Qā'im (Ariser) and Qayyūm Part 1

القائم القيوم

Qā'im (Ariser) and Qayyūm  (Deity Self-Subsistent): the background and significance  of  twin messianic advents in Bābī-Bahā’ī  scripture. Part I.

Stephen N. Lambden

Paper based on Notes from a Manchester lecture given in the 1990s. Revised Sept. 2014 and being corrected and completed 2016-7.

Rise up (qūmū) O people (qawm)! for the victory of God (naṣrat Allāh). The Qayyūm, Theophany Self-Subsisting [Bahā'u'llāh] hath assuredly come unto you, about whom the Qā'im [the messianic Ariser, the Bāb] gave glad-tidings... (Bahā’u’llāh, Iqtidarat, 99).

 It is the purpose of this paper to set forth something of the philological significance, background and eschatological-theological implications of the terms Qā’im and Qayyūm as they occur in the extensive Arabic and Persian writings of the Sayyid `Alī Muhammad, the Bāb (`the Gate’, 1819‑1859) and Mīrzā Ḥusayn `Alī Nūrī, entitled Bahā'u'llāh (` the Splendour of God’ 1817‑1892), the founders of the Bābī and Bahā’ī religions respectively. It will be evident that these terms are widely used and interpreted in Bābī-Bahā’ī scripture and have a fascinating background in Islamic  literatures. First a general note on terminology and the Shaykhī Islamic roots of one stream of the Babi-Baha’i doctrine.  

In addition to his later distinctly theophanic claims, the Bāb claimed to be the expected messianic Qā'im (lit. `Ariser’) expected by Shī`ī Muslims. He came to be  viewed by Bahā’u’llāh and his followers, the Bahā’īs, as a herald (mubashshir) of his person  and an  independent Manifestation of God (maẓhar-i ilāhī). As the founder of the Bahā’ī religion, Bahā’u’llāh himself explicitly claimed to be the Qayyūm (`Self-Subsisting’), the eschatological advent of the `Self-Subsisting’ (subordinate) divinity. These messianic claims are sanctioned in numerous writings (alwāḥ, `Tablets’) of the Bāb and Bahā’u’llāh, such as the rhythmically alliterative passage addressed to humanity cited above.

According to the lengthy history of the Bābī-Bahā'ī religions by the poet and  historian Nabīl‑i Zarandī (d. 1892), as selectively edited into English in 1944 by Shoghi Effendi (c. 1896-1957) the Guardian of the Bahā’ī religion, the second major Shaykhī leader Sayyid Kāẓim Rashtī (d.1259/1843)[1] somewhat cryptically predicted that "after  the Qā'im the Qayyūm will be made manifest"  (Dawnbreakers, 41).[2]  It is clear from Bābī‑Bahā'ī sacred writings that this and related prophecies were understood to refer to the twin messianic advents of the Iranian contemporaries, the Bāb and Bahā'u'llāh.

The word qā'im is an Arabic active participle formed from the triliteral root letters Q-W-M. Derivatives from this same Semitic root are also found in other Semitic languages, including two of the Biblical languages, Hebrew and Aramaic. Astute readers of the Gospels may already have deduced that one of the the basic sense of Qā'im is `(a)riser.’ This because the New Testament Gospel of Mark accords Aramaic words to Jesus, one of which derives from the root Q-W-M. Jesus, the Galilean messiah (d. c. 33 CE) is said to have resurrected Jairus' young daughter with the words "Talitha cummi" [AV].[3]  In the Gospel attributed to Mark these words (in expanded Greek) are said to mean "Little girl, I say to you arise" (RSV., Mk 5:41). The Aramaic is basically made up of the feminine form of ṭalyā, literally `lamb' or `youth' and cumi or qūmī which is the Aramaic piel imperative singular form of the root Q-W-M, meaning "Arise!", "Stand up!".[4]

In the Qur’ān (= Q.) and in later Arabic and Persian Islamic texts, the word Qā’im has theological meanings relative to God, concrete senses when applied to human beings, and messsianic  implications when applied  to the Shī`ī eschatological messiah, the Qā’im (bi'l-sayf = "the messianic Ariser armed with the sword") who shall `arise’. This figure is often (though not always) considered synonymous with the awaited twelfth Imam, sometimes named Muhammad al-Maḥdī, the awaited Maḥdī (`Rightly guided one’) of Islamic adventism.

1.0   God  as Qā'im  ( `Overseer’, `Maintainer’, `Provider’, etc). 

In Arabic the basic verbal sense of the root letters Q-W-M is `to get up, stand  up, (a)rise..’. The active participle qā'im  occurs 15 times in the Q. with a range of senses. A few of these occurrences are theological or pertain to God. According to Q. 3:18 God is qā'im bi’l-qist   one `upholding’ or `maintaining’ His creation in “justice” or in a balanced fashion. He is also qā'im  as one who presides or "stands over" every soul cognisant of its  worth (Q. 13:33). As a divine attribute the derivative qayyūm  occurs three times in the Qur’ān and will be considered below (X.1ff).

In a statement contained in the early and foundational compendium of Shī`ī traditions, the al-Uṣūl min al-kāfī  of Muhammad ibn Ya`qub al-Kulānī ([Kulaynī], d. c. 329 / 940-1), God is referred to as a Qā'im. Therein it is stated that this designation should not be understood in any anthropomorphic sense of  `standing up'. Rather, when applied to God, this designation should be viewed in the light of Q.13:33 thought to be indicative of His divine attribute al-ḥāfiẓ, (`the Maintainor’, `the Protector’, `Providor’...). Qā’im is also indicative of God’s being al-Bāqī, `The Eternal One’) :

"He [God] is the qā'im though not in any straightfoward sense [indicating His] rising up from the legs [shank] in the middle [of the body] (qiyām `ala al-sāq fī’l-kabd) after the fashion of the rising up of  creatures (lit. al-ashyā’, ` things’]. Rather, He is the qā’im in that He makes it known that He is a Maintainor [Protector] (ḥāfiẓ.) just as people say, `So and so is the supporter (al-qā’im) of our affairs'. [Thus according to the Qur’ān] He [God] is "He Who stands (qā'im) [supportive] over every soul for what it has earned.' (Q.13:33). Additionally, according to human speech [applied to God] qā'im  signifies that He is al-bāqī  (`the Eternal One’). He is also the qā’im [in the sense that] He proffers sufficiency (al-kifāya) just as you might say to another, `Rise up! (qum) for the wellbeing of such and such a family!’, indicating that  they should gain sufficient support. Relative to us qā’im  indicates rising up from the legs (lit. shank,` standing up’). We have appropriated the name (qāim) though we have not gained its deeper significance [Qā’im as a Divine attribute]” (al-Kāfī 1:121-2). 

 Similar statements about the significance of God being  Qā’im  can be found in the works of Sunnī commentators on the  qur’anic  terms qā’im and qayyūm. Such is the case with the vastly erudite and influential 19th century Sunnī commentator Abū al-Thanā’ al-Ālūsī (d. 1270 /1854), a one-time Muftī of Baghdad. In his  Rūḥ al-ma`āni fī tafsīr al-qur’ān... (`The Spirit of the Meaning in Commenatary upon the Qur’ān’)[5]  are found detailed and lengthy comments on the āyāt al-kursī (`Throne Verse’ Q. 2:255/6) and the significance of God’s attribute al-Qayyūm. This latter Divine attribute is again associated with the divine attribute al-Ḥāfiẓ   (`Maintainor, Preserver’). It’s identification with the al-ism al-a`ẓam (Greatest Name of God;  see below) is also mentioned. The relationship of Qayyūm  and the related attribute  al-Qā’im  is at one point summed up in the following way by Ālūsī,

“They [commentators] expound it [Qayyūm] such that He [God] is al-Qā’im by virtue of His Own Essence (bi-dhātihi) and al-Qayyūm relative to others (li-ghayrihi)” (Ālūsī, Rūḥ al-ma`ānī.. CD edition). 

1.1   Qā'im  applied to humans and the messianic Qā’im  ( `Ariser’).

 In addition to its significances when ascribed to God, the epithet Qā’im   was sometimes appropriated by or applied to human beings in general and leading figues in particular. Not without messianic undertones Qā’im formed part of the titles of a number of Ismā’īlī and Sunnī caliphs. While the first (Shī`ī) Fāṭimid caliph was named  `Abdallāh b. Ḥasan, Abū Muḥammad al-Mahdī and was proclaimed Caliph in N. Africa in 297/909, his son the second Fāṭimid Caliph was established in 322/934 and bore the name  Muhammad b. (?) Al-Mahdī, Abū’l-Qāsim al-Qā’im. Qā’im was also used as a title of the  26th `Abbāsid Caliph, `Abd-Allāh b. Qādīr, Abū Ja`far al-Qā`im who is  sometimes referred to as  al-Qā'im bi-Amr Allāh (`He who shall rise up for the Cause of God’, r. 422/1031-467/1075). It was also the case that one of the (neo-) `Abbāsid caliphs of Cairo was named Ḥamza al-Muttawakkil I, Abū Bakr al-Qā’im (see Bosworth, 1996:6,-7, 63). 

More significantly for Babi-Baha’I studies, early  Shī`ī traditions apply Qā’im to various of the Imams who had `risen up’ to lead others. It  was thought appropriate to all of the (ultimately Twelver) Imams. The fifth Imam Muhammad al‑Bāqir (d. c.126/743), for example, when once asked about the Qā'im is said to have struck the young (later sixth Imam) Ja`far al‑Sādiq (d. 148/765) with his hand and declared, "By God! he is the Qa'im of the family of the Prophet" (Sachedina 1981:62).The following excellent summary is worth quoting at this point:

"Majlisi, in his commentary on al‑Kafi of al‑Kulayni, explains that al‑Qa'im in the Shi'i tradition refers to the person who will rise with the sword, and this applies to all the Imams, especially the last Imam. But sometimes the Imams used to explain it as al‑qa'im bi'l‑imama, meaning carries out the duty of the imamate, when it applied to all Imams; and al‑qa'im bi'l-jihad, the one who carries out the duty of the holy war, when it is applied to the last Imam" (Sachedina 1981:62)

In Imami Shī`ī traditions the title Qā’im is most often applied to the messianic twelfth Imam. As a descendent of the Arabian Prophet mentioned in many early eschatological traditions, he is indicated by the Arabic phrase Qā'im āl-Muhammad (= `The Ariser' / `The one who shall arise of the family (āl) of Muhammad'). At times  Qā’im can be viewed as an abbreviation of this or similar phrases such as al-Qā’im bi 'l-sayf  (`The one who shall arise with the sword’), al-Qā’im bi-amr Allāh, (`The one who shall arise for the Cause of God’). This eschatological Qā’im was expected to rise up armed or prepared to lead a jihād (holy war) which should result in the realization of the messianic age chacrterized by justice and  the universal vindication of (Shī`ī) Islam. The following tradition ascribed to the sixth Imām Ja`far is on these lines;

“'When the Qā’im of us rises, he will offer the faith to every opponent (i.e. of `Alī, nāṣīb). Either he will enter in it truly, or he will cut his neck or force him to pay the jīzya as the non-Muslims (ahl al-dhīmma) pay it now. He will gird himself with a travel bag and expel them from the towns to the countryside (sawād)" (trans. Madelung, cited art.  `Mahdī, EI2 CD-Rom [V :1230b]). [6]

At this point a paragraph from Madelung's succinct article `Kā'im [= Qā'im] āl-Muhammad’ is also worth citing at this point (the transliteration is slightly adapted). It sums up a good deal of what has already been stated:

"The term kā'im [= Qā'im], "riser" was used in Shī`ā circles at least from the early 2nd/8th century on, in referring to the member of the family of the Prophet who was expected to rise against the illegitimate regime and restore justice on earth, evididently in contrast to the Qā'id, or "sit­ting", members of the family, who refused to be drawn into ventures of armed revolt. The term thus was often qualified as al-Qā'im bi'l-sayf,  "the one who shall rise with the sword". It also appears fre­quently qualified as al-Qā'im bi-amr Allāh meaning both "the one who shall rise by the order of God" and "the one who carries out the order of God". With the latter connotation the term could be applied to any imām.  Thus some Imāmī ḥadīths stress that every imām is the Qā'im of his age (Qā'im ahl zamānhi).  In its specific sense the term meant, how­ever, the eschatological Mahdī, who as such was sometimes called Qā'im (more commonly: ṣāḥib) al-­zamān,  "the Lord of the (final) age". Various early Shī`ī sects expected the return of the last imām  recognized by them, whose death they usually denied, in the role of the Qa'im. In Imāmī and Ismā`īlī usage the term Qā'im has wisely replaced that of Mahdī" (From EI2 CD version [IV: 456b]).

