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al-Qā’im - al-Qayyūm, Messianic Ariser and Self-Subsisting Deity, Pt. II


Al-Qayyūm in Early Shaykhism and the writings of the Bab and Baha'-Allah

Stephen Lambden 1990s - under revision and supplementation.

Last revised and uploaded 10-03-2017.

Al-Qayyūm in select writings Sayyid Kāẓim Rashtī (d.1259/184).

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 following notes are based on portions of this work. First a general theological use al-Qauyyum amidst a list of Divine Attributes :

سبحانه القديم الازل الفرد القيوم لايشركه احد في هذا

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

Some talismanic da’irat (talismanic circle)  use of al-Qayyum and one of its form is found on page 129 :

Rashti here  (p.139) cited the above verse and comments at length on al-ḥayy  (The Living One) then on al-Qayyūm ("the Self-Subsisting") which is especially related to the “Being” (kūn) of God because it causes all that is other than it to subsist (taqwīn)  From p.187ff on al-Qayyūm,  Rashti  first mentions that it is [the probably messianic] al-Qā’im:


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

Having said this, Rashti denies that al-Qayyūm as one of the Attributes of the Divine Essence (Page 188f). He proceeds to dwell  on the four levels or meanings of al-Qiyyām: و اما القيام …

The Four levels of al-Qiyyām ("Uprising"):

So firstly it is the Inmost Uprising (al-qiyam al-suduri). Secondly, it is the Exterior Uprising (al-qiyam al-zuhuri). Thirdly it is the  contingent [accidental] Uprising  (al-qiyam al-`arudi) and Fourthly, it is the  determind [actualized] Uprising (al-qiyam al-tahqiqi)...


al-Qayyum in the writings of the Bab.

In the nintieth Surah of the Qayyum al-asma' the Bab claims subordinate divinity and to be al-qayyum (the Deity self-subsisting) :

"I, verily, am God, Who, no God is there except Me. I created Paradise for the people of love through My Word (kalimatī), this `Alid Arabian Youth (al-ghulām al-`arabi al-alawwi)  in very truth, the True one. I originated the Fire (al-nār) from the shadow of Paradise for the people who dispute His Word and His Book which was sent down on the part of God, the True One. And I, verily, am al-Qayyūm, manifest unto all the worlds" (QA 90:363)

 Al-Qayyūm in the eschatology of the Bāb.

The earliest major work of the Bāb, his Tafsīr sūra yūsuf  ("Commentary on the Surah of Joseph"; mid. 1844) is also known as both the Aḥsan al-qia (`Best of Stories') after Qur’ān 12:3 and the Qayyūm al-asmā'. Exactly why it has this latter designation is not, at present, entirely clear though it is clear that it is related to the fact that Qayyūm  and Joseph (Ar. Yūsuf)  have the same abjad (numerical) value; namely 156:

  •          Qayyūm =  Q + Y + U + M = 100+10+6+40 = 156
  • ·         Yūsuf  =  Y+S+U+F = 10 + 6 + 60 + 80 = 156

In the fifth sūra of this lengthy Arabic voume the prophet Joseph is directly typologically equated with third Imām usayn (d. 61/680), the martyred grandson of the Prophet Muammad whose eschatological "return" was expected by Shī`ī Muslims. The multi-faceted Qayyūm al-asmā' may thus, on one level, be understood to be an intimation of the advent of the new divine Joseph. The story of Joseph becomes the eschatological advent of the al-Qayyūm, the mystery of which is the messianic presence of the returned Imam Ḥusyan. As a manifestation of the Qayyūm (who follows the Qā'im), the new Jospeh is a divine figure; one around whom all the names of God revolve.

There exists an important Tablet of the Bāb in reply a question posed by his disciple Mullā Muhammad Bāqir (the thirteenth `Letter of the Living') about the expected Bābī messiah figure man yuẓhiru-hu Allāh. It commences,

"The Splendour which cometh from God (al-bahā' min Allāh) -- exalted be His Remembrance -- be upon Him Whom God shall make manifest (man yuẓhiru-hu Allāh) -- exalted be His command -- and upon whomsoever is created through His command, for naught can be seen in Him except what God hath caused to be manifested unto Him, through Him, by virtue of His Utterance, `Verily, no God is there save Him, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting (al-qayyūm)...  And I say that He, verily, is the Qayyūm:  for that one is a Manifestation of one of those staunch through the unfolding of His Oneness (qawwām bisā aḥadiyyatihi)" (cited Gulpayigani et al., Kashf al-ghitā,  439ff).

 The Bāb also uses the the Qur’ānic term al-Qayyūm in a chronologically oriented eschatolocial senses. In the Arabic Bayān   (c.1848) he writes,

 "When you hear mention of the one we shall manifest in the name of the Qā'im, anticipate the difference between al-qā'im and al-qayyūm.  Then you shall attain unto all good in the year nine [1269/1852-3]." (VI: 15, 27 trans. Mac. 198?:135; cf. Māzandarānī AA 4:529).

 Similarly, in the very late Haykal al-dīn  ( March 1850?; the Bāb's last major work) we read,

"Rise up! when you hear the name of the Qā'im and when you make mention thereof. And you shall witness all good (         ) between the difference of al-qā'im and al-qayyūm  which is numerically (`adadan)  in nine years." (VI:15 trans. Mac 198?:135).

