Record of Actions

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From Death to Resurection
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Record of Actions is a notebook in which one's good and bad actions are recorded and is given to one in the afterlife. According to hadiths, there are two angels on one's right and left shoulders. One of them records good actions and the other records bad actions. According to verses of the Qur'an, righteous people are given the record of their actions in their right hands and are then sent to the Heaven. Wrongdoers are given the record of their actions in their left hands or from behind, and are then sent to the Hell.

The Qur'an has referred to the record of actions as "kitab" (book), "zabur" (transcripts), "ta'ir" (fate), and "imam mubin" (clear register). The exegetes have appealed to Qur'anic verses to distinguish three sorts of records of actions: one for individuals, one for nations, and one for all human beings. There are a number of views about the material of the "record of actions": being like physical books, of the type of human soul, the reality of actions, or the effects of human actions that are manifested on the day of resurrection.

The Notion

The Qur'an has referred to the "record of actions" as "kitab" (book),[1] "ta'ir" (fate),[2] "zubur" (transcripts),[3] and "imam mubin" (clear register).[4] According to Qur'anic verses, all good and bad, small and great actions done by human persons in this world are registered in the "record of actions" which is given to them on the day of resurrection.[5] According to some hadiths, all human speeches and actions, even their blow in ash, are registered in the record.[6] There are different views as to the material of the record of actions:

  • Some people believe that it is like books of this world on which the actions are recorded and are then given to one on the day of resurrection.
  • The record of actions is the human soul in which one's actions have penetrated and will never disappear.
  • It consists in the effects of our actions which are around us and will be recovered on the day of resurrection.
  • It is the reality of actions that is hidden from us in this world, but will be manifest to us in the afterlife.[7]

How the Record of Actions is Received

According to Qur'anic verses, righteous people receive the record of their actions with their right hands. They happily return to their kin[8] and say: "come and read the record of our actions!" They will then go to the Heaven.[9] Other people will receive the record of their actions with their left hands, and according to other verses, from behind, and will then be thrown into the Hell.[10] According to verses of Qur'an 69, they will wish that they did not exist when they receive the record of their actions and say, "we wish that we never saw the record of our actions".[11]

According to Qur'an 17, on the day of resurrection, people are told to read the record of their actions.[12] The testimony of the record for one's actions is so precise that they cannot deny what they have done in the mundane world.[13]

Sorts of the Record of Actions

Quranic exegetes appeal to verses of the Qur'an to show that every person has three types of records:[14]

  • Record of actions specific to the individual in which all good and bad, small and great actions are registered.[15]
  • Record of actions for nations in which the collections of their actions are registered.[16]
  • Record of actions for all human persons.[17] Some exegetes take this to be the Preserved Tablet (al-Lawh al-Mahfuz).[18]

Scribers of Actions

The Qur'an refers to scribers of the records of actions as "mutalaqqiyan" (the two receivers),[19] "raqib" (observer), "'atid" (prepared to record),[20] and "kiram katibin" (noble and recording).[21] According to hadiths, two angels accompany the person all the time. One of them is on his right shoulder, recording his right actions.[22] The other angel is on the left shoulder, recording his or her bad actions. According to some other hadiths, there are 4 such angels, two of them register actions of the day and the other two register the actions of the night.[23]

Some hadiths imply that angels record good actions immediately, but they record bad actions after a few hours in the hope that the sinner repents or does something good that wipes out the effects of the bad action.[24] According to hadiths, the record of actions is written in order for one not to be able to deny what he has done,[25] and in order for them to feel ashamed in the presence of angels and refrain from doing sinful actions.[26]

See Also


  1. Qurʾān, 45:28; 18:49.
  2. Qurʾān, 17:13.
  3. Qurʾān, 54:52.
  4. Qurʾān, 36:12.
  5. Riḍāyī Iṣfahānī, Mabāḥith-i iʿtiqādī, p. 281.
  6. Ṣadūq, Iʿtiqādāt, p. 80.
  7. Raḥmānī, "Ḥaqīqat wa muḥtawā wa taṭāyur-i nāma-yi aʿmāl", p. 49-50; Makārim Shīrāzī, Payām-i Qurʾān, vol. 6, p. 87.
  8. Qurʾān, 84:7-9.
  9. Qurʾān, 69:18-26.
  10. Qurʾān, 84:10-15.
  11. and had not known my account (26). Oh! Would that the death that came to me in the world had made an end of me! (27)
  12. Qurʾān, 17:14.
  13. Qurʾān, 45:29; 17:49.
  14. Makārim Shīrāzī, Payām-i Qurʾān, vol. 6, p. 87.
  15. Qurʾān, 17:13; 15:17-18; 18:49.
  16. Qurʾān, 45:28.
  17. Qurʾān, 36:12.
  18. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 20, p. 273; vol. 17, p. 97.
  19. Qurʾān, 50:17.
  20. Qurʾān, 50:18.
  21. Qurʾān, 82:11.
  22. Rustamī & Āl Būya, Sayrī dar asrār-i firishtigān, p. 121.
  23. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 20, p. 227; vol. 13, p. 246.
  24. Ṣadūq, Iʿtiqādāt, p. 80.
  25. Rustamī & Āl Būya, Sayrī dar asrār-i firishtigān, p. 121.
  26. Makārim Shīrāzī, Payām-i Qurʾān, vol. 6, p. 86.


  • Makārim Shīrāzī, Nāṣir. Payām-i Qurʾān. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmīyya, 1386 Sh.
  • Raḥmānī, Ḥasan & Kirmānī, ʿAlī Riḍā. 1395 Sh. "Ḥaqīqat wa muḥtawā wa taṭāyur-i nāma-yi aʿmāl wa faṣl al-khiṭāb dar dāwarī-yi rūz-i ḥisāb". Majalla-yi Maʿrifat 225.
  • Riḍāyī Iṣfahānī, Muḥammad ʿAlī. Mabāḥith-i iʿtiqādī. Qom: Nasīm-i Ḥayāt, 1391 Sh.
  • Rustamī, Muḥammad Zamān & Āl Būya, Ṭāhira. Sayrī dar asrār-i firishtigān. Qom: Pazhūhishgāh-I ʿUlūm wa Farhang-i Islāmī, 1393 Sh.
  • Ṣadūq, Muḥammad b. ʿAlī al-. Iʿtiqādāt. Tehran: Nihḍat-i Zanān-i Musalmān, 1361 Sh.
  • Ṭabāṭabāyī, Muḥammad Ḥusayn al-. Al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Qom: Daftar-i Intishārāt-i Islāmī, 1417 AH.