Hadith on Hudud: Better to pardon before punishment, if possible

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: I will tell you about the first man to have his hand cut. He was brought for stealing and the order was given to cut his hand. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, was so upset his face changed color as if it were covered with dust. They said, “O Messenger of Allah, do you dislike cutting his hand?” The Prophet said, “What could prevent me? Do not help Satan against one of your brothers. If a case is brought to the leader that deserves legal punishment, he must carry it out. Verily, Allah Almighty is forgiving and he loves forgiveness.” Then the Prophet recited the verse, “Let them pardon and overlook. Would you not love for Allah to forgive you? Allah is forgiving and merciful.” (24:22)

Source: Musnad Aḥmad 4157

Grade: Hasan (fair) according to Al-Albani

عن عبد الله بن مسعود قَالَ إِنِّي لَأَذْكُرُ أَوَّلَ رَجُلٍ قَطَعَهُ أُتِيَ بِسَارِقٍ فَأَمَرَ بِقَطْعِهِ وَكَأَنَّمَا أُسِفَّ وَجْهُ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ كَأَنَّكَ كَرِهْتَ قَطْعَهُ قَالَ وَمَا يَمْنَعُنِي لَا تَكُونُوا عَوْنًا لِلشَّيْطَانِ عَلَى أَخِيكُمْ إِنَّهُ يَنْبَغِي لِلْإِمَامِ إِذَا انْتَهَى إِلَيْهِ حَدٌّ أَنْ يُقِيمَهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ عَفُوٌّ يُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ وَلْيَعْفُوا وَلْيَصْفَحُوا أَلَا تُحِبُّونَ أَنْ يَغْفِرَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ

4157 مسند أحمد مسند المكثرين من الصحابة

4/182 المحدث الألباني خلاصة حكم المحدث حسن في السلسلة الصحيحة