The General Meanings [ We have omitted the numerous examples of usage, as one finds them in the lexicon, and which Maulana Maududi gave in the original in great detail because they may not interest the English reader end in any case do not matter except for some crass doubter-Or someone bent on finding fault simply because it is Maulana Maududi who is saying something. Abu Asad]
The three radicals of this word are the letters (r, b,b) and the basic meaning is to bring up. If we take into account the wider meaning of the root word and its various derivatives, we find that it has following connotations:
- One who brings up, rear, fosters or nourishes, or is responsible for doing all or one or more than one of these;
- Guardian, patron; one who supervises or is responsible for carrying out improvements;
- One who occupies a central or focal position, who himself gathers people round himself of his own or round whom people gather out themselves;
- Leader, head, chief, or lord; one whose word is obeyed, and whose supremacy or overlordship acknowledged, and who has authority to dispose of men or things;
- Owner ; master.
In the Qur'an the word is used in all of the above meanings, sometimes in only one sense, sometimes is in two, and sometimes in more, or even all the five, as the following examples will show:
(i) And Yousuf (Joseph) said (to Potiphar's wife, when she tried to seduce him): May God forbid! He is my Rabb [ Many commentators have taken this word, as used here, to mean "master; v and to refer to Potiphar. I, however, hold differently. According to my thinking, the pronoun "who" is related to its immediate antecedent, "Allah" (God) and I think it is unnecessary straining of the sense to seek to relate it to a person who is sot mentioned at all. A. A. Maududi] Who has provided handsomely for me (and I shall not behave as an ingrate sinner. (Quran 12:23)
(ii) (And Ibrahim said to his people:) (These gods whom you worship) they are enemies to me; not so Allah, the Rabb of all the worlds, Who created me, Who gives me guidance, Who gives me food and drink, and Who, when I am ill, restores me to health. (Quran 26:77-80)
(iii) And there is not any good thing except that it comes from Allah, and whenever any mishap befalls yen, it is to Him you turn in your distress; but when He has removed it, there are those among you who associate others with their Rabb (as having also contributed to your provision or health). (Quran 16:53-54)
(iv) Ask them (O' Prophet): Should I seek any rabb other than Allah and He the Rabb of all creation? (Quran 6:165)
(v) He is the Rabb of the East and the West; there is no deity but He, and so take Him as the ultimate Disposer and Arbiter of all your affairs. (Quran 73:9)
(vi) He is the Rabb of all of you, and it is unto Him that you shall return. (Quran 11:34)
(vii) And then shall your return be to your Rabb. (Quran 39:7)
(viii) Say (O' Prophet) Our Rabb will gather and then decide between us, your group, and ours together. (Quran 34:26)
(ix) And there is not an animal in the world, or a bird which flies on two wings but all form parts of communities like you; We have not omitted any detail about them in the Book of destiny; and they too will all be gathered unto their Rabb. (Quran 6:38).
(x) And the Trumpet shall be sounded when, behold, they will all rush out from their graves (or wherever their "Last Remains" be) towards their Rabb. (Quran 36:51)
(xi) They (the Jews and the Christians) made their scribes and their monks their rabbs instead of Allah. (Quran 9:31)
(xii) And (let us also agree that) let not either of us (that is either you the people of the Book, or we, the Muslims) take anyone other than Allah to be our rabb. (Quran 3:64)
In the last two verses, the actual word used in the original is arbab, which is the plural of rabb, and which is employed in respect of those religious leaders, etc., whom different people had raised to the position of final authority, whose word was unquestioningly accepted as law, and who were regarded as having, so to say, a sovereign, inherent right to lay down what might, or might not, be done.
(xiii) (And Yousuf said to his two fellow prisoners): As to one of you he (will be freed and reinstated and) will (again) serve his rabb (lord, master) as wine bearer ... and to the one whom he thought to be likely to be freed, he said: “Speak of me to your rabb (Pharaoh), your master" but Satan made the man forget to mention him (Yousuf) to his rabb (Pharaoh, his master), (Quran 41:42)
(xiv) And when (Pharaoh's) messenger came to Yousuf, he said: Go back to your rabb (lord, Pharaoh), and ask him what transpired in the case of the women who cut their hands; verily (He who is) my Rabb (God) is fully aware of their wives. (Quran 12:50)
In the verses quoted at (xiii) and (xiv) Hazrat Yousuf employed the word rabb in respect of the Pharaoh because, since the Egyptians did in fact believe him to possess absolute sovereignty and the right to lay down the law and his word could not be questioned, this in effect amounted to their treating him as their rabb in the full sense of the word, that is, a god. As against this, however, Hazrat Yousuf regarded Allah alone as the Rabb, and made this clear by saying " My Rabb."
