Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Meaning Of Tawheed Ar-Ruboobiyyah And Its Status



The root word of the word, 'ar-Rabb' is 'rabba-yarubbu' meaning, 'to nurture something from one form to another up to its final form. It is said, 'he raised him' (rabbahu), they raised him (rabbaahu), etc. Thus, metaphorically the word, 'rabb' is used only for the doer. Ar-Raaghib al-Asfahaani said: “The word Ar-Rabb is a noun used for the doer([1])

The word “Rabb” in Arabic has numerous linguistic meanings.

Az-Zajjaaj said: “Ar-Rabb is the Reformer. The infinitive form is Ruboobiyyah. Whoever owns a thing then he is its rabb. It is said: ‘Rabbud-Dar (i.e. the rabb of the house, i.e. the owner of the house) and rabbuddai’ah (i.e. the land lord).’ It is not permissible to say “ar-Rabb” with alif and laam as definitive noun except for Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), because He is the Owner of everything.”[Ishtiqaaq Asma’ Allah]

Ibn Al-Anbari said: “Ar-Rabb can be divided into three:

1-    Ar-Rabb means the Owner.
2-    Ar-Rabb can be the Obeyed Master….
3-    And Ar-Rabb can also mean the Reformer…

So these are the three roots which refer to the meaning of the word Ar-Rabb.

The first root: is in the meaning of Owner and Possessor, as in the saying of Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) concerning the lost camel,

"فذرها حتى يلقاها ربها"

“So leave it until its owner (Rabbuha) finds it.” ([2])

The second root: is in the meaning of Obeyed Master as in the saying of Allaah in Soorah Yoosuf (12:41),

يَا صَاحِبَيِ السِّجْنِ أَمَّا أَحَدُكُمَا فَيَسْقِي رَبَّهُ خَمْرًا ۖ وَأَمَّا الْآخَرُ فَيُصْلَبُ فَتَأْكُلُ الطَّيْرُ مِن رَّأْسِهِ ۚ قُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ الَّذِي فِيهِ تَسْتَفْتِيَانِ

“O two companions of prison, as for one of you, he will give drink to his master (Rabbahu) of wine; but as for the other, he will be crucified, and the birds will eat from his head. The matter has been decreed about which you both inquire.”

And in the saying of Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) concerning the signs of the Day of Judgment,

أن تلد الأمة ربها

“A slave girl would give birth to her master (rabbaha)” ([3])

And as for the third root, then it is in the meaning of the reformer of something, its organizer. That is why some of the People of Knowledge have derived the meaning of the word Ar-Rabb from Tarbiyyah (i.e. nurturing).

Ar-Raaghib al-Asfahaani said: “Ar-Rabb basically is derived from Tarbiyyah (i.e. nurturing) which implies bringing up a thing from one state to another until it reaches perfection.([4])

This Name has been repeatedly mentioned in the Qur’aan in many verses. It is mentioned one hundred and fifty one times in singular form, one instance being right in the beginning of the Qur’aan:

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
“[All] praise is [due] to Allaah, the Rabb of the worlds”

[See, Manhaj Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah wa Manhaj al-Ashaa’irah fi Tawheed Allaah Ta’aalaa by Khaalid Abdul Lateef (1/215) & An-Nahj al-Asma Fee Sharh Asma Allaahu al-Husna by Shaikh Muhammad an-Najdi]


After mentioning the aforementioned three meanings of ar-Rabb, at-Tabari said:

“Our Rabb (Lord), glorified be His Praise, is the Master Who there is none like unto Him nor equal to Him (or comparable to Him) in His Sovereignty and Dominion. He is the Reformer Who reforms the affairs of His creation by bestowing upon them His blessings. He is the Master to Whom belongs the creation and commandment.” ([5])

The word, 'ar-Rabb' is not said for anyone other than Allah, except with an adjective, for example, 'Rabbud-daar' meaning, master of the house, 'Rabbul-Faras' meaning, owner of the horse etc.

