Source: An-Nahj al-Asma Fii Sharh Asma Allahu al-Husna by Shaikh Muhammad an-Najdi

The linguistic meaning :-

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

Az-Zajjaj said: “Ar-Rabb is the Reformer. The infinitive form is Roboobiyyah. 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’aala), because He is the Owner of everything.”[Ishtiqaq Asma’ Allah].

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

1. Ar-Rabb means the Owner.

2. Ar-Rabb can be the Obeyed Master, as Allah  (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat Yusuf (12:41):

يَا صَاحِبَيِ السِّجْنِ أَمَّا أَحَدُكُمَا فَيَسْقِي رَبَّهُ خَمْراً وَأَمَّا الآخَرُ فَيُصْلَبُ فَتَأْكُلُ الطَّيْرُ مِن رَّأْسِهِ قُضِيَ الأَمْرُ الَّذِي فِيهِ تَسْتَفْتِيَانِ

“He will pour out wine for his rabb (i.e. king or master) to drink.”

3. The third meaning is the Reformer. The lord of a thing means he reforms it.” [Al-Lisan and at-Tabari mentioned these three meanings in his tafseer and al-Qurtubi in al-Asna]

Ar-Raghib said: “Ar-Rabb basically is derived from Tarbiyah (i.e. nurturing) which implies bringing up a thing from one state to another until it reaches perfection.” [Al-mufradat]

This Name has been repeatedly mentioned in the Qur’an in many verses. It is mentioned one hundred and fifty one times in singular form, such as:

Allah’s statement in Surat al-Fatihah (1:2):

الْحَمْدُ للّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“All the praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of Mankind, Jinns and all that exists.”

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) also mentioned in Surat al-Baqarah (2:131):

إِذْ قَالَ لَهُ رَبُّهُ أَسْلِمْ قَالَ أَسْلَمْتُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“When his Lord said to him, ‘Submit (i.e. be a Muslim)!’ He said, ‘I have submitted myself to the Lord of Mankind, Jinns and all that exists.’”

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) also said in Surat al-An’am (6:162):

قُلْ إِنَّ صَلاَتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“Say (O Muhammad Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam ): “Verily, my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of Mankind, Jinns and all that exists.”

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) also said in Surat al-An’am (6:164):

قُلْ أَغَيْرَ اللّهِ أَبْغِي رَبّاً وَهُوَ رَبُّ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَلاَ تَكْسِبُ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ إِلاَّ عَلَيْهَا وَلاَ تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَى ثُمَّ إِلَى رَبِّكُم مَّرْجِعُكُمْ فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ

“Say, ‘Shall I seek a lord other than Allah, while He is the Lord of all things?’”


Allah  (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat al-A’raaf (7:54):

إِنَّ رَبَّكُمُ اللّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ اسْتَوَى عَلَى الْعَرْشِ يُغْشِي اللَّيْلَ النَّهَارَ يَطْلُبُهُ حَثِيثاً وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ وَالنُّجُومَ مُسَخَّرَاتٍ بِأَمْرِهِ أَلاَ لَهُ الْخَلْقُ وَالأَمْرُ تَبَارَكَ اللّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“His is the creation and commandment. Blessed be Allah, the Lord of the Ᾱlamin (Mankind, Jinns and all that exists).”

Allah  (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat ad-Dukhkhan (44:8):

لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ رَبُّكُمْ وَرَبُّ آبَائِكُمُ الْأَوَّلِينَ

“It is He Who gives life and causes death – your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers.”

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat ar-Rahman (55:17):

رَبُّ الْمَشْرِقَيْنِ وَرَبُّ الْمَغْرِبَيْنِ

“(He is) the Lord of the two Easts (places of sunrise during early summer and early winter) and the Lord of the two Wests (places of sunset during early summer and early winter).”

And in Surat at-Takwir (81:29), Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said:

وَمَا تَشَاؤُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“And you will not, unless (it be) that Allah wills, the Lord of the Ᾱlamin (Mankind, Jinns and all that exists).”