As an eschatological, messianic title Qā'im has been variously translated. As mentioned it could be literally rendered `(A)riser' or `the one shall arise / arises'. In the traditions it has sometimes been taken to be expressive of a `resurrection’ experience or a role at the eschatological qiyāma, the uprising of the `Day of resurrection’. Both Qā’im (=`ariser’) and qiyāma (= [Day of] `uprising’, ressurrection’)  come from the same, aforementioned Arabic root ( Q-W-M). The final Shī`ī Qā’im was expected to play a central role at the yawm al-qiyāma (Day of Ressurection [rising up]) in eschatological times. Various traditions of the Imams explain the messianic title Qā'im in this light. It is recorded, for example, that Abū Sa'id al‑Khurasānī asked the sixth Imam, Ja`far al‑Ṣādiq, "Why is al‑Qā'im known as al‑Qā'im?" He is said to have answered, "Because he will rise (qama) after his death for an important task, and will rise by the command of God" (Najashi, Rijal, 293 cited Sachedina, 1981:60).  It has also been reported from the fifth (Twelver) Imam al-Bāqir, "Our task resembles that of a person who is put to death by God for a hundred years and then is raised again" (cited ibid, 60).

Both Sunnī and Shī`ī Muslims expect one or more Messiah figures to appear at the eschaton (`time of the end’).  They have been given a variety of titles or designations. Among Sunnī Muslims the eschatological messiah figure is most frequently called the Mahdī ("the Rightly Gudied One"). This figure is often (though not always) equated by Shī`ī scholars with the Qā’im. The titles Qā'im and Mahdī were both used from early times in Shī`ī circles. They were sometimes used together in the (hybid) form al-Qā'im al-Mahdī where Mahdī (=`One Rightly Guided’) is an attribute of the Qā'im.[7] At times, however, there was some confusion as to their possibly separate identities. A tradition from Imam Ja`far al-Ṣādiq reported in the Kitāb al-ghayba  (Book of the Occultation) of  al-Nāṣir al-Dīn Ṭūsī (d. 460/1067)  records that when the Imam was asked, `Are al‑Mahdī and al‑Qā'im one (and the same person)?' he replied in the affirmative;

 "When asked, "Why was he named Mahdī?" He answered, "Because he guides to the secret things; and he is named Qā'im because he will rise after death. He will rise for an important task" (cited Sachedina 1981:61).

A similar tradition from the fifth Imam, Muhammad al-Bāqir is related by Muhammad al‑Nu'mānī (d.360/970-1).

   "When al‑Qa'im from the family of the Prophet will rise he will distribute equally among the people and will establish justice among his subjects. Thus those who obey him will obey God and those who defy him will defy God; but he will be called al‑Mahdi, the one who will guide, since he will guide to the secret matters (amr al‑khafi)  and will bring out the Torah and other books of God from a cave in Antioch and will rule the people of the Torah according to the Torah, and the people of the Gospel according to the Gospel, and the people of the Qur'an according to the Qur'an" ( cited Sachedina, ibid). [8]

1. 2 Possible Jewish or Christian roots of the Islamic tradition  

It is possible that the theological and Islamic messianic uses of the term Qā'im have their roots in the Samaritan Jewish tradition and their biblical exegesis. Samaritan influence on nascent Islam was significant but it has been little studied.[9] In an early Samaritan and Christian context,  Simon Magus (b. Gitton, Samaria early 1st cent. CE) took himself to be a divine incarnation, one person of a binity or dual divinity; this is [1] God and [2] the personified divine Glory. Simon Magus’ claims appear to be reflected in the New Terstament book Luke-Acts. In Acts 8:10 reference is made to his claim to be that (Gk. Οὗτός ἐστιν ἡ δύναμις τοῦ θεοῦ ἡ μεγάλη = dynamis tou theou) "power of God" which is called "Great" (megale).[10] This reference implies that Simon claimed to be the highest divinity, one greater than a pseudo-Messsiah figure (Goulder, 1977:72). Goulder further notes that Hippolytus of Rome (d. 236 CE) and Clement of Alexandria (d. c. 215 CE) as well as the author of the Pseudo-Clementines, indicate that Simon Magus in Aramaic called himself the Qa`em, or the  "Standing One" (= Gk. hestos). This was tantamount to a claim to divinity!  The same writer also states,

"Clement writes [Stromata, II.xi.52] of Simon's followers who `wish to comform their lives to the Standing One whom they wor­ship'; Hippolytus [Refutation, VI.13, 17.1f.] of  `He who stands, who stood and who will stand'; the Clementines of his `being addressed as the Standing One, meaning by this name that I shall not be dissolved, my body itself subsisting of divinity, so as to endure for ever' [Recognitions , 2.7.1]. Hippolytus is thought to be citing from a Simonian tract, Megale Apophaxsis" (Goulder, 1977:72-73).

At this point we may cite the text of Exodus 34:5 with the (AV) translation:   

וַיֵּ֤רֶד יְהוָה֙ בֶּֽעָנָ֔ן וַיִּתְיַצֵּ֥ב עִמֹּ֖ו שָׁ֑ם וַיִּקְרָ֥א בְשֵׁ֖ם יְהוָֽה׃

And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.

Having made these observations, Gould comments on the Biblical roots of the term Qa`em (= `Standing One’). He finds it in Exodus 34:5 where we read, "And the Lord [YHWH] descended in a cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD [YHWH]" (RSV). In the Samaritan Aramaic version of the Bible this word for "stood" is qa'mu. The reference has been understood to imply the Sinaitic presence of more than one Divinity. It may well lie behind Simon Magus' exalted claim. It is also the case that `Standing One’ (Qa`em) is an epithet of God in the Samaritan liturgical tradition just as it is used of Him in the Qur’ān. It is evidently in the light of such pre-Islamic Samaritan exegetical and other traditions that Madelung in his article al-Mahdī  writes,

"The Shī`ī Maḥdī was commonly given the epithet Kā'im [= Qā'im].. It has been suggested that the term may be connected with the epithet  Kā'im [= Qā'im] found in Aramaic Samaritan texts and translated into Greek as έστāς (see Widengren, 1955:79; Crone & Cook,1977:165)... In Samaritan and gnostic usuage, the term appears to have the meaning of "the living one". Whatever the origin of the Arabic term, it is clear that in Shī`ī usuage it came to be understood as the one who will rise and rule… It was in common use before the end of the `Umayyad age and largely replaced the term Mahdī in Imāmī tradition." (in EI2 V:1230b-1238).

Other pre-Islamic traditions may also be related to the Qā'im [-Qayyūm] materials in the Qur'ān and in Shī`ī Islamic tradition.  In his discussion of dualistic "two powers [`Gods'] in heaven" materials in Jewish and Christian or Judaeo-Christian tradition, A. F. Segal draws attention to other related sources. He notes Philo of Alexandria's discussion of the LXX phrase "place where God stands" (Exod 34:5) and the  theology of the Jewish influenced Numenius of Apamea (2nd cent. CE.) who was  a Platonizing Neo-Pythagorean philosopher. He called the "First Divinity" the "Standing God" (Fragment 15; see Segal 1987:20). Similar strands of the Judaeo-Christian exegetical tradition remain to be fully investigated in terms of their possible relationship to early Shī`ī imamological and messianic terminology.

1.3 The  eschatological  "signs" (`alāmāt)  and the “return” (raj`a)  of  the Qā'im   as theTwelfth Imam.  

According to most Shī`ī  Muslims the twelfth Shī`ī  Imam and expected Qā’im was and is Imam Muhammad al-Ḥujja (“The Proof”, born c. 252/866-7? - [into `occultation’] c. 260 AH). He is believed to be the son of the eleventh Imam Ḥasan al-Askarī  (d. Samarra, 260/873-874) and a wife or concubine who is variously named Saq’a (?), Sayqal, Sawsan (= Susan), Rayhal or  Nārjīs (= Gk. Narcissus) Khatœn. For some Shī`ī Muslims she was a Christian slave girl sometimes considered a Byzantine princess and descendent of Jesus’ disciple Simon Peter. The identity and history of the alleged mother of the 12th Imam Muhammad is confused as are many aspects of the history of her alleged son, the twelfth Imam.  Some traditions have it that he died as a very young child. Estimates as to the exact date of his alleged `occultation’ or disappearance vary. Al-Mufid and other have it that he was born in evening or at night on the 15th Sha`bān 255 = 29th July 869 (K-Irshad, 346).  Several sources state that it was at or within a few years of Ḥasan al-Askarī's death in 260 AH or  873-4 CE., that he went into the first phase of the “minor occultation” (Per. ghaybat-i sughra).  

Following Ḥasan al-Askarī's death there was much confusion and factionalism. More then ten groups made diverse claims about the successorship (or lack of it) and the identity of the supposed12th Imam. Some actually held that Ḥasan al-Askari died childless. Among them Ḥasan al-Askarī`s own brother Ja`far who had been dubbed Ja`far al-Kadhdhib (`Ja`far the Liar’). The eleventh Imam left no will and testament and did not appoint a successor.  

During the almost 130 lunar  year period known as the `lesser occultation' (c.260/874- c. 329/940) the deceased, occulted Imam was believed to be alive in the heavenly realms or celestial  spheres from whence he is reckoned to have had contact with four successive earthly agents (al-nuwwab  al-arba'/ wukala/ nā'ib) or bābs ("gates" ) (babs -- hence the Bāb's title). The twelfth Imam was (and is) by many twelver Shī`ī Muslims believed to exist in the spiritual spheres or `cities' Jābulqā and Jābulsā (spellings vary). He is sometimes associated with supra-terrestrial interworlds named Barzakh (loosely, “the Isthmus or “Barrier”) or Hūrqalyā [Haw-Raqilyā] (loosely, “the Interworld”) cut off from this world in complete occultation (ghayba). This is pending his "return" in the last days as the eschatological, messianic Imam. Most of the Bab's earliest writings, it may be noted here, presuppose this (quasi-) historical situation. This is the case, for example,  in his first major work, the Qayyum al-asmā’ (`Self-Sussisting [Deity] of the [Divine] Names’ dating from  mid. 1844 - see further below).

A vast amount of messianic, eschatological and apocalyptic material is contained in Sunni and Shī`ī sources respecting the Mahdī / Qā’im and the eschatological era in which his advent is expected to take place. The massive Shī`ī encyclopedia of Muhammad Bāqir Majlisī (d.1111 /1699), enetiled the Biḥār al-anwār  (The Oceans of Lights), for example, incorporates thousands of traditions in several books (1st ed. Vol. 13;  2nd ed. vols. 51-53). These myriad traditionss about the Qā’im cannot al be neatly harmonized into any systematic `life’ of this expected one. Messian predictions are complex and multi-faceted. Sometimes conflicting details are set forth in respecting such details as the  name, place of origin, age, descent, identity, possessions, region of activity, length of mission, special qualities, supernatural characteristics and ultimate fate of the expected messianic Qā’im / Mahdī.

Following the example  of the Bāb himself in his (Persian) Dalā’il-i sab`ah  (Seven Proofs), Bayān-i farsī  (Persian Bayan)  and other writings, the learned among his followers compiled detailed and lengthy tracts expressive of his being the expected Qā’im in the age of the fulfilment. They compiled appropriate promises surrounding respecting his life and linked them to the ministry of the Bāb. Such testimonia are extent from quite a number of prominent Bābīs, including Mullā Ḥuasyn Bushrū’ī (d.1849) and other major `Letters of the Living’ and devotees (see INBA 80, etc.). 

Primary and secondary Babi-Baha’i writings interpreting the complex, multi-faceted nature of the messianic Qā’im predictions, the nature of the “return” (al-raj`a)  and the mundane and apocalyptic events of eschatological times, are also numerous. The `prophecies’ are sometimes literally interpreted and sometimes allegorically interpreted or demythologized. The interpretations sometimes exhibit a developing or changing mode of exegesis throughout the Bābī-Bahā’ī period of authoratative guidance (1844-1957). This is certainly the case with primary materials interpreting the person of the Qā’im and his “return”.  

In certain of the earliest writings  of the Bāb we find a literalistic understanding of the advent of the expected Qā’im.  This was later supplmented by the Bāb himself in maintaining that he was the non-physical “return” of the expected Qā’im (Persian Bayān I.1ff). Later Bahā’u’llāh and `Abdu’l-Bahā’ gradually stated in their exegetical alwāḥ (tablets  or writings)  that the  person of the Qā’im as the twelfth imam Muhammad al-Mahdi (b. c.125?  --->  occultation  c. 1260 AH), the alleged son of the eleventh Imam Hasan al-Askarī (d. 874/260) and the somewhat mythical Narqīs Khatun, never existed. While the Bāb and his followers early on represented the Qā’im, Dhikr (Remembrance) or Baqiyyat-Allah (Remembrance of God) as the occulted  twelfth Imam in the celestial realm about to descend and precipitate the events of the eschaton, this was later adapted in various ways and eventually totally demythologized by Bahā’u’llāh and  `Abdu’l- Baha.  

Tradition has it that Muhammad al-Mahdī, the awaited Qā’im, disappeared roughly 1,000 lunar  years before the Bāb's declaration in the presence of Mullā Ḥusayn in Shīrāz.This took place on 260+1000 (lunar years) = 1,260 AH which corresponds to 1844 CE.