Imaam Ibn Qutaybah rahimahullah said:

ولا يقال للمخلوق: هذا (الرب) معرفاً بالألف واللام كما يقال لله، إنما يقال رب كذا فيعرف بالإضافة لأن الله مالك كل شيء، فإذا قيل: (الرب) دلت الألف واللام على معنى العموم، وإذا قيل لمخلوق: رب كذا ورب كذا نسب إلى شيء خاص لأنه لا يملك شيئاً غيره.

“It cannot be said for the creation that this is ‘Ar-Rabb’ fixed with Alif and Laam as it is said for Allaah. Rather it would be said as ‘Rabb of such and such’ with an addition (of an adjective) for indeed Allaah is the owner of everything. So when it is said, ‘Ar-Rabb’, the Alif and the Laam imply to a general meaning. And when it is said for the creation: The rabb of such and such and the Rabb of so and so, it is attributed to a specific thing because he does not own anything other than that thing.” ([6])

Ibn al-Atheer said:

الرب يطلق في اللغة على المالك، والسيد، والمدبر، والمربي، والقيم، والمنعم، ولا يطلق غير مضاف إلا على الله تعالى، وإذا أطلق على غيره أضيف، فيقال رب كذا

“Linguistically, ‘ar-Rabb’ refers to the owner, the master, the disposer of affairs, the nurturer, the one who is standing in guard-ship, the Bestower. No one can be called ar-Rabb except Allah and if someone is called “rabb” then it should be added to that matter or thing such as to say the rabb of such-and-such thing (for example, the lord of the house).” ([7])

As for the word “Rabb” with the addition then it can be said for Allaah as well as for other than Allaah based on the addition. Hence from the first type is the saying of Allaah,

الْحَمْدُ للهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

[All] praise is [due] to Allaah, the Rabb of the worlds

And from the second type is the saying of Allaah,

اذْكُرْنِي عِندَ رَبِّكَ

“Mention me to your Rabb (Lord)” ([8]) in the saying of Yoosuf (alayhi-s-salaam) to one of his companions in the prison.

Haafidh Ibn Katheer said: “Ar-Rabb is the owner who has full authority over his property. Ar-Rabb, linguistically means, the master or the one who has the authority to lead. All of these meanings are correct for Allah. When it is alone, the word Rabb is used only for Allah. As for other than Allah, it can be used to say Rabb Ad-Dar, the master of such and such object. Further, it was reported that Ar-Rabb is Allah’s Greatest Name.([9])

Shaykh Abdur Rahmaan Naasir as-Sa’dee said: “This name has been repeatedly mentioned in many verses. Ar-Rabb is the One Who nurtures and sustains all of His servants through regulating the affairs and granting all types of favors and blessings. More specifically He is the One Who nurtures and sustains his sincere friends by correcting and purifying their hearts, souls and manners. This is why their supplications are frequently made with this Noble Name because they seek this specific nurturing.([10])


It is a firm belief that Allaah the Most High is the Lord, the owner, the creator, the planer, and the organizer of everything. He has no partners in his ownership, nor does He have a custodian. He does not have a repeller of His matter, nor reviewer of His commands, nor an opposing force, nor a similitude, nor a superior, nor an adversary in anything from the meanings of His Ruboobiyyah and the requisites of His names and attributes.

[See, A’laam as-Sunnah al-Manshoorah Li I’tiqaad at-Taa’ifah an-Naajiyah al-Mansoorah by Haafidh Ahmed al-Hukmi (P. 30)]

And some Scholars defined it as: The belief that Allaah alone is the creator, the sustainer, the planner of everything without having any partners. ([11])

And it consists of the following:

1-    Belief in the existence of Allaah
2-    The attestation that Allaah the most high is the creator, the owner, the sustainer of everything. He is Al-Muhyee (The Giver of life), Al-Mumeet (The Giver of death), Al-Naafi’ (The Propitious), Ad-Daar (the afflicter), alone in answering the prayers, the one who controls every matter, in His hands is all the good, He is capable of doing whatever He wishes, He is the disposer of every single matter: its organizer, its planner, and He has no partner in any of that. ([12])

