Day of Resurrection: The Books of Deeds are Distributed – Shaykh al-‘Uthaymīn

Bismillaah

The Seventh Event

The Books of Deeds are Distributed

People’s books of deeds will be distributed, open for them to read. An individual’s book of deeds is the register with every action he did in life written inside. These deeds are being written now by the angels entrusted with recording the actions of all the children of Adam. Allah (تعالى) says:

وَإِنَّ عَلَيْكُمْ لَحَافِظِينَ كِرَامًا كَاتِبِينَ يَعْلَمُونَ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ

And indeed, (appointed) over you are keepers, honorable recorders. They know whatever you do. [Surah al-Isrā, 82:10-12][69]

These angels record in a book everything a person does because they are always with him. And on the Day of Resurrection, Allah will bring forth this book, making it known to the person as he says:

وَكُلَّ إِنسَانٍ أَلْزَمْنَاهُ طَائِرَهُ فِي عُنُقِهِ وَنُخْرِجُ لَهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ كِتَابًا يَلْقَاهُ مَنشُورًا اقْرَأْ كِتَابَكَ كَفَى بِنَفْسِكَ الْيَوْمَ عَلَيْكَ حَسِيبًا

Every person, we have imposed his fate upon his neck. And we will produce for him, on the Day of Resurrection, a record which he will find spread open. (It will be said to him,) “Read your book. You are sufficient today as a reckoner against yourself. [Surah al-Isrā, 17:13-14.]

The Recording of Good Deeds

Both good deeds and bad deeds are written in these books. As for the good deeds, the actions a person actually does are recorded, as are his good intentions and even those deeds he intends to do but may not have actually done them. So there are three types of rewarded behavior: 1) good deeds performed, 2) good intentions, and 3) good deeds intended but not performed.

1. Good Deeds: It is clear that a person’s good deeds are written.

2. Good Intentions: Intending to do a good deed is also recorded in a person’s favor.

But a reward is given for only the intention and not necessarily the action intended. This is based on the hadith of a rich man who spends his wealth in charity and a poor man who says, “If I had wealth, I would do what he does.” About these two, the prophet (صلّى الله عليه وسلّم) said:

فَهُوَ بِنِيَّتِهِ فَأَجْرُهُمَا سَوَاءٌ

He is rewarded for his intention, and the reward is the same for both.[71]

So both the rich and poor are equally rewarded in intention but not in action. This is also confirmed by the narration in which the poor immigrants of Medina complained to the prophet (صلّى الله عليه وسلّم) saying, “Oh messenger of Allah, the wealthy have overtaken us (in reward).” The prophet (صلّى الله عليه وسلّم) said (as a way to catch up with the wealthy in rewards):

تُسَبِّحُونَ وَتُكَبِّرُونَ وَتَحْمَدُونَ دُبُرَ كُلِّ صَلاةٍ ثَلاثًا وَثَلاثِينَ مَرَّة

Glorify Allah, declare his greatness, and thank him after each prayer thirty-three times.

But when this advice reached the wealthy, they too did likewise. So the poor returned, complaining to the prophet (صلّى الله عليه وسلّم) again that the rich are now doing both— giving charity and praising Allah after the prayers. He (صلّى الله عليه وسلّم) then said:

ذَلِكَ فَضْلُ اللَّهِ يُؤْتِهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ

That is the favor of Allah he gives to whom he wishes. [Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim]

The prophet did not reply the second time that the poor, despite their sincere intentions, would have the same reward as the rich in deed. And this is fair because a man who does not perform a certain deed is not the same as the one who actually does it, yet he may still get a similar reward for the intention alone.

3. Good Deeds Intended but Not Performed: The third type of rewarded behavior which a person may find written in his book of deeds is the actions he may sincerely intend to do but did not actually do them. The difference between this type and the second is that for these intentions, he does receive a reward for the action itself. These are the deeds that an individual may intend to do and perhaps he does as much as he is able to of such deed. Then something prevents him from completing the deed. In such case, a full good deed will be recorded based on the statement of Allah:

وَمَن يَخْرُجْ مِن بَيْتِهِ مُهَاجِرًا إِلَى اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ يُدْرِكْهُ الْمَوْتُ فَقَدْ وَقَعَ أَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللَّهِ

And whoever leaves his home as an emigrant to Allah and his messenger and then death overtakes him, his reward has already become incumbent upon Allah.[Surah al-Nisa, 4:100]

In this is also good news for students of religious knowledge. For example, if someone intends to study religious knowledge for the purpose of benefiting others with such information, defending the Sunnah of the messenger (صلّى الله عليه وسلّم) and spreading Allah’s religion throughout the earth, yet he is unable to complete his studies—perhaps he dies in the process, for example—he will still have those good deeds recorded for him and he will achieve its rewards.

