This story about "Istighfar" (seeking forgiveness from Allah) is from the
life of Imam Ahmed Bin Hanbal, who is considered as a renowned scholar of
Islam and a famous theologian. Imam Ahmed is also considered to be the
founder of the Hanbali school of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and is one
of the most celebrated Sunni theologians, often referred to as the "Sheikh
ul-Islam" or the "Imam of Ahl al-Sunnah."
During his old age, while Imam Ahmed was travelling he stopped by a town.
After the prayers, he wanted to stay for the night in the masjid yard
because he didn't know anyone in the town. Owing to his humility, he
hadn't introduced himself to anyone thinking that if he did, he would be
welcomed by many people.
Failing to recognize Ahmed bin Hanbal, the caretaker of the mosque refused
to let him stay in the mosque. As Imam Ahmed was quite old, the caretaker
had to drag him out of the mosque. On seeing this, a baker from a nearby
place felt pity for this man (Imam Ahmed) and offered to be the host to
him for the night. During his stay with the baker, Imam Ahmed observed
that the baker would constantly recite Istighfar (seek forgiveness from
Allah). Imam Ahmed asked the baker if the constant practice of saying
Istighfar had any effect on him. The baker responded by telling Imam Ahmed
that Allah had accepted all of his duas (supplications), except one. When
he asked him what dua was it that hadn't been accepted, the baker replied
that he had been asking Allah to provide him the privilege to meet the
famous scholar Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal.
On this, Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal said that Allah had not only listened to
his dua but had dragged him onto his (the baker's) doorsteps. [Summarized
from Al Jumuah magazine, vol 19, issue 7]
This story is a reminder of the power of saying Istighfar (seeking
forgiveness) frequently. Let's remember that the prophet used to say
Istighfar frequently during the day.