Anas relates that the holy Prophet Muhammad said: Allah says: When a servant of Mine advances towards Me a foot, I advance towards him a yard, and when he advances towards Me a yard, I advance towards him the length of his arms spread out. When he comes to Me walking, I go to him running. (Bokhari)
This is Hadith number 96 in the collection: Gardens of the Righteous.
Anas ibn Malik says that the Holy Prophet Muhammad said: Allah is more pleased with the repentance of a servant of His than would be one of you, who were to lose his camel in a barren desert and then find it suddenly (Bokhari and Muslim). The version in Muslim adds: Allah is more pleased with a servant of His than would be one of you who were to lose his riding camel that carries his food and drink, in a barren desert, and losing all hope of finding it he were to lie down in the shade of a tree, and then should suddenly find it standing near him and should seize its nose—string and in his excess of joy blurt out: O Allah, Thou art my servant and I am Thy lord.
This is Hadith number 15 in the collection: Gardens of the Righteous.
Some additional Hadiths reflecting God’s mercy. The number mentioned is as in the collection provided above:
421. Umar ibn Khattab relates: Some prisoners of war came to the Holy Prophet. There was a woman among them who ran about hither and yon. When she found her child she took it up, drew it close and suckled it. The Holy Prophet said to his companions: Can you imagine this woman throwing her child into the ﬁre? We said: Surely not. On which he said: Allah is more compassionate towards His servants than she is towards her child (Bokhari and Muslim).
422. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: When Allah created mankind He wrote in a book which is with Him on His Throne: My mercy shall overcome My wrath (Bokhari and Muslim).
423. Abu Hurairah relates that he heard the Holy Prophet say: Allah divided compassion into a hundred parts out of which He retained ninety-nine parts and sent down one part to the earth. From this one part proceeds all the compassion that one part of creation exercises towards another, so that an animal lifts its foot above its young lest they should receive a hurt. Another version is: Allah has a hundred parts of mercy of which He has sent down one part for jinn and men and animals and insects by virtue of which they deal kindly with one another and love one another and have compassion for one another and wild animals care for their young. Allah has retained the remaining ninety-nine parts to deal mercifully with His servants on the Day of Judgment (Bokhari and Muslim). Another version is: Allah has a hundred parts of mercy. One part of them is used by all creatures for kindness between them and ninety-nine parts are for use on the Day of Judgment.
Based on the above any literal understanding or criticism of the concept of ‘the punishment of eternal hell,’ hardly has any foundation.
Suggested reading for living in the image of the Loving and the Most Merciful God by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times: