، أخرج الأموات وأنزع الأكفان ، فماتت جارية من بعض بنات الأنصار ، فلما حملت إلى قبرها ودفنت وانصرف عنها أهلها وجن عليها الليل ، أتيت قبرها فنبشتها ، ثم استخرجتها ونزعت ما كان عليها من أكفانها ، وتركتها متجردة على شفير قبرها ، ومضيت منصرفا ، فأتاني الشيطان ، فأقبل يزينها لي ويقول : أما ترى بطنها وبياضها ؟ أما ترى وركيها ؟ فلم يزل يقول لي هذا حتى رجعت إليها ولم أملك نفسي حتى جامعتها وتركتها مكانها ، فإذا أنا بصوت من ورائي يقول : يا شاب ، ويل لك من ديان يوم الدين ، يوم يقفني وإياك كما تركتني عريانة في عساكر الموتى ، ونزعتني من حفرتي ، وسلبتني أكفاني ، وتركتني أقوم جنبة إلى حسابي ، فويل لشبابك من النار ، فما أظن أني أشم ريح الجنة أبدا ، فما ترى لي يا رسول الله ؟ فقال النبي ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) : تنح عني يا فاسق ، إني أخاف أن أحترق بنارك ، فما أقربك من النار ، فما أقربك من النار ! ثم لم يزل ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) يقول ويشير إليه ، حتى أمعن من بين يديه ، فذهب فأتى المدينة ، فتزود منها ، ثم أتى بعض جبالها فتعبد فيها ، ولبس مسحا ، وغل يديه جميعا إلى عنقه ، ونادى : يا رب ، هذا عبدك بهلول ، بين يديك مغلول ، يا رب أنت الذي تعرفني ، وزل مني ما تعلم . يا سيدي يا رب ، إني أصبحت من النادمين ، وأتيت نبيك تائبا ، فطردني وزادني خوفا ، فأسألك باسمك وجلالك وعظمة سلطانك أن لا تخيب رجائي ، سيدي ولا تبطل دعائي ، ولا تقنطني من رحمتك . فلم يزل يقول ذلك أربعين يوما وليلة ، تبكي له السباع والوحوش ، فلما تمت له أربعون يوما وليلة رفع يديه إلى السماء ، وقال : اللهم ما فعلت في حاجتي ؟ إن كنت استجبت دعائي وغفرت خطيئتي ، فأوح إلى نبيك ، وإن لم تستجب لي دعائي ولم تغفر لي خطيئتي وأردت عقوبتي ، فعجل بنار تحرقني أو عقوبة في الدنيا تهلكني ، وخلصني من فضيحة يوم القيامة ، فأنزل الله تبارك وتعالى على نبيه ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) : ( والذين إذا فعلوا فاحشة ) يعني الزنا ( أو ظلموا أنفسهم ) يعني بارتكاب ذنب أعظم من الزنا ونبش القبور وأخذ الأكفان ( ذكروا الله فاستغفروا لذنوبهم ) يقول : خافوا الله فعجلوا التوبة ( ومن يغفر الذنوب إلا الله ) يقول عز وجل : أتاك عبدي يا محمد تائبا فطردته ، فأين يذهب ، وإلى من يقصد ، ومن يسأل أن يغفر له ذنبا غيري ؟ ثم قال عز وجل : ( ولم يصروا على ما فعلوا وهم يعلمون ) يقول : لم يقيموا على الزنا ونبش القبور وأخذ الأكفان ( أولئك جزاؤهم مغفرة من ربهم وجنات تجرى من تحتها الأنهار خالدين فيها ونعم أجر العاملين ) . فلما نزلت هذه الآية على رسول الله ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) ، خرج هو يتلوها ويتبسم ، فقال لأصحابه : من يدلني على ذلك الشاب التائب ؟ فقال معاذ : يا رسول الله ، بلغنا أنه في موضع كذا وكذا . فمضى رسول الله ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) بأصحابه حتى انتهوا إلى ذلك الجبل ، فصعدوا إليه يطلبون الشاب ، فإذا هم بالشاب قائم بين صخرتين ، مغلولة يداه إلى عنقه ، وقد اسود وجهه ، وتساقطت أشفار عينيه من البكاء وهو يقول : سيدي ، قد أحسنت خلقي ، وأحسنت صورتي ، فليت شعري ماذا تريد بي ، أفي النار تحرقني ؟ أو في جوارك تسكنني ؟ اللهم إنك قد أكثرت الاحسان إلي ، وأنعمت علي ، فليت شعري ماذا يكون آخر أمري ، إلى الجنة تزفني ، أم إلى النار تسوقني ؟ اللهم إن خطيئتي أعظم من السماوات والأرض ، ومن كرسيك الواسع وعرشك العظيم ، فليت شعري تغفر لي خطيئتي ، أم تفضحني بها يوم القيامة ؟ فلم يزل يقول نحو هذا وهو يبكي ويحثو التراب على رأسه ، وقد أحاطت به السباع ، وصفت فوقه الطير ، وهم يبكون لبكائه ، فدنا رسول الله ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) فأطلق يديه من عنقه ، ونفض التراب عن رأسه ، وقال : يا بهلول ، أبشر فإنك عتيق الله من النار . ثم قال ( صلى الله عليه وآله ) لأصحابه : هكذا تداركوا الذنوب كما تداركها بهلول ، ثم تلا عليه ما أنزل الله عز وجل فيه وبشره بالجنة  .