Al-Qayyum / Al-Qayyoom

(The Sustainer)

Al-Qayyum Meaning:

The Self-Subsisting, The Self-Existing.

Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is Al-Qayyum (in Arabic: ٱلْقَيُّومُ), His essence/nature is to exist being utterly free from dependence on anything or anyone. Al-Qayyum is the one through whom all things arise. He is Ever-Living and Self-Sustaining. Everything else in existence depends on Al-Qayyum.

Mentions of Al-Qayyum:
From Quran & Hadith

From the root qaf-waw-mim (ق و م) which has the following classical Arabic connotations: to stand up, to rise up, to ascend, become high, to begin, to start, to come, to pass, to arise, to set out, to be on-going, to exist, to be founded, to be built on, to undertake, to carry out, to manage, to make aright, straighten out, accurate, exact, to make righteous, upright.

Three verses in the Qur'an include the name al-Qayyum, and it always occurs in pairs with the name al-Hayy (the living). Together these names show the attribute of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ being independent and sovereign. He is ever-living not because some source enables Him but due to His very essence, which is self-sustaining / self-subsisting. In contrast, all life remains dependent on one thing or another. They require proper living conditions, which include specific temperature, the threshold for atmospheric pressure and composition, nutrients, and the need for many other elements. There is no one but Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ that can exist without truly needing anything.

ٱللَّهُ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ٱلْحَىُّ ٱلْقَيُّومُ

Allaahu laaa ilaaha illaa Huwal Haiyul Qaiyoom

English Translation:
"Allah – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of existence." (Qur'an 3:2)

وَعَنَتِ ٱلْوُجُوهُ لِلْحَىِّ ٱلْقَيُّومِ ۖ وَقَدْ خَابَ مَنْ حَمَلَ ظُلْمًۭا

Wa ‘anatil wujoohu lil Haiiyil Qaiyoomi wa qad khaaba man hamala zulmaa

English Translation:
"And [all] faces will be humbled before the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of existence. And he will have failed who carries injustice." (Qur'an 20:111)

ٱللَّهُ لَآ إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ٱلۡحَيُّ ٱلۡقَيُّومُۚ لَا تَأۡخُذُهُۥ سِنَةٞ وَلَا نَوۡمٞۚ لَّهُۥ مَا فِي ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَمَا فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِۗ مَن ذَا ٱلَّذِي يَشۡفَعُ عِندَهُۥٓ إِلَّا بِإِذۡنِهِۦۚ يَعۡلَمُ مَا بَيۡنَ أَيۡدِيهِمۡ وَمَا خَلۡفَهُمۡۖ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيۡءٖ مِّنۡ عِلۡمِهِۦٓ إِلَّا بِمَا شَآءَۚ وَسِعَ كُرۡسِيُّهُ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَۖ وَلَا يَـُٔودُهُۥ حِفۡظُهُمَاۚ وَهُوَ ٱلۡعَلِيُّ ٱلۡعَظِيمُ

Allahu laaa ilaaha illaa Huwal Haiyul Qaiyoom; laa taakhuzuhoo sinatunw wa laa nawm; lahoo maa fissamaawaati wa maa fil ard; man zal lazee yashfa’u indahooo illaa bi-iznih; ya’lamu maa baina aydeehim wa maa khalfahum wa laa yuheetoona bishai’im min ‘ilmihee illaa bimaa shaaa’; wasi’a Kursiyyuhus samaawaati wal arda wa laa Ya’ooduhoo hifzuhumaa; wa Huwal Aliyyul ‘Azeem

English Translation:
"Allah – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. 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 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)

There is another understood meaning of al-Qayyum meaning He is the one who holds upright or causes to stand up. This connotates a sense of dependence, He not only is self-sustaining but is the sustainer. For example, qa'im (قايم) or qaimatun (قَائِمَةٌ) is an Arabic name/word for standing, rising, or being upright. Al-Qayyum is the more emphatic derivative containing the same root q-w-m. And in Surah Ar-Ra'd ayah 33 it mentions, Afaman Huwa qaaa’imun ‘alaa kulli nafsim bimaa kasabat translation, "Is then He (Allah) Who takes charge (guards, maintains, provides, etc.) of every person and knows all that he has earned (like any other deities who know nothing)?" Whether we realize it or not, we're all being upheld by the willingness and command of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ. He is the maintainer who 'guards, protects, and provides.'

With this knowledge, we can understand why Prophet ﷺ used to call on the two names al-Hayy and al-Qayyum whenever a matter seemed to trouble him deeply.

Anas bin Malik said: "Whenever a matter would distress him, the Prophet (ﷺ) would say: 'O Living, O Self-Sustaining Sustainer! In Your Mercy do I seek relief (Ya hayyu ya Qayyum, bi-rahmatika astaghith).’” And with this chain, that he said: "The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: 'Be constant with: "O Possessor of Majesty and Honor (Ya Dhal-Jalali wal-Ikram).'" [1]

The believer benefits from knowing that Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is al-Hayy. We further acknowledge that reliance upon anything but Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is futile. No other is ever-living, unlike al-Hayy, and none is self-subsisting except al-Qayyum. And so, as Imam Ghazali puts it, "man's access to this attribute is in proportion to his detachment from everything that is not God the most high."

[1] Hasan (Darussalam) Jami at-Tirmidhi 3524

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