This name of Allah appears only once in the Qur’an, in the second verse of the chapter entitled al-Ikhlas:
“Allah, the Self-Subsisting.” (Al-Ikhlas 112:2)
It appears in the Prophet’s Sunnah on a number of occasions, particularly in the aforementioned tradition pertaining to Allah’s greatest name, where Buraydah ibn al-Husayb relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) heard a man beseeching his Lord in the following words:
“O Allah! I beseech You by affirming that You are Allah, there is no god besides You, the One, the Self-Subsisting, who begets not and is not begotten, and who no one else resembles in any way.”
After the Prophet (peace be upon him) heard this, he said:
“I swear by Him in whose hand is my soul, this man has beseeched Allah with His greatest name, which if anyone supplicates with it, that supplication will be accepted, and if anyone asks by it, it will be granted.” (At-Tirmidhi, 3475; Ibn Majah, 3857)
The name As-Samad has many aspects to its meaning. It refers to one who is Lord, who possesses and disposes of all affairs, one whom people come to with their needs, but who at the same time is complete and self-sufficient, needing and depending upon no one else.
Ibn `Abbas, the eminent companion, defined the word samad as follows:
“A chieftain whose chieftaincy and pre-eminence is absolute; a noble whose nobility is complete and impeccable; someone who is mighty, possessing absolute power, but clement in the utmost; someone who is wealthy without limit, able to compel at will; with full knowledge and wisdom. It is only Allah who has complete nobility and dominion, and this attribute – samad – belongs to Him alone. No one else is worthy of it.
The word samad is also defined as: “One whom everyone depends to fulfill their needs, but who needs no one and depends upon no one else.”
“Shall I take for my protector any other than Allah, the Bringer into Existence of the heavens and the Earth? – He who gives sustenance and is never given sustenance?” (Al-An`am 6:14)
Allah provides everything for His creatures, but He is not dependent on them for anything:
“I have only created humanity and the Jinn to worship Me. I seek no livelihood from them, nor do I ask that they should provide Me with sustenance.” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56-7)
Allah did not create us to enrich Him or empower Him. He created us merely to worship Him. He is free from all deficiency and dependency. He begets not, nor is He begotten.
Benefits of Knowing This Name of Allah
When we believe in our hearts that God is Self-Subsisting, needs no one but able to fulfill the needs of all, it becomes natural for us to turn to Him and pin our hopes in Him alone.
Ibn `Abbas relates:
“I was with Allah’s Messenger one day, when he said to me:
“Young man, I will teach you something: Remember Allah and He will remember you. Keep Him in your heart and you will find Him with you. If you beg of someone, beg of Allah. If you rely on someone, rely on Allah.
Know that if the whole world united in order to provide you with some benefit, they could only benefit you with what Allah has already decreed for you. And know that if the whole world united in order to bring you harm, they could only harm you with what Allah had already decreed to befall you.
The pens have been lifted from the pages and the ink has dried.” (At-Tirmidhi, 2516)
We should turn to Allah with our hopes and fears, with our worldly concerns as well as our spiritual aspirations, in all matters great and small.
“And there are some among them who say: ‘Our Lord! Grant us good in this world and good in the hereafter, and save us from the chastisement of the Fire’.” (Al-Baqarah 2:201)
Our faith in Allah’s names and attributes should not be reduced to some rote recital of words, but must be something that actively informs and shapes our approach to life. When this is the case, we become empowered by our faith and more independent in our outlook.
Such faith should at the same time provide a vitality to our efforts and embolden us with confidence when we actively strive to reach our goals. It should make us more productive – as well as more patient – in realizing the things in life we are trying to achieve.
It should make it easier for us to weather the difficulties that we face and surmount the obstacles that come our way. It should keep us from despair when we have done everything that we practically can do, but more is still required.
We need to contemplate on the fact that Allah is Self-Subsisting. We are very different than other animals. Many of them have been given strength and sensory perception far exceeding our own.
However, we have been blessed with the faculty of reason. We have been made accountable for our beliefs and our actions. One thing our minds can discern is the awareness of Allah.
We can come to know our own weakness and discern our limitations. We recognize our own smallness and insignificance before the vastness of Allah’s creation, and realize the greatness of Allah. When we have this awareness of Allah, believe in Him, and recite His scriptures, we keep the remembrance of Allah alive. This is a great honor that Allah has blessed us with.
This is why Allah says:
“In houses where Allah has permitted His name to be often invoked and remembered.” (An-Nur 24:36)
It is indeed a great honor that Allah has permitted us to be aware of Him and to remember Him.
Taken with slight editorial modifications from the author’s website, Islam Today: http://en.islamtoday.net.
Salman Al-Oadah is a prominent Saudi scholar. He supervises the website Islam Today (www.islamtoday.com).