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Quranic Terminology: Al-Qayyum


Quranic Terminology: Al-Qayyum

Published in October 16, 2017

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy



 One of the Holy Epithets or Names of our Lord God in the Quran is Al-Qayyum (which literally means the Watchful, the Maintainer). This Epithet is mentioned only three times in the Quranic text in relation to other Holy Epithets. This article about this term (Al-Qayyum) will answer a very important question that comes across the minds of many readers of our website. We provide some details in the points below.


Firstly: the term "Al-Qayyum" is mentioned only in three Quranic verses:

1- This term "Al-Qayyum" is mentioned synonymously with another Holy Epithet, the Living, and linked to the fact that there is no God but Allah. "Allah, there is no God but He, the Living, the Watchful (Al-Qayyum)." (3:2).

2- The demonstration of the phrase "the Living, the Watchful (Al-Qayyum)" mentioned in 3:2 is provided in detail in this verse: "God! There is no God except He, the Living, the Watchful (Al-Qayyum). Neither slumber overtakes Him, nor sleep. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on Earth. Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His permission? He knows what is before them, and what is behind them; and they cannot grasp any of His knowledge, except as He wills. His Throne extends over the heavens and the Earth, and their preservation does not burden Him. He is the Most High, the Great." (2:255). Thus, Allah is the Dominant God Who controls the whole universe and He watches over everything with His Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence. This is the meaning of the Watchful (Al-Qayyum), as He controls the Last Day and the universe (this Supremacy or Control of God is symbolized by the term "Throne") without ever sleeping or getting tired.   

3- God Al-Qayyum dominates as the Supreme God over the Last Day: "On that Day, they will follow the caller, without any deviation. Voices will be hushed before the Dominant, and you will hear nothing but murmur. On that Day, intercession will not avail, except for him permitted by the Dominant, and whose words He has approved. He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they cannot comprehend Him in their knowledge." (20:108-110); thus God controls everything in the universe and in the Hereafter as the Sole Owner of the Last Day. The Holy Epithet Al-Qayyum comes in these verses to assert this Supremacy/Control of the Lord God within the Last Day: "Faces will be humbled before the Living, the Watchful (Al-Qayyum). Whoever carries injustice will lose. But whoever has done righteous deeds, while being a believer-will fear neither injustice, nor grievance." (20:111-112). Thus, all creatures will submit to the Lord God on the Last Day as God fully controls and dominates the Hereafter. 


Secondly: between Al-Qayyum/the Watchful and the Overseer:

1- In fact, both Holy Epithets are almost synonymous and therefore never mentioned together in any verses. " He is God; besides Whom there is no god; the Sovereign, the Holy, the Peace-Giver, the Faith-Giver, the Overseer, the Almighty, the Omnipotent, the Overwhelming. Glory be to God, beyond what they associate.He is God; the Creator, the Maker, the Designer. His are the Most Beautiful Names. Whatever is in the heavens and the Earth glorifies Him. He is the Majestic, the Wise." (59:23-24).

2- What combines both Holy Epithets is the notion of the Throne that refers to full Control, Supremacy, and Hegemony of the Lord God over all the items/affairs of the whole realm of the universe: "Your Lord is God, who created the heavens and the Earth in six days, then settled over the Throne, governing all things. There is no intercessor except after His permission. Such is God, your Lord-so serve Him. Will you not reflect?" (10:3); "God is He who raised the heavens without pillars that you can see, and then settled on the Throne. And He regulated the sun and the moon, each running for a specified period. He manages all affairs, and He explains the signs, that you may be certain of the meeting with your Lord." (13:2); "God is He who created the heavens and the Earth and everything between them in six days, and then established Himself on the Throne. Apart from Him, you have no master and no intercessor. Will you not reflect? He regulates all affairs, from the heavens, to the Earth. Then it ascends to Him on a Day the length of which is a thousand years by your count." (32:4-5).

3- The two Holy Epithet Al-Qayyum/the Watchful and the Overseer are combined by God's Omniscience: "With Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except He. And He knows everything on land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but He knows it; and there is not a single grain in the darkness of earth, nor is there anything wet or dry, but is in a clear record." (6:59); "He knows what penetrates into the earth, and what comes out of it, and what descends from the sky, and what ascends to it. He is the Merciful, the Forgiving." (34:2).

4- This Omniscience of God implies His Omnipresence as well regarding human beings: "It is He who created the heavens and the earth in six days, then settled over the Throne. He knows what penetrates into the earth, and what comes out of it, and what descends from the sky, and what ascends to it. And He is with you wherever you may be. God is Seeing of everything you do." (57:4).

5- The Holy Epithet Al-Qayyum refers to the fact that God watches over every soul and its deeds, within the Arabic variant (Qaaim) which is synonymous with Al-Qayyum: "Is He who is Watchful/ Qaaim over the deeds of every soul?..." (13:33). Thus, God Who created billions of human souls watches over the evil and good deeds of each soul.


