Monday 28 October 2019

99 Attributes of Allah: Al Hayy - The Ever Living

Al Hayy " ٱلْحَىُّ " is one of the most dominating attributes of Allah: The One Who is Ever Living, The One Who is eternally Whole, the One Who never dies:

اللّٰهُ لَاۤ اِلٰهَ اِلَّا هُوَ الۡحَـىُّ الۡقَيُّوۡمُ 

Allah - there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence (Surah 2 Al Baqarah: 255)

This verse is the beginning of the famous Āyat al-Kursī. The attribute Al-Hayy is mentioned and many virtues are narrated in this ayat. In each sentence one or two attributes of Allah are mentioned: Every time we recite this ayah reflect on the Attributes of Allah and how they all emerge from His perfect Life: He is Al-Hayy!

Irrespective of the number of gods or objects of worship set up by ignorant people, the fact remains that godhead in its entirety, belongs exclusively to the Eternal Being, Who is indebted to no one for His existence. In fact, He is not only self-existent, but upon Him rests the entire order of the universe. He alone wields all sovereign authority over His dominion. None shares either His attributes or His power and might, and no one has the same claims against the creatures as He. Hence, if anywhere in the heavens or the earth someone sets up anything or anybody as an object of worship and service (ilah) either instead of or in addition to the One True God this amounts to declaring war on reality.

وَتَوَكَّلۡ عَلَى الۡحَـىِّ الَّذِىۡ لَا يَمُوۡتُ وَسَبِّحۡ بِحَمۡدِهٖ​ ؕ وَكَفٰى بِهٖ بِذُنُوۡبِ عِبَادِهٖ خَبِيۡرَ ا​ ۛۚ ۙ‏ 

"(O Muhammad), put your trust in Him Who is Ever-Living, Who will never die, and glorify Him with His praise. He suffices as the Knower of the sins of His servants," (Surah 25 Al Furqan: 58).

Each source of our problems and distress lies in this world, whether it is money, family etc and these will all perish one day. This ayah gives us a beautiful reflection: while you put your trust in Allah, really realize how great the One is in who you trust. 

The One attributed with a life that is unlike our life and is not that of a combination of soul, flesh or blood. Allah knows our faults better than we or anyone else. It is no use hiding anything from Him. We must put our trust completely in Him. His care is for all, and He is Allah Most Gracious, the Ever Living, for anything else will perish and die except what the Almighty keeps alive.

Hayy comes from the root haa-yaa-yaa, which points to many classical Arabic connotations: (1) to live, (2) to become apparent or distinct. (3) to revive, vitalize and call into being, (4) to be sound, or whole, (5) to animate, to revive.

In Surah 20 Ta Ha, verse 111, Allah says:

وَعَنَتِ الۡوُجُوۡهُ لِلۡحَىِّ الۡقَيُّوۡمِ​ؕ وَقَدۡ خَابَ مَنۡ حَمَلَ ظُلۡمًا‏ 

All faces shall be humbled before the Ever-Living, the Self-Subsisting Lord, and he who bears the burden of iniquity will have failed;

The attributes of Al-Hayy and Al-Qayyūm " ٱلْقَيُّومُ " are often used to together. This is a beautiful combination of the perfection of Allah’s Attributes and His Actions. Al-Hayy signifying the attribute of ever-lasting life, and Al-Qayyūm signifying the attribute of self-existing life. Thus, the attributes of Al-Hayy and Al-Qayyūm express two aspects of the One Life.

هُوَ الۡحَىُّ لَاۤ اِلٰهَ اِلَّا هُوَ فَادۡعُوۡهُ مُخۡلِصِيۡنَ لَهُ الدِّيۡنَؕ اَلۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰهِ رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِيۡنَ‏ 

He is the Ever-Living: there is no god but He. So call upon Him, consecrating to Him all your devotion. All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the whole Universe. (Surah 40. Al-Mu'min:65)

That is, His is the real and true life. He only is living by virtue of His own power. No one else has the eternal and everlasting lift but Him. All others have borrowed and temporary life, which is destined to death and perishable. There is none else the hymns of whose praise may be sung and who may be thanked. The real, self-subsisting Life is only in Him.

Abu Hurairah reported that whenever the Prophet, peace be upon him, was faced with a serious difficulty, he would raise his head to the sky and supplicate, "Subhan-Allah al-'Azim (glory be to Allah, the Mighty)." And when he implored seriously and strongly, he would say "Ya Hayyu, Ya Qayyum (O Ever-Living One, O Self-Existing One)."    (hadith of Tirmidhi)

Here it will be pertinent to mention two more attribute of Allah that explains the true meaning of Al Hayy:

Al-Mumeet " ٱلْمُمِيتُ " The Bringer of Death, causes your heart to die when you fail to remember Him, and your soul to die when you continuously permit yourself to slip away from His right path, and your mind to die when you permit your desires to take control of you. Al-Muhyi " ٱلْمُحْىِ " The Giver of Life, brings life to the hearts of those who know and who willingly submit to Him, while al-Mumeet causes the [spiritual] death of those who go against His will. 

We must remember Al Hayy much too often for it is He alone Who can come to our rescue when in distress for He is Ever Alive and never sleeps (as mentioned in the opening verse of the Ayat ul Kursi). The Prophet (peace be upon him) once mentioned to his beloved daughter Fatimah to recite the following supplication morning and evening: Yaa Hayyu yaa qayyoom bi-rahmatika astagheeth, aslih lee shaa-nee kullahu, wa laa takilnee ilaa nafsee tarfata ‘ayn – O Ever-Living One, O Self-Existing One, I seek assistance through the means of your mercy, correct for me all my affairs and do not entrust me to my nafs (myself) for the moment of a blink of an eye [An-Nasa’i] If Al-Hayy would even leave you to yourself for a split-second, you would perish!

You may refer to our post "99 Attributes of Allah" for complete list of 99 attributes of Allah Almighty with meaning and explanation.

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