Two Ninety-Nines in the Hadith Literature

My friend Dr. White recently (September 28, 2010) mentioned two stories from the hadith that have a similar theme and use the number ninety-nine. These stories also came up, as I recall, in a recent lecture that Dr. White provided in his polemics class. Since one of the listeners was asking about the stories, I thought I would provide them here (not to endorse them in any way, but simply for easy references).

The Murderer of Ninety-Nine Men:

Sahih Al-Bukhari 4:56:676

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

The Prophet said, “Amongst the men of Bani Israel there was a man who had murdered ninety-nine persons. Then he set out asking (whether his repentance could be accepted or not). He came upon a monk and asked him if his repentance could be accepted. The monk replied in the negative and so the man killed him. He kept on asking till a man advised to go to such and such village. (So he left for it) but death overtook him on the way. While dying, he turned his chest towards that village (where he had hoped his repentance would be accepted), and so the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment quarrelled amongst themselves regarding him. Allah ordered the village (towards which he was going) to come closer to him, and ordered the village (whence he had come), to go far away, and then He ordered the angels to measure the distances between his body and the two villages. So he was found to be one span closer to the village (he was going to). So he was forgiven.”


Sahih Al-Muslim 37:6662

Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: There was a person before you who had killed ninety-nine persons and then made an inquiry about the learned persons of the world (who could show him the way to salvation). He was directed to a monk. He came to him and told him that he had killed ninety-nine persons and asked him whether there was any scope for his repentance to be accepted. He said: No. He killed him also and thus completed one hundred. He then asked about the learned persons of the earth and he was directed to a scholar, and he told him that he had killed one hundred persons and asked him whether there was any scope for his repentance to be accepted. He said: Yes; what stands between you and the repentance? You better go to such and such land; there are people devoted to prayer and worship and you also worship along with them and do not come to the land of yours since it was an evil land (for you). So he went away and he had hardly covered half the distance when death came to him and there was a dispute between the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment. The angels of mercy said: This man has come as a penitant and remorseful to Allah and the angels of punishment said: He has done no good at all. Then there came another angel in the form of a human being in order to decide between them. He said: You measure the land to which he has drawn near. They measured it and found him nearer to the land where he intended to go (the land of piety), and so the angels of mercy took possession of it. Qatada said that Hasan told him that it was said to them that as death approached him, he crawled upon his chest (and managed) to slip in the land of mercy.

Sahih Al-Muslim 37:6663

Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying that a man killed ninety-nine persons and then he began to make an inquiry whether there was any way left for him for repentance. He came to a monk and asked him about that, and he said: There is no chance for repentance for you. He killed the monk also and then began to make an inquiry and moved from one village to another village where there lived pious persons, and as he had covered some distance, he was overtaken by death, but he managed to crawl upon his chest (to the side nearer to the place where the pious men lived). He died and then there was a dispute between the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment and (when it was measured) he was found to be nearer to the village where pious persons were living equal to the Space of a span and he was thus included among them.


The Man with Ninety-Nine Huge Scrolls of Bad Deeds:

(Saheeh Sunan al-Tirmaidhi, 2127source of translation below)

Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-Aas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: A man from my ummah will be summoned in front of everyone (at the scales) on the Day of Resurrection, and there will be brought out and unfurled for him ninety-nine scrolls, each scroll extending as far as the eye can see. Then Allah ‘Aza wa jal will say: Do you deny any of this [i.e. your bad deeds]? So the man will reply: No, O Rubb (Lord) Then it will be said: Do you have any excuse or any good deed (to compensate)? The man, in a state of terror, will answer: No. It will then be said: No, indeed you do have good deeds and no injustice will befall you this day. So a parchment will be taken out for him, upon which there will be the Testimony of Faith: (Shahadah) There is no deity but Allah and that Muhammad (SAW) is the Slave and Messenger of Allah. The man will say: 0h Rubb (Lord), what is this parchment in comparison to those scrolls! It will be said to him: No injustice shall befall you. The scrolls will then be placed in one of the scales and the parchment in the other; the scrolls will be light in weight, whereas the parchment will be heavy.”

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