(xv) So (the Meccans) ought to worship the Rabb (lord, master) of this House-(The Ka'aba) (that is,) He Who has provided for their sustenance and relieved them of their fear and ensured their peace and safety. (Quran 106:3-4)
(xvi) Glorified be your Rabb (O' Prophet), the (Rabb, i.e.,) Fountain-head of all honour and authority, Who is free of the taint of all the faults and shortcomings they attribute to Him. (Quran 37:180)
(xvii) So glory be to Allah, the Rabb (Master) of the Mighty Throne, Who is free of all that they attribute to Him. (Quran 21:22)
(xviii) Ash them (O Prophet): Who is the rabb (mater)of the seven heavens and the rabb (master) of the Mighty Throne? (Quran 23:86)
(xix) He, Who is the Rabb (Master) of the heavens and the earth, and what is between them, and the Rabb (Master) of all that the sun shines upon. (Quran 37:5)
(xx) And verily He is the Rabb (Lord, Master) of Sirius also. (Quran 53:49)
The above examples clearly bring out the meanings of the word rabb, and we may now proceed to look at those false notions which existed among the misguided tribes and people about rububiyyah (that is, the qualities and attributes of one who is a rabb) which the Qur'an sought to refute, and what are the beliefs that the Qur'an advocates. This can perhaps best be done by taking up, one by one, the cases of those particular nations or people who find mention in the Qur'an, and thus get a clearer idea of the wrong notions which they entertained.
The earliest of such people dealt with in the Qur'an were those among whom Hazrat Nuh (Noah, peace be upon him) was raised as Prophet. It is clear from the Qur'an that these people did not deny the existence of God, cf. the following comment about him by their leaders:
He is but a man like any of you, who only wants to establish his own hold over you. If God had really wanted (to send any messenger) He would surely have chosen angels instead. (Quran 23:24)
Nor did they deny that Allah was the Creator of the universe and the Rabb in the first and second senses of the word. Among the exhortations to them by Hazart Nuh were:
He is your Rabb, and unto Him shall you be returned. (Quran 11:34)
Seek the forgiveness of your Rabb, (for) verily He is Oft-Forgiving. (Quran 71:10)
Do you not see how, Allah has made the seven heavens one above the other, and made the moon a light in their midst, and the sun a (glorious) lamp? And (it was) Allah (Who) created you from the earth. (Quran 71:15,16)
It is to be noted that no one says in reply that they do not believe Allah to be their Rabb or that He did not create the earth and the heavens and themselves, or that He was not managing the affairs of the universe.
Nor, may it be added, did they deny Allah's being their Ilah either. That is why Hazrat Nuh, in asking them to return to the ways of God, said, "You have no Ilah but He" (7:58), whereas if they had believed otherwise, what he would have said would have been: "Make Allah your ilah."
This therefore naturally raises the question as to what in fact was the basic dispute between Hazrat Nuh and his people, and it seems from the Qur'an that there were two main points of difference, as follows:
(i) What Hazrat Nuh wanted was that they should give their worship, in the full sense of the word, wholly to Allah, the Creator and Cherisher of the universe (Rabb-al-'aalameen), because He alone was the Provider and the only Ilah. There was no other being who could grant their prayers and give them aid and comfort, and therefore He alone deserved their full and entire submission and supplication, cf: O' my people, give your 'ibadah to Allah, (for) you have no ilah but He. And I am a messenger unto you from the Rabb of all the worlds, and convey to you the messages of my Rabb. (Quran 7:59-60). The people, however, were adamant that, notwithstanding Allah's being the Rabb of all the worlds, there were other gods too who had a share in the affairs of the world, who too could answer some of the prayers, and whom too therefore they could and would continue to regard as ilahs, cf:
And they said: Abandon not your gods ; abandon neither Wadd nor Suwa, neither Yaguth nor Ya'uq, nor Nasr. (Quran 71:23)
(ii) The other was that they regarded Allah as the Rabb only to the extent of believing in Him as the Creator, the Lord of the earth and the heavens, and the Supreme regulator of the affairs of the universe, but did not agree that His Sovereignty extended also to such matters as morality and moral principles, social relations, culture, politics, and other worldly affairs. They did not acknowledge Him as the only rightful and ultimate source of law in such matters, in which they actually behaved as commanded by their chiefs and priests. Thus according to them the status of rabbs is that, in such matters, it was their word, which was the law. Hazrat Nuh protested that rububiyyah was not a thing which could be split apart and distributed, and that they must regard Allah as the Rabb in all the different meanings of the word, and follow all of His laws and commandments, conveyed through himself as His accredited representative:
I am to you an apostle worthy of all trust. So fear God, and obey me. (Quran 26:107-108)
The next in line were the 'Aad. They too did not deny the existence of God, or His being the Ilah but at the same time they too believed in Him as the Rabb to the same extent and in the same sense as had Hazrat Nuh's people. And so the points of disagreement between them, and the Prophet sent to them, Hazrat Hud, were the same too:
And to the Aad (We sent) their brother (that Is kinsman) Hud, who said to them :
"O' my people, give your 'ibadah to Allah (because) there is no ilah but He; will yon not fear Him?"...(And) they said: "Have you come to us to make us give all of our 'ibadah to Allah alone, exclusively, and give up those to whom our ancestors used to give theirs?" (Quran 7:65-70)
They said: "If our Rabb had wanted, He would have sent down angels (instead of you, a human like us)". (Quran 41:14)
These then were the 'Aad, who refused to obey the commands of their Rabb, who did not obey His messengers, and who (instead) obeyed every despotic transgressor (against Truth) (Quran 11:59)
Then there were the Thamud, the worst transgressors after the 'Aad. Basically, their deviation was the same as of the people of Hazrat Nuh and the 'Aad. They also believed in the existence of Allah and His being the Ilah and the Rabb but they did not agree that He was the only ilah, that He alone was worthy of all 'ibadah, and that He was Rabb in all the senses of the word. They insisted that there were others, besides Allah, who too could accept prayers, grant favours, and remove distress, and in moral and cultural matters they took their law from their chiefs and priests instead of following Divine guidance. It was this which made them into a tragically misled people and brought down on them Allah's punishment:
And (O' Muhammud) if they turn away (and do not listen to what you say) then say to them: I am warning you of a punishment the like of that which visited the 'Aad and the Thamud, to whom Prophets came repeatedly telling them not to give their 'ibadah to any but Allah, and whose only reply was: 'If our Rabb had wanted, He would surely have sent down angels, (but since He did not), we reject the message which you bring'. (Quran 14:13-14)
And to the Thamud (we sent) their kinsman Saleh, who said to them, "O' my People: 'give your 'ibadah to Allah; you have no ilah but He."...They replied, "O' Saleh, we had great hopes of you (and now you spear strangely); Do you mean to forbid us to give our 'ibadah to those to whom our ancestors used to give their?" (Quran 11:61-62)
When their kinsman Saleh said to them: "Do you not fear (God)? I am verily an apostle worthy of trust where fore fear God, and obey me and not obey all the words of transgressors who cause strife in the land and who do not mend their ways." (Quran 26:142-143, 150-152).
