Quranic Reflection No 670. Āyat 82: 10 – 12; Angels who record our deeds.

Bismillāh. 1 March 2024/20 Sha‘bān 1445

وَإِنَّ عَلَيكُم لَحافِظينَ, كِرامًا كاتِبينَ, يَعلَمونَ ما تَفعَلونَ

Indeed, there are over you watchers, noble writers, who know whatever you do.

(Sūrat Al-Infitār, No.82, Āyat 10-12)

When human becomes engrossed in the mundane aspects of this world, his/her belief in the day of judgement becomes obscured. Time and again, the Holy Quran warns man about the accountability of his deeds on the Day of Judgement. On that day, various organs such as his hands and feet will bear witness to his deeds (Q 36:65).  Different places on earth will also testify for him or against him (Q 99:4). Allah ‘azza wajall is the ultimate witness to man’s deeds. 

To emphasize the genuineness of the accountability on the Day of Judgment, Allah has ordained for every individual an exclusive record of his deeds. This record is meticulously documented by the angels appointed by Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā and will be disclosed to him on the Day of Resurrection. Two pairs of angels are assigned for his time in this world, a pair of angels for the night and another pair for the day. 

The above verse describes these angels as possessing the following qualities: 

i), “Hāfizīn,” meaning “guardians or protectors.” Their task is not only to memorise the good and evil deeds, but more importantly to “preserve” and “protect” their deeds until the Day of Judgement. These deeds will be compiled into a record (kitāb) that every person will be able to read on the Day of Recompense (Q 45:29). 

Imam Ja‘far al-Sādiq ‘alayhis-salām was asked about the motive behind the  angels recording man’s good and evil deeds whilst Allah is aware of all things? The Imamresponded: He wants them to submit to Him through this. He has made them witnesses over His servants so that their continual presence would make them more mindful about obeying God, and more restrained in disobeying Him. There are many who intend to sin but remember the presence of these “guarding angels” and refrain from sin, saying: My Lord sees me and my guardians will bear witness to my deeds. (Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār, 56:179). These angels have been mentioned in the Quran as Raqīb  meaning “an observer” and Atīd  meaning “prepared” (Q 50:18).

ii), “Kirāman Kātibīn,” meaning “noble recorders.” “Kirām”’is the plural of karīm, and it means to be free from all types of lowliness. A person is said to be karīm when his actions are noble and honourable. The angels manifest the karāmah (generosity) of the Almighty while transcribing the deeds. The Prophet sallal-lāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wasallam

has said that when a servant commits a good deed, the angel on his right side writes ten good deeds for him (Bihār, 5/234). However, when he commits an evil deed, the angel on his left side gives him respite for seven hours. If he seeks God’s forgiveness during this time, nothing is recorded against him (Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, 2:437).

Another example of their karamah, is that the angels of the day keep the record of deeds confidential from the angels of the night and vice versa, thereby preserving the dignity of the person. 

iii), Awareness: The final quality mentioned about the angels is that they are aware of all our deeds. This includes ones done in public and in private. It also includes matters which are hidden from the eyes, like the intention of the person and his understanding (ma’rifah). A narration from Imam Mūsā al-Kāzim (a) says that when an individual desires to perform a good act, his soul emits a beautiful fragrance. However, when an individual desires to commit a sin, his soul emits a foul smell (al-Kāfī, 2:429). The angels capture the external and internal state of a person and record it. 

We pray to the Almighty to make us conscious of our actions in this world, and through them grant us a place with the noble angels in the hereafter. May our good intentions and actions relieve the suffering and oppression faced by our brothers and sisters in Palestine. 

Resources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; Sh Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour/Dr. Tahir Ridha Jaffer (Eds), Tafsīr Tadabbur Al Qur’an.

ALI 681: Preparation for Ramadan 1445 AH

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