Abdullah bin Umar (radi Allahu anhu) said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) narrate this hadith – and he did not hear him say it once or twice or even seven times, but he heard it more frequently than that. He (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Kifl was a man of Bani Israil. He never shied away from committing a sin. A woman (once) came to him (on an errand) and he coaxed her to let him perform the immoral act with her against sixty dinars which he gave her. Thus, when he sat down with her to perpetrate the immoral act, she began to tremble and shake violently in fear. He asked her why she was crying, did he not like her? She said that it was not (what he thought) but that she had never committed the sin before and her destitution had compelled her to do that (otherwise she would never have agreed).”
“He said that on the one hand she spoke thus and on the other she had committed herself (having taken the money). He added, ‘Go, go away from here! That money too belongs to you. No! I swear by Allah, after now, I will never disobey Allah.’”
“That night he died. In the morning there was an inscription at his door, ‘Surely, Allah has forgiven Kifl.’” [Sunan Tirmidhi]
This hadith tells us that if anyone repents sincerely he becomes innocent of sins, and becomes like one who has never committed a sin. Allah in His Mercy caused Kifl to die after his repentance to save him from accruing any new sins. When Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) shows mercy to anyone then he gains pardon through a sincere repentance.
This hadith also reveals Allah’s attribute of As-Samad – The Independent. He is independent of anyone else’s suggestion or permission. He does what He likes and no one may question Him about what He does. He Who is The Forgiving, The Merciful, does not need anyone to do any particular deeds in order to forgive them. He bestows His favours on anyone He likes and there is no one to stop Him from doing that. He is the One Who accepts a sincere repentance from the heart, which may leave everyone else in surprise.
This hadith also indicates that we should strive to save ourselves from dependency and destitution, and seek refuge with Allah from them. Poverty is a thing that can draw man towards the most detestable deed and compel him to do it.
Finally, we learn from this hadith that the Sahabah (radi Allahu anhum) were very careful in narrating a hadith. Abdullah ibn Umar (radi Allahu anhu) said that if he had heard this hadith from the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) once, twice, three or four times, or even five times or six times, he would not have related it to other people, for he feared that he might ascribe to the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) what he had not said, or he might make a mistake in narrating the hadith which would be a very grave sin. He had in fact heard the hadith more than seven times from the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam). That is why he related it with full confidence and authority.