Even if a person has a habit of performing a particular good deed but for some reason he is unable to do it under certain circumstances, he still has the good deed recorded for him. The prophet (صلّى الله عليه وسلّم) said:

إِذَا مَرِضَ الْعَبْدُ أَوْ سَافَرَ كُتِبَ لَهُ مِثْلُ مَا كَانَ يَعْمَلُ مُقِيمًا صَحِيحًا

When a servant becomes sick or travels, whatever he used to do while residing at home or healthy will still be recorded for him. [Recorded by al-Bukhari]

The Recording of Bad Deeds

As for bad deeds, they are written against a person if: 1) he actually does a bad deed, 2) he intends and hopes to do the bad deed, and 3) he intends to do the bad deed and tries to commit it but for some reason he is unable to.

1. Bad Deeds: This is clear; if someone does a bad deed, he has it recorded against him.

2. Bad Intentions: Sins an individual intends or hopes to do are also written against him. But like good intentions, he has a bad deed recorded for the intention and not a full bad deed for the action intended. The proof of this is in the same hadith mentioned about good intentions. The prophet (صلّى الله عليه وسلّم) spoke about a person Allah had provided wealth but no knowledge so that he aimlessly wasted his wealth. A person Allah had given neither wealth nor knowledge then said, “If I had wealth, I would do what he does,” admiring the former’s wasteful spending. So the prophet (صلّى الله عليه وسلّم) said:

فَهُوَ بِنِيَّتِهِ فَوِزْرُهُمَا سَوَاءٌ

He is recorded for his intention, and the sin is the same for both of them. [75]

As for an individual intending to do a bad deed but refrains from it, this is of three types:

  • 1) If the person does not do the deed because he was unable though he tried to do it, he is just like a person who actually did the bad deed,
  • 2) If he refrains from doing the deed for the sake of Allah, he is rewarded, and
  • 3) If he simply decides not to do it (but not for the sake of Allah) or even if committing the deed did not seriously cross his mind, then he has neither sin nor reward written for him.

3. Bad Deeds Intended but Not Performed: These are also recorded against a person as complete bad deeds if the person tried his utmost to do them based on the statement (صلّى الله عليه وسلّم) of the prophet:

ذَا تَوَاجَهَ الْمُسْلِمَانِ بِسَيْفَيْهِمَا فَكِلاهُمَا مِنْ أَهْلِ النَّارِ

If two Muslims face off with their swords (i.e. if they fight to the death), both of them are people of the fire.

After hearing this, the companions asked, “Messenger of Allah, we understand about the killer, but why the one killed too?” He replied:

إِنَّهُ أَرَادَ قَتْلَ صَاحِبِهِ

He also wanted to kill his opponent.[Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.]

Similarly, if someone wanted to drink alcohol but something happened so that he was unable to do it, it is still recorded against him as a bad deed because he tried as much as he could to commit it.

To conclude this topic we must know that Allah rewards good deeds with rewards greater than the original good deed, but He recompenses a bad deed only equivalent to the original sin; He says (تعالى) :

مَن جَاءَ بِالْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا وَمَن جَاءَ بِالسَّيِّئَةِ فَلا يُجْزَى إِلاَّ مِثْلَهَا وَهُمْ لا يُظْلَمُونَ

Whoever comes (on the Day of Judgment) with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof, and whoever comes with an evil deed will not be recompensed except the like thereof, and they will not be wronged. [77]

Receiving the Books of Deeds

About the distribution of these books and the ways in which people will receive them, Allah (تعالى) says:

فَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِيَمِينِهِ فَسَوْفَ يُحَاسَبُ حِسَابًا يَسِيرًا وَيَنقَلِبُ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُورًا وَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ وَرَاءَ ظَهْرِهِ فَسَوْفَ يَدْعُو ثُبُورًا وَيَصْلَى سَعِيرًا

Then as for he who is given his record in his right hand, he will be judged with an easy reckoning, and he will return to his people in happiness. But as for he who is given his record behind his back, he will cry out for destruction, and he will burn in a blaze.[Surah al-Inshiqaq, 84:7-12]

And he says:

وَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِشِمَالِهِ فَيَقُولُ يَا لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أُوتَ كِتَابِيَهْ

But as for he who is given his record in his left hand, he will say, “Oh, I wish I had never been given my record.” [Surah al-Haqqah, 69:25]

On the Day of Judgment, people will receive their books of deeds in different ways. Some will be given their books in their right hands – these are the believers. In this is also an indication that the right hand is more honorable and so a believer is given his book in his right hand. When the believer receives his book of deeds, he will take it with his right hand, rejoice, then cry out:

فَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِيَمِينِهِ فَيَقُولُ هَاؤُمُ اقْرَءُوا كِتَابِيَهْ

So as for he who is given his record in his right hand, he will say, “Here,read my record!” [Surah al-Haqqah, 69:19]

But as for a disbeliever in Allah, he receives his book of deeds in his left hand or from behind his back. He will then cry out for destruction:

وَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِشِمَالِهِ فَيَقُولُ يَا لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أُوتَ كِتَابِيَهْ وَلَمْ أَدْرِ مَا حِسَابِيَهْ

But as for he who is given his record in his left hand, he will say, “Oh, I wish I had never been given my record and had never known what my account was.[Surah al-Haqqah, 69:25-26.]

