Habbah Arni and Nawf Bakali were lying in the courtyard of Government House (Dar al-Imarah) of Kufa. After the midnight, they saw that Amir al-Muminin (as), was coming from the fort towards the courtyard. But his condition was bad; he was having extraordinary fear and was unable to keep the equilibrium of his body. Keeping his hands on the wall and having his body in bent position, he was walking slowly with the support of the wall. And he was reciting the last verses (Ayat) of Sura Al-e-Imran from Noble Qur'an as follows:
Most surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day there are signs for men who understand. Those who remember Allah standing and sitting and lying on their sides and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: Our Lord! Thou hast not created this in vain! Glory be to Thee; save us then from the chastisement of the fire: Our Lord! Surely whomsoever Thou makest enter the fire, him Thou hast indeed brought to disgrace, and there shall be no helpers for the unjust: Our Lord! Surely we have heard a preacher calling to the faith, saying: Believe in your Lord, so we did believe; Our Lord! Forgive us therefore our faults, and cover our evil deeds and make us die with the righteous. Our Lord! Grant us what You have promised us through Your messengers and do not disgrace us on the Resurrection Day; surely You do not break the promise. (3:190-194)
As soon as he finished these verses, his condition became bad; he then repeated these verses again and again and his condition became bad to worse and he became almost unconscious.
Both Habbah Arni and Nawf Bakali were witnessing this amazing scene, while lying on their beds. Habbah Arni, while quite startled, was looking at this astonishing scene.
But Nawf Bakali was unable to control his tears and he was continuously weeping. By this time, Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) reached the bed of Habbah Arni and said: "Are you awake or asleep?"
Habbah Arni replied: "I am awake, O Commander of the faithful! If a person like you has such a condition of awe and fear of Allah (SWT), then what would happen to poor people like us?"
Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) looked down and wept. He (as) then said: "O Habbah! All of us will be presented before Allah (SWT) one day. And no deed of ours is hidden from Him. He is very near to you and to me. Nothing can act as an obstruction between us and Allah (SWT)."
Then he said to Nawf: "Are you asleep?" (Nawf Bakali replied :) "No, Commander of the faithful! I am awake. It is for some time that I am shedding tears."
Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) said: "O Nawf! If today you shed tears in fear of Allah (SWT), tomorrow your eyes will glitter.
"O Nawf! No one has more respect than that person who cries in the fear of Allah (SWT) and that he likes to do it only for His sake."
"O Nawf! The one who loves Allah (SWT) and that whatever he loves, he does it just for the sake of Allah, does not prefer anything over love of Allah. And the one who dislikes anything, and does it for the sake of Allah, he would receive nothing except virtue for his disliking. Whenever you reach such a stage, you have attained the truths of faith to their perfection."
After saying this, Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) preached and gave a piece of advice to Habbah Arni and Nawf Bakali. His last sentence was: "I have told you that you should fear from Allah (SWT)." Then he passed by both of them and got busy with his own work. He started his prayers and while doing so, he said: "O Allah! I wish I knew that when I am neglectful towards You, do You ignore me or do You still care for me? I wish I knew that in these long neglectful dreams of mine and in my shortcomings in thanking you, what is my position before You?"
Habbah Arni and Nawf Bakali, said: "By Allah! Amir al-Muminin (as) kept on walking and he had the same condition continuously till dawn."
Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) said: "To judge your own souls before the time of judging of your action arrives. Make an assessment of yourself before you are called upon to account for your conduct in this existence."
Noble Qur'an says: (To) those whose hearts tremble when Allah is mentioned... (22:35)
Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) said: "Fear none but your own sin."