As we shall see, the messianic siginificance of the numerological difference between al-qā'im and al-qayyūm was specifically explained by Bahā'u'llāh in his Kitab-I badī` and other Persian and Arabic Tablets.

The Bahā'ī interpretations  of  the  terms  Qā'im  and Qayyūm.

 As noted at the beginning of this paper Bahā'u'llāh has applied the term Qā'im to the Bāb in nunmerous of his writings. He also many times applied the rank of Qayyūm to himself as the eschatological advent of divinity on the Day of God. In one untitled Tablet he states,

"Various individuals of the people of the Sunna and the [Shī`ī] congregation (nafsī āz ahl-i sunnat va jamā`at) have, in one way or another, supplicated for the advent of the messianic person and era (Qā'imiyya). At the moment of the nearness of this event, some 100,000 persons had submitted unto him [the Bāb] and risen up in his service".   

Bahā'u'llāh's use of the term Qayyūm

 In certain Tablets of Bahā'u'llāh both the words Qā'im and Qayyūm are used as attributes of God (as in the Q. and numerous Islamis writers) or of the Manifestation of God. A good example of this is found in the Lawḥ-i anta al-kāfī  ("Long Healing Prayer"). In line nine of this prayer God is addressed as Qā'im  (translated "Self-Subsisting by Shoghi Effendi) while in line twenty He is accorded the attribute Qayyūm  (translated "All-Compelling"!) being followed by an unusual (essentially synonymous and grammatically parallel) Arabic form Day`ūm (sic.! which is derived from al-dā'im meaning "Eternal") translated by Shoghi Effendi as (God the) "Ever Abiding" ( see Tasbīḥ, 208-9 trans. Bahā'ī Prayers 1985: 92,94).

 In the novel forms of the new Bābī-Bahā’ī basmala which head various Tablets of Bahā'u'llāh, al-qayyūm sometimes along with al-muhaymun ("the Help in Peril") is found quite frequently. This is the case, for example, with a prayer to be recited on leaving one's house (see Tasbīḥ, 235).  Going beyond the Qur’ānis references (see above) these two divine attributes are often associated in Bahā’ī  devotional writings. They frequently occur within or at the end  Bahā’ī  prayers and devotional texts. This is the case at the end of Bahā'u'llāh's prayer to be recited on departing from the city (Tasbīḥ  235).

 An early (Iraq period?) epistle of Bahā’u’llāh commenting on an alchemical discourse of Maria the Jewess or Copt (INBA 66:187-205. cf. MA 4:26-45) [2]contains a theologically significant opening paragraph which make it clear that, inb some instances,  these terms do not apply to the transcendent and unknowable divinity.

"The letter (kitāb) was received at the Court of Oneness and its contents perused. Unto God be praise that thou wast illumined, in this Merciful Dawn (fajr-i ramānī),  with the splendours of the lights of the Sun of Gnosis. Yet, from the True One -- exalted be His Characteristics --  thou didst request that thou be everlastingly adorned with the Ethiopian [ornament] robe (ṭaraz-i ḥabashī)  and be related to that sanctified shade (nush??)  since the Divine Cause (amr-i ilāhā) is related thereto.

 The Might of the Everlasting One (amadānī) is  superlatively great! Nay rather, He is above everything great and supremely great. Greater is He than every Qā'im ("Ariser"/Shī`ī Messiah) and Qayyūm  ("[God] the Self-Subsisting One"). Naught can one vision in Him save the mystery of Divinity (al-uluhiyya) and the absolute Oneness (al-aḥadiyya al-irf). We beseech God that he cause worldly eyes (?) to be opened in order that they might come to understand and bear witness that there is no god except Him. Eternally was He, in the Oneness of His Essence, sanctified above even His Own Being. Everlastingly is He, in the Self-Subsistence of His Own Self, sanctified above the mention of aught besides Himself for He is the One Absolutely Pure (al-mutanazza) by virtue of His Transcendent Existence (bi-kaynāniyyat). 

  Exalted is the depiction of the mere possibilities of the Singularity of His Essence above the  characterization of created things. Sanctified is He by virtue of His Personal Identity ("I-ness" bi-āniyyā) from the befitting mention of the inhabitants of the earth and the heavens -- this relative to the Cause and the creation (amr wa'l-khalq)  and to both the Beginnings and the Ends (fā'l-badāyyāt wa'l-nihāyyāt).  He, verily, is King of Names and Attributes and clear of the benefits (alā'ī?) and what may be intimated in symbols (al-ishārāt).

  Here Bahā'u'llāh distances the transcendent Unknowable Essence of Divinity from the divine attribute al-Qayyūm which is detranscendentalized. The Qayyūm here is Bahā'u'llāh who came in the station of Divinity. The detranscendentalization of Divines designation and epithets in the light of BA”'s claims is quite common. As on the "Day of God" Bahā’u’llāh the Manifestation of God is Divine, the Divine Unknowable Reality is made wholly other, utterly transcendent. God is not a messianic figure, the Qā'im (cf. the Bāb), neither is He BA* as the advent of "God" the Qayyūm. He remains `Wholly Other’ in the apophatic mystery of His unknowable Essence. 

