Rabb is the very first name of Allāh revealed to Muḥammad ﷺ (Chapter 96: Literacy). Rabb is Allāh’s role and ‘job title’.
Although Rabb is traditionally translated as ‘Lord’, this of course doesn’t refer to a British aristocrat or to Jesus Christ. Rabb has three specific meanings in the Qurʾān and Sunnah:
- Owner (e.g. of a slave, of an animal, of a house)
- One who is obeyed (e.g. absolute Emperor, Ruler, Commander)
- One who nourishes, sustains, provides for and takes care of everything (Provider, Sustainer)
The English word ‘Master’ or ‘Owner’ covers the first two meanings. Then add ‘and Provider’ or ‘and Sustainer’. The adjective ‘ultimate’, ‘absolute’ or ‘supreme’ can be added in the beginning.
Rubūbīyah ربوبية — Mastership; (status) as Owner and Sustainer
“Everything in the heavens and earth belongs to Allāh, everything devoutly obeys the will of Allāh.” (Qurʾān 2:116)
Rubūbīyah is Allāh’s position and rights as our Rabb. In return, we are Allāh’s humble servants and dependents. We worship Allāh
- general commandments/degrees of Allāh upon creation to do and not do (every creature is under command) no leaf falls except that Allāh has willed it, the sun the moon, you cannot escape
- the Shariʿah, Allah has allowed us our choice (under the choice of Allāh), some choose to obey (Muslims), some choose to reject (Kafir)
.A Ruler and Sustainer, the Source of order and subsistence.
Tawḥīd of Allāh in Allāh’s actions. No one can imitate, do what Allāh does.
general rububiyya: no creation can escape from. even if kafir says ' i don't need Allāh' , all creation is under general rububiyya. muslim, kafir, jinn, ints, entire creation whether you like it or not, whether you affirm it or not. no object can survive on itself, fully independent. needs to resort to the creation of Allāh. no object can control its own destiny. how can it be its rabb. animate or inanimate.
specific rububiyya: you have accepted, affirmed, accepted, submitted to rububiyya in your tongue, actions. special relationship. we call out our Lord. take care of you in next world.
It’s used for the absolute owner of a house, slave. Malik exclusively means owner.
owner, authority, caretaker
General vs. specific
Allāh creates, sustains, nourishes, and owns everything, without exception. When Allāh mentions himself as “Master and Provider of the Worlds”, that is an example of general Rubūbīyah.
Additionally, Allāh provides spiritual sustance to Muslims. The majority of du’as in the Qur’an start with rabb. Why rabb? To make us acknowledge our special relationship, our dependance. For this exact reason, one of the best names to use when you make du’a is rabb. When Allāh mentions himself as the Lord of Musa or the Lord of Harun, or something similar, that is an example of specific Rubūbīyah.