The meaning of the Name with regards to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala):

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.” [Jami’ul-Bayan]

Ibn al-Atheer said: “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).” [An-Nihayah]

Ibn Kathir (Rahimahullaah) said: “Ar-Rabb is the Owner Who has full authority over His dominion. Ar- Rabb, linguistically, means, the master or the one who has the authority to dispose (the affairs) for the sake of reformation. 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 for example rabb ad-dar, the master or owner of such-and-such object. Further, it was reported that ar-Rabb is Allah’s Greatest Name.” [Tafsir Ibn Kathir]

The Impact of belief in this Noble Name:

1. Indeed, Allah is the real Lord. There is no Lord in reality except Him. He is the Lord of all lords and the Possessor of the kingdom and the King of the kings.

Al-Qurtubi said: “Allah  (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) is the Lord of the lords, Whom all the worshipers worship. He  (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) owns the kingdom, the kings and all the slaves. He created them and sustains them; every lord other than Him is neither a creator nor a sustainer.

Every creation owns and possesses after not owning anything and that thing which he possesses will be taken away from him (one day). Therefore, he owns something and does not own other things.

This is the difference between the Attributes of the Creator and attributes of the creation.

As for the statement of Pharoah – may Allah’s curse be upon him – as mentioned in Surat an-Nazi’at (79:24):

فَقَالَ أَنَا رَبُّكُمُ الْأَعْلَى

Saying: “I am your lord, most high.”

He (Pharaoh) willed to assume the high Ruboobiyah (Lordship) over his people and to be the Lord of the lords and to compete with Allah in His Lordship and high dominion.

فَأَخَذَهُ اللَّهُ نَكَالَ الْآخِرَةِ وَالْأُولَى

“So Allah, seized him with punishment for his last (i.e. his saying: ‘I am your lord, most high’) and first (i.e. saying ‘chiefs! I know not that you have a god other than I’).”

[An-Nazi’at 79:25]

It is said that ar-Rabb is derived from tarbiyah (nurturing). Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) is the Disposer of affairs of His creation, He is their Nurturer, Reformer, He mends them (mends their deficiencies) and discharges their affairs.

He is Al-Qayyum of this life and the Hereafter (i.e. the One Who sustains and protects all that exists).

Everyone other than Him is His slave and He is his Lord; he will not be reformed except with His (Allah’s) disposal, he will not stand except with His Command, and no one nurtures him except Allah.

Allah, ar-Rabb, is the One Who disposes the affairs of His creation, He is their Nurturer, Reformer and He mends them. Accordingly, this Noble Name implies a practical Attribute. The other meaning of Ar-Rabb is the Owner and the Master; accordingly the Name implies an intrinsic Attribute.” [Al-Kitab al-Asna]

Al-Haleemi explained that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) is He everything He created reach the state of perfection which He has decreed for him or for it. He has drawn out gently the sperm from the back-bone and makes it a clot and changes the clot into a lump of flesh, then it becomes bones, then covers the bones with flesh, then He (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) creates the soul in the body and brings it forth as another creation weak and small. He (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) will continue bringing him up and making him grow till he becomes a man. He (the human) starts as a young person, then He (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) will make him old; likewise everything Allah has created, He is the One Who discharges its affairs and He is the One Who makes it reach the limit which He has described for it and decreed for him to be as his end. [Al-Minhaj Fii Shu’ab al-Iman]


2. Whoever knows that Allah is the One Who nurturers His creation by His blessings and by disposing all their affairs and Who brings them up in all their different state of development, then he will not seek a lord and a deity other than Allah and he will be pleased with Him as his Lord.

Whoever is described with this is the one who tastes the sweetness of faith, as the Messenger of Allah (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Whoever accepted Allah as his Lord, Islam as his religion and Muhammad as his Messenger, has tasted the faith.”[Ahmed, Muslim and at-Tirmidhi]

Al-Qadi ‘Eyad(Rahimahullaah) said: “The meaning of the Hadith is that the faith of the person will be correct and his soul will be at rest because his acceptance with the aforementioned indicates the affirmation of his knowledge and of his insight. And whoever accepts something and is pleased with it, it will be made easy for him. Like the believer, when the faith enters his heart the performance of acts of obedience and rejoicing with them will be made easy for him, and Allah knows best.” [Explanation of Imam Nawawi for Sahih Muslim]

3. Ibn al-Qayyim (Rahimahullaah) mentioned in his book “Madarij as-Salikeen” about the relation between the Name “ar-Rabb” with “Allah” and “ar-Rahman”, and he said: “Contemplate the relation between the creation (the humans, the jinn etc.) and the command with these three Names (Allah, ar-Rabb, and ar-Rahman); how do the creation, the Command, the reward and the punishment evolve from them?

