Praise be to Allah.
Authenticity of the du`aa ‘Ya Hayyu ya Qayyum…’
This du‘a was narrated in a sahih hadith from Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said to Fatimah: “What could prevent you from listening to the advice I give you? You should say when morning comes and when evening comes: Ya Hayyu ya Qayyum, bi rahmatika astaghith, aslih li shani kullahu, wa la takilni ila nafsi tarfat ‘ayn (O Ever-Living, O Self-Sustaining and All-Sustaining, by Your mercy I seek help; rectify all my affairs and do not leave me in charge of my affairs even for the blink of an eye).” (Narrated by an-Nasai in as-Sunan al-Kubra (6/147) and in ‘Amal al-Yawm wa’l-Laylah (no. 46); by al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak (1/730); by al-Bayhaqi in al-Asma’ was-Sifaat (112), and others.)
Al-Mundhiri said in at-Targhib wa't-Tarhib (1/313): Its isnad is sahih. Shaykh al-Albani said in as-Silsilah as-Sahihah (no. 227): its isnad is hasan.
A similar version of this du‘a was narrated in the hadith of Abu Bakrah, according to which the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “The supplication of the one who is in distress : O Allah, for Your mercy I hope, so do not leave me in charge of my affairs even for the blink of an eye; rectify all my affairs, there is no god but You.” Narrated by Ahmad (27898) and Abu Dawud (5090). It was classed as hasan by al-Albani in Sahih al-Jami‘ (3388)
Meaning of the du`aa ‘Ya Hayyu ya Qayyum…’
This du‘a is one of the greatest supplications that inspires the Muslim to be a true slave to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and to draw close to Allah by virtue of His names and attributes. For He, may He be glorified, is al-Hayy (the Ever-Living), al-Qayyum (the Self-Sustaining and All-Sustaining), ar-Rahman (the Most Gracious), ar-Rahim (the Most Merciful), and the individual is seeking help and support from the fact that He, may He be glorified and exalted, is the Sustainer, just as he beseeches Him by virtue of His mercy which encompasses all things, in the hope that he will be granted of that mercy that which will bring him happiness in this world and the Hereafter.
Then he asks Allah to rectify his affairs and grant him well-being, as he says: “aslih li shani kullahu (rectify all my affairs)”, meaning: all my affairs, in my household, my family, my neighbours, my friends, my work, my study, my soul, my heart and my health… In all things having to do with me, guide me, O Lord, to the right path and grant me well-being.
All of that may be attained by the grace of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, not because the person deserves it because of his high status. Hence this supplication ends with an acknowledgement of one’s utter helplessness and need of Allah, may He be glorified, and complete submission to His perfect might, so he says: “wa laa takilni ila nafsi tarfata ‘ayn (and do not leave me in charge of my affairs even for the blink of an eye)” meaning: do not leave me to my weakness and helplessness for even a moment; rather grant me well-being always, and help me by Your power and might, for the one who relies on Allah, He will suffice him, and the one who seeks the help of Allah, He will help him. The individual cannot do without Allah even for the blink of an eye.
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“Because of that, the one who is a failure failed and the one who was guided attained guidance. Thus Allah concealed from the one who failed his own reality, so he forgot himself, and he forgot his utter need for his Lord; hence he transgressed and behaved in an arrogant manner, so he was doomed to wretchedness. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“No! [But] indeed, man transgresses, Because he sees himself self-sufficient” [al-‘Alaq 96:7]
“As for he who gives and fears Allah, And believes in the best [reward], We will ease him toward ease. But as for he who withholds and considers himself free of need, And denies the best [reward], We will ease him toward difficulty.” [al-Layl 92:5-10]
The most perfect of people is the one who is most perfect in servitude to Allah, most aware of his utter need of his Lord and that he cannot do without his Lord even for the blink of an eye.
Hence one of the supplications [of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him)] was: “aslih li shani kullahu, wa la takilni ila nafsi tarfata ‘ayn wa la ila ahadin min khalqika (rectify all my affairs and do not leave me in charge of my affairs even for the blink of an eye or [leave me] to any of Your creation).” And he used to say in his supplication “Ya muqallib al-qulub thabbit qalbi 'ala dinik (O Controller of the hearts, make my heart adhere firmly to Your religion).”
The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) knew that his heart was in the Hand of the Most Gracious, may He be glorified and exalted, and that he had no control over it at all, and he knew that Allah, may He be glorified, directs it as He wills. How could it be otherwise, when he recited the words of Allah, may He be exalted (interpretation of the meaning): “And had We not made you stand firm, you would nearly have inclined to them a little.” [al-Isra 17:74]
Thus the extent of a person’s awareness of his need for his Lord is commensurate with his knowledge of his Lord, how close he is to Him and his status before Him. (Tariq al-Hijratayn (25-26)
Al-Munawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said, commenting on the second report, the supplication of one who is in distress : “Whoever testifies to the oneness and might of Allah, whilst focusing in his supplication and humbling himself, deserves to be relieved of distress in this world and to be shown mercy and raised in status in the Hereafter.” (Fayd al-Qadir (3/526)
And Allah knows best.