A man once came to Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal and asked him, “O Imam, what is your opinion on poetry?” He replied, “Which poetry is this?” to which the man responded by reciting the following couplets:
If my Lord asks me, “Have you shyness in disobeying me?
You conceal your sins from my creation – and with sins you come to me.”
Imam Ahmad took these lines and repeated them over and over again, and wept profusely to such an extent that one his students said that he almost perished due to him crying so much.
“If My Lord Asks Me…”
If my Lord asks me, “Have you (any) shyness in disobeying Me?
You conceal your sins from My creation – and with sins you come to Me.”
So how will I answer?
O woe to me – and who shall protect me?
I keep averting my soul with thoughts of hope – from time to time.
And I forget what is to come after death – and what is to come after I am shrouded.
As if I am guaranteed life (eternally) – and that death will not come to me.
And when the severe stupor of death overtakes me – who will protect me?
I looked at the faces; is there not from among them who will ransom me?
I will be asked regarding what I have prepared in my life to save me (on the Day of Judgment).
Then how will I answer – after I have neglected my religion.
Woe to me!
Did I not hear the Speech of Allah inviting me?
Did I not hear what came in (the chapters of) Qaf and Ya-Seen?
Did I not hear about the Day of Gathering, the Day of Assemble and the Day of Judgment?
Did I not hear the crier of death inviting me, calling me?
So O my Lord, a slave (turning to you) I have repented – so who then shall shelter me?
Except a Lord extensive in forgiveness – to the truth He will guide me.
I have come to You (in repentance) – so have mercy on me, and make heavy my scales (with good deeds).
And lighten my account – You are the Best of who will bring me to account.
Source: P.205 Manāqib Imām Ahmad by Ibn al-Jawzi