An abundance of evidences are mentioned in the Qur’aan and Sunnah in the affirmation of Ruboobiyyah for Allaah the most high. Hence every scriptural text that mentions the name “Ar-Rabb” or mentions any specialty from the specialties of Ar-Ruboobiyyah such as: Al-Khalq (The Creation), Ar-Rizq (Sustenance), Al-Malak (Ownership), Al-Taqdeer (Decree), Al-Tadbeer (Planning) and others, then it is from the implications of Ar-Ruboobiyyah. Like the saying of Allaah:

الْحَمْدُ للهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

[All] praise is [due] to Allaah, the Rabb of the worlds” [Soorah al-Faatihah: 2]

His saying:

أَلاَ لَهُ الْخَلْقُ وَالأَمْرُ

“His is the creation and the command” [Soorah al-A’raaf (7:54)]

And His saying the mighty the sublime:

قُلْ مَن بِيَدِهِ مَلَكُوتُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ

“Say: Who is the One in whose hand lies the kingdom of every thing” [Soorah al-Mu’minoon (23:88)] ([13])

Allaah has commanded His slaves to look into and ponder in His clear signs from the creations of the upper and lower worlds, to make His Ruboobiyyah evident with them.

[Tasheel al-Aqeedah al-Islaamiyyah by Abdullah bin Abdul Azeez al-Jibreen (P. 14)]

Thus ar-Rabb is the owner/sovereign as Allaah the most high said:

هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْمَلِكُ

“He is Allaah, other than whom there is no deity, the Sovereign” [Al-Hashr (59:23)]

And He says:

وَلِلّهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا

“And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them” [Al-Maa’idah (5:17)]

And He says:

فَسُبْحَانَ الَّذِي بِيَدِهِ مَلَكُوتُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ

“So exalted is He in whose hand is the realm of all things, and to Him you will be returned” [Yaaseen (36:83)]

And Ar-Rabb is the Creator, the Inventor, the Fashioner, as Allaah said about Himself:

هُوَ اللَّهُ الْخَالِقُ الْبَارِئُ الْمُصَوِّرُ

“He is Allaah, the Creator, the Inventor, the Fashioner” [Al-Hashr (59:24)]

Thus there is no creator beside Him. He is the one Who invented the creation and fashioned them with His ability of fashioning however He wished and however He wishes. ([14])

And Ar-Rabb is the Initiator and the Restorer as He says:

وَهُوَ الَّذِي يَبْدَأُ الْخَلْقَ ثُمَّ يُعِيدُهُ

“And it is He who begins creation; then He repeats it” [Ar-Room (30:27)]

So He is the one who initiated all the things and created them, as He is Al-Awwal (The First) who has nothing before him and then He repeats it, exalted is He.

And Ar-Rabb is the giver of life and death, as He the most high says:

الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا

“[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed” [Al-Mulk (67:2)]

And He says:

لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ رَبُّكُمْ وَرَبُّ آبَائِكُمُ الْأَوَّلِينَ

“There is no deity except Him; He gives life and causes death. [He is] your Lord and the Lord of your first forefathers” [Ad-Dukhaan (44:8)]

And Ar-Rabb is Al-Naafi’ (The Propitious) Ad-Daar (the afflicter), He the most high says:

وَإِذَا أَذَقْنَا النَّاسَ رَحْمَةً مِّن بَعْدِ ضَرَّاء مَسَّتْهُمْ إِذَا لَهُم مَّكْرٌ فِي آيَاتِنَا

“And when We give the people a taste of mercy after adversity has touched them, at once they conspire against Our verses” [Yoonus (10:21)]

And He says:

قُلْ فَمَن يَمْلِكُ لَكُم مِّنَ اللَّهِ شَيْئًا إِنْ أَرَادَ بِكُمْ ضَرًّا أَوْ أَرَادَ بِكُمْ نَفْعًا

“Say, then who could prevent Allaah at all if He intended for you harm or intended for you benefit?” [Al-Fath (48:11)]