So the manner in which people receive their books of deeds is of three types: in the right hand, in the left hand, and behind the back. But these three types are only different in description and are not three separate ways books will be distributed. This is because if an individual receives his book of deeds from behind his back, he is at the same time given his book in his left hand—he takes it with his left hand, reaching his hand behind him. And since he receives his book with his left hand, he is known as one of the “People of the Left.” [82] He receives his book behind his back because during his life, he turned his back on the book of Allah. So it is only befitting that in return, he is given his book of deeds from behind his back, and Allah knows best.

To conclude, Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) says:

وَكُلَّ إِنسَانٍ أَلْزَمْنَاهُ طَائِرَهُ فِي عُنُقِهِ وَنُخْرِجُ لَهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ كِتَابًا يَلْقَاهُ مَنشُورًا اقْرَأْ كِتَابَكَ كَفَى بِنَفْسِكَ الْيَوْمَ عَلَيْكَ حَسِيبًا

Every person, we have imposed his fate upon his neck. And we will produce for him, on the Day of Resurrection, a record which he will find spread open. (It will be said to him,) “Read your book. You are sufficient today as a reckoner against yourself. [Surah al-Isra, 17:13-14.]

As for his fate (i.e. his deeds) imposed on his neck, this is the most befitting attachment for a person’s deeds – bound to his neck – because he will never be separated from them until he dies. He will find his book open; he neither expends effort nor does he find difficulty in opening it. “Read your book” Read what has been written for or against you. “Your own self is sufficient as a reckoner against you today“. This is the perfection of justice and fairness – that the individual will be responsible for taking himself to account.

We have in front of us now a door we may close on every bad deed, every sin: repentance. Regardless of how great a sin may be, when someone repents to Allah, he will forgive him. Even if a person continuously repeated the same sin but he repents, Allah will forgive him. The matter is still within our hands, so we must ensure that nothing is written in this book except righteous deeds before Allah judges creation.

Footnotes:

[69] Surah al-Isrā, 82:10-12.

In Surah Qaf, 50:17-18, Allah informs us that the angels are seated on the right and left of us:

إِذْ يَتَلَقَّى الْمُتَلَقِّيَانِ عَنِ الْيَمِينِ وَعَنِ الشِّمَالِ قَعِيدٌ مَّا يَلْفِظُ مِن قَوْلٍ إِلاَّ لَدَيْهِ رَقِيبٌ عَتِيدٌ

When the two receivers receive, seated on the right and on the left. Not a word does he utter but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it).

[71] Recorded by al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah and al-Albani said it is authentic in “Sahih Sunan al-Tirmidhi” (no. 1894).

The full text of the hadith is:

ثَلاثَةٌ أُقْسِمُ عَلَيْهِنَّ وَأُحَدِّثُكُمْ حَدِيثًا فَاحْفَظُوهُ ، قَالَ : مَا نَقَصَ مَالُ عَبْدٍ مِنْ صَدَقَةٍ ، وَلا ظُلِمَ عَبْدٌ مَظْلَمَةً فَصَبَرَ عَلَيْهَا إِلاَّ زَادَهُ اللَّهُ عِزًّا ، وَلا فَتَحَ عَبْدٌ بَابَ مَسْأَلَةٍ إِلاَّ فَتَحَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ بَابَ فَقْرٍ – أَوْ كَلِمَةً نَحْوَهَا – وَأُحَدِّثُكُمْ حَدِيثًا فَاحْفَظُوهُ ، قَالَ : إِنَّمَا الدُّنْيَا لأَرْبَعَةِ نَفَرٍ : عَبْدٍ رَزَقَهُ اللَّهُ مَالاً وَعِلْمًا فَهُوَ يَتَّقِي فِيهِ رَبَّهُ وَيَصِلُ فِيهِ رَحِمَهُ ، وَيَعْلَمُ لِلَّهِ فِيهِ حَقًّا فَهَذَا بِأَفْضَلِ الْمَنَازِلِ ، وَعَبْدٍ رَزَقَهُ اللَّهُ عِلْمًا وَلَمْ يَرْزُقْهُ مَالاً فَهُوَ صَادِقُ النِّيَّةِ يَقُولُ : لَوْ أَنَّ لِي مَالاً لَعَمِلْتُ بِعَمَلِ فُلانٍ ، فَهُوَ بِنِيَّتِهِ فَأَجْرُهُمَا سَوَاءٌ ، وَعَبْدٍ رَزَقَهُ اللَّهُ مَالاً وَلَمْ يَرْزُقْهُ عِلْمًا فَهُوَ يَخْبِطُ فِي مَالِهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ لا يَتَّقِي فِيهِ رَبَّهُ وَلا يَصِلُ فِيهِ رَحِمَهُ وَلا يَعْلَمُ لِلَّهِ فِيهِ حَقًّا فَهَذَا بِأَخْبَثِ الْمَنَازِلِ ، وَعَبْدٍ لَمْ يَرْزُقْهُ اللَّهُ مَالاً وَلا عِلْمًا فَهُوَ يَقُولُ : لَوْ أَنَّ لِي مَالاً لَعَمِلْتُ فِيهِ بِعَمَلِ فُلانٍ ، فَهُوَ بِنِيَّتِهِ فَوِزْرُهُمَا سَوَاءٌ 