Next in importance are the people of Hazrat Ibrahim (Abraham, may peace be upon him), and the significance of their case is that it is commonly thought that their King, Namrud (Nimrod), did not believe in God but claimed himself to be God instead. The fact, however, is that he did believe in God, and also believed Him to be the Creator and the Regulator of the affairs of the universe, and his own claim to be a rabb was only in the third, fourth, and fifth senses of the term. Another common misconception is that these people had no belief in God nor in his being the Ilah and the Rabb, although in fact their beliefs on these points were little different from those of the people of Hazrat Nuh and the Thamud. They did believe in the existence of God, and also knew Him as the Rabb, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and the Supreme Ruler of the universe. Nor, for that matter, did they deny His right to man's worship. Where they were mistaken was in regarding the heavenly bodies as partners with him in rububiyyah in the first and second senses of the term and hence in associating them with God to that extent. As for the third, fourth, and fifth meanings of the term, here it was their kings whom they treated as the rabbs. The Holy Qur'an is so clear on these points that it is surprising how the misconceptions just mentioned originated and came to be so widely accepted. Take for example the story of Hazrat Ibrahim's search for the truth as told in the Qur'an:
When night came upon him, he saw a star, and he said, "This is my rabb;" but when the star set, he said to himself, "I do not like those who set." When he saw the shining moon he said, "This is my rabb," but when the moon also set, he said "If my Rabb does not guide me, I am afraid I too will become one of those who have bone astray." Then, when he saw the sun he said, "This is my rabb; this is the biggest (of them all);" but when the son also set, he cried out, "O' my people, I disown all those whom you associate with God; I turn away from them all and towards Him who created the heavens and the earth, and I shall not be of those who associate others with Him" (Quran 6:77-80)
The portions italicised clearly show that the people among whom Hazrat Ibrahim (on whom be peace) had been born did have a conception of a Being Who had created the heavens and the earth and of His being a Rabb as distinct from the heavenly bodies. And how could it be otherwise, considering the message of Hazrat Nuh, and that other Prophets had continued to be raised after him, in particular among related or neighbouring people, the 'Aad and the Thamud. One can therefore safely presume that Hazrat Ibrahim owed his belief in God as the Creator to his own people. What puzzled him, how- ever, even at the tender age at which the above incident occurred, was the validity of the belief in the heavenly bodies as being partners in divinity and hence worthy of men's 'Ibadah along with God. [ It might be mentioned in this connection, that according to architectural excavations in Ur - which was Hazrat Ibrahim's home-it seems that the people of that area worshipped the moon whom they called "Nannar." In the land next to theirs, it was the sun which was worshipped, and was called "Shammash." Hazrat Ibrahim's country had been founded by a King called Uranmuw, a word which was arabicised into Namrud, and this word later came to be the title of the Kings in just the same way as, for example, much later, the successors or Nazam-ul-Mulk, who founded the state of Hyderabad India, came to be called Nizams. A. A. Maududi] And it was his own search for the truth and His observation of the stars and the moon and the sun and of the phenomenon of their rising and setting, which, helped of course or strengthened by Divinely inspired intuition, provided the answer, and led him rightly to conclude that there is no Rabb at all other than the Creator of the universe. [ Maulana Maududi has, to his Tafhim-ul-Qur'an also dealt with the point which puzzled some as to why, since the rising and the setting of the heavenly bodies is a daily phenomenon, the Qur'an says, - "When night came upon him...' and why did not Hazrat Ibrahim notice the phenomenon earlier; and, in older to get over the point, the story was made out that he had been born and brought up in a cave and that is why he had not seen the stars and the moon and the sun until the event described occurred. The fact, however, is that there are many daily occurrences which one sees but whose significance escapes one until, at some moment chosen by God, it suddenly strikes one, and then, afterwards, the whole world also accepts the same explanation. After all, the apple is not the only fruit which falls from a tree, and all the various fruits had surely been falling from trees-as also all other objects thrown up-for God alone knows how long, and yet it was left to Newton to infer the law of gravity. And surely no one can say that Newton had not himself before that seen any apple or other fruit to fall from a tree. Abu Asad] That is the reason why, when he had seen the moon to set, he had said he was very much afraid that if his Rabb, that is, Allah Almighty, did not give him His own guidance, he to too might fail to get at reality and be deceived by the heavenly phenomenon as had been hundreds of thousands of others around him.