 In a scriptural Tablet commenting upon the alphabetic implications of the Basmala  and first two verses of the Sūra of the Pen ( Q. 68:1-2 = Bismillah al-raḥman al-raḥim. Nūn. wa'l-Qalam!"; INBMC 56:24-42), Bahā'u'llāh specifically comments on the word al-qayyūm in the course of listing a number of key divine Attributes which commence with the Arabic letter "Q" (= abjad 100), [3] namely the Arabic letter al-qāf:

 "And additionally the Name al-Qayyūm  which God made to be an Overseer over everything (qā'iman `alā kulli shay') and a Sovereign Reality over all things (sultānan `alā kulli shay').  He it is Who, through His rising up for the Cause (bi-qiyyāmihi `alā amrihi), the latter [eschatological] resurrection (al-qiyāmat al-ukhrā) became evident and whomsoever inhabited heaven and earth were unsettled and the dwellers of the cities of Names (madā'in al-asmā') were made to lament" (INBMC 56:31).

al-Qā'im  and al-Qayyūm in the Kitāb-I badī`

Having several times cited the Bab on the year nine as the difference between al-Qa’im and al-Qayyum the Kitāb-ī  Badī contains the following statement of Baha’u’llah :

 و چون مدّت منقضی شد و ميقات باخر رسيد ظهر جمال التّسع بسلطان مبين اللّه

The times have been fulfilled and the Jamāl al-tis`a “the Beauty of Nine” hath appeared with Manifest Sovereignty (bi-sultan-i mubin)” (p. 115).

 Kitab-i Badi p. 115 al-Qayyum - Don’t abandon Him amongst youselves No tahrif )textual falsification) 

اذا فزع كل ّ من فی السّموات و الارض الّا من اتی اللّه بقلب سليم اتّقوا اللّه يا قوم و لاتتّخذوا القيّوم مهجوراً بينكم خافوا عن اللّه و كونوا من المتّقين ايّاكم ان تحرّفوا كلمات اللّه  عن مواضعها لانّ ذلك خطأ عظيم فی الواح عزّ حفيظ

  •  Year Nine = ئ =1+6 =7 >  يو = 16 -7 = 9
  • القائم = al-Qāʾim
  • Alif (1) + Hamza (6) = 7 in al-Qā’im
  • Replaced by القيوم  Qayyum

Replaced by Ya (= 10) and waw (= 6) in al-Qayyūm : 16. The difference is thus 16-7 = 9 !!!  The year 9 = 1260+9 = 1269 = 1844+9 = 1852-3

al-Qā'im  and al-Qayyūm, Theophany and chronological Prophecy.

 As mentioned above, Bahā'u'llāh in one of his Persian Tablets responds to a question about the difference between al-qā'im and al-qayyūm (see citation in Mā'ida 4:174 and Athar 4: 530-1). He explains the words qā'im and qayyūm in numerological terms relative to the time of his advent after the Bāb's declaration in 1260/1844.

"As for what thou hast asked about the difference between al‑qā'im  and al‑qayyum.  Know that the difference between these two names is just as thou seeest between al‑a`ẓam ("the most great") and al‑`aẓām ("the great"). And this is what my Beloved One [the Bāb] indicated aforetime [see above]. We have mentioned this in the Kitāb-i badā` and naught was intended by this except that the people would be informed of the fact that He [the promised one] to be made manifest is to be greater (a`am) than what hath [previously] appeared (ẓahara = the Bāb). And He, the Qayyūm,  is superior to the Qā'im. This is assuredly the Truth unto which testifieth the Tongue of the All‑Merciful in the heaven of the Bayān (jabarut al‑bayān). Know this! then be capable of being detatched through Him from all the worlds.

 Wherefore doth the Qā'im [the Bāb] call out from the right-side of the heavenly Throne and proclaim: `O Concourse of the Bayān! By God! This is assuredly the Qayyūm. He hath come unto you with manifest sovereignty. And this is assuredly that "Most Great One" (al-a`am) before whose Countenance (Face; wajh) eveyone most great (a`am) and great (`aām) prostrateth. Then appropriate not the Greatest Name (al-ism al-a`am) lest ye manifest arrogance before the Manifestations of His Sovereignty (zuhārāt sultānihi). And never attempt to gain ascendency over the Qayyūm save for the sake of his abnegation (li-fanā'ihi) in His Court....

 Say: `O People (qawm)! This is assuredly the Qayyūm. He, verily, is situated beneath your 

So know thou that the numerical difference [between al-Qā'im and al‑Qayyūm] is 14, and this amounts to the number of al‑bahā' (= 14) when the hamza is reckoned as a six (B =2 + H = 5 + A = 1 + ' = 6 Total = 14) for its form (shakl) is that of a six (   ) in the alphabetical mode (qā'idat al‑hindisa).  And if thou recite "al‑Qā'im" and find that the difference (from Qayyūm) is five (5) then this indicates [the letter] al‑hā' (abjad = 5) within [the word] al‑Bahā'. And relative to this mode of understanding (maqām) does al‑Qayyūm rise up upon the Throne of His name al‑Qā'im; just as the letter hā' (5) riseth up above [the letter] wāw (6). And on one level (maqām) the [letter] hamza of Qā'im amounts to six (6); according to the alphabetical computation (hisāb al‑hindisa)  it yields the difference which is nine (9). And furthermore, it is this Name (= Bahā' = abjad 9 or 14). And through this six [nine] (cf. AA 4:531 al-tis`a) He -- exalted be His sovereignty ‑‑ intended the theophany of the [year, person] nine (ẓuhūr al‑tis`ā). On this level thou shalt see no difference in the appearence of the two names (āhir al‑ismayn = Qā'im and Qayyūm).