The eschatological “signs” associated with the `last days’ or time of advent of the messianic Qā’im [Mahdī] sometimes presuppose major changes to known terrestrial circumstances which have distinctly catastrophic or apocalyptic implications. An example is the expectation of the `rising of the sun’ in the west as opposed to the east.  Twelver Shi`i muslims have distinguished  between “inevitable” (mahhtāma)  “signs” for the coming of the Qā'im and others which are  conditional (mushtarata). Some such signs may be annulled by God though various such lists are not always in agreement (Madelung EI2 ibid).  Among these variously interpreted “signs” as spelled out by Shaykh al-Mufid in his Kitāb al-Irshād : [11]

  • The Sufyâni will come out in revolt;
  • the Hasanid will be killed;
  • the "Abbâsids will dispute over worldly kingdom;
  • there will be an eclipse of the sun in the middle of the month of Ramadân;
  • there will be an eclipse of the moon at the end of that month in contrast to ordinary happenings;
  • the land will be swallowed up at al-Baydâ';
  •  it will be swallowed in the east;
  • it will be swallow d up in the west;
  • the sun will stay still from the time of its decline to the middle of the time for the afternoon prayer;
  •  it will rise from the west;
  • a pure soul (nais zakiyya) will be killed in the outskirts of Kûfa with seventy righteous men;
  • a Hâshirnite will be slaughtered between the corner (of the Ka'ba) and the station of Abraham);
  • the wall of the mosque of Küfa will be destroyed;
  • black standards will advance from Khurâsân;
  • al- Yamänî will come out in revolt; al-Maghribi will appear in Egypt and take possession of it from Syria;
  • the Turk will occupy the region of al-Jazîra;
  • the Byzantines will occupy Ramla;
  • the star will appear in the east giving light just like the moon gives light;
  • then (the new moon) will bend until its two tips almost meet;
  • a colour will appear in the sky and spread to its horizons;
  • a fire will appear for a long time in the east remaining in the air for three or seven days;
  • the Arabs will throw off the reins and take possession of their land, throwing out the foreign authority;
  • the people of Egypt will kill their ruler and destroy Syria;
  • and three standards will dispute over it (Syria);
  • the standards of Qays and the Arabs will come among the people of Egypt;
  • the standards of Kinda (will go) to Khuräsän;
  • horses will come from the west until they are stabled in al-Hira;
  • the black standards will advance towards them from the east;
  • the Euphrates will flood so that the water comes into the alleys of Kûfa;
  • sixty liars will come forward, all of them claiming prophethood, and twelve will come forward from the family of Abū Ṭālib, all of them claiming the Imamate;
  • a man of important rank of the supporters of the 'Abbâsids will be burnt between Jalûlâ'  and Khâniqīn;
  • the bridge next to Karkūk in the city of Baghdäd will be  established;
  • a black wind will raise it at the beginning of the day and then an earthquake will occur so that much of it will be swallowed up;
  • fear will cover the people of Iraq and Baghdad; swift death (will occur) there and there will be a loss of property, lives and harvests;
  • locusts will appear at their usual times and at times not usual so that they attack agricultural land and crops and there will be little harvest  for what the people planted;
  • two kinds of foreigners will dispute and much blood will be shed in their quarrel;
  • slaves will rebel against obedience to their masters and kill their masters (mawâli):
  • a group of heretics (ahl at-bidā') will be transformed until they become monkeys
    and pigs;
  • slaves will conquer the land of their masters;
  • a cry (will come) from the sky (in such a way) that all the people will hear it in their own languages;
  • a face and a chest will appear in the sky before the people in the centre of the sun;
  • the dead will arise from their graves so that they will return to the world and they will recognize one another and visit one another;
  • that will come to an end with twenty four continous rainstorms and the land will be revived by them after beinz dead and it will recognize its blessings;
  • after that every disease will be taken away from those of the Shi a of the Mahdi, peace be on him, who believe in the truth;

Such are the events which should take place before the advent of the Qā’im, “together with the indications and features of it”. After this listing of over forty “signs”, al-Mufid states that some of them”must take place” while others are “conditional”. He has only “mentioned them on the basis of what is recorded in the tradition” and strongly underlines the fact that “God [alone] knows best what will take place” (K-Irshad, 356-8; trans. Howard, 541-2).

Wilfred Madelung in his EI2 article al-Qā’im mentioned five “signs” :

  •  1. The coming of the Yamānā [Shaykh Ahmad] who shall appear in the Yaman calling for the support of the Qā'im;
  • 2. The appearance of the Sufyānī [q.v.] who shall rise in the Dry Wādā (al-Wādā al-Yābis) in the month of Rajab in the same year as the Qā'im and will seize Damascus and the five provinces of Syria before being killed by the Qā'im;
  • 3. A voice (nidā' or ayha)  from heaven calling the name of the Qā'im; 
  • 4. the swallowing up (khasf ) of an army sent by the Sufyānī (an Antichrist type figure)  against the Qā'im in the desert (al-bayā'); and
  • 5. The killing of the Pure Soul (qal al-nafs al-zakiyya), whom the Qā'im will send to Mecca as a messenger, by the Meccans between the Rukn  and the Maqām (the Pillar and the Station of Abraham).

He continues,

“Closely associated with the coming the Qā'im in Imāmī doctrine, is the raj`a  [q.v.] the return to life of some of the wicked and the righteous of earlier generations, giving the latter the chance of taking revenge for the injuries they had previolsly suffcred. The Qā'im is expected to proceed from Mecca where he will reside and rule the world. His reign, according to a well-attested tradition, will last seven years, each of which will be like ten years of the normal time scale. According to another tradition he will rule nineteen years. Although some traditions speak of the reign of a son of the Qā'im, the majority affirm that there will be only forty days of turmoil after the passing of the Qā'im until the Resurrection and the Judgement.”[12]

The subject of the messianic Qāim and the signs arrounding his advent are dealt  with in numerous Imamī Shī`ī sources. Among the most important are: [so Madelung adapted SL] 

  • al-Nu`mānī, Kitāb al-Ghayba, Tehran 1318;
  • Ibn Bābūya, Ikmāl al-dīn (The Perfecting of Religion).  Tehran 1301, 964ff.;
  • al-Shaykh al-Mufīd, Kitāb al-Irshād,  al-Najāf 1382/1962, 346ff.;
  • Abū Ja`far al-ūsī, Kitāb al-Ghayba  al-Najāf, 1385;
  • al-Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār,1st ed.  Tehran, 1305, vols. xi-xiii; 2nd ed. Vols. 51-53.  
  • al-Sayyid al-Muḥsin al-Amīn al-Āmilī, A`yān al-shi`a, iv/2, Damascus, 1937, 470ff.

Select titles of the Qā’im

In addition to being entitled the Qā’im or Mahdī various titles were assigned to the Shī`ī  messianic twelfth Imam including:

  • al-Ḥujja (`The Proof’)
  • Baqiyyat-Allāh (`The Remnant of God’, `the Eternal of God’). It is alleged by Muhammad ibn 'Ali ibn Bābuwayhī  al-Qummi [Ibn Bābuyā] (d. Rayy XXX/991) in his Kamāl al-Dīn (`The Perfection of Religion’) that as a boy the twelfth Imam stated, `I am Baqiyyat-Allāh (`The Remnant of God’) on earth and His avenger against his enemies’ (Kamāl, II: 56).
  • Sāḥīb al-amr (`The Master of Authority’, `Bearer of the Command’).
  • Sāḥīb al-zamān (`Lord of the Era’, ‘The Master of the Eschatological Age’).
  • Mahdī,  “The Righly Guided One”.

Various of these titles were utilized or claimed by the Bāb. Certain of them have clear messianic connotations and are based on eschatological Shī`ī hadith. A Bahā’ī utilization of these terms was sometimes applied to the centre of Bābī authority or to Bahā’u’llāh himself as a Manifestation of God. 

The “signs” of the advent of the Qā’im  and  the declaration of the Bāb according to the Tārīkh  (History) of Nabil-I Zarandī.

The Tārīkh  (History) of Muhammad Nabil-i Zarandī (d. 1892 CE) is best known today in the partial translation and recreation of Shoghi Effendi Rabbani (d. 1957) entitled ` The Dawn-Breakers’ (1st ed. 1932?). According to the tradition recorded in this work, it was on the evening of May 22nd 1844 (1 or 2hrs. and 11 minutes after subset, cf. Persian Bayan XX:XX) that the Bāb claimed to have fulfilled messianic predictions expected of him. In line with Islamic traditiona about the messianic Qā’im as distilled and conveyed by the second Shaykhī leader Sayyid Kāẓim Ḥusaynī al-Rashtī  (d.1259/1843) to Mullā Ḥusayn Bushrū’ī  (d. 1849) they were :

“Yes,” I [Mulla Ḥusayn Bushrū’ī] replied [to the Bāb], “He is of a pure lineage, is of illustrious descent, and of the seed of Fātimih. As to His age, He is more than twenty and less than thirty. He is endowed with innate knowledge. He is of medium height, abstains from smoking, and is free from bodily deficiency.” He paused for a while and then with vibrant voice declared: “Behold, all these signs are manifest in Me!” He [the Bāb] then considered each of the above-mentioned signs separately, and conclusively demonstrated that each and all were applicable to His person” (DB: 58).

It will be appropriate at this point to cite a few of the Shī`ī traditions deriving from the Prophet Muhammad and the Twelver Imams lying behind these expectations. The citations under the various headings below are all derived from respected pre-19th cent. Shī`ī compilations of eschatological hadith: 

  • (1) He is “of a pure lineage”
  • (2) He is “of illustrious descent”.
  • (3) He is “of the seed of Fātimih”.

“He, may God bless him and his family, said: "If only a single day remained for the world, God would lengthen that day so that He could send on it a man from my descendants (rijal an min ahl baytī), whose name (ism) is the same as mine (ismī). He will fill the world with equity (qist an) and justice (`adl an) as it was fillled with oppression (ẓulman) and tyranny [injustice] (jawran)." (al-Mufid, K-Irshād, 3rd ed. 1399/1979, p. 346; trans. Lambden + Howard, 525).  

I (i.e. Jabir b. `Abd Allāh) [13] visited Fāṭima, the daughter of the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family. In her hands was a tablet (lawḥ) in which was (inscribed) the testamentary trustees of authority (awsiyā'), the Imams from her offspring. I counted twelve names, the last of them was the one who will undertake the office for the rest of time (al-qā'im). Of the descendants of Fāṭima, three of the (names) were Muhammad and three of them were `Alī” (al-Mufid, 34X; tr. Howard, p. 527-8).

The appearance of “the man from the family of Muhammad” (al-Mufid, 3XX; tr. Howard, p. 543)

Ja`far al-Sādiq, “The one who will arise Ial-Qā’im from the family ofg Muhammad… (al-Mufid, 3XX; tr. Howard, p. 549)

“The Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, told Ibn `Abbās, may God have mercy on him: "The Night of Decision is (concerned) with every religious practice (sunna). On that night, the command for the religious practice (sunna) was revealed and because of that order there are friends of God (wulāt) after the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family." "Who are they?" asked Ibn `Abbās.  "Myself and eleven (descended) from my loins, Imams who are addressed (by the angels)," he answered.

These three related expectations all have to do with lineage or descent. Here we have to bear in mind that the Bāb wasa Ḥusaynid Sayyid. [14]

  • (4) He is “more than twenty and less than thirty

“I [Ja`far al-Ju`fī] heard Abū Ja1far [=Imam Muhammad al-Baqir].. said..`He is a young man of medium stature with a handsome face and beautiful hair. His hair flows onto his shoulders. A light rises on his face. The hair of his beard and head is black. By my father, he is the son of the best of mothers” (al-Mufid, 3XX; tr. Howard, p. 550-1)

  • (5) He is “endowed with innate knowledge”.
  • (6)  He is “of medium height”.
  • (7) He  “abstains from smoking”
  • (8) He is “free from bodily deficiency” (Dawn-Breakers, 58).

 3.0 Qā'imiyya and the evolving claims of Sayyid `Alī Muhammad the Bāb

            In Bābī -Bahā'ī scriptural and other writings the word or title Qā'im is used both theologically and messianically. While the theological use generally parallels that of the Qur'ān and traditions, its messianic sense is primarily that of a title claimed by the Bāb. [15]  Sayyid `Alī Muhammad Shīrāzī, the prophet-founder of the Bābī religion is widely known today by Bahā'īs and others as the Bāb meaning "Gate" in Arabic. His claims are both complex and multi-faceted. Generally speaking they evolved from claims to sevitude to the hidden Imām -- who is frequently referred to by the Bāb as the Dhikr ("Remembrance") or Hidden Imam -- to numerous forms of claims to (subordinate) Divinity. While claims to servitute are explicit in the early Qayyūm al-asmā' (mid. 1844) the same work also contains echoes of the developed claim to Divinity. After his pilgrimage to Mecca (1844-5) the matter becomes even more complex in the light of episodes of outward taqiyya (“dissimulation”).  In the post-1848 writings, claims to divinity, Lordship and the like are very frequent.

