Sura Yaseen continues in verse 10 and states:
- It is the same to them whether you warn them or you warn them not, they will not believe.
Here, Allah informs the Prophet (S.A) that it is equal to the unbelievers if he warns them or he does not warn them. In both cases, his teaching, preaching, exhortations and reminders will not benefit them. They have covered their intellect and minds with the darkness of misguidance, and have absorbed into their hearts the desires for sins and transgressions, hence, rebukes and warnings will not benefit them.
On account of their actions, Allah has sealed their hearts with misguidance, hence, warnings shall not benefit them, nor would these have an effect on them. They would therefore continue to disbelieve in Allah and His Messengers.
As for those who will benefit from the warnings, Allah highlights this in verse 11 and says:
- You can only warn him who follows the Reminder (the Qur’an), and fears the Most Beneficent (Allah) unseen. Bear you to such one the glad tidings of forgiveness, and a generous reward (i.e. Paradise).
The verse explains that the warnings given by the Prophet (S.A) will be beneficial to those who believe in the Quran and follow its teachings, and fear Allah even though they have not seen Him. These are such servants who will pay heed to the message of the Prophet (S.A) and will benefit from the warnings he has given. They are those who believe in Allah, hope for His mercy and fear His punishment. They fear Him both in public and in private. Seeing that these servants have benefitted from the warnings and teachings of the Prophet (S.A), the Prophet (S.A) was ordered by Allah to announce glad tidings to them of His forgiveness and His generous reward. They have been informed that Allah will forgive their sins and grant them everlasting gardens in Paradise.
SuraYaseen continues in verse 12 and states:
- Verily, We give life to the dead, and We record that which they send before (them), and their traces, and all things We have recorded in a Clear Book.
Here, in this verse, Allah refutes the statement of the unbelievers who said that there will be no resurrection after death. Allah makes it clear to the entire mankind that He will surely give life to the dead and shall resurrect them for the ‘Day of Reckoning’.
Allah then informs mankind in the verse that ‘He writes everything that they send ahead of them and their traces (effects)’. This part of the verse explains that there are two types of deeds (of a man) that are recorded by Allah. One is with respect to what he sends ahead for himself, and the other is that which he leaves behind.. As for that which a man sends ahead for himself, it refers to everything that a man does on the face of the earth, good or bad, for which he will be rewarded or punished in the hereafter. These are all recorded by Allah, and none of man’s deeds will be left out. If he does good, he shall be rewarded with good, and if he does bad, he shall be requited with bad.
With respect to the deeds that are referred to (in the verse) as ‘their traces’ or ‘their effects’ (that is, those deeds that are referred to as what man has left behind and are recorded by Allah), the exegetes and great commentators of the Holy Quran have given various explanations.
Some of them (the commentators) have stated that it refers to the good and bad deeds which were done by a person during his lifetime and were then followed and practiced upon by others after his death. These deeds which are practiced upon by others shall be recorded in favour of the deceased person. If people practice upon the good deeds which he did or taught to others, then he (the deceased) shall be rewarded for these; and if people practice upon his bad deeds or the wrong things which he taught to others, then he (the deceased) shall be punished for these. In both cases, the deeds done by others shall also come into the record of the deceased person since he was the one who had shown it to someone, or may have taught it to another. Hence, such deeds are known as ‘his traces’, ‘his effects’ or ‘that which he left behind’.
It is in this regard, the Prophet ﷺhas said, ‘Whoever started a good practice in Islam, for him shall be the reward of it and the reward of those who practice upon it after him, without any decrease in their rewards. And whoever started a bad practice in Islam, upon him shall be its sin and the sin of those who practice upon it after him, without any decrease in their sins’. (Muslim) (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.5 pg.272 Dar Al Kitab Al Arabi; Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 15 Makataba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan; Tafseer Mazhari vol.9 pg. 359-360 Darul Ishaat Karachi; Tafseer Al Baghwi vol.4 pg. 7 Idara Taleefaat Ashrafiya Multan Pakistan)
It is also narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said, ‘When the son of Adam (a man) dies, all his actions come to an end except three. Knowledge from which others benefit, a righteous child who supplicates for him and Sadaqa Jaariya (continuous charity) after him’.(Muslim). A similar narration has been mentioned in the Sunan of Ibn Majah in which it is stated that the following deeds continue to bring rewards for a person even after his death. These are:
1) Knowledge which he acquired and disseminated.
2) Pious children which he left behind.
3) A copy of the Quran which he left behind.
4) Building a place of rest for travellers.
5) Digging a well and making water available for people.
6) Spending in charity while one was in health or in sickness.
While explaining the verse, the great exegete, Imam Qurtubi writes, ‘The ‘traces’ or ‘effects’ of a man are those deeds/actions which remain and are remembered after his death, whether they are good or bad. A man shall be rewarded for the ‘traces/effects’ of good. It can be the knowledge which he taught, a book which he wrote, a building which he built like a masjid or a bridge. In a like manner, a person will be punished for the evils and wrongs he introduced and practiced, which remained among the people. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 15)
The great scholar and commentator of the Holy Quran Allama Qadhi Muhammad Thana’ullah (A.R) has also given a similar explanation which has been adopted by the leading exegetes. He writes, ‘The ‘traces’ or ‘effects’ of a man (mentioned in the verse) includes such good deeds like knowledge which he disseminated, endowments (Waqf) which he gave, a forgotten Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺwhich he revived, and a good path which he showed to others. It also includes such bad deeds like introducing a custom based on falsehood, establishing injustice, helping kufr and initiating innovations’. (Tafseer Mazhari vol.9 pg. 359 Darul Ishaat Karachi 2010)
The gist of the above mentioned explanations of verse 12 (of SuraYaseen) which mentions ‘their traces’ or ‘their effects’ is that the deeds referred to, are such good or bad deeds of a man which continued to be practiced upon and followed by people after his demise. Besides the fact that these actions will be written in the records of those who do these deeds, they will also be written in the record of the deceased person.
Another explanation given by other commentators is that ‘traces/effects’ refer to the traces and effects of the footsteps taken towards the obedience of Allah or His disobedience. Hence, it refers to the traces of the footsteps taken while walking to the masjid and other places of goodness. All these footsteps and their traces are written in the record of a person. In this regard, it is narrated that the Prophet ﷺsaid, ‘One good deed is written and one bad deed is removed for every step taken by a person who is going to and returning from the Masjid’. (Ahmad, Ibn Hibban)
It is narrated by Jabir bin Abdullah (R.A) that there was an empty piece of land close to the Masjid of the Prophet ﷺ. Banu Salma (an Ansari tribe) who lived at a distance away from the Prophet , ﷺintended to leave where they were living and come closer to the Prophet ﷺ. When this information reached the Prophet ﷺ, he called them and said, ‘It has reached me that you intend to relocate close to the Masjid?’ They said, ‘Yes, O Messenger of Allah. This is what we intended’. Upon this, the Prophet ﷺsaid, ‘O Banu Salma, remain at your houses, for the traces of your footsteps are recorded. Remain at your houses for the traces of your footsteps are recorded’. (Muslim)