How to edit your Book of Deeds

How to edit your Book of Deeds

A fresh start

Alhamdulillah every day is a new opportunity to excel, a new opportunity to improve ourselves, a new opportunity to rectify what we have done, and certainly we have plenty of shortcomings. We, at the end of the day, are humans so we have weaknesses as Allah Almighty stated in the Quran:

وَخُلِقَ ٱلْإِنسَـٰنُ ضَعِيفًۭا

For humankind was created weak. (4:28)

As humans, we are inherently weak and liable to make mistakes. These weaknesses may sometimes lead us down paths we had not intended, failed projects, regrets or unfulfilled endeavours, and even to dead ends.

Yet, even in the face of disappointment, each new day offers a fresh beginning – the chance to start over. It is not the end of the world. It is a new opportunity. Most importantly, we need our Book of Deeds to weigh heavy on our scales. For this, we need to go back and check our Book of Deeds, because we still have some time; only God knows how long, but as long as we are still breathing, we have time. Ultimately, it is our Book of Deeds which matters on the Day of Judgement. It’s not what is in your account in the bank, or how many properties you have, or how many projects you worked on. It is your good deeds which will count and which will be your assets in the Hereafter.

On the Day of Judgement, Allah Almighty will say:

ٱقْرَأْ كِتَـٰبَكَ

Read your record. (17:14)

The Book with the happy ending

Those who are pleased with what is recorded in their Book will be jubilant. Allah Almighty describes this scene on the Day of Judgment:

فَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِىَ كِتَـٰبَهُۥ بِيَمِينِهِۦ فَيَقُولُ هَآؤُمُ ٱقْرَءُوا۟ كِتَـٰبِيَهْ

As for those given their records in their right hand, they will cry ˹happily˺, “Here ˹everyone˺! Read my record! (69:19)

Those whose Books are filled with good deeds will pass the test and will want to show their Book to everyone, brimming with joy, as we do in the dunya, when we receive good results in our exams – GCSEs, A-Levels, finals etc. We can’t wait to share the news and we even want to tell strangers on the street, or on the Underground, or on the bus, ‘Look what I’ve done!’  Similarly, those who receive their Book in their right hand, will be overjoyed.

How to write the best book

How can we be the one who is ecstatic with their results? There is a very simple formula, but the difficulty, as Imam Al-Ghazali continuously repeats in his advice to his student in his letter ‘Ayuhal Walad’ – is implementing it.  No matter how easy the formula is, the implementation is the crux of it.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent to us as a bearer of glad tidings (basheer) and a warner (nadheer). These dual roles serve as guiding principles in our lives, shaping our actions and decisions. Similarly, we have two angels who descend on us and observe us.

‘Angels come to you in succession by night and day and all of them get together at the time of the Fajr and ‘Asr prayers. Those who have passed the night with you (or stayed with you) ascend (to the Heaven) and Allah asks them, though He knows everything about you, well, “In what state did you leave my slaves?” The angels reply: “When we left them they were praying and when we reached them, they were praying.”’ [Bukhari]

The angel on the right is appointed to write down the good deeds and the angel on the left records the bad deeds. The angel on the right records good deeds straightaway. Moreover, if you do something good, it is recorded in your Book multiplied by at least ten. For some people, depending on the quality and the sincerity behind the action, and the effort, their deed may be multiplied by 70, or 700, or 70,000 or more. Although the angels are recording what we do, we are the agents who are writing our Books through our intentions, our choices, our words, and our actions. The angels are just observing and filming like CCTV, capturing what is happening, without interfering.

This is encouragement from the Merciful, to entice the believers to do good, as it is our nature. Allah Almighty is our Creator and He knows how we function and what makes us feel motivated and what makes us demoralised. We usually want to know what’s in it for us. If you have a cut or a percentage, you feel encouraged to do it. Allah Almighty in His generosity will not just match your good deed with one reward, like a buy 1 get 1 free, but with 10 – 700,000 rewards or even more.

مَن جَآءَ بِٱلْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُۥ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا ۖ وَمَن جَآءَ بِٱلسَّيِّئَةِ فَلَا يُجْزَىٰٓ إِلَّا مِثْلَهَا وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ

Whoever comes with a good deed will receive ten times as much, and whoever comes with an evil deed will be requited with no more than the like of it, and they shall not be wronged. (6:160)

Let’s say you intend to build a mosque or an orphanage, or a school or a university or something beneficial, and you are very sincere, but you don’t have the means to build it. The angels will write this down for you as a good deed even if you didn’t accomplish it. It depends on your sincerity. It has to be more than mere lip service. Never underestimate having a good intention. Do not think, ‘what’s the point? I can’t do this.’ That is a defeatist attitude. Be persistent and implore Allah Almighty to facilitate it for you, and it will be recorded for you.

How do you edit your Book?

What if you have done something you regret? Can you do anything about it? Can you delete it? Emails have a function where you can unsend them, and WhatsApp have the option to delete something you have said within a certain period of time. Can you do this with your Book of Deeds? The answer is yes.