3.1   Qā'āmiyya and the evolving claims of the Bāb 

From his early Qayyūm al-asmā', the Bāb makes mention of the expected Qā'im (see QA 58: 232; 87: 351 cf. 74: 304). He claims to be his servant or agent. A passage in QA 76 reads,

"Say! God is the cleaver of the heavens and of the earth by virtue of the Proof (al-ḥujjat), the expected Qā'im. He verily is the True One (al-ḥaqq)  and I am naught but one of his servants." (QA 76:313).

It was not until several years into his mission (c.1848) that the Bāb explicitly and publicly claimed to be the Qā’im or Mahdī. In his Āsrār al-athār (4: 523f) the Bahā’ī scholar Mīrzā Muhammad Fāḍil-i Māzandarānī notes that it was not until the third year of the Bābī dispensation that the Bāb's claim of to be the Qā'im in person was voiced. He cites some early passages expressive of this claim including the following words from Du`a ruz panj shanbih, (`Supplication for Saturday) "And I, verily, am Master on that Day which is the Day of Thine Ḥujjat, the expected Qā'im who shall arise for Thy Cause”.  

Both the Bāb and Bahā'u'llāh have explicitly confirmed a "messianic secret", the gradually evolving nature of their claims. Relative to the Bāb, the classic expression of this occurs in the Persian Dalā'il-i Sab`ih where at one point we read:

"Consider the grace of the Promised One in so extending His mercy to the people of Islām that He might bring them salvation, how He whose station is that of the first of all created things and the manifestation of the verse `Verily, I am God,' revealed Himself as the Bāb of the Qā'im of the family of Muhammad, and in His first book commanded observance of the laws of the Qur'ān so that men might not be disturbed by a new Book and a new Cause".[16]

            In certain of his Tablets Bahā'u'llāh has fully affirmed the Bāb's gradual unfolding of his claims. This, often in the light of the progressively unfolding expression of his own move from claiming servitude, or no station at all, to claiming Prophethood and ultimately  (subordinate) Divinity.  In order to explain and legitimate his own years of acting as a leading Bābā (mid. 1840's --> early 1860's ) but now claiming exalted Prophethood or Divinity, there exists an important passage in Bahā'u'llāh's  Sūrat al-Fatḥ (The Surah of the Commencement [`Opening']’, which is probably to be dated to the Edirne [Adrianople] period (c.1864-5). Towards the beginning of this Arabic Tablet addressed to Fat al-A`ẓam, Bahā'u'llāh claims to be the Remembrance (al-dhikr) and states that he divulges nothing save what is in accordance with the recipients' capacity. God lies behind and determines, through His command, the nature of Bahā'u'llāh's own claims in direct accordance with a determined measure, "lest the inmost hearts of such as believe in the unity of God be shattered" (S-Fath, XX). Referring to the earlier Bābā situation, Bahā'u'llāh continues:

"So recollect, O people! the moment when there came unto you the  Revealer of the Bayān ( munzil al-bayān [the Bāb] ) with wondrous, holy verses. He said, `I am the Gate of Knowledge (bāb al-`ilm) and whosoever is convinced of the truth of My Claim (ḥaqqī) in addition to that (fūq dhalika : surpassing that station ), hath assuredly invented lies about Me and acquireth great sin within himself '. Then [later] He said, `I am the Qā'im, the True One (al-qā'im al‑aqq) whose manifestation you were promised in mighty, noble Scrolls. This, verily, is assuredly [the Reality of] Muhammad, the Messenger of God (rasūl Allāh), just as thou hast heard and witnessed in the tablets of God (alwā Allāh), the King, the Ruler'. He [subsequently] said, `I am the Primordial Point (nuqṭat al‑awwaliyya)'.  

And when the beings of a number of predisposed souls were refined, then were the veils torn asunder and there rose up from the Dawning-Place of Holiness [the Bāb's claim],` I verily am God, no God is there except Me, thy Lord and the Lord of all the worlds'. And [He said], `I, verily, from the beginning which hath no beginning, was a Divinity (ilāh an), One, Single, Unique... I [the divine, primordial Bāb], verily, sent the [past] prophets (al-nabiyyīn ) and the Sent Messengers (al-mursalān) from an eternity of eternities...'

Referring to himself Baha’u’llah continues:

Then gaze upon Me [Bahā'u'llāh], the Logos-Soul of God (nafs Allāh)... By God, O people! I [Bahā'u'llāh] did not desire any Cause (amr an) for Myself and followed all the Manifestations of old. I supported the Cause of God on all levels (fī kulli sha'n) during the days when faces were concealed out of fear of the oppressors. I humbled Myself before every soul in the Bayān [all Bābīs] and lowered the wing of submission (jannāḥ al‑taslīm) before every worthy believer."[17]

This latter paragraph of the Sūrat al-Fatḥ begins by echoing the words of the Bāb contained in the Dalā'il-i Sab`a. ([Persian] Seven Proofs). Bahā'u'llāh then seems to state that he had no desire to take over leadership of the Bābī community (cf. Kitāb-i āqās XXX/ trans. 159-161) but was faithful to all the past Messengers of God, the ongoing religion of God, making no explicit claims for himself. [18]

In another Tablet of Bahā'u'llāh of relevence here also dating from the Edirne [Adrianople] period (1864-1868) is found in the Law-i Khalīl:  

"in the beginning of the year 60 (= 1260 /1844). He [the Bāb] was made manifest at the beginning of his appearance, in the garment of Gatehood (bi-qamī al-bābiyya) ... then He replaced it with the garment of Overseership (bi-qamā al-wilāya) ... [later] he revealed himself unto them with the name of Lordship (bi-ism al-rubūbiyya) and cried out, "I verily, I am God, no God is there except Him" (see Mā'idih 8:171ff). [19]    

The Bāb's explicit claim to Qā'imiyya (Qā'imhood) was apparently first clearly (?) spelled out in a letter addressed to Mullā Shaykh `Alī urshizi, Shaykh `Aīm, written en route to Tabriz in 1265 AH (= 27th Nov. 1848 ‑‑> 17 November 1849; see Mazandarani, AA 4:528 + ZH 111:222):

"O `Alī! We have selected thee for Our purpose and we made thee to be an angel who shall cry out in the service of the Qā'im [proclaiming] that `He [the Qā'im] verily, hath been manifested, with the permission of His Lord.' This is an expression of the bounty of God unto thee. This is the Qā'im whose Day all were expecting" (AA 4:568 + Zuhūr III:222+ Nuqṭat al-kāf. XX; cf. Browne, 1893 [75]:24) 

In this letter the Bāb also identifies, in line with Shī`ī perspectives (see above),

the Qā'im with the expected Mahdī. It was during his trial in Tabrīz (        ) that the Bāb again made a courageous public claim to be the Qā'im.

Persian Bayān I: (1f)15,[20] (see EGB and BF).

The claim of the Bāb to Qā’imiyya is especially explicit in his Persian Bayān which dates to the period of His imprisonment in Maku in Persian Adhirbayjān (1848-9). In its very first chapter we read:

"The Qā'im (He who is to arise) or Hujjat (`Proof' i.e. the Twelfth Imām, or Imām Mahdi, whose Return or Advent the Shiia expect) hath appeared with verses and expositions as the Nuqṭa‑i‑Bayān (i.e. the Bāb) who is identical with the Nuqa‑i‑Furqān (i.e. Muhammad). The reason why the Nuqa‑i Bayān is mentioned first, and the Nuqṭa‑i‑Furqān second, and the  Manifestation of the Qā'im only in the 15th Chapter is that `the Point' is manifested by the Name of Divinity in the Station of Abstraction (tajarrud), which is the pure manifestation of God; while in the Station of Differentiation (ta'ayyun), which is the First Volition (mashiyyat‑i‑awwaliyya) he was mentioned in the second place; and in the Station of Qā'im‑ship which belongs especially to the 14th manifestation, he was mentioned in the 15th chapter. And the Point hath been and ever remaineth in the Station of Primariness (awwaliyyat), being more worthy to be called by every Name than the Names themselves, since where there is the name of Divinity (rubūbiyyat), there are included all the lesser names, such as Lordship (rubūbiyyat), and what is subordinate thereunto." (EGF & BF: 324).

The question of the eschatological “return” and real existence of the twelfth imam of the Shī`i Muslim community.

            The question of the real existence of the 12th Imam is one which came to be asked and articulated in the later writings of Baha’ullah and those of `Abdu’l-Baha’. In early Bābī and Bahā'ī scriptural texts he his understood to be a real figure whose personal advent was imminent. Later the “return” of the expected 12th Imam was non-literally or allegorically understood in the light of the Bāb’s claim to be this figure. Ultimately the real existence of this messianic figure was completely demyth-ologized. While early Bābīs believed in his imminent advent, modern Bahā'īs believe he never existed as the alleged son of Ḥasan al-Askarī (d. 260 AH).

            Among the early Tablets of Bahā'u'llāh in which mention is made of the twelfth Imām and his celestial homeland[s] Jābulqā' and Jabulā', is his Jawāhir al-asrār  ("The Essence of Mysteries"  c.1860; text in AQA 3:4-88, Āthār-i qalam-i a`lā  Vol. 3: 4-88 [Tehran: BPT 121 BE]). In the section dealing with the "City of the Divine Unity" (madīnat al-tawḥīd), after underlining the reality of the existence of Muhammad al-Mahdī (the 12th Imam), the son of Imām Ḥasan al-Askarī (the 11th Imam), Bahā'u'llāh states that the Shī`ī Imāms referred to him as being in the city of Jabulqā'.  They spoke of this mysterious "city" in a highly supernaturalistic manner. It can hardly, he advises, be literally interpreted. The "sanctified Figure" (al-nafs al-qudsiyya) of Ḥasan al-Askarī's son is also best viewed in an allegorical manner (ta'wīl).

            Both the occulted Imām Mahdī and the supernatural "city" (madīna)  which he, according to various traditions (ahadīth)  is believed to inhabit, are best viewed non-literally. Viewed with the "sight of God" in the light of the essential oneness of the Prophets, the Manifestations can all be perceived as bearing the same name and designation; being named Muhammad al-Mahdī (the 12th Imam) and being the sons of asan al-Askarī (the 11th Imām). Indeed, "they were all manifested from the Jābulqā'  of the Power of God (qudrat Allāh)  and from the Jābulṣā'  of the Mercy of God (raḥmat Allāh) were all made manifest."  "Your Jābulqā' ", Bahā'u'llāh further explains, "is naught save the treasuries of subsistence (khaḍā'in al-baqā') in the spiritual realm of the Divine Cloud (jabarūt al-`amā'), the Cities of the Unseen (madā'in al-ghayb) in the transcendent Empyrean Heaven (lāhūt al-a`lā')". Addressing the recipient of this Tablet, Ḥajjī Sayyid Muhammad-i Iṣfahānī, he continues,

 "Thou indeed shalt witness that Muammad son of asan [al-Askarī] is in Jābulqā' and has appeared therefrom. Him whom God shall make manifest (man yuẓhir-uhu Allāh) is in that place until such time as God shall make Him manifest in the station of His sovereignty" (p.43; see AQA 3:41-44).

            Of the Tablets of Bahā'u'llāh in which the person of the alleged 12th Imām is all but demythologized is the following:

In the Name of God, the Incomparable One!

     Say: O friends! A past untruth (kadhb) caused a succeeding Beloved One [the Bāb] to be suspended and martyred by the bullet[s] of tyranny. Ponder upon the lying, perfidious souls who have appeared among the people with the pretence of sincerity, trustworthiness, abstemiousness and piety, such that ye be safeguarded from the terror of this greater Day [cf. Qur'ān 27:89]. One such person hath made mention of Jābulqā and another alluded to Jābulā.  Yet another lying one, gave credence to a fictitious personage (haykal-i mawhūmī) and established him upon the throne of conjecture (`arsh-i ẓunūn). Without justification he made mention of a sanctified region (nāiya muqaddassa) and another unjust one attributed certain utterances to him. Wherefore, through complete tyranny, these false and detestable matters were the cause and the reason why they martyred the Sovereign of the City of Oneness [the Bāb]... 12

As they appeared in Horace Holley (Ed.), Bahā'ī Scriptures  (New York: Bahā'ī Publishing Committee, 1928, pp. 229-236 = Nos. 460-496) the opening lines of the Tablet translated here (pp. 229-230) read:



The Arabic text of this Tablet was originally published in Makātib `Abdu'l-Bahā  (Cairo, 1910), pp. 161-2.

He is God

 O thou who supplicateth God to grant him sanctuary within the precincts of His Most Great Mercy! Know thou that factions have, from the earliest centuries, been anxiously waiting to observe the manifest brilliance of the Light of Guidance and the emergence of the Elevated Stars; the appearance of the Promised Manifestation from Jābulqā  and Jābarā. Jews have been anticipating the appearance of the Promised One from the City of the Sabbath (madīnat al-sabt) which is concealed from the eyes; the same is Jābulqā.  The community of Jesus [Christians] await the appearance of the Promised One from the centre of the sky, upon a cloud, descending from the most elevated zenith; the same is Jābarsā.  The Kaisāniyya  await the appearance of the Promised One from out of the interior of the mountain of Rawā nigh unto the Luminous City [Medina]; the same is Jābulqā. The ancient Persian community [Zoroastrians] await the manifestation of their Promised One from an unknown location (maḥall majhūl); the same is Jārbarā.