When, later, he was ordained prophet, and began his mission of calling men to God, he ended one of his discourses to them with the words:
And why should I have any fear of those, whom you associate with God while you yourselves feel none at making them His associates even though He has given no sanction for making them sharers in His Divinity. (Quran 6:81)
On other occasions, he said:
I repudiate and reject all whom you pray to others than God (Quran 19:48)
The only rabb there is He, Who is the Rabb of the heavens and the earth, He Who creased them. Do you then give your 'ibadah to others than Him, who have not the slightest authority or power to do you any good or harm? (Quran 21:56-66)
Who are these you are giving your 'ibadah to? Wou1d you rather give it to ilahs whom you fancy as such? If that be so, what think you of God, the Rabb of all creation? (Quran 37:85-87)
(As for me and my fellow Muslims), we have nothing at all to do with you and all those others than Allah to whom you give your 'ibadah. We reject your ways as false, and there will henceforth ever be only hatred and hostility between you and us unless and until you change your creed and come to believe in Allah alone (as the 'Ilah and the Rabb) (Quran 60:4)
It is clear from these words that those addressed were not totally ignorant of God nor disbelieved in Him or that they had no idea of His being the Rabb of all creation and the Ilah. Where they went wrong was in assigning to others the role of partners in godhood and, in the first and second sense of the term, in Rububiyyah too. This is the reason why, in the whole of the Qur'an there is not a single address by Hazrat lbrahim which would show that he had been trying to convince his people of the existence of God or of His being the Ilah and the Rabb. His entire effort lay in emphasising that God alone is the Rabb and the Ilah, to the exclusion of all or any others in all the senses of both the words.
Consider, for example, the argument between him and Namrud, the king, which is described in the Qur'an as follows:
Do you (O' Muhammad,) know the story of the one who argued with Ibrahim regarding Him Whom Ibrahim believed to be his Rabb, - (argued) because His kingship, a gift from Allah to him, had given him pretensions! When Ibrahim said, "My Rabb is He, Whose power are life and death," he replied "I too have power over life and death." Then Ibrahim said to him "(Granted that that be so; but) Allah makes the sun rise in the East, so, (if you are a rabb) cause it to rise in the West," which completely nonplussed the disbeliever. (Quran 2:258)
The polemic here also appears, from the way it is described, to have been not as to whether God existed or not, but as to who it was whom Ibrahim regarded as his Rabb. The reason was, firstly, that the king came of a people who believed in the existence of God. Secondly, unless his senses had left him entirely, he could obviously not make so foolish a claim as to be the creator of the heavens and the earth or the one who made the sun and the moon to move in their orbits. All he claimed was that within his own domain he was the rabb. And this claim, be it added, was not in the first and second senses of the term, because rububiyyah in those senses was attributed to the heavenly bodies; the senses in which he claimed to be rabb were the third, fourth, and fifth, and that too within the confines of his own realm only. In other words, what his claim amounted to was: "I am the lord of this land. All its people are my bondsmen. I am the sovereign because they all acknowledge me as such, and my word is therefore law for them. There is no higher authority than mine." It is clear from the verses last quoted above that his claim rested solely on the pretensions he had given himself for being the king. When, therefore, he learnt that a youth by the name of Ibrahim (may peace be upon him) believed neither in the rububiyyah of the heavenly bodies in the supernatural sense nor in the king's in the temporal and social sense, he naturally felt surprised, and sent for him and asked as to who, after all, was the one whom he acknowledged as his Rabb. Hazrat Ibrahim's first answer was: "He who has power of life and death." But the significance of this was lost upon the king, who countered with the claim that he too had the same power: he could cause anybody to be put to death, and could spare of the life of anybody he chose. Then Hazrat Ibrahim gave the second reply which, in effect, meant: "I acknowledge only God as my Rabb. For me He alone is the rabb in all the senses of the term. How can there be any rububiyyah for anyone else when no one else can alter in the least the way the sun rises or sets?" This argument opened the king's eyes, and he at once realised that Allah being the Sovereign of the universe, his own claim to be a rabb was nothing but a false pretension. However, his selfishness and vested family interests overcame his better sense and, despite 'the dawning of Truth on him, he could not bring himself to climb down from the high status of being fully his own master and to follow the path he had been shown by God's Prophet. It is on this account that, after recounting the event, the Qur'an add: "And Allah does not show the right path to transgressors," that is, after having seen the Truth the king ought to have bowed to it but since he did not, and chose instead to continue his autocratic rule and proclaimed his word be the ultimate law, against his own real interests, God too did not show him further light, because He does not thrust His guidance on any who does not sincerely seek after the truth.
