“We Record What They Have Put Forth and Their Traces”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In the beginning of surah Yasin, Allah informs us:

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نُحْيِي الْمَوْتَىٰ وَنَكْتُبُ مَا قَدَّمُوا وَآثَارَهُمْ ۚ وَكُلَّ شَيْءٍ أَحْصَيْنَاهُ فِي إِمَامٍ مُّبِينٍ

Indeed, it is We who bring the dead to life and We record what they have put forth and their traces, and We have enumerated all things in a clear register. [36:12]

In his explanation of the Qur’an, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote the following regarding this ayah:

إنا نحن نحيي الموتى أي: نبعثهم بعد موتهم لنجازيهم على الأعمال، ونكتب ما قدموا من الخير والشر، وهو أعمالهم التي عملوها وباشروها في حال حياتهم، وآثارهم وهي آثار الخير وآثار الشر، التي كانوا هم السبب في إيجادها في حال حياتهم وبعد وفاتهم، وتلك الأعمال التي نشأت من أقوالهم وأفعالهم وأحوالهم، فكل خير عمل به أحد من الناس، بسبب علم العبد وتعليمه أو نصحه، أو أمره بالمعروف، أو نهيه عن المنكر، أو علم أودعه عند المتعلمين، أو في كتب ينتفع بها في حياته وبعد موته، أو عمل خيرا، من صلاة أو زكاة أو صدقة أو إحسان، فاقتدى به غيره، أو عمل مسجدا، أو محلا من المحال التي يرتفق بها الناس، وما أشبه ذلك، فإنها من آثاره التي تكتب له، وكذلك عمل الشر، ولهذا: ( من سن سنة حسنة فله أجرها وأجر من عمل بها إلى يوم القيامة، ومن سن سنة سيئة فعليه وزرها ووزر من عمل بها إلى يوم القيامة ) . ـ

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نُحْيِي الْمَوْتَىٰ

Indeed, it is We who bring the dead to life …

meaning: We resurrect them after they have died in order to recompense them for their deeds.

وَنَكْتُبُ مَا قَدَّمُوا

… and We record what they have put forth …

of both good and evil, and that is referring to the deeds that they enacted and entered into during their lifetimes.


… and their traces.

both their good traces and their evil traces – those things whose existence they are responsible for both during their lifetimes and after their deaths. These are the deeds – whether they be statements, actions, or general conditions – which they initiated.

So every good deed which somebody acts on

  • because of this person’s knowledge, teaching or advice
  • or because of his enjoining the good and forbidding evil
  • or because of some knowledge which is passed on from him by other teachers;
  • or because of books which people benefited from both during his lifetime and after his death;
  • or any kind of good deeds like prayer, zakah, charity, or good behaviors which others took as an example and imitated;
  • or working to build a masjid or any other type of place that people use and benefit from;
  • or other similar things

these are part of his “traces” which will be recorded for him. And it is the same for evil deeds. In line with this is the hadith:

Whoever introduces a good practice, he will have the reward of it and the reward of whoever else does it until the Day of Resurrection. And whoever introduces a bad practice, then its sin and the sin of whoever else does it until the Day of Resurrection will be on him.

وهذا الموضع يبين لك علو مرتبة الدعوة إلى الله والهداية إلى سبيله بكل وسيلة وطريق موصل إلى ذلك، ونزول درجة الداعي إلى الشر الإمام فيه، وأنه أسفل الخليقة، وأشدهم جرما، وأعظمهم إثما. ـ

So this topic ought to help you understand the high status of calling others to Allah and guiding them to His path through any means and routes that accomplish that, as well as the low status of whoever calls to evil and leads the way to it. Such as a person it the lowest of created beings, the most egregious of criminals, and the gravest of sinners.

وكل شيء من الأعمال والنيات وغيرها أحصيناه في إمام مبين أي: كتاب هو أم الكتب وإليه مرجع الكتب، التي تكون بأيدي الملائكة، وهو اللوح المحفوظ. ـ

وَكُلَّ شَيْءٍ

and all things

all actions, intentions, etc.

أَحْصَيْنَاهُ فِي إِمَامٍ مُّبِينٍ

We have enumerated in a clear register.

meaning: in a book which is the “mother” or source of all books to which all books go back to, that which is in the hands of the angels: the Lawh al-Mahfouth – the Preserved Tablet.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 814]

See also: Understanding the Hadeeth: “Whoever Introduces a Good Sunnah”

See also: The great blessing of being a guiding leader: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: Exerting Oneself and Galvanizing Others – the Best of Conditions: Imam al-Sa’di

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