Every community awaits the appearance of their Promised One from either a "city" (madīna) an "island" (jazīra) or an "enclosure"  (ḥaḍīra)  hidden from perception. On this account have They been opposed on the Day of Their manifestation. Nay rather, have those Sanctified, Luminous Temples [the Promised Ones] been the victims of unjust treatment and hatred. Such is a tyrannical and an erroneous way to treat these Manifestations of the Most Excellent Names. Otherwise, were every community to find that their Promised One appeared according to its own anticipated signs and portents, then they would not come to fall into the cradle of descent nor sink into the abyss of their own despondency!

 I, assuredly, out of love for thee and for thy glorious son (or family, najlika), do summon thee unto Guidance and exhort thee to strive in the Cause of thy Lord until He guide thee unto the Light which shineth from the Supreme Horizon. Ponder attentively the accounts of the prophets and the Messengers of the past: how it was that they were calumniated against; in what manner they were treated; how it was that individuals became veiled from the Truth and were heedless of the Remembrance of their Lord. Do this until such time as He enableth the lights of Truth to shine upon thee, setteth thee apart from error, causeth thee to attain unto the station of the "knowledge of certitude" (`ilm al-yaqīn), guideth thee unto the "essence of certitude" (`ayn al-yaqīn)  and causeth thee to realize the "reality of certitude" (aqq al-yaqīn)   through the bounty of the Manifest Light.

And upon thee be greeting and salutation.

`Abdu'l-Bahā `Abbas.

In the Name of God, the One!

Say, O friends! The former lying caused the succeeding Beloved [* the Bab] to be hanged and martyred by the bullet of opposition. Meditate upon the lying, unfaithful, perfidious souls who were appearing among the people with the pretence of righteousness, faithfulness, devotion and abstinence from what is unlawful, until ye be guarded and saved from the terror of this greater Day.

461. One of these has mentioned Jabulka and another gave reference to Jabulsa and another lying one put in the minds of the people an imaginary temple and fixed that on the throne of superstition. This unfair one mentioned Nahia Mocaddassah (the holy direction) and another unreasonable one attributed to him many (of his own) utterances. Therefore these false and unpleasant affairs became the cause of killing the King of the City of Unity through complete opposition. 

            The use of the Arabic word kadhb, "untruth, lie, deceit, falsehood" at the beginning of this Tablet is in all likelihood an allusion to the epithet "Ja`far the Liar" (kādhib)  allotted by many members of the Shī`ī Muslim community to the brother of the 11th Imām (Ḥasan al-`Askarī d. Sāmarrah 1260 AH / 874 CE). This brother, from the developed Bahā'ī perspective, was far from being a liar. Bahā'u'llāh has referred to him as the "truthful one" (Ṣādiq),   "his eminence Ja`far" (haḍrat-i Ja`far  Ma’ida 4:91) He, in fact, spoke the truth about the early death or outward non-existence of the twelfth Imām as the son of Imām Ḥasan al-Askarī. Both Bahā'u'llāh and `Abdu'l-Bahā have referred to this matter in certain of their Tablets (see Ishrāq Khavārī Ed. Mā'ida-yi Āsmānī  [9 Vols. Tehran: BPT., 128-9 BE/1971-2] Vol. 4:91; Vol. 8:102 cf. J. R. Richards, The Religion of the Baha'is  London: SPCK, 1932 pp. 181-2).

            Bābī-Bahā'ī scriptural texts exhibit several transitions in the attitude towards some of the Shī`ī eschatological traditions which make reference to a son of Ḥasan al-`Askarī, his occulted existence (ghaybat) and future role as the Qā'im/ Mahdī. In certain early works the Bāb presupposed their literal truth. Later Bahā'u'llāh all but allegorized them (see fn.4 below). Ultimately, as in the late Tablet translated above, he came --  as did `Abdu'l-Bahā --  to regard such eschatological expectations as barriers to the recognition of the Manifestation of God.

Dual Messianisms and the Bābī-Bahā’ī  religions.

            Bahā'īs regard the appearance of the Bāb (1817-1892) and Bahā'u'llāh as the advent of Messengers or Manifestations of God (maẓhar-i ilāhī).  As contemporaries they are viewed as "twin" successive founders of religion. This dual theophany is viewed as a unique phenomenon in the history of religions.[21] A variety of passages within both Abrahamic ("Semitic") and non-Semitic ("Asian") religious scriptures have been cited by Bahā'īs as prophetic intimations of the eschatological advent of such "twin manifestations".

5. 0 The term  Qayyūm  in the Qur’ān and  Islām

            The masculine noun or adjective and divine attribute al-qayyūm  occurs three times in the Qur'ān.  Its first occurence is towards the beginning of the celebrated āyat al-kursī ("Throne verse" = Q. 2:255) which is "one of the most famous and beloved verses of the Qur'ān, frequently recited as a protection against harm or evil" (Netton, 1992:45).[22]

  • (1) "God, there is no God except He, the Living, the Qayyūm...  ( Q. 2:255a)

The two other occurences are to be found in the Sūrat al-Āl Imrān (The Family of `Imrān’)(Q.3) and the Sūrat al-Ṭā-Hā  (Q.20). Without full contextualization they are:

  • (2) "God, there is no God except He, the Living, the Qayyūm (Q. 3:2)
  • (3) "faces shall be humbled unto the Living, the Qayyūm (Q. 20:111b)

In these verses Qayyūm is always linked with the Divine Name al-ḥayy  ("The Ever Living") [23] and has been variously understood and translated.

            It will be appropriate to mention at this point that Shoghi Effendi's frequent translation of the divine attribute al-qayyūm in Bābī- Bahā'ī scripture by "the Self-Subsisting" mirror's that of George Sale whose translation of the Qur'ān was known and highly-praised by him as the Guardian of the Bahā'ī religion. So too the English translation of the Qur’ān by Rodwell who also adopts the same translation at Q. 20:111b. [24] This translation (cf. the synonymous rendering of Shoghi Effendi, "self-subsistent") not only follows that of Sale (1734) and  Rodwell (1831), but is paralleled by a number of modern western and Muslim scholars (see Appendix 1). 

Qayyūm in select Tafsīr (Qur'ān commentaries) and related literatures.

In varying ways numerous Qur’ān commentaries and other Islamic literatures expound, sometimes at consideraqble length, the signficances of the Aabic word  Qayyūm. These sources comment upon the general linguistic and theological significance of the divine attribute al-qayyūm. Arthur Jeffery who seems to recognize a Hebrew or Syriac origin for qayyūm (see fn below) succinctly sums matters up when he writes in his The Foreign Vocabulary of  the Qur’ān

"The Commntators are unanimous that the meaning is XXXX  al-qā'im al-dā'im  (Ṭab., Baiḍ., and as-Sijistānī, 250), but they were in difficulties over the form, and there are variants XXXXX   [qiyām, qayyim, qā'im] . Their trouble in explaining the form is well illustrated by al-`Ukbarī, Imlā', i.70 for the only possibility is to take it on the measure  XXXX  [fay``āl] and we have reason to suspect all words of this form. It is not strange therefore, in spite of its obvious connection with XXX [qāma], to find that some of the authorities took it as a word borrowed from the Syriac [fn.1 as-Suyūtī, Itq, 324; Mutaw, 54)"

            Hirschfeld, Beiträge, 38 would derive it from Hebrew, and certainly     [Q-Y-M] is used in connection with      [Ḥ-Y] in Jewish texts of the oldest period [see fn. 2] but     [Syr. Q-Y-M-A] is also commonly used in the same sense and we cannot rule out a Syriac origin for the word" (Jeffery, 1938: 245 22nd ed. Rep. ed. Bowering and McAuliffe, Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2007, 244-5). [25]

            In his monumental commentary  Jāmi`  al-bayān[26]  Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Ṭabarī (d.310[2]     /923) notes that grammatically al-qayyūm  follows the Arabic paradigmatic pattern al-fay`āl  [deriving] from al-qiyām  ("maintaining"; like, qayyūm) . According to the Shī`ī exegete Muhammad Husayn al-Ṭabāabā'ī  (XXXX/1892- d.1402/1981)  the form al-fay`ūl  "is used to show the maximum degree of a quality" (al-Mīzān  trans. 4:155). He states that it indicates the qā'im (`Upholder') "as one who provides for and maintains what he creates." In commenting upon Qur'ān 2:255, he lists a number of interpretive definitions of al-Qayyūm.  This divine attribute can indicate "He Who is al-qā'im ("the [Eternal Overseer standing) over everything" (transmitted through Mujāhid) or "the custodian of everything as He who protects, provides for and maintains things" (from al-Rabī`). As well as signifying "He Who is the qā'im ("Eternal Overseer") (from al-Suddī), the divine attributes al-ḥayy al-qayyūm ("the Living; the Self-Subsistent") can be expressed as being synonymous with al-qā'im al-dā'im ("the Eternal Support/ Overseer" see Jāmi`  3:5-6).

The early Persian Sufi commentator upon the Qur'ān, Rashīd al-Dīn Maybudī (d.520/1126) in his Kashf al-asrār.. ("The Unveiling of the Secrets")  translates al-ḥayy al-qayyūm  at Q. 2:255 with the Persian zindih-' pāyandih  = "the Living, the Solid / Constant / Eternal" (Kashf 1:685).  Commenting on al-qayyūm in the throne verse, the Shī`īte Sufi `Abd al-Razzāq al-Kashānī (d.c. 730/1330) - expressing the views of the great Shaykh Ibn al`Arabī, d. 638/1270) - states that this divine attribute indicates He Who is subsistent by virtue of His own Self (alladhī yaqūma bi-nafsihi).  God is "He who upholds everything since it subsists in Him" such that "if it were not for His maintenance (qiyām) nothing in existence would subsist" (1:142). [27]

`Abū'I-Qāsim al-Zamakhsharī (d. 538/1144) in his  Al-Kashshāf…  echoes al-Ṭabarī when he glosses al-qayyūm in  Q. 2:255a  as "The Eternal (al-dā'im), the Supporter through providence of the created order (al-qiyām bi-tadbār al-khalq; 1:300).  In his  voluminous compendium the  Majma` al-bayān.. and other tasfār  works such as his Jawāmi` al-jāmi`,  Shaykh `Abū `Alī al-Ṭabarsī [al-Ṭabrisī] (d.548/1153) also repeats this when he makes exactly the same statement about the significance of al-qayyūm (in Q.2:255a; Jawāmi` 1:167; cf. Qarshayy, Qamūs,  6:50-51).

In the weighty and wide-ranging commentary of Fakhr al-Dīn Rāzī (d.606/ 1209) varioyusly known as the Mafatīḥ al-ghayb  ("Keys of the Unseen") and Tafsīr al-kabīr  ("The Great Commentary"),  detailed comments are introduced by the author’s  noting that Ibn `Abbas (d.c. 68 / 687; the cousin of the prophet Muammad) stated that "the greatest of the names of God is al-ḥayy al-qayyūm ("the Living; the Qayyūm; see below). This indicates that God "[eternally] subsists by virtue of His Essence" (yakān mutaqayyiman bi-dhātihi).  Among several other significances al-Raḍī has it that al-qayyūm  (in Q. 2:255) "is illustrative of His [God's] being Self-Subsistent through His own Essence (qā'im an bi-dhātihi)  and One Who Appraises (mutaqawwim)  everything other than Himself" (al-Tafsīr al-kabīr, 7:4)

The combined Tafsīr of Jalāl a-Dīn `Abd al-Raḥman al-Suyūī (d. 911/1505) and Jalāl al-Dīn Muhammad ibn Aḥmad al-Maḥallī (d. 864/1459) known as the Tafsīr al-Jalālayn (`Tafsīr al the Two Jalāls') sums up earlier comments on al-qayyūm in the `Throne Verse' and states that it indicates, "The [power of] transmitting forces (al-mubāligh fī qiyām)  for the unholding through providence of the created order ( bi-tadbir khalqihi?) (Tafsīr al-Jalālayn, 53).

In his al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qur'ān (1393/19733), the abovementuioned modern Shī`ī commentator abāabā'ī includes some clear comments upon al-qayyūm in the course of his discussion of the `Throne Verse' (Q. 2:255):

"The original meaning of the verb (to stand) has, by association, been extended and now it is used for protecting a thing, accomplishing a task and managing it, bringing up a  thing, looking after it and having power over it. Allāh clearly said that He "stands" with the affairs of His creation, that is, watches it, looks after it and brings it up and has all power over it. He says: Is it He then who stands over (i.e., watches) every soul as to what it earns? (13:33). Another verse is more comprehensive: Allāh bears witness that there is no god but He (and so do the angels and those possessed of knowledge), standing with (maintaining) justice, there is no god but He, the Mighty, the Wise (3:18). He maintains His creation with justice. He does not give and does not withhold but with justiceand existence is nothing except giving and withholding. He gives to everything what it deserves. Lastly, He declares that this maintaining with justice is according to His two great names, the Mighty, the Wise: by His Might He maintains everything; and by His Wisdom He does justice to it.