The next in historical order are the people of Sodom, the task of whose reformation was entrusted to Hazrat Ibrahim's nephew, Lot (may peace be upon both). From the Qur'an we know about these people too that while they neither denied the existence of God nor His being the Creator and the Rabb in the first and the second senses of the word, they refused to acknowledge Him as such in the third, fourth, and fifth senses, and also repudiated the authority of the Prophet Lot as His trusted representative to lay down the law for their conduct. What they wanted was to be left to do as they pleased, and this was their real crime and the reason for their bringing God's wrath upon their heads. This is what the Qur'an says about them:
When their kinsman Lot said to them, "Will you not fear God? Look! I am a trusted messenger to you (from God). Therefore (believe what I say and) try to save yourselves from Divine wrath, and do as 1 tell you, I ask no regard for myself, because my reward lies with God. Do you, unlike the whole of the rest of humanity, turn to boys (for your Sexual satisfaction) and leave aside the wives your Rabb has created for you for the purpose? Surely, you are the worst of wrong-doers". (Quran 26:161-166)
Obviously these words can have only been addressed to a people who did not deny the existence of God or His being the Creator and the Provider. And that is why they did not counter by asking who was God, or how could He claim to be the Creator, or how did He become their Rabb. What they did say instead was, "Listen, Lot, if you do not stop your preachings, you will surely find yourself turned out from the land." (Quran 26:167)
In another place, the matter is put in the following words:
And (we sent) Lot (to his people as Our messenger and) when he said to them, "You commit an obscenity which no one in the world has ever committed before. You satisfy your sexual urge with boys, commit highway robberies, and openly indulge in obscenities in your gatherings". Their only answer was: If you are so right in what you say, then bring down the wrath of Allah upon our heads".
Can these words have been uttered by a people who did not believe in the existence of God'. Clearly, their real crime was not the denial of His being the Ilah and the Rabb but that, while believing in Him to be both in the supernatural sense, they refused to follow His law and to accept the guidance of His messenger in the moral, social, and cultural spheres.
Next come the people of Madyan and of Aika (the ancient name of Tabuk), to whom Hazrat Shu'aib (peace be upon him) was sent as prophet. We know that these people were descendants of Hazrat Ibrahim (on whom be peace) and so there can be no question of their not knowing God of or not believing in him to be the Ilah and the Rabb. They were in fact a people who had originally been Muslims but whose beliefs as also conduct had become corrupted through the passage of time. It would even appear from the Qur'an, that they claimed to be believers, because Hazrat Shu'aib repeatedly says to them; "If you truly believe"; "If you truly are believers." An examination of his discourses and of their answers clearly shows that they both believed in Allah and acknowledged Him as the Ilah and the Rabb, but went wrong on two points. Firstly, in the supernatural sense they associated others with Him as also being ilahs and rabbs and 'so did not give Him their 'ibadah exclusively and, secondly, they held that His being the Rabb did not extend to His having authority to lay down the law for regulating moral, social, economic and cultural behaviour, or they claimed freedom of action for themselves so far as these spheres were concerned:
And to (the people of) Madyan We sent their kinsman Shu'aib (who said to them): "O my people, give your 'ibadah to Allah (alone), for there is no ilah but He; verily, there has come to yon clear guidance from your Rabb, so give people just measure and weight and do not deprive them of their rightful due, nor (by these means) cause mischief in the land after it has been purged of corruption; this is the better course for you if you be true believers... And if a group among you believe in the guidance with which I have been sent, and another one not, then wait till God decides between us, and He alone is the best of all judges. (Quran 7:85-87)
(And Shu'aib said to them): "O' my people, give full measure and weigh justly, and do not cause loss to people, nor go about creating mischief in the land; the profit left to you through God's grace is more beneficial for you, if yon (really) believe; and (of course) I am no guardian of your morals". All they could say was: "Does your praying to God (in your own special way) give you O'Shu'aib the right to tell us to give up those whose worship has come down from our ancestors, or that we do not conduct our business transaction, as we please? You are indeed the forbearing and right-minded one!" (Quran 11:85-87)
The words italicised bring out clearly that the error of these people lay in misunderstanding the scope of God's rububiyyah, which they thought had limited scope.
Next, we come to the Pharaoh and his people, regarding whom there are even greater misconceptions than in the case of Namrud and his people. The view generally held is that the Pharaoh not only denied the existence of God but himself claimed to be God, that is, that he had become so misled as to presume to be the creator of the heavens and the earth, and that his people too were so bereft of reason as to unquestioningly subscribe to such claim. The Holy Qur'an and history both show, on the contrary, that there was little difference between his people and those of Namrud in regard to their beliefs about God as both the Ilah and the Rabb. The only difference was the existence of a racial bias against the Bani-Israel which prompted the Egyptians to refuse, to openly acknowledge God as the Ilah and the Rabb, although they knew that He existed, as do also many a professing atheist in our own day.