And Ar-Rabb is the Giver and the Preventer, as He the most high says:

مَا يَفْتَحِ اللَّهُ لِلنَّاسِ مِن رَّحْمَةٍ فَلَا مُمْسِكَ لَهَا وَمَا يُمْسِكْ فَلَا مُرْسِلَ لَهُ مِن بَعْدِهِ

“Whatever Allaah grants to people of mercy - none can withhold it; and whatever He withholds - none can release it thereafter” [Al-Faatir (35:2)]

And the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said in his du’aa after Salaat,

اللهم لا مانع لما أعطيت ولا معطي لما منعت

“O Allah! None can deny that which You bestow and none can bestow that which You hold back” ([15])

And Ar-Rabb is the planner of this universe, as He says:

ثُمَّ اسْتَوَى عَلَى الْعَرْشِ يُدَبِّرُ الأَمْرَ

“Then He established Himself above the Throne, arranging the matter of [His creation].” [Yoonus (10:3)]

And He said:

وَمَن يُدَبِّرُ الأَمْرَ فَسَيَقُولُونَ اللهُ

“[Ask them] and who arranged [every] matter? They will say, ‘Allaah’” [Yoonus (10:31)]

And He said:

يُدَبِّرُ الأَمْرَ يُفَصِّلُ الآيَاتِ لَعَلَّكُم بِلِقَاء رَبِّكُمْ تُوقِنُونَ

“He arranges [each] matter; He details the signs that you may, of the meeting with your Lord, be certain” [Ar-Ra’d (13:2)]

And Ar-Rabb is the Creator, the Sustainer, the Strong, the Competent, as Allaah the most high says:

قُلِ اللهُ خَالِقُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ

“Say, Allaah is the Creator of all things” [Ar-Ra’d (13:16)]

And He said:

هَلْ مِنْ خَالِقٍ غَيْرُ اللَّهِ يَرْزُقُكُم مِّنَ السَّمَاء وَالْأَرْضِ

“Is there any creator other than Allah who provides for you from the heaven and earth?” [Al-Faatir (35:3)]

And He said:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الرَّزَّاقُ ذُو الْقُوَّةِ الْمَتِينُ

“Indeed, it is Allaah who is the [continual] Provider, the firm possessor of strength” [Adh-Dhaariyaat (51:58)]

And He said:

إِنَّ اللَّه عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

“Indeed, Allaah is over all things competent” [Al-Baqarah (2:20)]

[See, Manhaj Ahl us-Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah wa Manhaj al-Ashaa’irah fi Tawheed Allaah Ta’aalaa by Khaalid Abdul Lateef (1/227)]


When a slave attests to the oneness of Ar-Rabb in Creation and Commandment and testifies to it, then it will lead him to the reality of Tawheed al-Ilaahiyyah (Oneness of Worship), for indeed both of the matters are interrelated. So whoever attests to Ar-Ruboobiyyah for Allaah then it necessitates that he also attests for him Al-Ilaahiyyah. Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim said:

فإن أول ما يتعلق القلب يتعلق بتوحيد الربوبية، ثم يرتقي إلى توحيد الإلهية، كما يدعو الله سبحانه عباده في كتابه بهذا النوع من التوحيد إلى النوع الآخر، ويحتج عليهم به, ويقررهم به، ثم يخبر أنهم ينقضونه بشركهم به في الإلهية

“For indeed the first thing that concerns the heart is Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah, then it advances to Tawheed al-Ilaahiyyah, just as Allaah the exalted has called His servants in His book with this type of Tawheed towards another type; He establishes evidence on them with this and makes them confess to it (i.e. Ar-Ruboobiyyah), then He informs them that they have broken away from it (i.e. Ruboobiyyah) due to their Shirk (association with Allaah) in Al-Ilaahiyyah (Worship).” ([16])

