Ayat Reflection: Verily we shall give life to the dead, and we record that which They send before and that which They leave behind

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نُحْيِي الْمَوْتَى وَنَكْتُبُ مَا قَدَّمُوا وَآَثَارَهُمْ وَكُلَّ شَيْءٍ أحْصَيْنَاهُ فِي إِمَامٍ مُبِينٍ

Verily we shall give life to the dead, and we record that which They send before and that which They leave behind, and of all things have we taken account In a Clear Book (of evidence) (QS Yasin [36]: 12).

Verily we shall give life to the deadإِنَّا نَحْنُ نُحْيِي الْمَوْتَى

Allah (SWT) emphasised in the verse using attached pronoun إِنَّا and the detached separating pronoun نَحْنُ to emphasise the fact the He (SWT) will give life after death – this degree of emphasis was required because of the disbeliever’s rejection of life after death. Interesting to note that He (SWT) mentioned نُحْيِي الْمَوْتَى before وَنَكْتُبُ مَا قَدَّمُوا وَآَثَارَهُ even the recording of deeds take place before the resurrection, this is because the verse previously mentioned glad tidings of forgiveness and a noble reward, which will happen the life after death, so it was appropriate to mention إِنَّا نَحْنُ نُحْيِي الْمَوْتَى -we shall give life to the dead first . Also, the sequence of the verse indicates the order of importance: resurrection, accountability of deeds and then the effects of the deeds which follows the deeds.

وَنَكْتُبُ مَا قَدَّمُوا وَآَثَارَهُ

and we record that which They send before and that which They leave behind

Here Allah (SWT) establishes the fact all actions that we perform are recorded and it is sent forth, creating the impressions that you acts are waiting for you when you are resurrected, very scary and optimistic thought; scary in the sense that all evil that we do it has already been sent, similar to the record of a criminal being sent to the Judge for sentencing, at the same time sense of optimism that the Ar-Rahman will reward us with the noblest of reward for all the good actions that we have sent. 

Also He (SWT) وَنَكْتُبُ – we write – instead of ‘we know’ – this is to emphasise to the owners of the deeds that they will be definitely given their deeds – small or big – When we know something and it is important then we write it down, this why it was said ‘we record’ to signify importance. 

Also, He (SWT) said –  وَآَثَارَهُمْ – and their effects i.e. effects/traces of the deeds. 

This part of the verse was a real eye-opener. Not only our deeds are recorded but also their effects, consequences are also recorded and there will be accountability for them too. Just pause and think about this! There are many prophetic narrations on this topic. In a nutshell, the effects and consequences of our actions -good and bad – we are held responsible for. This raises few important points:

Our actions affect others either positively or negatively, this means that we must think carefully before we do the action, not only about the action but for its consequences too. We are not isolated individuals, rather we have relationships in the society which we are also responsible for. For example, our actions as parents have effects on our children, our actions as teachers have effects on our students etc. So this means Islam came to deal with the actions and their effects on society, which means individual change, well-being is always connected to the societal environment. Islam is not an individualistic religion but collective one where the individual is integral to the society and community in which he/she lives in. So any call to individual change without societal change is incorrect. 

Another important point is that more responsibility and power you have more accountable you are for the actions and their consequences. So the state/ government/ruler – they have the have the most impact on society through their actions and their consequences. When creating a policy, the impact will affect all people in the country or even those in other countries. It is possible that the impacts are felt not only at that time but also for several generations afterward. When the state/ruler apply the laws that prohibit alcohol, pornography, or usury, various immoral acts will decrease or even disappear from the public life. Similarly, when the state/ruler apply sharia in total and impose strict sanctions to those who violate it. It will certainly result in the obedience of the people to sharia. So, it is not surprising if the just rulers will get huge rewards. 

A quote from Imam Alusi’s commentary on this verse is insightful:

وَآثَارَهُمْ الَّتِي أَبْقَوْهَا بَعْدَهُمْ مِنَ الْحَسَنَاتِ كَعِلْمٍ عَلَّمُوهُ أَوْ كِتَابٍ أَلَّفُوهُ أَوْ حَبِيسٍ وَقَفُوهُ أَوْ بِنَاءٍ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى بَنُوهُ، وَغَيْرِ ذَلِكَ مِنْ وُجُوهِ الْبِرِّ وَمِنَ السَّيِّئَاتِ كَتَأْسِيسِ قَوَانِينِ الظُّلْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ وَتَرْتِيبِ مَبَادِئِ الشَّرِّ وَالْفَسَادِ فِيمَا بَيْنَ الْعِبَادِ، وَغَيْرِ ذَلِكَ مِنْ فُنُونِ الشُّرُورِ الَّتِي أَحْدَثُوهَا وَسَنُّوهَا بَعْدَهُمْ لِلْمُفْسِدِينَ. 

‘And their effects / traces which remains after them from good deeds such as knowledge which they taught or a book which they wrote…..from the evil deeds such as establishment of OPPRESSIVE RULES and the arrangement (promotion) of evil and corrupt principles amongst the principles and other than these type of evil which they brought about and enacted after them for corruption’

This is a clear warning against any corrupt regime and their evil influences and also participating in their corruption for which we will be responsible for not only their actions but their generational evil consequences. 

وَكُلَّ شَيْءٍ أحْصَيْنَاهُ فِي إِمَامٍ مُبِين – and of all things have we taken account In a Clear Book

Interesting to note that كُلَّ is in the mansoob state not in the marfoo state – one for the Arabic students to figure out.

A couple interesting point about the usage of the verb أحْصَيْنَاهُ (we have taken account). 

Firstly, it did not say ‘we have written’ in a clear book. Why? It is because something which written may be inaccurate / missing etc, but when written then counted then it ensures nothing is missing and it is complete. 

Secondly, أحْصَيْنَاهُ is a past tense verb unlike وَنَكْتُبُ (we write). Why? It is because that which is counted is already in the ‘clear Record’ – فِي إِمَامٍ مُبِينٍ – which the preserved tablet – which has already taken place before the writing of the deeds by the angels which is being written and will continue to be written and that is why the present tense verb وَنَكْتُبُ (we write) was used. 

Lastly, the expression إِمَامٍ مُبِينٍ – a clear book – but the word إِمَامٍ – means to lead – this expression was used to indicate what the angels are subordinate to what has already been decreed in terms of provision, life, death etc. 

Please, read, contemplate and share.

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