Q: I have read in my schoolbook that Allah has assigned two angels to each one of us who are called “writing angels”. They record everything we do. My question is: Since Allah can see everything and knows everything, what need is there for angels to be on our shoulders to write down what we do? I may add that I am a ten-year-old student..
A: I will start my answer by giving you this example. Suppose you are playing a game with your friends who are all the same age group as you. Some indeed may be a little older than you may. Suppose again that the game itself is not suitable for those who are under 9 years of age, because they cannot get to learn it well. Now suppose that your 6-year-old brother comes over and sees you playing. He asks you imploringly to
allow him to take part in the game. You will certainly try to persuade him that he cannot join you because the game is unsuitable for his young age. Nevertheless, he
insists and asserts that he can play as perfectly as anyone can in the group. Your friends are bothered and want to get on with the game, but your brother persists and starts to behave improperly. Because you love your brother, you do not want to upset him. Since you are kind to your brother, you do not think of beating him up for interrupting you in this irritating fashion. What do you do? It is very likely that you may invite him to try the game. You may even tell him what he needs to do in order to play it. You may request your friends to be patient with him a little so that he can have a full try. Soon afterwardS, he realizes that the game, which seemed so appealing to him when he saw you and your friends enjoying it, is not so enjoyable after all. He leaves you to get on with the game and goes to find a
different sort of entertainment. May I ask why did you allow your brother to have a go at a game when you were absolutely certain that he would not know how to play it? You may say that although you were absolutely certain of that fact, your brother would not accept it, therefore, you wanted to demonstrate to him that he couldn’t play it. So, when he had a go at it, his attempt did not give you any information, which you did not know beforehand. It was useful, however, for your brother’s sake. He was soon convinced that you were
not denying him any share of your fun. That share was not there for him to take. But he could not have been convinced of that unless he tried it himself.
This example is similar in some ways to what you are asking about. Your question is that since Allah sees and knows everything, why He sends angels to write things
down. Let me tell you that Allah knows everything before it happens. You were certain, in your example that your brother will not be able to play the game before you offered him a try. Your certainty was based on your knowledge of the game and your knowledge of the ability of your brother. Allah has created us and has also created the universe around us. He knows everything fully well. He knows our abilities and us even before He creates us. He does not need to see our action in order to know them. He actually knows them before we start doing them. Yet, He sends to each one of us these two angels to record what we do. Since He does not need that record, there must be a different use for it. You know that on the Day of Judgement, every one of us will be asked about his deeds. We will be rewarded for our good ones and punished for bad ones, unless Allah forgives us. When we stand in front of Allah on the Day of Judgement, He will tell us that we have done so and so. Some of us may think that they could escape punishment by a simple denial that they did any bad deeds. They will begin to swear in front of Allah that they did not do those bad things. Allah will then command the angels to produce those records. When we will see them, none of us will be able to
deny anything. This means that the record is kept for us, not for Allah’s sake. Allah does not need them, but we would be shown that everything is documented as it took place.
I may tell you that we do not know the nature of these records. They are certainly more than a simple description of the actions we do. The record may be in the form of a book supported by a panorama, which shows every action of ours, and how it was done. This is the reason why Allah tells us that when the record is opened, sinners will find a sense of fear, because they realize that it shows everything in full details. They cry out’ Doomed we are. What sort of record is this? It leaves out no major thing or minor detail. It takes down everything.’
You seem to be a little worried about the angels being on our shoulders. Remember that we do not know exactly the nature of the angels, except that they are made of light. We certainly do not feel their presence. But they are certainly with us, although we may not be carrying them physically on our shoulders. We know that angels have wings and it may be that they hover close to us so that they fulfill their task Allah has assigned to them. As you are well aware, angels do not disobey Allah. They do everything that He requires them to do. These matters should not trouble you, because Allah has arranged the world in this way. You should be sure, however, that it is enough for every one of us to try his best to do what is good in this life. When we try that, concentrating our efforts on doing what Allah has ordered us to do and avoiding what He has forbidden us, then we shall have nothing to worry about on the Day of Judgement. We are certainly liable to commit mistakes, but if we also do good deeds, then Allah will erase our mistakes and reward us for our good deeds. He will then give us the utmost blessings of all: Admission into heaven. Let us pray that we are included among those on whom Allah bestows that blessing.