 By My Life! This difference is a sign of My Greatness for such as circumambulate the heaven of Bahā'! This do We demonstrate for thee in concrete (ẓāhir) terms. The inward reality (bāṭin) of the significance of [His] Qayyūmness (Qayyūmiyyatihi) is that the name al-Qayyūm surpasseth Qā'im being more elevated (a`raf) though counted among the maintainers (al-ḥāfiẓān) ??  ....

.... [Persian] Know thou that the intention of the Primal Point regarding the [numerical] difference between al-Qā'im and al-Qayyūm and [between] A`ẓam and `Aẓīm, was the Grandeur (`most-greatness'; a`ẓamiyyat) of the forthcoming theophany (ẓuhūr-i ba`d). Regarding the greatness (`aẓām) and the [related] Qayyūmness (Qayyūmiyyat) of the eschatological [latter] theophany (ẓuhūr-i ākhir) above the Qā'im and the difference between the "most great" (a`ẓam) and the "great" (`aẓīm) it relates to the number of the theophany which is nine... And this Grandeur (a`amiyyat) and Qayyūmhood (qayyūmiyyat) is manifest and evident in this theophany (ẓuhūr) and whatsoever was made manifest on His part.

 For example, the intention of Qayyūm is the theophany of nine (ẓuhūr-i tis`a) and He is thus made manifest with the name of Bahā'. And the magnitude of that Grandeur (a`ẓamiyyat) is evidenced by the letters (ḥurūf). On one level the hamza of Bahā' is calculated as six  and that of Qā'im as one. So ponder ye upon this for such as signs for the mystic knowers (al-`arifān)" (Mā'ida  4:174).

In these paragraphs, Bahā'u'llāh seems to be saying that the Bāb's references to the difference between al-qā'im and al-qayyūm ultimately indicate the number nine which has messianic and chronological import. It indicates his personal theophany as Bahā'  the abjad value of which is nine. It was also in the year nine (1269 /1852-3) that his call took place or the messianic kull al-khayr ("all good") was realized. The abjad value of qā'im is 142 (hamza = 1) but counting hamza as 6 it is 147 (Q = 100 + A=1 + ' = 1 [6] + M = 40> total = 142 or 147]) which is numerically 14 or 9 less than that of qayyūm (Q = 100+Y= 10+W =6+ M=40> total= 156). Hamza is normally allocated an abjad value of one but as it resembles the shape of one of the forms of the number six it may be taken as having an abjad numerical value of six.

  • Difference = 5            Q=100 + A=1 + ' =1 +Y= 10 + M=40 Total = 151.
  • Difference = 9            Q=100 + A=1 + ' =1 +M=40   Total = 147
  • Difference = 0            Q= 100+ y=10+ ' =6 +M=40   Total= 156


al-Qayyum in Al-Kitab al-Aqdas  - 1+7 (x 2)

The word al-Qayyum occurs eight times in the Kitab-i Aqdas of Baha'u'llah. It is found once alone as the messianic, theophanic title of Baha’-Allah, the Self-Subsisting (al-qayyum). It also occurs another seven times and is always paired with the Divine attribute al-muhaymin (“The Help in Peril”) – the “Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting” as it is a number of times in the Qur'an . al-Qayyum is a Divine Attribute reckoned No.8 in the standard Sunnī list of the 99 Names of God.  

 Para 41 – Messianic title :

41 Amongst the people is he whose learning hath made him proud [Muhammad Karim Khan Kirmani, d. 1871], and who hath been debarred thereby from recognizing My Name, the Self-Subsisting (al-Qayyum); who, when he heareth the tread of sandals following behind him, waxeth greater in his own esteem than Nimrod. Say: O rejected one! Where now is his abode? By God, it is the nethermost fire.

 Say: O concourse of divines! Hear ye not the shrill voice of My Most Exalted Pen? See ye not this Sun that shineth in refulgent splendour above the All-Glorious Horizon? For how long will ye worship the idols of your evil passions? Forsake your vain imaginings, and turn yourselves unto God, your Everlasting Lord.

Para 78

O kings of the earth!

He Who is the sovereign Lord of all is come. The Kingdom is God’s, the omnipotent Protector (al-Muhaymin), the Self-Subsisting (al-Qayyum). Worship none but God, and, with radiant hearts, lift up your faces unto your Lord, the Lord of all names. This is a Revelation to which whatever ye possess can never be compared, could ye but know it. 

See Q. No.3 :  "faces shall be humbled unto the Living, the Qayyūm (Q. 20:111b).

 Para 82

Ye are but vassals, O kings of the earth!

He Who is the King of Kings hath appeared, arrayed in His most wondrous glory, and is summoning you unto Himself, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. Take heed lest pride deter you from recognizing the Source of Revelation, lest the things of this world shut you out as by a veil from Him Who is the Creator of heaven. Arise, and serve Him Who is the Desire of all nations, Who hath created you through a word from Him, and ordained you to be, for all time, the emblems of His sovereignty..

 Para  100

The eye of My loving-kindness weepeth sore over you, inasmuch as ye have failed to recognize the One upon Whom ye have been calling in the daytime and in the night season, at even and at morn. Advance, O people, with snow-white faces and radiant hearts, unto the blest and crimson Spot, wherein the Sadratu’l-Muntahá  [Sidrat al-Muntaha] is calling: “Verily, there is none other God beside Me, the Omnipotent Protector, the Self-Subsisting (al-muhaymin al-qayyum)!”

