He came to steal. Instead, he was stolen
Imam Adh-Dhahabi narrates an amazing incident which truly illustrates what it means to use every opportunity to reform others.
A thief crept into the house of the famous scholar, worshipper and second generation Muslim, Malik Ibnu Dinar. Malik had renounced the world and had barely furnished his house with anything, and thus having found nothing of value, the thief tried to sneak back out when he heard.
"Asalaamu alaikum" Malik had called him.
The thief responded, "Wa alaikum asalaam"
Malik said to him,
ما حصَل لكم شيء من الدنيا، فترغَب في شيءٍ من الآخرة
"Since you haven't managed to find any worldly items, would you be interested in something from the Hereafter?"
The man responded, "Yes"
Malik said, "Was yourself in that sink, then pray two units of prayer and ask Allah to forgive you." So the thief did just that.
The thief then said, "Sir, do you mind if I spend the night in your house?" Malik agreed.
The next morning, Malik took him to the Mosque to pray the Fajr prayer. People hadn't seen this man before and so they asked Malik, "Who is this?" He responded,
جاء يَسْرقنا فسرقناه
"This man came to steal from me so I stole him."
(From his book, Taareekhul Islam)
(1) The representative of Islam possesses a heart that remains composed in the face of testing encounters, as Malik greeted his burglar with Salaam.
(2) The representative of Islam invests in every opportunity to reform others. Malik did so despite being in the middle of his own crime scene.
(3) The representative of Islam captures hearts by giving when others withhold, by pardoning when others fall short, and by educating when others act ignorantly.
-Shaikh Ali Hammuda