Abu Dharr Jundub ibn Junadah, and Abu ‘Abd-ir-Rahman Mu’adh bin Jabal (may Allah be pleased with them) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

عَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ جُنْدَبِ بْنِ جُنَادَةَ، وَأَبِي عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ مُعَاذِ بْنِ جَبَلٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا، عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه و سلم قَالَ:

“اتَّقِ اللَّهَ حَيْثُمَا كُنْت، وَأَتْبِعْ السَّيِّئَةَ الْحَسَنَةَ تَمْحُهَا، وَخَالِقْ النَّاسَ بِخُلُقٍ حَسَنٍ”

“Be conscious of Allah wherever you are. Follow the bad deed with a good one to erase it, and engage others with beautiful character.” (Tirmidhi)

So you’ve done something wrong. How do you rectify it? Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us this very advanced feature, which is already inbuilt in the system of recording our Books – the Books which are the most important in our life and impact our akhirah. When we follow up bad deed with a good deed, it is not just an editing feature, it deletes it and changes the course of the deed which was recorded. For instance, as it mentions in authentic narrations when you do something bad, the angel on the left will not record it because the angel on the right will say, ‘No, give them some time, they might seek forgiveness’. Whereas the angel on the right side will not be prevented by the angel on the left to pause recording a good deed in case you change your mind. The hadith mentions there is a delay in recording the sin, but didn’t specify how long that delay is – 1 hour, 2 hours, 30 min, 15 min… whatever the grace period, the angels work according to these policies. If you did not repent, then it will be recorded in your Book.

Deleting errors

Often our foolish actions are committed in anger. And also, sometimes if we are sad we say things we regret, sometimes forever. It may take two to three days to regain clarity and sanity, and come back to ourselves. In order to rectify an action that was between us and Allah Almighty, we need to seek His forgiveness with sincerity. This is tawbah nasooha. The requirements for sincere repentance are firstly to regret what you have done, secondly to stop doing it (as you can’t seek forgiveness if you are still engaged in the sin) and seek Allah’s forgiveness, thirdly intend to refrain from doing it again. If the sin was against somebody, for instance you insulted someone or wronged them, then you also have to seek their forgiveness. The acceptance of your forgiveness hangs on their forgiveness. When they forgive you, you are forgiven by Allah. Ask them sincerely to forgive you (not just lip service), in the best manner and at the right time. Sometimes we may ask for forgiveness, but in a condescending manner. The person whom you wronged may then declare they will never forgive you, because it is very clear that you do not mean it. You are not actually regretting it or showing remorse – the tone of your voice is wrong, or your timing is wrong or your choice of words is wrong. However, if all of these were fine, and the person you wronged is too angry and upset to forgive you, you can ask three times and then even if they do not forgive you, Allah will forgive you and they will be sinful. You tried your best and that’s it. Move on.

In this way, you can go back and change the entries in your Book. Turn negatives to positives. You can go back and rectify errors. This is out of Allah Almighty’s mercy and His feature of maghfira (forgiveness). If this were not the case, we would be living with the sense of guilt and guilt can eat you. Allah Almighty wants us to move on, open a new page, start fresh and be better people.

So whenever you do anything, remember that it is being recorded in your Book. If it is something you feel proud of, carry on doing it. But if this is something you feel ashamed of – and it is part of our fitrah that we feel ashamed of sins – then don’t do it. If you are weak and fall into the trap of Shaytan, find your way to Allah by asking Him and those whom you wronged for forgiveness.

This feature of accountability is part of all religions, but has been twisted by some faiths.

The concept that “Jesus carries our sins” is a fundamental belief in Christian theology, which posits that Jesus Christ, through his sacrificial death on the cross, took upon himself the burden of humanity’s sins, thereby providing a means of redemption and forgiveness for believers. As humans are considered sinful by nature, and their sins create a separation between them and God, Christians believe that Jesus willingly offered himself as a sacrifice to atone for humanity’s sins. This act is often referred to as the Atonement, meaning that Jesus took the punishment for others’ sins upon himself, allowing believers to be reconciled with God and attain salvation through their faith. Where is human responsibility if this is the case? In Islam everyone is responsible for his own actions. Nobody can carry your sins. Al-Waleed bin Mugheera, one of the leaders of Makkah who was very rude to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), once said to the people of Makkah, ‘Reject Muhammad and I will carry your sins’. Allah Almighty replied in the Quran that no one can bear the sin of others:

وَلَا تَكْسِبُ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ إِلَّا عَلَيْهَا ۚ وَلَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌۭ وِزْرَ أُخْرَىٰ

Every soul earns not [blame] except against itself, and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. (6:164)


When you check your account, it enables you to see your losses as well as your profit, your successes and failures, your strengths and weaknesses.

How good were you with your family? Be honest with yourself. It is between you and Allah Almighty. Do this self-assessment and your gaps will be apparent. You will see where you fell short. Procrastination is a silent killer. If your attitude is to keep postponing issues to sort out later, later never comes.