            Allāh is the origin of everything. Existence as well as all attributes, qualities and the effects of everything begin from Him. All other "origins" originates from Him. He stands over everything in the real and comprehensive sense of "standing", as explained above. There is no weakness or flaw in His "standing"; and other things cannot stand except by Him. This attribute is reserved for Him in both ways: "Standing" cannot be found except in Allāh, and Allāh is never anything but standing. The former is understood by the syntax of the sentence: Allah is the "Standing". The latter is understood by the next sentence: "Slumber does not overtake Him nor sleep".

This discourse leads us to believe that the name al‑qayyūm  (The Standing) is the basis for all the divine names which refer to His attributes of action in any way, like the Creator, the Sustainer, the Originator, the Resurrector, the Bestower of life, the Giver of death, the Forgiver, the Compassionate, the Affectionate and so on" (al-Mīzān trans, 4:155-6). 

Finally in connection with comments on  al-qayyūm  in works of Qur’ān Commentary, Tafsīr, it may be noted that the Muslim scholar M. I. Siddiqi in his recent The Ninety Nine Names of Allah  comments as follows on al-Qayyūm in Qur'ān 3: 2:

"Al‑Qayyūm is an Attribute of Allah which means the Self‑Subsisting. He sustains does not depend on anything, nor does He require any support. He is Omnipotent, Ominscient, Creator and Sustainer of all things. He is Almighty and the sole Provider. He sustains the existence of everything and is Himself sustained or supported by no body. By the mere mention of Life and Self‑Subsistence as His two essential attributes the possibility of all co‑partnership with Him is negatived outright. Allāh is called Al Qayyūm because He is the Self‑Subsisting, Living Lord Who judgeth all. He who repeals this Name will never fall into inadvertency" (1988:99)

Qayyūm and the divine Names and Attributes

            In categorizing the divine attributes (al-ṣifāt) some Islamic theologians have made mention of the ṣifā al-dhāt, the `Attributes of the [Divine] Essence’. Various divine attributes have been included within this grouping including al-qayyūm  -- as well, for example, as such attributes as al-ṣamad ("Transcendent Eternity") al-ḥaqq ("Reality") and al-quddūs ("Sublime Holiness"). From the early Islamic centuries, debates took place as to whether these attributes were identical with the Essence or whether and in what manner they eternally subsist within it. 

            According to prophetic traditions the divine attribute al-qayyūm  is  reckoned among the ninety-nine names of God, often collectively called the "Most Beautiful Names" (al-asmā' al-ḥusnā, Q. 59:24). Abū Ḥāmīd al-Ghazālī (d. 1111 CE) commented upon it as the 64th name of the 99 Names of God according to a prophetic tradition going back Abū Huraira (d.58/678). In his al-Maqṣad al-asnā fī sharḥ ma`ānī asmā' Allāh al-ḥuṣnā (“The Most Perspicuous Means for Commenting on the Meaning of the Most Beautiful Names of God”). [28]  he writes :

  "64. Al-Qayyūm  -- the Self-Existing.[29]  You must know that things are distinguished into what requires a subject, like accidents and attributes, of which it is said that they do not subsist in themselves; and into what does not need a subject, of which it is said that it subsists in itself, like substances. Yet while a substance may have no need of a substratum in which to subsist, given that it subsists in itself, it nevertheless remains in need of things necessary for its existence, and they are conditions for its existing. So it is not really subsistent in itself, since it requires the existence of another to subsist, even if it does not need a substratum [or subject, in which to subsist] itself, whose subsistence would not be from another, and whose existence would not be conditioned by the existence of another, it would subsist in itself absolutely (al-qā'im bi-nafsihi mulaq an). If beyond that, every existent subsisted by virtue of it, such that the existence and conservation of things would be inconceivable without it, that would be the self‑existing one (al-qayyūm) since it subsisted in itself and each thing subsisted by it. But that is none other than God -- may He be praised and exalted. And man's access to this attribute is in proportion to his detachment from everything that is not God the most high." (text 1971:143; trans. al-Ghazālī, 1992:129-30).

Dealing with certain of the 99 most beautiful names of God in the Kitāb al-tawḥīd  of the Biḥār al-anwār,  Muhammad Bāqir Majlisī (d.1111 / 1699) notes:

"...` al-qayyūm  ["Self-Subsistent"] and al-qiyām [=  `Support' ] are two forms [after the pattern] al-fay``āl  and al-fi``āl implying the personal actualization of something (min qumtu bi'l-shay').  Wherefore is one's endeavour (walliyatihi) realized through one's own self (nafsika) for one's having taken charge (tawallayta) involves both maintenance (ḥifẓ) and restoration (ilāḥ). It [the sense of al-Qayyūm] has an implied syntactical dimension (taqdār) as is illustrated by their phrase: `What it implies is neither wholly [summed up] by [the form] dayyār  nor diyyār (Biḥār 2 4:201).

            At the end of that section of the Biḥār al-anwār  dealing with supplications pertaining to the eschatological "Hour" (sā`āt) Majlisī comments on the phrase wa'l-qayyūm  ("and the Qayyūm!”) contained in a supplication of the eleveth Imām, Ḥasan al-Askarī (d.260/873) which reads:

"O Primal One without Beginningness!  (awwāl bi-lā awwāliyyat)! O Thou the End without Finality (ākhar bi-lā ākhatiyyat)! O Eternallly-Subsisting (qayyūm) Whose pre-existence (li-qidmihi) is matchless (bi-lā muntahā). O Mighty One (`azīz) whose Strength (`izzat) cannot be terminated. O Thou Whose Authority (mutasalliṭan) knoweth no weakness in the exercise of His Sovereignty! O Noble One (al-karām) Whose graciousness (ni`mat) is conferred without ceasing! (Bihar 2 86: 353).

His comments reads,

"`And the Qayyūm!' indicates the [All-Enduring] Maintainer (al-qiyām), the Eternal (al-dā'im) providing for all created things (bi-tadbār al-khalq) and sustaining them (ḥifẓ). It is the form fay``āl  with reference to he who upholds through a (divine) command (yaqāmu bi'l-amr) since he has maintained (ḥifẓ) it or  One Existent [Subsistent] through His [own] Essence (al-qā'im bi'l-dhāt), through Whom all things subsist (qiyām).."  (Biḥār 2 86:367)

In that section of al-Miṣbāḥ  ("The Luminary") of  Shaykh Taqī al-Dīn ibn Ibrahām al-Kaf`amī' (d. 900/1494-5) about traditions relating to the interpretation of the al-asmā' al-huṣnā'  ("most beautiful names [of God]) the divine Name al-Qayyūm  is commented upon as follows -- the abovementioned sources being influential:

"al-Qayyūm: He is al-Qā'im ("the Eternal Overseer"), All-Enduring without cessation by virtue of His Essence (al-sā'im bi'lā zawāl). Through Him is all existence is maintained (qiy[y]ām) by virtue of His Creative power (ājād), His providence (tadbīr)  and His custodianship (ḥifz). Illustrative of this [are His words], "What, He Who Stands [Aware] (al-qā'im) over every soul for what it has earned?" (Q. 13:33a trans. Arb. 243); that is to say, `He is One Who establishes (yaqāmu) their well-being (arzāq), their ultimate fate (ājāl) and their doings (a`māl).' And it is said that He is responsible for (qayyim) everything through his patronage (bi'l-ri`āya) of it. And the equivalent (mithlahu) of qayyūm  is qiy[y]ām (= `Support';`Subsistence') for these two [forms] are of [the pattern] fay``āl and al-fi``āl implying the personal actualization of something (min qumtu bi'l-shay'). Wherefore is one's having taken charge (tawallayta) realized by virtue of one's own self (nafsika) as also one's self-restoration (`overhauling', `improvement'; alatahu) and one's self-regulation (`making ammends'; dabbartahu). Thus do they say [in illustration], `It's [al-qayyūm's] sense  is neither [wholly summed up] as [the form] dayyār nor diyyār.' And it is said, He is One fully aware (al-ā`lam) of every affair (bi'l-umār) [cf. Q.13:33] thus their saying, `He is One Who matter'(huwa yaqāmu bi-hadhr'l-amr)  which has the sense, `He knows what is what' (yalam mā fāhi)." (al-Mibāḥ, [1994] 439).   

Al-Qayyūm and the al-ism al-a`zam (the Mightiest Name of God).

            In Islamic thelogical traditions and related sources the divine attribute al-qayyūm  or qur’anic verses in which it is contained, have been associated with the powerful and mysterious al-ism al-a`ẓam, the `greatest name [of God]'. In commenting on the opening verse[s] of the Surā of the Family of `Imrān, the early Sufi commentator Sahl al-Tustarī (d. 283 /896) in his Tafsīr al-qur'ān al-aẓīm [30] has it that "This [text] is the greatest name of God (al-ism Allāh al-a`am) inscribed in heaven in green light extending from the East unto the West" (Tafsīr 24). In the aforementioned commentary of Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāḍī, the Tafsīr al-kabīr ("The Great Commentary") this same association of the greatest name is registered when it is recorded that al-ḥayy al-qayyūm is reckoned by some to be "the greatest name (al-ism al-a`ẓam) among the names of God" (al-Tafsīr al-kabīr  7:5). Similar statements are contained in other Islamic works.

The Name of God al-Qayyūm as the  al-ism al-a`ẓam (Mightiest Name [of God])  in the al-Miṣbāḥ ("The Luminiary")] of al-Kaf`amī.

In his extensive Arabic compilation entitled al-Miṣbāḥ fī’l-A’diyya wa’l-salawāt wa’l-Ziyarāt (The Luminary incorporating Supplications, Prayers and Visitation texts), the (just pre-Safavid) Twelver Shī`ī thinker Shaykh Tāqī al-Dīn Ibrāhīm ibn `Alī ibn Ḥasan ibn Muhammad al-`Āmilī al-Kaf`amī (d. 900/1494-5) includes a section (sect. 31) on the question of the al-ism al-a`ẓam (The Mightiest Name [of God]). This is followed, among other things,  by one on the ninety-nine al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā (The Most Beautiful Names of God’) (see Kaf`amī, Misbah 408-418; 419-482). The Mightiest Name section has sixty sub-sections of varying length spanning eleven or so pages. It largely consists of annotated traditions culled from Shī`ī devotional and other literatures which either refer to, indentify the nature of or spell out some aspect of the (one or more) forms of the al-ism al-a`ẓam, the Mightiest Name of God.

             This 11-12 or so page section of  al-Mibāḥ ("The Luminiary") of Kaf`amī about al-ism al-a`am (`The Mightioest Nameof God’) (see Kaf`amī, Mibāḥ 408-418) records  (among sixty or more other possibilities) that the greatest name is yā ḥayy yā qayyūm (= "O Living One! O Self-Subsisting!"). [31] Alternatively it is Allāh  al-ḥayy al-qayyūm  (= God; the Living One; the Self-Subsisting”!). In addition the greatest name is reckoned to be contained in two of those verses of the three sūras of the Qur'ān which contain the divine Attribute al-qayyūm ("The Family of `Imran", 3:2  and Sūra Ṭā’- Hā, 20:111, Kaf`amī, Mibāḥ 409). We may cite Kaf`amī at this point :

  • [8] Eightly : [The al-ism al-a`ẓam (Mightiest Name)] is [specified] as being [The phrase]

            “He, verily, is God, [and] the Living One, [and] the Self-Subsisting” See Q

  • [13] Thirteen : [The al-ism al-a`ẓam (Mightiest Name)] is [specified] by the Prophet [Muhammad] as being  “in three sūrahs [of the Qur’ān] : namely, 
  • [1] in Sūrat al-Baqara (`The Sūrah of the Cow, = Q. 2 ), the āyat al-kursī (“the Throne Verse” = Q. 2:255[6) :

 ٱللَّهُ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ٱلۡحَىُّ ٱلۡقَيُّومُ‌ لَا تَأۡخُذُهُ ۥ سِنَةٌ۬ وَلَا نَوۡمٌ۬‌ۚ لَّهُ ۥ مَا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَمَا فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ‌ۗ مَن ذَا ٱلَّذِى يَشۡفَعُ عِندَهُ ۥۤ إِلَّا بِإِذۡنِهِ يَعۡلَمُ مَا بَيۡنَ أَيۡدِيهِمۡ وَمَا خَلۡفَهُم وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَىۡءٍ۬ مِّنۡ عِلۡمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَآءَ‌  وَسِعَ كُرۡسِيُّهُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ‌ وَلَا يَـُٔودُهُ ۥ حِفۡظُهُمَا‌ وَهُوَ ٱلۡعَلِىُّ ٱلۡعَظِيمُ

"God, no God is there exceot Him, the Living (al-hayy), the Self-Subsisting (al-qayyum). Slumber does not overtake Him neither does sleep. Unto Him belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and upon the earth. Who is there able to intercede before Him except with His permission! He is aware of what is between their hands and what is beyond them. None shall prove able to encompass anything of His knowledge save as He wills. His [cosmic] Throne-Seat-Chair (kursi) encompasses the heavens and the earth. And He does not experience fatigue over their preservation for He is the Exalted (al-`aliyy), the Mighty (al-`azim)" (Q. 2:255[6).