 Para  149

Recite ye the verses of God every morn and eventide. Whoso faileth to recite them hath not been faithful to the Covenant of God and His Testament, and whoso turneth away from these holy verses in this Day is of those who throughout eternity have turned away from God. Fear ye God, O My servants, one and all. Pride not yourselves on much reading of the verses or on a multitude of pious acts by night and day; for were a man to read a single verse with joy and radiance it would be better for him than to read with lassitude all the Holy Books of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.

Para 168

 We, verily, see amongst you him who taketh hold of the Book of God and citeth from it proofs and arguments wherewith to repudiate his Lord, even as the followers of every other Faith sought reasons in their Holy Books for refuting Him Who is the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. Say: God, the True One, is My witness that neither the Scriptures of the world, nor all the books and writings in existence, shall, in this Day, avail you aught without this, the Living Book, Who proclaimeth in the midmost heart of creation: “Verily, there is none other God but Me, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.”

 Para 175

 O Pen of the Most High!

Move Thou upon the Tablet at the bidding of Thy Lord, the Creator of the Heavens, and tell of the time when He Who is the Dayspring of Divine Unity purposed to direct His steps towards the School of Transcendent Oneness; haply the pure in heart may gain thereby a glimpse, be it as small as a needle’s eye, of the mysteries of Thy Lord, the Almighty, the Omniscient, that lie concealed behind the veils. Say: We, indeed, set foot within the School of inner meaning and explanation when all created things were unaware. We saw the words sent down by Him Who is the All-Merciful, and We accepted the verses of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting, which He* presented unto Us, and hearkened unto that which He had solemnly affirmed in the Tablet. This we assuredly did behold. And We assented to His wish through Our behest, for truly We are potent to command.

 Para 180

Whatsoever ye understand not in the Bayán, ask it of God, your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers. Should He so desire, He will expound for you that which is revealed therein, and disclose to you the pearls of Divine knowledge and wisdom that lie concealed within the ocean of its words.

He, verily, is supreme over all names; no God is there but Him, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.


The Short Daily Obligatory Prayer of Baha'-Allah.

I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth. There is none other God but Thee Al-Muhaymin al-Qayyūm  the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting

A Note on “The Help in Peril, The Self-Subsisting” =  al-Muhaymīn al-Qayyūm

  مُهَيْمِن Al-Muhaymin

In the writings of the central figures of the Bahā’ī  Faith the phrase al-muhaymīn al-qayyūm  is frequent. Derivatives from the verbal root haymana  occur a few times in the Qur’an =  2 or 3 times (Q. 5:48+59:23). Active Par.  In devotional and other contexts Shoghi Effendi often translated it "the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting“ … Guardian, Preserver…  =  al-Muhaymīn  = Root [M]-H-Y-M –N = Assuring, All-Preserving, Keeping Safe … Like Qayyum (64) = Name of God No. 8.,

.   مُهَيْمِن  Al-Muhaymin = Q. 5:48

 وَأَنْزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمُهَيْمِنًا عَلَيْهِ فَاحْكُمْ بَيْنَهُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ عَمَّا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْحَقِّ لِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مِنْكُمْ شِرْعَةً وَمِنْهَاجًا وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَكِنْ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَا آتَاكمْ فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ إِلَى اللَّهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُمْ

And We have revealed to you, the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a safeguard /  preserving [criterion! ] over it. So judge between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations away from what has come to you of the truth.

 Qur’ān 59:23.

 هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْمَلِكُ الْقُدُّوسُ السَّلَامُ الْمُؤْمِنُ الْمُهَيْمِنُ الْعَزِيزُ الْجَبَّارُ الْمُتَكَبِّرُ سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ

“He is GOD; there is no other god except  Him. The King, the Sanctified, the Peaceful, the Most Faithful, the All-Preserving, the Almighty, the Most Powerful, the Most Dignified. So Glorified be God beyond ascribing of partners.” 59:23.

Bahā'u'lāh's Evolving Claims

During the early to mid-1850's a good many Bābās made exalted claims for themselves and directly or indirectly challenged the by-no-means universally acknowledged leadership role of Mirzā Yahyā. [4] Bahā'u'llāh, however, right up until the end of the Iraq period, supported his half-brother and spoke of himself as a leading Bābā. He, to quote Shoghi Effendi, "... appeared in the guise of ... one of the foremost disciples of the Bāb" [5]

 In a number of his writings of the Iraq period Bahā'u'llāh speaks of himself as naught but a servant of God and was viewed by some Bābīs as the "return" of the Imām Ḥusayn. His early, semi-secret claim to Ḥusayniyya would not necessarily have been viewed as extraordinary, in the light of the plethora of divine and exalted ranks claimed by leading Bābīs (e.g. Quddūs). The Bāb himself had accorded "divinity" or exalted stations upon a veritable pleroma of true believers. Many leading Bābīs were reckoned to be the "return" of various of the Imāms or "people of the House".  