The facts are that, after being vested by the king with high authority, Hazrat Yousuf (on whom be peace) had striven to the utmost to bring the people to the path of Islam, and the impact of his efforts had lasted right down to the time of Hazrat Musa (peace be upon him). Even though everybody had not come to embrace the true faith, there was nobody after Hazrat Yousuf's time entirely ignorant of God's existence or of His being the sole Creator of the heavens and the earth. Not only that, but Hazrat Yousuf's teachings had also inculcated in everybody the notion of His being both the, ilah and the Rabb in the supernatural sense, so that there was none who denied His existence. As to those who had stuck to their beliefs, even their error consisted in associating others with Him. And the impact of these teachings had not quite died out even till the time of Hazrat Musa (Moses, on whom be peace) [ If one were to believe in what is slated in the Old Testament, it would appear that about one-fifth of the population of Egypt had come to accept, over the course of time, the faith of Hazrat Yousuf (on whom be peace). The total number of the Israelities who left Egypt with Hazrat Musa (on whom be peace) is stated to have been about two million, while the total population of Egypt armor at that time have been more than a hundred million. Unfortunately all these two million are referred to, in the Old Testament as the children of Israel, which seems impossible because, surely, the descendants or the twelve sons of Hazrat Yaqoob (Jacob, on whom be peace) cannot have risen to two million even in about four centuries. The only plausible inference one can draw from this is that a large number of non-Israelis too had accepted the religion of the Israelis-which, of course was, essentially, the religion of Islam-and had left the country along with the Israelis. (The number, incidentally, shows pointedly the extent of the tabligh work done by Hazrat Yousuf and his successors). A. A. Maududi]. This fact is clearly proved by the speech made by a Coptic noble at the court of the Pharaoh, who had become a Muslim but had not declared his faith openly and who, on learning of the Pharaoh's determination to have Hazrat Musa (on whom be peace) put to death, protested boldly in the following words:
Would you people kill a person for the reason only that he says that his Rabb is Allah alone, and despite the fact that he comes to you with manifest signs from your Rabb? If he lies, then upon him be his lies. And if be should be telling the truth, then surely some of what he warns you against is bound to smite you. Verily, Allah does not guide aright any who exceeds all limits in lying. True, my people, the land is yours, but who will save us if Allah's chastisement should come down upon us? I fear grievously that you may suffer a fate the like of that which overtook, mighty nations before, like the people of Nuh, the Aad and the Thamud, and others after them (who wont wrong)... And there was also the time that Yousuf came to yon with clear signs (from God) but you continued to harbour doubts , but when he died you said that Allah would not send another prophet after him. .. And, is it not strange, my people, that while I call you to the path of salvation you call me to the one which leads to (the) fire (of Hell)? What you would have me do is to commit kufr in regard to Allah, and to associate those with him regarding whom I know not for sure that they are His associates; My call to you is that you turn to the One (God) Who is the Mighty and the Oft Forgiving ! (Quran 40:28-40)
This whole speech bears witness that despite the passing of several centuries, the impact of the great personality of Hazrat Yousuf (on whom be peace) had persisted and, due to his teachings, the Egyptians had not yet sunk so low in ignorance as to be entirelv unacquainted with the existence of God or to not know Him as being the Rabb and the Ilah, or that He is the Lord and master of all Nature and that His wrath is something to be feared. The last sentence in fact clearly shows that they did not deny God's being the Ilah and the Rabb totally but that they erred in associating others with him.
The only thing which might tend to cast doubt on the above explanation is that, when Hazrat Musa use (on whom be peace) had announced to the Pharaoh that he and his brother Hazrat Haroon (Aaron, peace be upon him) had been sent to him as the messengers of the Rabb-al'aalameen (the Lord of the worlds), He had countered with the question, "And who might this Rabb-al-'aalameen be?" He had also ordered his minister, Haman, to build him a skyscraper that he might look at Hazrat Musa's Ilah from its heights, had threatened to put Hazrat Musa (on whom be peace) in jail if he took anyone other than him (the Pharaoh) as his Ilah had caused it to be proclaimed to all the people throughout the land that he was their supreme rabb (obviously lest their beliefs be affected by Hazrat Musa's teachings), had told his nobles that he knew of no-one but himself to be their ilah, and so on. Utterances like these might no doubt give the impression that he denied the existence of God altogether, had no conception of Rabb-al-aalameen, and regarded himself as the only ilah (in the world).
The fact, however, seems to be that his whole attitude was inspired by his racial prejudices. Hazrat Yousuf (on whom be peace) had not only been the cause of the spread of Islam, but the prestige of his high office had also been instrumental in the Israelis' coming to occupy a dominant position in the land which they had held for three or four hundred years. Then germs of Egyptian nationalism had begun to sprout, until at last the Israelites were dethroned from their position and a nationalist Egyptian dynasty became the ruler. The new rulers did not stop at merely downgrading the Israelites. They also took deliberate steps to wipe out all vestiges of the times of Hazrat Yousuf (on whom be peace) and to revive the civilisation and culture of their own former Age of Ignorance. Therefore, when against this background Hazrat Musa, an Israeli, presented himself as messenger from God, they naturally apprehended that the Israelis might recover their former prestige and dominance and they themselves lose their newly retrieved authority. It was because of these fears and the Egyptian's nationalist and racial prejudices and the consequent natural hostility between the two peoples that the Pharaoh attempted repeatedly to confuse and perplex Hazrat Musa (on whom be peace) so as to abort his mission. When, for example, he asked, "And who might this Rabb-al-'aalameen be?" It was not that he did not know what the words meant or Who was referred to. He certainly did know, as his own words on other occasions show. For example, once, in trying to reassure his own people that Hazrat Musa (on whom be peace) was not a Divine messenger, he raised the objection:
(And if he be a prophet), why have not golden bracelets been sent down for him, or why did not angels follow him in procession? (Quran 43:53)
Can such words have been uttered by a person devoid of any notion of God or the angels? On yet another occasion, the following words passed between him and Hazrat Musa (on whom be peace):
Then said (the Pharaoh) to him: “I can only think that you have lost your reason." (To which) Musa replied; "You know very well that it is none other than the Lord of the Worlds Who has sent down these manifest, signs, and I (on my part,) believe that you, O Pharaoh, are doomed." (Quran 17:101-102)
In another place in the Qur'an God describes the mental state of the Pharaoh's people in the following words:
And when our signs became absolutely manifest to them, they said: "This surely is magic." Inwardly, their hearts had become convinced (that it was not magic but the Truth), but they refused to acknowledge this out of sheer mischief and wilful rebellion. (Quran 27:13,11)
Then Muss said to them: "Woe unto you; Forge not a lie against God; for (if you do) He will destroy you by chastisement; and whoever has committed forgery has only suffered frustration. On hearing which they began to dispute among themselves and held secret counsels, wherein it was said: "This surely is a pair of magicians aiming at driving you away from your land and doing away with your cherished traditions and way of life." (Quran 20:61-63)
They could only have begun to dispute, on being warned of Divine chastisement and of the punishment for forging lies, because there still endured in their hearts some remnants of the notion of God's greatness and might and some fear of Him. But when the ruling racist nationalists spoke of a possible political revolution in case they adopted the faith of Musa (on whom be peace) and raised the spectre of fresh Israeli domination over Egypt, their hearts became hardened once again, and they unanimously decided to defy both the Prophets.