  • [2] in the [Surat] Āl `Imrān (“The Family of Imrān” = Q. 3: 2(3) :  

ٱللَّهُ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ٱلۡحَىُّ ٱلۡقَيُّومُ

“God, no God is there except Him, al-Ḥayy = “the  Living One, al-Qayyūm = “the Self-Subsisting”) 

  • [3] in [Sūrat] Ṭā’-Hā’  (“T”-“H” Q. 20)  “[On that Day.. v. 108] 

Q. 20:111[2]  وَعَنَتِ ٱلۡوُجُوهُ لِلۡحَىِّ ٱلۡقَيُّوم

"And faces shall turn away [humble themselves] before the Living One (al-hayy), the Self-Subsisting (al-qayyum)."

            At this point we may note that the earlier well-known Sunnī Qur’ān commentator Qaḍī ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿUmar Nāṣir al-Dīn Bayḍāwī (d. c. 700/1300) the author of the  Anwār al-tanzīl wa-asrār al-ta`wīl ("The Lights of the Revelation and the mysteries of the Exegesis") states in the course of commentating on Q. 3: 2 :

"God, no God is there except Him, the Living (al-hayy), the Self-Subsisting (al-qayyum). It is transmitted that he [Muhammad] upon him be peace said:

            `The Mightiest Name [of God] (al-ism al-a`zam) is in three [qur'anic] Surahs; 

  • (1) in al-Baqara [the the Cow Q. 2) "   "God, no God is there exceot Him, the Living (al-hayy), the Self-Subsisting (al-qayyum);
  • (2) and in the `Family of `Imran' (Q.3) "God, no God is there except Him, al-Ḥayy = “the  Living One, al-Qayyūm = “the Self-Subsisting”) and
  • (3) in [Sura] Ta-Ha (=Q. 20), "And faces shall turn away [humble themselves] before the Living One (al-hayy), the Self-Subsisting (al-qayyum)"  (Baidawi, Anwar al-tanzil ed. Beirut 1410/1995, p. 237). 

The three Qur'anic verses expressive of the Mightiest Name of God are identified and spelled out exactly as in the Misbah of Kaf`amī (No. 13 cited above). All three verses have in common the occurrence of the two adjacent divine attributes al-hayy, al-qayyum = "the Living, the Self-Subsisting".  As will be seen, many Sunni and Shi`i traditions associate the Mightiest Name with these twin divine attributes. One of the reasons for this has been spelled above in the comments on identification No. 5.

An early treatise entitled al-Asmā' al-Idrīsiyya ("The Idrisite [Divine] Names") is ascribed to one of the second-generation Muslims (al-tābi`ān), the ascetic, intellectual and Sufi, al-Ḥasan al-Barī (d.110/728). Among the forty divine names allegedly revealed to the antediluvian prophet Enoch (Idrīs) "the sixth name" is listed as "O qayyūm, He that permitteth nothing to die that lieth within the domain of His knowledge and is not wearied [destroyed, annihilated] thereby" (Arabic in Abul Quasem 1991:XX; personal trans.). While what immediately follows the divine name al-qayyūm seems to be something of an early semi-anthropopatic explanation, the immediately following commentary is distinctly anthropocentric:

"The virtue of the great name is that the man who is suffering from forgetfulness - so much that he cannot memorize anything - should read this name twenty-seven times every day before the morning; [Then] his memory will be strong. If after reading it, a person indicates his house, the house will remain safe from theives" (trans. Abul Quasem 1991:39).

Evidently the quasi-magical recitation of the divine name al-qayyūm  was thought to actualize the stability or sustenance of human memory and property.

al-Qayyūm is miscellaneous Islamic thinkers

Ibn Sīnā ( = Avicenna,           )

Goodman, 1992:79-80

"Surely no creationist worthy of the name would take Razi's Five Eternals as an adequate expression of the world's absolute dependence on the unique and absolute act of God. Thus Ibn Sina reasons that only the idea of contingency can capture what is at stake in the scriptural idea of creation”.

    As Fazlur Rahman sums up the position,

    … all beings other than God are inherently infected with contingency ... temporal beings, which are already composites of form and matter . . . the heavenly bodies which are composites of an eternal form and an eternal matter … the transcendental     Intelligences, which are free from matter and are not subject to any change, yet are composites of essence and existence …a contingent can never shed its contingency at any stage of its career and become self‑necessary like God.... This is the true    meaning of the famous metaphysical dictum "Existence is accidental to essence." It means that the contingent is never rid of its contingency.... This, of course, does not mean that the contingent world is accidental in the entire scheme of things, since it is necessarily involved in God's self‑knowledge ... in the context of its cause the contingent does attain necessity; it does not become self‑necessary but "necessary‑by‑dine‑other," as Ibn Sina invariably puts it. 63

            Ibn Sina echoes the Qur'anic Throne verse (2:255) by calling God Qayyūm, ever‑enduring or self‑subsistent. The expression confirms for him the scriptural legitimacy of linking the world's contingency with God's Self‑sufficiency. Maimonides similarly appropriates the name Shaddai  interpreting it as containing in small the idea of God's Self‑sufficiency, which he takes to be the sense of the Tetragram-    maton, a miniature ontological argument, spelled out in the revelation of God's most explicit name I AM THAT I AM, as Maimonides  [80->) glosses the passages where that name is revealed to Moses. The Throne verse is particularly well suited to Ibn Sina's purpose, since it links God's creation and providential care with His everlastingness: "He is the Living and Everlasting.... Neither sleep nor slumber over‑take Him . . . His throne spreadeth vast over heaven and earth. His are  all things in heaven and earth . . . and He is unwearied in preserving them." A modern Muslim commentary writes of this verse, "Who can translate its glorious meaning, or reproduce the rhythm of its well‑chosen and comprehensive words. Even in the original Arabic the meaning seems to be greater than can be expressed in words.... The attribute of Qaiyum includes not only the idea of 'Self‑subsisting' but also the idea of 'keeping up and maintaining all life.'" 65 But the richness of meaning here results in part from the accretion of layers of interpretation deposited by the kalam and even by the philosophy of Ibn Sina, which the glossator silently uses. Indeed, the Qurtanic  language itself is a translation here, the Arabic al‑Ḥayy, al‑Qayyūm     echoing the Hebrew .Han ve‑Qayyom (Berakhot 32a) and the la ta'khudbubu sinatun wa la nawmun rendering the loyanum ye‑lo yishan of Psalms 121: 4, even to the extent of using the corresponding words.06


Rahman rightly reappropriates the sense that Ibn Sina adopted and  enriched.

Suhrawardī, Hayākil al-Nūr Per.

`Alī ibn Aḥmad, Muḥyī al-Dīn, al-Būnī (d. 622 / 1225).

`Ali ibn Aḥmad al-Būnī (d. 622/1225 [q.v. in Suppl.]), the celebrated fortune teller and master of "letter magic" (sīmīyya), considered the usage of rumūz to be part and     parcel of the occult sciences permitting to predict the  future. As in the case with the philosophers and Ṣūfīs, symbols, according to al-Būnī, perform the twofold    function. They conceal the secrets of the divinatory procedures from the uninitiated, while at the same  time helping to impart them to the deserving few (see Manba` uṣūl al-ḥikma, Cairo 1370/1951, 5, 6, 325).   

            In his influential esoteric, magico-qabbalistic treatise al-Shams al-ma`ārif [al-kubrā]  ("The Sun of Mystic Meaning..") the celebrated master of esoteric letter mysticism (sīmiyya) al-Būnī several times commented upon the Divine Name al-qayyūm. In the course of commenting upon the `Most Beautiful Names of God' (al-asmā' Allāh al-ḥusnā) in section 64 of the second book of the Shams al-ma`ārif al-kubrā (II:159ff) he writes regarding the name of God, al-qayyūm:

"This Brilliant Name (al-ism al-ẓāhir) and dazzling, eminent mystery (al-sirr al-karīm al-bāhir) is among the most frequent of His designations. Through it has God, exalted be He, inwardly and outwardly actualized His command. Thus was He the Upholder of the quality of uprightness (ṣāḥīb ḥāla ṣādiqa) by virtue of which He maintains all things. He establishes uprightness [righteousness] as befits he whose name was Joseph. And such is a reality is not at all concealed.Then know that al-qayyūmiyya (Qayyūmness; `sustainability’, `eternality’...) is concentrated (mukhtaṣab) in Him --exalted be He.  He [God], exalted be He, says "Is He not the One Who stands (qā'im) over every soul for what it has earned?' (Q. 13:33). God assuredly is He Who is way beyond them, surrounding [encompassing] the verses [signs] (muḥīṭ al-āyāt).... Then know that the Greatest Name of God, exalted be He,  (al-Būnī, Shams II: 185)

            al-Būnī’s association of the divine name al-qayyūm  with Jospeh and ṣādiqa (sincere uprightness) -- a quality in Islamic tradition deemd especially appropriate to the pious and pure Jospeh, is particularly interesting in view of  their corresponding numerical (abjad) value. This is clearly echoed in the writings of the Bāb.

Shaykh Muḥyī al-Dīn  Ibn al-`Arabī  (d. 638/1240) and his disciple `Abd al-Razzāq al-Kashānī  (d.c. 730/1330) [32]

The Shī`īte Sufi `Abd al-Razzāq al-Kashānī in his Iṣilāḥāt al-ṣūfiyya  ("Sufi Lexicon") under the letter

X.X `Abd al-Karām ibn Ibrāhīm al-Jīlī [Gilani] (d.c. 832/1428).[33]

The divine attribute al-qayyūm is commented upon in al-Insān al-Kāmil  ("The Perfect Man..") of  `Abd al-Karām al-Jilī

Al-Qayyūm in early Shaykhism

As a young man Sayyid Kāẓim Rashtī wrote a Commentary on the `Throne Verse of the Qur’ān (see above on Q. 2:255), the Sharh Ayat al-Kursi. There is much of interest here regarding al-Qa'im and al-Qayyum. The following notes some up a few key points.

Here is an example of the general theological use of al-Qayyum :

سبحانه القديم الازل الفرد القيوم لايشركه احد في هذا

“Glorified be He, the Ancient, the Eternal, the Unique, al-Qayyūm … (Sh-Ayat: 100).

Page 129 contains some talismanic da’irat ("circle") use :

   الحي القيوم في كيفية القيومية و هذه الدايرة

On p.139 the Shaykh cited the verse :

قال الله تبارك و تعالي الحي القيوم

Sayyid Kazim Rashti comments at length on al-ḥayy then on al-Qayyūm which is especially related to the “Being” (kūn) of God because it causes all that it other than it to subsist (taqwīn).

p.187ff on al-Qayyūm. Here Sayyid Kazim first mentions that it is [the probably messianic] al-Qā’im:

فاعلم ان القيوم هو القائم بذاته و المتقوم به غيره

Al-Qayyūm is al-Qā’im in its [His] Essence (huwa al-Qā’im bi-dhātihi) and it [also] the Establisher [Rectifier, Straightener] through itself of what is other than it [Him].  

On Page 188f of His Sharh . Reject al-Qayyūm as one of the Attributes of the Divine Essence then on page 189 he opens a section "Now as for al-Qiyyām :و اما القيام  He comes to mention four levels of al-Qiyyām:

هو القيام الصدوري و الثاني هو القيام الظهوري و الثالث هو القيام العروضي و الرابع هو القيام التحققي

Page 245:

اذا عرفت ان القيوم صفة الفعل لا صفة الذات

Page 292ff

Al-Qayyūm and the al-ism al-a`ẓam :

الروايات قد دلت علي ان الحي القيوم هما الاسمان الاعظمان او الاسم الاعظم كما عن الصادق عليه السلام ما معناه ان الاسم الاعظم في ثلثة مواضع من القرآن

Al-Qayyūm :

و القيوم اسم تفصيل و مقام افتراق و سر اجتماع و مظهر الماء و لذا كان العرش علي الماء و الاسم المربي له

Page 293

هنا و لذا كان الحي القيوم عشرة احرف في المكتوب و هي العشرة الكاملة التي هي سر كل شئ

The ten letters in al-Hayy al-Qayyūm (including the definite article twice)  which are the “mystery of kulli shay’..

لان الله سبحانه خلق الخلق للحب و بالحب و هو عشرة

Note that Hubb ("love") is abjad 2+8 =10.