Thirdly: between Al-Qayyum/the Watchful and the Supreme over His servants:

1- What is the duration of one's freedom within one's lifetime on Earth? One sleeps for nearly one-third of one's lifetime. When one is taken by an illness or reaches the senile age, one loses freedom partially, especially in the second half of one's life. All people lose the whole of their freedom upon dying and seeing the angels of death who take the human souls. This loss of freedom goes on within the Day of Resurrection and when all human beings stand before their Lord for judgment. Paradise dwellers regain their freedom within bliss and limitless bounties; in contrast, Hell dwellers never regain their freedom after dying, through the Last Day events, and inside Hell for eternity within relentless torment that never abates. Thus, those who choose freely to disobey God will enjoy this freedom of disobedience ONLY during their lifetime on Earth, and they lose this freedom of choice and action upon dying, on the Last Day, and within Hell for eternity. Regarding the Holy Epithet Al-Qayyum, God grans freedom of choice to people on Earth during their limited lifetimes, but He never leaves them; i.e., there are angel recording deeds of each human beings second after second. One's limited lifetime is like an hour glass that loses grains of sands every second. When the preordained duration of one's lifetime ends, one dies and one's record of deeds is closed forever, preserved to be read by the resurrected soul on the Last Day to see their fate in Hell if the deeds are bad or in Paradise if the deeds are good. Thus, the freedom granted by God the Watchful and the Overseer to human beings on Earth is limited in duration, and one's good/bad deeds are recorded and registered. Death is inevitable and so is the recording of one's deeds and attending the events of the Day of Resurrection, and then the reward of one's deeds, either in Paradise or in Hell eternally. No mortals can escape this preordained fate.      

2- Within the above point, we understand the link between the two Holy Epithets: Al-Qayyum/the Watchful and the Supreme over His servants: "It is He Who takes you by night, and He knows what you earn by day. Then He raises you up in it, until a fixed term is fulfilled. Then to Him is your return, then He will inform you of what you used to do. He is the Supreme over His servants, and He sends guardians over you, until, when death overtakes one of you, Our envoys take him away, and they never fail. Then they are brought back to God, their True Master. Unquestionably, His is the judgment, and He is the Swiftest of reckoners." (6:60-62).


Fourthly: Al-Qayyum refers to the fact that God is never heedless nor overtaken by slumber/sleep:

1- According to the above points, we understand how the Quran refutes the idea adopted by some philosophers that a Supreme Being created the universe and deserted it heedlessly: "We created above you seven pathways, and We are never heedless of the creation." (23:17).

2- It is a falsehood that one might assume that God is heedless of some or all of one's deeds; this is repeated many times in the Quranic Chapter Two: "...and God is not heedless of what you do. " (2:74, 2:85, 2:140, and 2:149). This is linked of course to the fact that God watches over everything and He controls the Last Day when all people will be questioned and judged: "To God belongs the future of the heavens and the earth, and to Him all authority goes back. So worship Him, and rely on Him. Your Lord is never unaware of what you do." (11:123); "We will question those to whom messengers were sent, and We will question the messengers. We will narrate to them with knowledge, for We were never absent." (7:6-7).

3- When we read about heinous crimes of Middle-Eastern tyrants and their foes (i.e., Wahabi terrorists) and the resulting bloodbaths, a true Quranist should NOT ask why God is leaving them unpunished; rather, a true Quranist is to remember that God inevitably will punish them in this world and the next, like what occurred to their tyrannical and corrupt ancestors: "Those who committed tyranny in the lands. And spread much corruption therein. So your Lord poured down upon them a scourge of torment. Your Lord is on the lookout." (89:11-14).

4- God is NEVER unaware of deeds of tyrants and unjust ones: "Do not ever think that God is unaware of what the unjust ones do. He only defers them until a Day when the sights stare. Their necks outstretched, their heads upraised, their gaze unblinking, their hearts void." (14:42-43). Real believers' hearts tremble with fear as they ponder 14:42-43; no true believers dare to accuse God of being heedless to evil deeds and evildoers, whose short, limited freedom on Earth during their lifetimes will avail them nothing upon dying, and in Barsakh, they feel nothing and timelessness, and this will make them feel as if they slept for a part of a day, and then, they enter into the torment of Hell for eternity, without the smallest hope of ever dying again or getting out of Hell. This means that they will be tormented in retribution for their evil deeds very quickly: on the Last Day after their lifetimes (years or months) + Barsakh time (less than one day).

5- The above point explains to us how God schemes against those who disbelieve in His Word; i.e., the Quran, and how the following verses apply to the Muhammadans (who never believe in only the Quran and insist on believing in falsehoods and fake narratives) and their leaders/imams, clergymen, and tyrannical rulers, as we infer from the contexts of these verses: "So leave Me to those who reject this discourse; We will proceed against them gradually, from where they do not know. And I will plot against them. My scheme is firm." (68:44-45); "As for those who reject Our Verses, We will gradually lead them from where they do not know. And I will plot against them. My scheme is firm." (7:182-183); "Have they not observed the government of the heavens and the Earth, and all the things that God created, and that their time may have drawn near? Which discourse, besides this, will they believe in?" (7:185).

6- As always, God says nothing but the Absolute Truth; for He is the Great, the Living, Al-Qayyum/the Watchful, the Dominant, the Overseer, and the Supreme over His servants.  

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