This point having been settled, we can now easily get at the real basis of the dispute between Hazrat Musa (on whom be peace) and the Pharaoh, see wherein lay the latter's error and of his people, and in what sense did he claim to be ilah and rabb. In this connection, the verses in the Qur'an which appear to be relevant, are set out below:
1. On one occasion the war-mongers among the courtiers asked the Pharaoh:
Would you give Musa and his people free rein to spread disruption in the land to give up your ilah? [ Some commentators have read the word aalihatika in verse 7:127 as ilahatika on the supposition only that the Pharaoh himself claimed to be the Lord of the world, and have interpreted the word ilaha to mean worship. In other words, they translate the verse to mean "to give up yourself and your worship”. However, in the first place, this reading of the word is rare and contrary to the general reading. In the second, the very supposition on which it is based is wrong ab initio. In the third, ilaha can, besides worship, mean goddess also, and this word was in fact used in Arabia in the Age of Ignorance for the sun. We know that to the Egyptians it was the sun which was the supreme god, whom they called Ra, and the word Pharaoh actually meant descendant, or incarnation, of Ra, so that the Pharaoh, claimed to be incarnations of the Sun god Ra. A. A. Maududi] (Quran 7:127)
As against this, the one who had affirmed belief in Hazrat Musa (on whom be peace), said to the others What you want is that I deny God, and associate those with Him regarding whom I have no valid proof (of any divine status). (Quran 40:42)
When we study these verses against the background of what we know from archaeological research, we can only conclude that both the Pharaoh himself and his people associated some of their gods with the One God who is the only Rabb, in the first and second senses of rububiyyah, and gave their worship to them on that basis. Obviously, if the Pharaoh had claimed to be god in the supernatural sense, that is, if he had presumed to be the ruler of the entire universe and believed in none other than himself to be the ilah and the rabb of the earth and the heavens, he would not have needed to worship any god at all.
2. The Qur'an also reports the Pharaoh to have said:
(i) To his nobles: "(As for me) I know of no ilah for you except myself." (Quran 28:38)
(ii) To Hazrat Musa (peace be upon him): "If you take anyone other than me to be your ilah I shall surely throw you in prison." (Quran 26:29)
These words do not mean that the Pharaoh denied the existence of any ilah but himself. He meant only to reject the call of Hazrat Musa (on whom be peace). This call was to God not only as the Ilah in the supernatural sense but also as the Supreme Sovereign and the ultimate Law-giver in all matters whether political, cultural, or social. The Pharaoh on the other hand held that there was no ilah but himself in political and cultural and social matters, and at the same time threatened Hazrat Musa that if he took anyone else as his ilah in this sense he would find himself in prison.
These verses also show, and this again is borne out both by history and archaeological discoveries, that the Pharaohs of Egypt did not stop at claiming absolute sovereignty but, by claiming kinship with gods, had also pretensions to a special sanctity, so as to further strengthen their holdover men's minds and hearts. In this, of course, they were not exceptional, because there have been many dynasties which too have, besides assuming absolute sovereignty, laid claim to a measure of divinity, and made it incumbent, on their subjects to perform various acts of worship before them. However, this was actually something of secondary importance only, because the real purpose was always to consolidate their own authority and the claim to possess a degree of divinity was only a means towards that end. And that is why the godhood of all these dynasties came forthwith to an end, in Egypt and elsewhere, the moment their temporal rule ended. If at all, the spiritual overlordship was transferred to the new occupants of the throne.
3. The Pharaoh's real claim was not to godhood in the spiritual, but in the political sense. It was in the third, and fifth senses of rububiyyah that he claimed to be the overlord of Egypt and its people, to be master of the country and all that there was in it, to the exclusion of all others and to have the absolute right to rule as he pleased. His alone was the supreme authority, and he alone the fountain-head of all cultural and social life in Egypt. None else had the right to speak in these matters, and to say what people might do, and what they might not. The basis for the claim, according to the Qur'an, was as follows:
And the Pharaoh proclaimed throughout Egypt: "Am I not the lord of this land? And do not the rivers in this country flow under me? Do you not all see this (and believe in what) I say!" (Quran 43:51)
This was the same basis on which Namrud had rested his claim to be a rabb-“(He having pretentions of his own) disputed with Ibrahim as to He Whom the latter regarded as his Rabb and on the basis only that Allah had bestowed him with kingship"-and on the same basis too had the king who ruled Egypt during the time of Hazrat Yousuf (on whom be peace) held himself out as the rabb of his people.