[1] Very few of the writings of Sayyid Kāẓim Rashtī have been published though there exist both oriental and occidental lists ior bibliographies  of his writings (Nicholas, 19XX; Ibrahimi, Fihrist, 19XX: 000-000). Now very rare lithograph editions of certain of Sayyid Kāẓim’s major works were published in lithograph editions in Iran, most notably his Sharḥ al-qāṣida al-lāmiyya.. (`Commentary on the Ode Rhyming in the letter L’ ) and the Sharḥ al-khuṭba al-ṭutunjiyya (`Commentary on the Sermon of the Gulf’) and the Sharḥ āyat al-kursī  `Commentary upon the verse of the Pedestal /Throne verse’ Q. 2:255). To date I have not been able to locate the source of the prophesy about the successive manifestations of the Qā'im and the Qayyūm. It may be an oral statement passed on by certain of his ultimately Bābī or Bahā’ī disciples.

[2] These words attributed to Sayyid Kāẓim were referred to by Shoghi Effendi in a letter dated November 23rd 1951 in which he wrote that the "Year Nine" (1260  AH /1844 + 9 = 1269 AH  = 15th October 1852 --> 3rd October 1853 CE) was “alluded to by both Shaykh Aḥmad [al-Ahsā’ī] and Sayyid Kāẓim [Rashtī]...". In clarification he further stated that it was, "In that year, the year "after Ḥīn [having an abjad numerical value of  68 signifying after 1268 AH., namely, 1269 AH] mentioned by Shaykh Aḥmad, the year that witnessed the birth of the mission of the promised "Qayyūm," [= Baha’u’llah] specifically referred to by Siyyid Kāim.." (Citadel,  101).

[3] The Aramaic qūmī  in Mark may be "a correction from the shorter masculine form QWM (koum) which is read by the best Greek MSS and in some critical texts. The confusion is doubtless due to the fact that both forms are pronounced alike" (A. Wickgren, `Talitha Cumi' in IDB 4:511).

[4] It will be illustrated below that there also exists linguistic terminology and theological materials in Bibical and post-Biblical Jewish literatures which foreshadow the Islamic theological and messianic uses of Arabic terms from the Semitic root Q-W-M, including Qā’im.

[5] The Rūḥ al-mā`ānī  is a wide-ranging compendium of pre-19th century Islamic tafsīr   works. It was written in the 1200s / 1800s and published in Bulaq (Egypt) in 1301-10/1883-92. There are recent editions and  a  CDRom version (see bib.)  Alūsī was well disposed towards Sayyid Kāẓim Rashtī and respected the Bābī heroine Fāṭima Baraghānī, Ṭāhirih (1817-1852) with whom he debated when accommodating her under house arrest towards the end of her life.

[6]  Certain of the Bāb’s statements about jihād made from the beginning of his six year ministry as evidenced in the Qayyūm al-asmā’  right up to the end as reflected in his last major work, the Haykal al-dīn (`Temple of Religion’) are in line with militaristic Shī`ī eschatological expectations.

[7] Al‑Nu'mani, who is a primary source on the question of al‑ghayba, lived during the Short Occultation of the twelfth Imam. He prefers the title al‑Qa'im to al‑Mahdi  in his work on this subject; if he does mention both together, al‑Qa'im al‑Mahdi  seems to be the order used by him. This further indicates that al‑Qa'im is the main title and al‑Mahdi the secondary one." (Sachedina 1981: 61).

[8] A certain Ma³ār  b. Muhammad ²ahmān al-Warrāq (d. 125/743 ?) transmitted traditions from Ka`b al-Aḥbār reckoning that the Mahdī was so named because he would be guided (yuhdā) to find copies of the original text of the Torah and the Gospel concealed in Antioch. One  Sunnī tramsission of this hadīth partly parallels the Shī`ī version cited above, “The Mahdī will send (an army) to fight the Rūm, will be given the knowledge (fiÎh) of ten, and will bring forth the Ark of  the Divine Presence (tābūt al-sakīna) from a cave in Antioch in which are the Torah which God sent down to Moses and the Gospel which he sent down to Jesus, and, he will rule among the People of the Torah according to their Torah and among the People of the Gospel according to their Gospel" (cited Madelung, `Mahdī’, EI2 CVD-Rom [V:1232b])

[9]  See, for example, Noja Noseda,`al-Sāmira’ EI2 CD-Rom + bibliography.

            [10] According to Goulder the author of this  Luke-Acts 8:10  apparently saw  megale  as a title, whereas tou theou  (cf. Luke 22.69; Goulder ibid.) is a mere gloss.  In Samaritan tradition, the phrase  heilah rabbah corresponds to megale dynamis  (see Goulder, ibid, 72).

[11] “The Signs of the Reappearance (Qiyâm) of the (Imam) who  undertakes the Office (al-Qä'im), Peace be on him, the Period of Time of his Appearance, an Explanation of his Life and an Extract of what is revealed about his State.” (Section heading as translated by Howard, Irshad, p. 541.

[12] Madelung continues his article by summing up Ismā’īlī doctrines about the Qā’im : “Ismā`īlī doctrine added a further dimension of the concept of the Qā'im describing him as Qā'im al-qiyāma "the Qā'im of the Resurrection", who shall act as the Judge of manind, and attributing a cosmic rank to him above that of prophets and imāms. For details see ISM`āLlYYA, Doctrine. Druze doctrine recognizes Hamzā b.`Alā as the Qā'im al-zamām .. See DURāZ.”

[13] This precedes the tradition according to al-Usul min al-Kafi : “[Abū al-Qāsirn Ja'far b. Muhammad informed me on the authority of Muhammad b. Yaqūb, on the authority of Muhammad b. Yahyā, on the authority of Muhammad b. al-Hasan, on the authority of Ibn Mahbûb, on the authority of Abū al-Jarūd, on the authority of Abū Ja'far Muhammad b. `Alī (al-Bāqir), peace be on him, on the authority of Jabir b. `Abd Allāh al-Ansāri, who said.]” 2 = al-Kāfī I : 532 No.9] 

[14] Note also from al-Mufid, Kitab al-Irshad: “[Abü al-Hasan <Ali b. Bilâl al-Mul)allabi informed me: Muhammad b. Ja'far al-Mu'addib told me on the authority of Ahmad b. Idris, on the authority of <Ali b. Muhammad b. Qutayba, on the authority of al-Fadl b. Shädhän, on the authority of Ismâ'Il b.  al-Sabbâh, who said: I heard an old man among our colleagues  mention on the authority of Sayf b. 'Umayra, who said:]

I (i.e. Sayf b. "Umayr a) was with Abû Ja`far al-Manṣūr and he said to me of his own accord: "There will certainly be a voice calling from the sky the name of a man from the descendants of Abū Ṭālib." "May I be your ransom, Commander at the faithful," I said, "do you relate that?" (trans. 542?).

[15] Certain of the Bāb's major disciples, various of the `Letters of the Living' applied to this epithet to themselves or came to be known as further manifestations of the eschatological Qā'im. Mullā Ḥusayn, for

     [16] Dalā'il-i Sab`a p.29 ( np. nd. [Azalā Edition] ) trans. Denis MacEoin,  Early Shaykhā Reactions to the Bāb and his Claims  p.18 in M. Momen (Ed.), Studies in Bābī & Bahā'ī History Vol.1 ( Los Angeles: Kalimat Press 1982 ).


     [17] Translated from an unpublished, [unnumbered]  manuscript, mostly containing Tablets of Bahā'u'llāh of the Adrianople/ Edirne period originating in the Iran National  Bahā’ī  archives dated 1294 A ḥ. / 1877-8 C.E. pp.77-8.

     [18] In this Tablet Bahā'u'llāh indicates that he remained a Bābā in all respects, even when such Bābās as his own half-brother, Mārzā Yayā, were cowering in isolated taqiyya. Before his upright fellow religionists he manifested an humble submissiveness. He clearly states how he cared for, taught and elevated ub-i Azal. Paragraphs such as this are scattered throughout Bahā'u'llāh's early -- and some later -- writings.

     [19] Following these lines are paragraphs in which Bahā'u'llāh dwells on the nature of the diverse claims of the Manifestation of God with a view to legitimating and clarifying aspects of his own evolving claims. Shoghi Effendi has translated a portion of this Tablet which is printed in Gleanings ... XXXIII (= Mā'idih 8:172-3). On Bahā'u'llāh's early relationship with Yayā see Lambden, A Tablet of .. Bahā'u'llāh of the Early Iraq Period: The Tablet of All Food, BSB 3:1.

[20], See Momen (ed.) E.G, Browne and ther Baha’I Faith,

     [21] More than a century ago various schismatic Bābī groups the Azalī arguments against Bahā'u'llāh's claim be the promised one of the Bayān ("Him Whom God will make manifest", man yuhiruhu'llāh) is the contemporary  of the  

     [22]  Many commentarues have been written upon this verse including one by the Shaykhi leader Sayyid Kāẓim Rashtī (see above). Ayoub comments that the `Throne Verse' "..is regarded by Muslims as one of the most excellent verses of the Qur'an" and that it "has played a very important role in Muslim piety." (1984:247). Numerous Prophetic and other traditions extoll its excellence (see ibid 247ff).

     [23] In his `God in Islam' contribution to the Encyclopedia of Religion, Louis Gardet writes about the important divine names al-ḥayy  as follows:

"Al‑Ḥayy. The participial noun al‑ḥayy ("the living") is undoubtedly the "name" most frequently meditated upon and brought to mind by the Sufis. It connotes a perfection that, in a certain way, all the others make explicit. Indeed, the name al‑Ḥayy reaches God's mystery, but from the outside and on the outside, so to speak, without permitting the believer's gaze to penetrate to it. "The gazes of men do not reach it," while he "scrutinises their gaze" (6:103). God the One, who alone is real in his incorruptible reality, is the perfect Living One (3:2; cf. 20:111), the "Living One who does not die" (25:58), and thus the "omniscient," the "omnipotent," and, in relation to man, "the merciful who never ceases to show mercy." But the mystery of the divine life and the secret of his intimate life remain unrevealed and, we should add, for the Muslim faith, unrevealable. This is perhaps the most profound difference between Islam and Christianity." (ERel. 6:30). The very frequent occurence of al-ayy and al-ḥayy al-qayyūm in Bābī- Bahā’ī  scripture is to some extent rooted in the considerable Sufi influence upon both the Bāb and Bahā'u'llāh.

     [24] In the writings of the central figures of the  Bahā’ī  Faith the phrase al-muhaymīn al-qayyūm  is frequent. In devotional and other contexts Shoghi Effendi often translated it "the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting".

     [25] Hirschfeld, Beiträge, 38 would derive it from Hebrew, and certainly     [Q-Y-M] is used in connection with      [-Y] in Jewish texts of the oldest period [see fn.2] but     [Syr. Q-Y-M?] is also commonly used in the same sense and we cannot rule out a Syriac origin for the word." (1938:245)

     [26] Abā Ja`far Muammad b. Jarār al-abarā, Jāmi` al-bayān `an ta'wāl āy al-Qur'ān, 15 Vols. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr 1408 A ḥ./ 1985 C.E.

     [27] Ibn al-`Arabī, Muḥyī aI-Dīn [al-Kashānī] Tafsīr al-Qur'ān al-karām. 2nd ed., 2 vols., Beirut, I968.


[28] Refer, al-Ghazali, المقصد الأسنى في شرح أسماء الله الحسنىal-Maqṣad al-asnā fī sharḥ ma`ānī asmā' Allāh al-ḥuṣnā ,  2nd ed. F. Shehadi, Beirut: Dār al-Machreq, 1986 (1st ed.1971).   

     [29] This translation of al-Qayyūm is apparently influenced by the rendering of Titus Burchardt in his Mirror of the Intellect.  Cambridge: Quinta Essentia, 1987.; see Burrell in al-Ghazālā, 1992:ix. 

     [30] The words "A-L-M. God, no God is there save He, the Living, the Qayyūm" See Tafsīr.. (Cairo: Dār al-kutub al-`arabiyya al-kubrā,  1329 / 1911, 24.

     [31] Reckoned to be synonymous with Hebrew Ihiyā an shara Ihiyā which is a slightly garbled transliteration of the Hebrew ehyeh asher ehyeh, (loosely, RSV) "I AM WHO I AM" (Exodus 3:14a).

     [32] al-Qāshānī, `Abd al-Razzāq, 1991. [Isilaāt al-ufiya =] A Glossary of Sufi Technical Terms  compiled by, (Trans. Nabāl Safwat Rev. & Ed. David Pendlebury ) London: The Octagon Press Ltd., = `Abd al-Razzāq al-Kashānī, A Glossary of Sufi Technical Terms  trans. Nabil Safwat Rev. & Ed. David Pendlebury London: Octogon Press Ltd. 1991. p.5.


     [33] al-Jīlī `Abd al-Karām ibn Ibrāhām, al-Insān al-kāmil fā ma`rifat al-awākhir wa'l-awā'il, (2 Vols. in 1) Muafā al-Bābī al-Ḥalabī: Cairo 1375 AH/1956 CE.