 At one point in the early  Lawḥ-i Kull al-ṭa`ām (Tablet of All Food, late 1853 -> early 1854 C.E.)  Bahā'u'llāh states: "I have claimed naught but servitude to God, the True One." [6]  Similar statements are to be found in many other pre-1866 Tablets of Bahā'u'llāh, including the Sūrat al-Kifāya (c.1855?), Lawh-i Madānat al-Tawḥīd (c.1857?), Ṣaḥīfa-yi Shaṭṭiyya (c.1858?)  and in other untitled letters. In one untitled letter of Bahā'u'llāh we read: "Say: O People! This is the servant of God. And He is naught save the like of anyone among you." [7]

Such clear declarations of servitude did not, however, eclipse Bahā'u'llāh's claiming, when appropriate, divine inspiration and speaking of himself in very exalted terms. It was one thing to claim "Divinity" and "Godhood" -- after the fashion of a good many God-intoxicated Sufis  -- and another to explicitly claim independent Prophethood or to be the promised one of the Bayān, man yuzhiru-hu Allāh (Him whom God shall make manifest),  capable of abrogating the Bayān and inaugurating a new religious dispensation. The Bābi and later  Bahā’ī  barber and poet, Ustad  Muhammad  `Ali  Salmāni,  who  visited  Baghdad  in  1862,  observed  that Bahā'u'llāh "would say whatever the Manifestation of God [independent Prophet] would say, but in all he uttered there was no "I am He! ...".[8]

The liqā’-Allāh (encounter - meeting) with God on the "Day of God".  

 In one of his Tablets BA* states that certain of the "People of the Bayān" (Bābīs) object to his claim to Divinity (uluhiyya). This in spite of the fact that it is stated "in all the [sacred] books, `On that Day His Holiness the Qayyūm will utter the word[s], `I, verily, I am God”. Proof texts are then cited from Qur'ān (   ), Islamic traditions and the Bible (Isaiah 2:11b,10 35:1-2). (MA 7: 207-8).

 The Abrahamic religions and the eschatological advent of God.

The sacred scriptures and traditons of the Abrahamic or Semitic Religions ( Judaism, Christianity and Islam etc. ) all contain eschatological predictions of the ultimate advent of the Godhead Himself. He is to appear in person in eschatological times.

"O people of Cities and Villages! Hearken unto that which the Tongue [of Grandeur] crieth out the Kingdom of Exposition (malakāt al-bayān) on behalf of He Who causeth all things to exclaim, `He verily, there is no God except I Myself (anā) the Unique, the All-Informed. He, assuredly, is the One Who caused the sacred books (al-kutub) to be revealed and Who dispatched (arsal) the Messengers (al-rusul = `Manifestations of God') in view of the fact that (`alā ) "He, verily, there is no God except I Myself, the ?, the Wise" (INBMC 98:[cols. 66-68] col. 66.)


Seal of the Prophets

In defending the legitimacy of his claim to divinity in the Law-i Jawhar-i amd, Bahā'u'llāh also quotes and comments on that line of the "blessed Sermon of the Gulf which shone forth from the horizon of the heaven of guardianship [Imam `Alā] in which the advent of "He Who conversed with Moses" (mukallim māsa) on Sinai is mentioned. He stresses the importance of this prophecy and declares that through it "all the peoples of the world were given the glad-tidings of the [eschatological] manifestation of God (zuhār Allāh)." Referring to himself, he explains

"Today He Who conversed with Moses (mukallim musa) hath appeared and hath cried out, 'I, verily am God.'"

 That a Prophet of God would be made manifest and make such claims is, Bahā'u'llāh also argues, anticipated in various hadāth ("Islamic sacred traditions")  and quranic texts. The "Day of Resurrection" is the time of the rising up of the "Manifestation of the Self of God" (mazhar-i nafs Allah).

Word huwa = "He is" -> anā =  "Iam".

 "Say: The Word (al-kalimat) hath assuredly appeared which hath made your nuqabā' ("nobles") and your `ulamā' ("learned") to flee; this [claim of] "I am" (anā') about which We gave you news aforetime. He, assuredly, is the  Mighty, the All-Knowing.." (IQ:235)


In his Lawḥ-i mīlād-i ism-i a'ẓām ("Tablet of the Nativity of the Greatest Name"; cited in Mā'ida 4:342-346) Bahā'u'llāh, expressing an exalted theophanology wrote, "He [Bahā'u'llāh] hath been born Who neither begeteth nor is begotten" (See Qur'ān 112:3; originally designed to counter Christian incarnationalism [p. 344]). This claim of Bahā'u'llāh appears to be a striking illustration of the  Bahā’ī  doctrine that whatsoever is said about God in the Holy Books revolves around the transcendent Logos-Self (nafs) of the Manifestation or Messenger of God. God Himself, in his transcendent Essence ever remains unknowable and absolutely transcendent.

Lawh-i jawhar-i hamd ("The Tablet of the Essence of Praise") [9]

This unpublished Persian Epistle which is largely addressed to the people of the world collectively opens with a paragraph in which God's supreme transcendence and essential incomprehensibility are clearly and categorically set forth. The next few paragraphs contain many points of interest and serve to underline the elevated status of the Manifestations or Messengers of God. The "Blessed and Primordial Word (kalimat)  which shone forth from the Dawning-Place of the Will (mashiyya)  of the King of the Divine Oneness [God]" as the agent of creation is equated with the nafs ( divine "Self")  of the Manifestation of God. As the exclusive intermediaries between God and creation, the great Prophets represent the Godhead and express His divinity. Prophecies about the eschatological advent of God refer to them and to Bahā’u’llāh in particular for, as the "Most Great Theophany" (zuhār-i a`am), he has been manifested in every age and cycle with a particular Name, and appeared on the "Day of God." Despite the fact that "He Who Conversed with the Speaker (mukallim-i kalim) [Moses]" disclosed the "Greatest Name" (ism-i a'zam) or identity of Bahā'u'llāh, souls have remained veiled from him.