The Name Ar-Rabb is comprehensive; it joins all the creation (i.e. all creation enjoying His Ruboobiyah).

He is the Lord of everything and is its Creator, Who has power over it, and nothing escapes from His Lordship. Everyone in the heavens and the earth is a slave subdued to Him, he is in His Grasp, and under His subdual. So all the creation joined together through the Attribute of Ruboobiyah (Lordship), but they differed according to the Attribute of Ilahiyyah (Worship). It is only the blessed ones who worshipped Him, submitted themselves willingly to Him and confessed that He is Allah Who is La ilaha illa-Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped except Him), and that no one deserves to be relied on, feared, hoped in, loved, returned to in repentance, or submitted to with humility, except He Alone. In this matter, mankind differed and was distinguished into two groups: the group of polytheists and they are in the blazing Hell-fire and the group of believers, the monotheists whose abode is Jannah (Paradise).

Accordingly, Ilahiyyah (worship) separated them and Ruboobiyah (Lordship) joined them.

The religion, the law, the commands and prohibitions evolved from the Attribute of Ilahiyah, whereas for the creation, the management of affairs and Actions are from the Attribute of Ruboobiyah.

The recompense of reward or punishment with Jannah (Paradise) and Hell is from the Attribute of the King, Who is the only Owner and the only Ruling Judge on the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection).

He ordered and commanded them with His Ilahiyyah (to worship Him Alone and no one else), and helped and guided and (deservedly) misguided them according to His Ruboobiyah (His Lordship). He rewarded and punished them by His Kingship and Justice.

Each of these three matters are related to one another, and do not separate from each other.

As for the Mercy, it is the attachment or the means between Allah and His slaves.

Ta’leeh is required from them, (i.e. to worship Him with love and exaltation), and for them from Him is His Ruboobiyah (all His Actions, of creation, providing with sustenance, disposing their affairs, guiding them, etc…)

The Mercy is the connection between Him and His slaves. By His Mercy, He sent to them Messengers (to guide them), and He sent Books through which He guided them. By His Mercy, He made them to dwell in the abode of His Reward. By His Mercy, He sustains them, grants them the well-being, and bestows upon them (all the blessings).

The Ruboobiyah joined with His Mercy as the Rising over His Throne is joined with His Mercy.


His statement in Surat Ta-Ha (20:5):

الرَّحْمَنُ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ اسْتَوَى

“The Most Beneficent One, Who is established on the Throne.” complies with His statement in Surat al-Fatiha (1:2-3):

الْحَمْدُ للّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ{2} الرَّحْمـنِ الرَّحِيمِ (3)3

“All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the ‘Alameen (mankind, jinns and all that exists). The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.”

Everything is encompassed with His Vast Mercy and Lordship, although He being the Lord of the whole world (mankind, jinn and all that exists) indicates His Highness over His creation and over everything.” [Madarij as-Salikeen]

4. Al-Qurtubi (Rahimahullaah) said: “It is incumbent upon everyone responsible in the religion to know that he has no Lord except Allah Alone, and he should bring up those whom he is responsible for in the best way, such that he takes charge of disposing their affairs, guarding them and protecting them as much as he can, as Allah  (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) maintained and protected him. When Ibn ‘Abbas (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) was asked about the scholar who is Rabbani (the learned person of religion who practices what he knows and also preaches others), he said, ‘He is the one who teaches people the small knowledge before the big matters.’

The Rabbani is one who fulfills the knowledge of Ruboobiyah (Lordship) and rears people with knowledge to the extent that they can bear.” [Al-Kitab al-Asna]

5. The Prophets and Messengers called unto Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) by this Noble Name and implored Him with it.

Adam (‘Alayhis-salaam) and Eve called unto Allah by it as Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) mentioned in Surat al-Ar’af (7:23):

قَالاَ رَبَّنَا ظَلَمْنَا أَنفُسَنَا وَإِن لَّمْ تَغْفِرْ لَنَا وَتَرْحَمْنَا لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ

“They said: Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If You forgive us not, and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be of the losers.”