Here’s how its explanation goes: whoever affirms the special characteristics of Ar-Ruboobiyyah for Allaah….including Creation, the giving of life, death, benefit, affliction, aid, and suffering – submits to Allaah in everything, and knows that whatever afflicted him was from Allaah and it would not have missed him, and that if he enters paradise then it is only with the permission and blessing of Allaah, and if he enters hell then it is with the command and justice of Allaah, and all of that is controlled by Allaah the most high; so when he knows that, then he would return to his Creator to seek His aid to acquire benefits and ward off harm and to guide him to the straight path. Hence this would instill a great love in the heart of a servant for his Lord. The lover of his Lord would prefer his Lord over everything, and it would also grant him the fear, respect, and praise of Allaah:

فهذه علامة توحيد الإلهية في هذا القلب، والباب الذي دخل إليه منه: توحيد الربوبية، أي: باب توحيد الإلهية: هو توحيد الربوبية

“So these are the signs of Tawheed al-Ilaahiyyah in this heart and the door that opens into it is Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah i.e. The door to Tawheed al-Ilaahiyyah is Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah” ([17])

With this explanation, the importance of attesting to Ar-Ruboobiyyah for Allaah is clear. This awareness (of Allaah’s Ruboobiyyah) is innate in the hearts of the Children of Adam….except that most of the people who get involved into Shirk only do so due to their coming up with something that nullifies Tawheed al-Ilaahiyyah. That is why the Messengers were sent to them calling them towards this type of Tawheed – i.e. Tawheed al-Ilaahiyyah. If a person attests Ar-Ruboobiyyah for Allaah and does not single Him out in His Ibaadah (worship) then his attestation would not be of any benefit to him. That is why Allaah the mighty and sublime says:

وَمَا يُؤْمِنُ أَكْثَرُهُمْ بِاللهِ إِلَّا وَهُمْ مُشْرِكُونَ

“And most of them believe not in Allaah except while they associate others with Him” [Yoosuf (12:106)]

Imaam Mujaahid rahimahullah said in his Tafseer of this verse, “Their belief (in Allaah) refers to their saying that: Allaah is our creator, our provider, and the giver of death – this is belief, along with their associating others (Shirk) in their worship.”

[See, Manhaj Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah wa Manhaj al-Ashaa’irah fi Tawheed Allaah by Khaalid Abdul Lateef (1/242)]

[1] - [Al-Mufradaat fi Ghareeb al-Qur’aan by Ar-Raaghib (P. 336)]
[2] - [Saheeh al-Bukhaari (91) from Zayd bin Khaalid al-Juhani]
[3] - [Saheeh al-Bukhaari (3/146) as a Mu’allaq report, & Muslim (1)]
[4] - [Al-Mufradaat (P. 336)]
[5] - [Jaami’ ul-Bayaan (1/142) also see Tafseer Ghareeb al-Qur’aan by Ibn Qutaybah (P. 9)]
[6] - [Tafseer Ghareeb al-Qur’aan (P. 9)]
[7] - [Al-Nihaayah fi Ghareeb al-Hadeeth wal-Athar (2/179)]
[8] - [Soorah Yoosuf (12:42)]
[9] - [Tafseer Ibn Katheer, under the explanation of Soorah Faatihah]
[10] - [Tafseer as-Sa’dee]
[11] - [See, Majmoo’ah al-Tawheed (1/5)]
[12] - [Sharh at-Tahaawiyyah (P. 25), Madaarij as-Saalikeen (1/33-46, 3/468), Tafseer al-Azeez al-Hameed (P. 17), Al-Qawl as-Sadeed (P. 18), Ma’aarij al-Qubool (1/99)]
[13] - [Al-Madaarij as-Saalikeen (3/468-469), Sharh at-Tahaawiyyah (P. 42-43), Al-Madkhal li Daraasat al-Aqeedah (P. 102)]
[14] - [See, Tafseer at-Tabari (23/305)]
[15] - [Narrated Al-Bukhaari (844) & Muslim (593) from Al-Mugheerah bin Shu’bah radiallah anhu]
[16] - [Al-Madaarij as-Saalikeen (1/413)]
[17] - [Al-Madaarij as-Saalikeen (1/413)]

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