 About half way through his Tablet of the Essence of Praise, Bahā’u’llāh mentions how different religious factions have been held back from faith on account of his various claims to "Prophethood" (nubuwwa), "Guardianship" (wilāya), and "Divinity" (uluhiyya). He expresses astonishment that Jews, Christians, and other communities in possession of a Holy Book object to his claim to divinity and writes:

"Say: O thou who art dumb! Hast thou not heard the Call of God from the [Sinaitic] Tree (al- shajara)  raised up from the Luminous Spot (al-buq'a al-nura), "No God is there except Him." Then consider this and be not such as hearken but fail to comprehend."

It is implied that Bahā'u'llah's claim to divinity was foreshadowed on Sinai.

  Bahā'u'llāh claim to be the Qayyūm ("Deity Self-Subsisting")

 Surāt al-asmā' (The Surah of the Names).

"Rise up O people! for the victory of God. The Qayyūm about whom ye were promised by the Qā'im hath come unto you. Through him the Greatest Convulsion (`Earthquake', al-zalzāl al-akbar) and the Most Great Terror (al-faza` al-a`ẓam) (cf. Q. 21:103 = "Greatest Terror" [al-faza` al-akbar] )  hath come to pass. Through his theophany the sincere ones (al-makhliān) are rejoicing while the such as join partners with God are burned up in the fire of remorse (? nār al-ghill).  (IQ:78 = Surāt al-asmā'?)

 Lawḥ-i `Abd al-Wahhāb

 "Say: O people! Fear God, the Day hath come and the Qayyūm crieth out with the Most elevated Call" (Athat al-Asrar 4:530)

 Al-Kitāb al-Aqdas c. 1873 (see above).

 Lawḥ-i Mawlūd for the Birthday of the Bāb (al-mawlūd).

This important commemorative Tablet commences:

[1] This is a Scriptural Tablet (lawḥ) which cometh from Us commemorative of the Night on which the heavens and the earth shone forth with blazing Luminosity (nayyirat anār) throughout all the worlds (al-`ālamīn). [2] Blessed be unto thee in that there was born on thee the very Day of God (yawm Allāh) which We indeed made to  be the Luminary of Salvation (miṣbāḥ al-falāḥ) for the denizens of the cities of Names (ahl madā’in al-asmā’). [3] It was the Calamitous Success (afdāḥ al-najjāḥ) unto  such as dwell within the Plains of Eternity (mayadīn al-baqā’) [4]  and the Dawning-Place of  Blissfulness and Delight (maṭla` al-faraḥ wa’l-ibtihāj) for such as exist within the realm of Origination (al-inshā’).

In its second paragraph there is an important reference to al-Qayyūm:

 [1] So exalted be God, the Cleaver of the Heaven (fāṭir al-samā’) who designated  it with that Name (al-ism) through which the veils of idle fancy (ḥijabāt  al-mawhūm)  were incinerated along with the vainglories of mere speculation (subūḥāt al-ẓunūn). [2] He made the Name al-Qayyūm (the Self-Subsisting) to radiate forth from the Horizon of Certitude (ufq al-yaqīn) for thereby did He split asunder the seal of the Choice Wine of Life (khatm raḥīq al-hayawān). [3] And [thereby, furthermore] He opened up the Gate of Knowledge (bāb al-`ilm) and Exposition (al-bayān) unto whomsoever dwells in the realm of Existent Being (al-imkān). [4] At this also did the Breezes of the All-Merciful (nasmat al-raḥman) gladden the nations (al-buldān). [5] How excellent indeed (ḥabbdha)! is that moment (al-ḥīn) in which [the Bāb as]  the Treasure of God (kanz Allāh),  the Powerful (al-muqtasar), the All-knowing (al-`alīm), the All-Wise (al-ḥakīm)  was made manifest.

 Paragraph IV contains significant theophanological statements:

[14] All the worlds (al-`ālam) did tremble with yearning (shawq an) nigh attaining the Encounter with God (li-liqā’) through the King of Pre-Existence (mālik al-qidam). [15] All things were regenerated on account of the Treasured Word (kalimat al-makhzūn) which was made manifest through this Mighty [Greatest] Name (al-ism al-`aẓīm).

 Other miscellaneous untitled Tablets

In an untitled Tablet to Zayn al-Abidān the new basmalah includes the names of God appropriate to Bahā'u'llāh as a manifestation of God,  al-Qā'im and al-Qayyūm

 "He is the Perspicuous (al-mubin), al-Qā'im (the Eternal), al-Qayyūm.

 O Zayn al-`Abidīn! Know thou that everything that thou hast heard about the beginning of the Cause was made manifest through My Name, the Mighty, the Powerful, the Qayyūm” (cited Mazandarani, Asrar al-athar, 4:530). [10]

In certain Tablets al-Qayyūm is regarded as a name empowered by and expressive of Bahā'u'llāh himself;

"In His name,  the Supremely Powerful (al-muqtadir) over all things. He, verily, hath unsealed the hidden wine through My Name al-qayyūm. Blessed be such persons as are informed!" (cited Mazandarani, Asrar al-athar, 4:530)

 "Inform ye the learned and all their multifarious minions [levels] (al-`ulūm wa shu`ūnātihā) then hold ye fast in the name of the Qayyūm  which hath shone forth from this luminous horizon" (IQ: 230-240 [233]). 4

"He is the Most Ancient (al-aqdam), the Most Great (al-a`ẓam).