Nûh (Noah) (‘Alayhis-salaam) said in his invocation:

رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيَّ وَلِمَن دَخَلَ بَيْتِيَ مُؤْمِناً وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَلَا تَزِدِ الظَّالِمِينَ إِلَّا تَبَاراً

“My Lord! Forgive me, and my parents, and him who enters my home as a believer, and all the believing men and women. And do not increase the dhalimun (polytheists, wrong-doers, and disbelievers, etc.) except in destruction.” [Nuh 71:28]


Ibrahim (‘Alayhis-salaam) and Isma’il (‘Alayhis-salaam) said:

وَإِذْ يَرْفَعُ إِبْرَاهِيمُ الْقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ الْبَيْتِ وَإِسْمَاعِيلُ رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ

“And (remember) when Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Isma’il were raising the foundation of the House, (saying), ‘Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us. Verily! You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.’” [Al-Baqarah 2:127]


Musa (Moses)(‘Alayhis-salaam) said:

قَالَ رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَلأَخِي وَأَدْخِلْنَا فِي رَحْمَتِكَ وَأَنتَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ

“O my Lord! Forgive me and my brother, and make us enter into Your Mercy, for You are the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.”
[Al-A’raf 7:151]


‘Iesa (Jesus) (‘Alayhis-salaam) said:

قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّنَا أَنزِلْ عَلَيْنَا مَآئِدَةً مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ تَكُونُ لَنَا عِيداً لِّأَوَّلِنَا وَآخِرِنَا وَآيَةً مِّنكَ وَارْزُقْنَا وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ الرَّازِقِينَ

“O Allah our Lord! Send us from Heaven a table spread (with food) that there may be for us – for the first and the last of us – a festival and a sign from You; and provide us sustenance, for You are the Best of sustainers.” [Al-Ma’idah 5:114]


Allah  (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) Who said regarding the Messenger Muhammad  (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) and his nation in Surat al-Baqarah (2:285):

آمَنَ الرَّسُولُ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِ مِن رَّبِّهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ كُلٌّ آمَنَ بِاللّهِ وَمَلآئِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ لاَ نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّن رُّسُلِهِ وَقَالُواْ سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا غُفْرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا وَإِلَيْكَ الْمَصِيرُ

“The Messenger (Muhammad  Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam ) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in
Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. They say, ‘We make no distinction between one another of His Messenger’- and they say, ‘We hear, and we obey. (We seek) Your Forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the return (of all).’”

6. The Prophet  (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) forbade the slave to call his (human) master, Rabbi (my lord). He (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “You should not say, ‘Feed your lord (Rabbaka), help your lord in performing ablution, or give water to your lord,’ but you should say, ‘My master (e.g. feed your master instead of lord, etc.) (sayyidi), or ‘My guardian’ (maulai), and one should not say, ‘My slave (Ábdi)’, or ‘My slave-girl (Amati)’, but he should say ‘My lad (Fatai)’, ‘My lass (Fatati)’ and ‘My boy (Ghulami).’” [Al-Bukhari]

Al- Hafidh Ibn Hajar  (Rahimahullaah) said: “It is forbidden for the slave to say to his master “rabbi” (my lord), and he forbade others to say to him ‘your lord’. This prohibition includes also the statement of the master about himself, e.g. to say to his slave, ‘give water to your lord,’ to magnify himself.

The reason behind the prohibition is because the true Ruboobiyah (lordship) belongs to Allah  (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala). Because the Rabb is the owner who is in charge of the thing (by creating it, sustaining it, disposing its affairs, guarding, maintaining it, etc.) and all this cannot be except for Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala).

Al-Khattabi (Rahimahullaah) said: ‘The reason behind the prohibition is that man is asked to worship Allah with sincerity and to single Allah out with worship and abandon Shirk (association) with Him. Therefore, it is disliked to compare Him even in the Name in order to avoid Shirk. And there is no difference between the free or the slave (human). As for the rest of the creation, there is no harm in adding them to the human like saying “rabbud-dar” [i.e. the lord of the house] or rabbuth-thawb” [i.e.the lord of the garment].’

Ibn Battal said: “It is not permissible to name anyone other than Allah with rabb as it is not permissible to call him “ilah”.


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