Like an annual tax self-assessment, we can do this exercise at the start of every new year, bearing in mind it is connected to our Book in the akhirah, the Book of the angels. Even if you regret something that happened 20 years ago, you can clear it from your record. If you wronged somebody and they passed away, you cannot ask for his forgiveness, but you can give charity on his behalf as compensation. Don’t feel hopeless. You can change yourself. You can improve yourself. You can excel as well inshallah. Make your intention.

The intention is important but we also have to translate that intention into action. The intention itself will be rewarded and the deed will be rewarded in multiples. Bad intentions are not recorded, only bad intentions that were executed. This is out of Allah Almighty’s mercy, which is boundless.

We write our Book through our choices

Intentions, words, and actions are our currency. We can excel when we improve them. When you remember that whatever you intend, whatever you do, whatever you say will be recorded, you become the mindful author of your Book. If you’re writing a book, you do research, you choose what to put in it and what to remove. You review it and you edit it. An author does several drafts and reviews the book over and over again to get it how they want it. We should program our minds to manage our Book in the same way.

There are many stages we have to go through in the akhirah. Some will have a public reading for their Book, for others it will be private. Tyrants and oppressors who killed and oppressed their people will have the humiliation of having their Books read to the public. Everyone will be listening to the atrocities they instigated. Allah Almighty will ask them if their record is accurate. Has anything been left out? They will receive full justice from Allah Almighty. Though the record will be perfect to the tiniest detail, He will still check with each person if it is right. To their dismay, the wrongdoers will find nothing has been left out:

وَوُضِعَ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبُ فَتَرَى ٱلۡمُجۡرِمِینَ مُشۡفِقِینَ مِمَّا فِیهِ وَیَقُولُونَ یَـٰوَیۡلَتَنَا مَالِ هَـٰذَا ٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ لَا یُغَادِرُ صَغِیرَةࣰ وَلَا كَبِیرَةً إِلَّاۤ أَحۡصَىٰهَاۚ وَوَجَدُوا۟ مَا عَمِلُوا۟ حَاضِرࣰاۗ وَلَا یَظۡلِمُ رَبُّكَ أَحَدࣰا ۝٤٩

And (will) be placed the Book and you will see the criminals fearful of what (is) in it, and they will say, “Oh, woe to us! What (is) for this [the] Book, not leaves a small and not a great except has enumerated it?” And they will find what they did presented. And not deals unjustly your Lord (with) anyone. (18:49)

Everything they did will be before their eyes in high definition, the video playing it all back to them.

‘Adi ibn Hatim reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

عَنْ عَدِيِّ بْنِ حَاتِمٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مَا مِنْكُمْ مِنْ أَحَدٍ إِلَّا سَيُكَلِّمُهُ رَبُّهُ لَيْسَ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهُ تُرْجُمَانٌ وَلَا حِجَابٌ يَحْجُبُهُ

“There are none among you but that his Lord will speak to him in the Hereafter without a translator between them, nor a veil to separate them.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

No one can escape this meeting with Allah Almighty when He will speak to each one of us, one-to-one. There will be no need for a translator between us and Him. No third person.

‘Adi ibn Hatim reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

عَنْ عَدِيِّ بْنِ حَاتِمٍ أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ اتَّقُوا النَّارَ وَلَوْ بِشِقِّ تَمْرَةٍ فَمَنْ لَمْ يَجِدْ فَبِكَلِمَةٍ طَيِّبَةٍ

“Guard yourself against the Hellfire, even with half of a date in charity. If one cannot find it, then with a kind word.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The more we prepare ourselves, the more we work on our Books here in the dunya, the more certain we can be that the published version in the akhirah will be a good one, inshallah.

Delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim as part of Knowing Allah’s Beautiful Names Series.

Transcribed by S Jawaid 9th January 2024

Knowing Allah through His Beautiful Names – Al Wakeel

Knowing Allah through His Beautiful Names – Al Muqaddim Al Muakhir

Knowing Allah through His Beautiful Names – Al Mugheeth

Knowing Allah through His Beautiful Names – Al Latif

Knowing Allah through His Beautiful Names – Al Jabbar

Knowing Allah through His Beautiful Names – Al Muizz and Al Mudhill

Knowing Allah through His Beautiful Names – Al Khafid and Ar Rafi’ – Utrujj

Knowing Allah through His beautiful Names – Al Qabid and Al Basit – Utrujj

Knowing Allah through His Beautiful Names – Al Jameel, Al Jaleel, Al Kareem – Utrujj

Knowing Allah through His Beautiful Names – Al Hafidh – Utrujj

Major Principles in Islam 11 Knowing Allah through His names Al Hakam Al Adl – Utrujj

Major Principles in Islam 10 Knowing Allah through His names Al Aleem, Al Baseer and Al Samee’ – Utrujj

Major Principles in Islam 8: Ar-Razzaaq and Al-Wahhab – Utrujj

Major Principles in Islam 7: Knowing Allah through His names Ad Dhahir and Al Batin – Utrujj

Major Principles in Islam 6: How to reflect Allah’s name Al Haqq in your life – Utrujj

Major Principles of Islam 4 – Al Ghani, Al Noor, Al Haadi, Al Wahab, Al Kareem – Utrujj

Major Principles of Islam 3 – Loving Allah, Al Wadud – Utrujj


Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.