What is Ism Azam (Greatest name)?
It is the greatest name of Allah that is mentioned in the Quran and hadiths.
Allah concealed ism azam in his names. The reason why it is concealed is to make His slaves be interested in al-Asma al-Husna and to enable them to pray Him mentioning all of His names. If ism azam were known, people would pray by mentioning that name only and would abandon other names. Ism Azam has a great value before Allah. It is narrated that the prayers said mentioning that name are certainly accepted. (Abu Dawud, Witr 23; Tirmidhi, Daawat 64, 65, 100; Nasai, Sahw 58; Ibn Majah, Dua 9,10)
Islamic scholars have put forward different opinions regarding which name among al-Asma al-Husna is ism azam. Most of them hold the view that the name Allah is ism azam. According to Hazrat Ali, ism azam is not a single name; it consists of these 6 names: Fard, Hayy, Qayyum, Hakam, Adl, Quddus.
According to Imam Azam, it consists of these two names: Hakam and Adl. According to Ghaws A’zam (Abdalqadir Gilani), it is the name Hayy. According to Imam Rabbani, ism azam is Qayyum.
As it is known, scholars of Islam have found ism azam in different names. Maybe, ism azam that was manifest in their private realm was different.
Just as there is an ism azam in al-Asma al-Husna, so too is there a high (azam) rank for each name. Sometimes, the highest rank of a name is confused with ism azam; that name is thought to be ism azam due to its manifestation in the highest rank. It is one of the reasons why ism azam is different for each scholar.
Abu'l-Hasan Shazili narrates:
"When I was a student, I was sitting before my teacher one day. I thought to myself: “I wonder if my teacher knows ism azam?” While I was thinking so, my teacher’s sons, who were at the outside gate looked at me and said, "O Abu'l-Hasan! Honor and respect does not depend on knowing ism azam but being honored by ism azam."
* * *
Burayda (may Allah be pleased with him), one of the Companions, narrates:
One day, the Messenger of Allah saw some in the mosque praying as follows:
"Allahumma inni as'aluka bi-anni ashhadu annaka anta'llahu la ilaha illa anta'l-ahadu's-samad'ulladhi lam yalid wa lam yulad wa lam yakun lahu kufuwan ahad..." (O my Allah! I ask from you as that (belief); I witness that you are Allah; there is no god but you; you are only one and eternal, who begetteth, not nor is He begotten; and there is none like unto Him.) Thereupon, he said,
– I swear by Allah, in whose hand is my soul, that this person prayed mentioning ism azam, through which Allah gives anything that is asked and accepts any prayer."