Names of Allah Series: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX | Part XXI | Part XXII | Part XXIII | Part XXIV | Part XXV | Part XXVI | Part XXVII | Part XXVIII | Part XXIX | Part XXX | Part XXXI | Part XXXII | Part XXXIII | Part XXXIV | Part XXXV | Part XXXVI | Part XXXVII | Part XXXVIII | Part XXXIX | Part XL | Part XLI | Part XLII | Part XLIII | Part XLIV | Part XLV | Part XLVI | Part XLVII | Part XLVIII | Part XLIX | Part L | Part LI | Part LII | Part LIII | Part LIV | Part LV | Part LVI | Part LVII| Part LVIII | Part LIX | Part LX | Part LXI | Part LXII | LXIII | LXIV
One of the purposes of this series is to help us understand Allah; to bring us closer to Him, and see the world in light of His divine Names and attributes. While it is difficult to write about any of Allah’s Names because each Name is a world unto itself, I found it even more difficult to write about these Names of Allah: al-Ḥayy, al-Qayyūm.
According to some opinions, these are the greatest Names of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He). It is apparent from the sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ that he loved to call on Allah by these Names. For example, when the Prophet ﷺ felt any distress, he would say:
“Ya Ḥayy Ya Qayyūm, bi-Rahmatika astagheeth.”
‘O Ever-Living, O Sustainer, in Your Mercy I seek relief.’ (Tirmidhi)
Once a man prayed to Allah, saying, “O Allah, I ask you as all praise is Yours. There is no god except You, You are al-Mannan (the Bestower), the Originator of the Heavens and Earth, Possessor of Majesty and Honor. O Ever-Living (Ḥayy), O Self-Subsisting (Qayyūm).”
The Prophet ﷺ heard him and said: “He has supplicated to Allah using His Greatest Name; when supplicated with this Name, He answers, and when asked with this Name He gives.” (Abu Dawud)
Moreover, the Prophet ﷺ advised his daughter, Fatima radi Allahu `anha (may God be pleased with her), to say in the morning and in the evening:
“Ya Ḥayyu ya Qayyūm, by Your Mercy I seek help, rectify for me all of my affairs and do not leave me to depend on myself, even for the blink of an eye.” (Hakim)
Why is this Name so special? And why do we ask the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of all, not to leave us to ourselves, not even for the blink of an eye?
Sheikh ash-Sha’rawy said that al-Ḥayy – which comes from the root that means life – brings together all perfect qualities because there cannot be a good quality before there is life. When we call on Allah al-Ḥayy, we are recognizing Him as the absolute source of life and thus the source of all perfect qualities. Al-Qayyūm comes from the root ‘to stand up or to stand aright’, and thus Allah al-Qayyūm is the One by whom all things are eternally managed aright. He gave us a brain and then a body and limbs to give action to the thoughts in our heads. He is the source of everything needed by the worshipper from the One s/he worships. Allah tells us in the famous verse:
“Allah – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living (al-Ḥayy), the Sustainer of [all] existence (Al-Qayyūm). Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His kursi [throne] extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.” (Qur’an, 2:255)
Al-Qayyūm is also an intense form of q-a-m (ق-ا-م), which is the continuous self-subsisting sustainer. You are asking Him because He is the source and He is, in every second, sustaining this world. You are asking Him not to leave you to yourself because you know that when you are with Him, your affairs are okay. You might misjudge, or be led by your desires, or lack wisdom, so you ask the One who constantly manages the affairs of the world not to leave you to yourself: you are asking for His care.
This is why you call on Allah (swt) when you feel defeated. Even if you do not call on Allah with these Names in particular, you know that He has these attributes. When Noah (peace be upon him) said to Allah, “I am defeated, so help me,” his words may not have included Allah’s Names al-Ḥayy al-Qayyūm, but they imply them. After being abused and rejected for 950 years, he felt defeated and he knew he had nowhere to go but to Allah. And He knew that Allah (swt) is the One who the whole world relies on for everything. Allah brought forth a storm to the place where this kind of rain was not normal, because everything is under His control.
1- Hold on to the Source of Life
Remember that Allah (swt) came before everything, and He is the Living who is also the source of life. Everything goes back to Him, and so will we.
2- Have trust in Him
Al-Qayyūm encompasses all of His other attributes that pertain to managing the affairs of His creation, such as being the Trustee, the Protector, and the Most Wise. When you feel you are unable, call on Allah al-Qayyūm, like the Prophet ﷺ did when he was under distress.