[This is] A missive which sent down by One Munificent. He assuredly giveth the world the glad-tidings of the theophany of the greatest Name (al-ism al-a`am) ... whoso hath risen up at [news of] the Call [of Bahā'u'llāh] is of the companions of the Qayyūm (aāb al-qayyūm) according to a preserved Tablet (fī lawḥ ḥafīẓ)" (cited Mazandarani, Asrar al-athar 4:530).

 In conclusion it can be confidently stated that the philologically related terms Qā’im and Qayyūm not only take on messianic significance in Bābī-Bahā’ī scripture but new theological or theophanological implications relative to the exalted claims of Bahā’u’llāh.  As the Qā’im the Bāb predicted the manifestation of the Qayyūm. As the Qayyūm, Baha'-Allah affirmed the status of the Bāb as the Qā’im and more besides. BA* also claimed to be the eschatological advent of the Qayyūm who is then New Jospeh and the messianic “return” of Imam Ḥusayn. Iin Bābī-Bahā’ī literatures a messianic theology of  Qā’im and Qayyūm can be clearly discerned.


  • [1] The around 400 page Arabic Qayyum al-asma' (mid. 1844 CE) of Sayyid `Ali Muhammad Shirazi, the Bab (d. 1850 CE) is not an easy book to comprehend. It is a kind of commentary on the qur'anic story of Joseph (Q. 12) but much more besides. One way in which to approach this first major revelation of the Bab, is to examine an aspect of its form and content through a study of its Surah or chapter titles. These titles were listed by the Bab himself in his Kitab al-fihrist (Book of the Index) and perhaps other writings.
  •  [2] In reply to a question about the noble philosophers stone (al-hajar) relative to the discourse of Mary (Marāya [the Jewess/Copt]).
  •  [3]  They are [1] al-qadir  ("the Powerful" ); [2] al-qāhār  ("the Wrathful" ); [3] al-qadim  ("the Ancient [of Days] " ); [4] al-muqaddas ("the Holy" ); [5] al-qayyūm ("the Self-Subsisting" ); [6] al-qawwā ("the Strong [Potent] [Efficacious]"); [7] al-qabā ("the Grasping"); [8] al-qāāxxx ("the [Decisive] Judge") (INBMC 56:31-2).
  •  [4] For some details see Denis MacEoin, Divisions and Authority Claims in Bābism (1850-1866)  in Studia Iranica  18 (1989):93-129.
  •  [5] Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By (BPT, Wilmette Illinois 1987): 128.
  •  [6]  See  S. Lambden,  A Tablet of Mirzā Husayn `Alī Bahā'u'llāh of the Early Iraq Period: The Tablet of All Food, BSB 3:1 (June 1984  pp.4-67) p. 36.
  •  [7] This untitled letter, almost certainly dating from the Iraq period is contained in INBA Xerox Coll. Vol. 32 (pp.39-42) p.41.
  •  [8] See `Ustād Muammad `Alī-yi Salmānī (tr. M. Gail ), My Memories of Bahā'u'llāh    (Los Angelos: Kalimat Press 1982) p. 15.
  •  [9] This unpublished, untitled epistle is referred to after its opening line. See INBA Xeror Coll. 35:161-8.
  •  [10] Māzandarānī also cited the following from Bahā'u'llāh: "He is al-Qā'im through My Name, the All-Powerful (al-qadār)" as well as a Tablet commencing, "A missive (kitāb) from before al-Qayyūm to bring about the enlightenment of the people" (AA 4:530).


APPENDIX 1 :  Some English Translations of al-Qayyūm

 The following are a few examples illustrative of how al-Qayyūm has been rendered by western scholars and Muslim translators. The translation of the three qur'ānic occurences (Q. see above) will be successively indicated unless an identical rendering occurs (= X3). This is sometimes followed by a variety of examples from miscellaneous sources.

Western scholars and missionaries

  •  "the self-subsisting" (x3)                                                                          George Sale  (1734>)
  • "the Eternal"; "the Merciful"; "Self-subsisting"                                             J. M. Rodwell (1861)
  • "the self-subsistent" (x3)                                                                           E. H. Palmer (1880)
  • "the Everlasting" (x2); "the Eternal"                                                            A. J. Arberry  (1955)

 Islamic Qur'an translators

  • "the Eternal" (x3) "The Self-Subsisting [the Supporter of all], the Eternal".    M. M. Pickthall (1930)
  • "The Self-Subsisting, the [Sustainer] Eternal".                                              Yūsuf `Alī     (1937/8>)
  • “the Eternal One"; "Ever-existent One";                                                        N. J. Dawood  (1956 [68]3)
  • "the Self-subsisting by Whom all things subsist"                                          Ṭabātabā'ī  (19733 [tr.  82])
  • "the Eternal" ; "Eternal Sustainer [of everything]"(x2)                                    M. M. Khatib  (1984)
  • "the self-subsisting, ever-sustaining"(x2), "the Eternal".                              Ahmed Ali  (1984[86]2                       

Miscellaneous translators

  • "The Self-subsisting (God)” :                                                                         J. Penrice  (1873:122)
  • "The Self-subsisting"                                                                                    A. Jeffery        (1939:244)
  • "the Eternal Sovereign"...                                                                              M. M. Ayoub  (1984:246)
  • "the Self-Subsisting"                                                                                    M. I. Siddiqi   (1988:99)
  • "the Everlasting"...                                                                                        C. Glassé  (1989:58)

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