During his old age, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal رحمه الله was travelling, when he stopped by a town.
After Isha salah, he wanted to stay the night, in the Masjid. Owing to his humility, he hadn’t introduced himself to anyone, thinking that if he did, he would be welcomed by many people.
Failing to recognise Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal رحمه الله , the caretaker of the Masjid, refused to let him stay the night in there.
A baker, whose shop was nearby, watched this scene and took pity on Imam Ahmed رحمه الله . And invited the Imam, to stay with him for the night.
Imam Ahmed رحمه الله watched as the baker mixed and kneaded the dough, tended the fire, and pulled hot loaves from the oven, all the while uttering dhikr of Allah Subhānahu Wa ta’ala and Istighfār.
In the morning, Imam Ahmed رحمه الله eagerly asked his host, about his dhikr and continual seeking of forgiveness.
The baker said, “It has come like second nature to me”
Imam Ahmad رحمه الله then asked “Have you experienced any reward from this practice?”
The baker answered, “By Allah! No dua I made, except that it was answered, but one.”
Ibn Hanbal رحمه الله asked “What is that unanswered prayer?”
The baker responded, “To see the famous Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal.”
At this, tears came to Ibn Hanbal’s رحمه الله eyes, he told the baker, “I am Ahmed ibn Hanbal! By Allah! I was brought to your place, your dua has been answered and has come true!”