A man once came to Imam Ahmed 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:
ﺇﺫﺍ ﻣﺎ ﻗﺎﻝ ﻟﻲ ﺭﺑﻲ ﺍﻣﺎ ﺍﺳﺘﺤﻴﻴﺖ ﺗﻌﺼﻴﻨﻲ
If my Lord asks me, have you shyness in disobeying me?
ﻭﺗﺨﻔﻲ ﺍﻟﺬﻧﺐ ﻋﻦ ﺧﻠﻘﻲ ﻭﺑﺎﻟﻌﺼﻴﺎﻥ ﺗﺄﺗﻴﻨﻲ
You conceal your sins from My creation and with sins you come to Me.
ﻓﻜﻴﻒ ﺃﺟﻴﺐُ ﻳﺎ ﻭﻳﺤﻲ ﻭﻣﻦ ﺫﺍ ﺳﻮﻑ ﻳﺤﻤﻴﻨﻲ؟
So how will I answer? O woe to me and who shall protect me?
ﺃﺳُﻠﻲ ﺍﻟﻨﻔﺲ ﺑﺎﻵﻣﺎﻝِ ﻣﻦ ﺣﻴﻦٍ ﺍﻟﻰ ﺣﻴﻨﻲ
I keep averting my soul with thoughts of hope from time to time
ﻭﺃﻧﺴﻰ ﻣﺎ ﻭﺭﺍﺀُ ﺍﻟﻤﻮﺕ ﻣﺎﺫﺍ ﺑﻌﺪ ﺗﻜﻔﻴﻨﻲ
And I forget what is to come after death and what is to come after I am shrouded
ﻛﺄﻧﻲ ﻗﺪ ﺿّﻤﻨﺖُ ﺍﻟﻌﻴﺶ ﻟﻴﺲ ﺍﻟﻤﻮﺕ ﻳﺄﺗﻴﻨﻲ
As if I am granted life eternally and that death will not come to me.
ﻭﺟﺎﺋﺖ ﺳﻜﺮﺓ ﺍﻟﻤﻮﺕُ ﺍﻟﺸﺪﻳﺪﺓ ﻣﻦ ﺳﻴﺤﻤﻴﻨﻲ
And when the severe stupor of death overtakes me, who will protect me?
ﻧﻈﺮﺕُ ﺍﻟﻰ ﺍﻟﻮُﺟﻮﻩِ ﺃﻟﻴـﺲ ﻣﻨُﻬﻢ ﻣﻦ ﺳﻴﻔﺪﻳﻨـــﻲ
I looked at the faces. Is there not from amongst them who will ransom me?
ﺳﺄﺳﺄﻝ ﻣﺎ ﺍﻟﺬﻱ ﻗﺪﻣﺖ ﻓﻲ ﺩﻧﻴﺎﻱ ﻳﻨﺠﻴﻨﻲ
I will be asked regarding what I’ve prepared in my life to save me on the day of Qiyaamah then how will I answer after I’ve neglected my religion?
ﻭﻳﺎ ﻭﻳﺤﻲ ﺃﻟــــﻢ ﺃﺳﻤﻊ ﻛﻼﻡ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻳﺪﻋﻮﻧﻲ
Woe to me. Did I not hear the speech of Allah inviting me?
ﺃﻟــــﻢ ﺃﺳﻤﻊ ﻟﻤﺎ ﻗﺪ ﺟﺎﺀ ﻓﻲ ﻗﺎﻑ ﻭﻳﺲ
Did I not hear what came in (the chapters of) Qaaf and Yaseen?
ﺃﻟـــﻢ ﺃﺳﻤﻊ ﺑﻴﻮﻡ ﺍﻟﺤﺸﺮ ﻳﻮﻡ ﺍﻟﺠﻤﻊ ﻭ ﺍﻟﺪﻳﻨﻲ
Did I not hear about the day of gathering, the day of assemble and the say of judgement?
ﺃﻟـــﻢ ﺃﺳﻤﻊ ﻣُﻨﺎﺩﻱ ﺍﻟﻤﻮﺕ ﻳﺪﻋﻮﻧﻲ ﻳﻨﺎﺩﻳﻨﻲ
Did I not hear the crier of death calling me, inviting me?
ﻓﻴﺎ ﺭﺑــــﺎﻩ ﻋﺒﺪُ ﺗــﺎﺋﺐُ ﻣﻦ ﺫﺍ ﺳﻴﺆﻭﻳﻨﻲ
So O my Lord, a slave (turning to you), I have repented so who then shall shelter me?
ﺳﻮﻯ ﺭﺏ ﻏﻔﻮﺭ ﻭﺍﺳﻊُ ﻟﻠﺤﻖِ ﻳﻬﺪﻳﻨﻲ
Except a Lord extensive in forgiveness to the truth He will guide me
ﺃﺗﻴﺖُ ﺇﻟﻴﻚَ ﻓﺎﺭﺣﻤﻨﻲ ﻭﺛﻘــّـﻞ ﻓﻲ ﻣﻮﺍﺯﻳﻨﻲ
I have come to You ( in repentance) so have mercy on me and make heavy my scales (with good deeds)
ﻭﺧﻔَﻒَ ﻓﻲ ﺟﺰﺍﺋﻲ ﺃﻧﺖَ ﺃﺭﺟـﻰ ﻣﻦ ﻳﺠﺎﺯﻳﻨﻲ
And lighten my account – You are the best of who will bring me to account
Imam Ahmed took these lines and repeated them over and over again. He wept profusely to such an extent that one of his students said that he almost perished due to him crying so much.