There are three things that I attest to; I will mention them so remember them.

  • 1) Charity will never decrease a person’s wealth,
  • 2) no servant is wronged and patiently endures that except that Allah will increase him in honor, and
  • 3) no servant opens the door of begging except that Allah will open the door of poverty (or he said similarly).

And I will mention something else so remember it.

The world is for four types of people:

  • 1) a person Allah has provided with wealth and knowledge so he is conscientious of his Lord regarding them and thus gains his mercy therewith. He knows Allah has a right upon him with regards to them, and this is the best of the (four) types.
  • 2) A person Allah has provided with knowledge but not wealth, yet he is truthful in his intention when he says, “If I had wealth, I would do what so-and-so does (the first type of person).” So he is rewarded for his intention, and the reward is the same for both of them.
  • 3) A person Allah has provided wealth but no knowledge so that he aimlessly wastes his wealth without knowledge. He is neither conscientious of his Lord with it nor does he achieve his mercy. He does not even know that Allah has a right upon him regarding it, and this is the worst of the (four) types.
  • 4) A person Allah has provided no wealth and no knowledge. But he says, “If I had wealth, I would do what so-and-so does (the third type of person).” So he is also recorded for his intention, and the sin is the same for both of them.

[75] Recorded by al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah and al-Albani said it is authentic in “Sahih Sunan al-Tirmidhi” (no. 1894). See page 53 for the full hadith.

[77] Surah al-Anaam, 6:160.

Evidence from the Sunnah of a ten-fold reward for a good deed and only a single recompense for a bad deed is the hadith recorded by Muslim in which the prophet (صلّى الله عليه وسلّم) said:

يقول الله : مَنْ جَاء بالحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُ عَشْرُ أمْثَالِهَا أَوْ أزْيَد ، وَمَنْ جَاءَ بالسَيِّئَةِ فَجَزاءُ سَيِّئَةٍ سَيِّئَةٌ مِثْلُهَا أَوْ أغْفِرُ . وَمَنْ تَقَرَّبَ مِنِّي شِبْرًا تَقَرَّبْتُ مِنْهُ ذِرَاعًا ، وَمَنْ تَقَرَّبَ مِنِّي ذِرَاعًا تَقَرَّبْتُ مِنْهُ بَاعًا ، وَمَنْ أتَانِي يَمْشِي أتَيْتُهُ هَرْوَلَةً ، وَمَنْ لَقِيني بِقُرَابِ الأرْض خَطِيئةً لا يُشْرِكُ بِي شَيئاً ، لَقِيتُهُ بِمِثْلِهَا مَغفِرَةً

Allah says, “Whoever does a good deed will have ten times reward for it or even more. And whoever does a bad deed will have a single bad deed for it or I will forgive it. Whoever comes close to me a hand-span, I will come close to him an arm’s length; and whoever comes close to me an arm’s length, I will come close to him the distance of two outstretched arms. Whoever comes to me walking, I will come to him running. And whoever meets me with the earth full of sins but associated nothing with me in worship, I will meet him with as much forgiveness.”

[82] A similar description is used in the Surah al-Waqi’ah, 56:8-9:

فَأَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ وَأَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ

The Companions of the Right – what are the Companions of the Right? And the Companions of the Left – what re the Companions of the Left?

Posted from the article : The Resurrection, A Summary of Events to Occur – Shaykh ibn Uthaymeen rahimahullaah | Translated by Abu az-Zubayr Harrison rahimahullaah

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