4. The real dispute which lay between Hazrat Musa, (on whom be peace) and the Pharaoh and his nobles, etc., was that the former called the people to believe in no-one as being in any degree an ilah or a rabb, in any sense of these terms, except Allah, the Lord of the Worlds (Rabb-al-'aalameen), Who alone was the Ilah and the Rabb in the supernatural sense and in political social and cultural matters too. He alone was worthy of worship, and His Word alone was the Law. Hazrat Musa (on whom be peace) also announced that it was none other than Allah Who had sent him to the Pharaoh and his people as His representative, to make known His Commandments through him. The reins of authority should therefore be in his hands and not in those of the Pharaoh (who, be it remembered, was a rebel against God). And this led the Pharaoh and his nobles, naturally, to claim that the two brothers (Hazrat Musa, and Hazrat Haroon, may peace be upon both) wanted to dispossess them of their authority and to rule over the land themselves, to root out the existing creed and culture, and install their own:
And We indeed sent Musa with our Signs, and clear tokens of authority to the Pharaoh and his nobles but the people obeyed the word of the Pharaoh, though he (certainly) was not in the right. (Quran 11:96-97)
And We had previously put Pharaoh's people through a test; a noble prophet had come to them, and said to them: "Make over authority over Allah's creatures to me; 1 am to yon a Divine Messenger and worthy of all trust, and so be not arrogant against God, for I come to you with authority (which is) manifest." (Quran 44:17-19)
(And, O people of Makkah:) Verily We have sent to you a messenger, who will bear witness over you, in just the same way that We sent a messenger to the Pharaoh; then the Pharaoh disobeyed the messenger, and (for this) We seized hold of him most woefully. (Quran 73:15-16)
The Pharaoh asked: "(And, if you do not acknowledge either our gods or the Royal family to be your rabbs, then who, after all, is your Rabb?") "The same," replied, Musa, "Who gave everything in creation its own peculiar structure, shape, and qualities, and then taught man how to put them to his use." (Quran 20:49-50)
The Pharaoh asked, "And who might this Rabb-al- 'aalameen (Lord of the Worlds) be?" And Musa, replied: "The Lord of the heavens and the earth, and whatever is between them-if you were only to believe." Do you hear?" the Pharaoh asked those around him. "The Lord of all of you," added Musa, "and of all your predecessors too." "This (self-styled Divine) messenger," remarked the Pharaoh, is verily a mad person." "The Lord of the East and of the West," retorted Musa, "and of all that is between them if you only had the true understanding". To which the Pharaoh could only reply, "Take heed, O' Musa If you dare take anyone other than me as your ilah, you certainly shall find yourself in prison." (Quran 20:23-29)
The Pharaoh asked. "Have you come to us that you should drive us out of our land, with (the help, or the threat of the use of) your magic, O Musa?" (Quran 20:57)
And the Pharaoh said "Let me do with Musa as I wish - to have him put to death-and then let him call to his Rabb to save him, for I very much fear that he will change your creed or disturb the peace of the land." (Quran 40:26)
They (the Pharaoh's nobles) said: "They (Musa and Haroon) are both (nothing but) magician, who wish to drive you out of your land by the force of their magic, and to do away with your most excellent way of life." (Quran 20:63)
The above verses bring out clearly the fact that in the land of the Nile too there prevailed the very same misconception with regard to rububiyyah as had existed among other peoples of old, and that the message of Hazrat Musa and Hazrat Haroon (on whom both be peace) to the Egyptians was also the same as of the prophets before them to their own respective people.
After Pharaoh's people, the next in historical order are the Israelites and those people who adopted the Jewish religion or Christianity. In their case, there can obviously be no question about their either not acknowledging the existence of God or not believing in His being the Ilah and the Rabb. The Qur'an itself affirms their belief in Him on the point and the question which therefore arises is of the particular error for which they were characterised in the Qur'an as "those who went astray". (Quran 1:7)
A brief answer is:
Say (O' Muhammed): "O' people of the Book: Do not exaggerate concerning your faith, and adopt not the wrong notions of those who have gone astray before you, who misled many others, and themselves too strayed from the straight path." (Quran 5:77)
From this, one may conclude that, in essence, the Jews and Christians too were guilty of the same error into which others had fallen earlier, and that in their case this arose out of exaggerated piety. Let us go into the matter in some detail, with the help of the Qur'an:
(i) And the Jews said: "Uzair (Ezra) is son of God, while the Christians said, "Isa (Jesus) is son of God." (Quran 9:30)
(ii) It was kufr on the part of Christians, to say that God was the same as Jesus son of Mary; though Jesus had himself said, for a fact, "O' sons of Israel, give your 'ibadah to Allah. Who is also your Rabb and my Rabb." (Quran 5:72)
(iii) Verily those who said 'that God is one of three, committed kufr, for there is but one Ilah and there is no ilah but He. (Quran 5:73)
(iv) And there will come a time (the Day of Judgment) when God will ask "O' Jesus, son of Mary, did you tell people to take you and your mother as ilahs besides Myself?" to which Jesus will reply, "Glory be to you! How could I have dared say that which I had no right to utter!" (Quran 5:116)
(v) It is not for any person that, after being given the Book, and being endowed with hikmah [ Literally, this word means wisdom; but when used in reference to a Prophet, it means that special wisdom which comes automatically after investment with the office of Prophethood, and which enables the Prophet to understand and expound the implications, and requirements of the Divine Injunctions. A. A. Maududi] and invested with prophethood, he should go about telling people to give up God and instead give their allegiance and 'ibadah to him. Far more fitting it is that he should say: "Believe firmly in Allah as the Rabb (in every sense of the word), as you find it written in His Book, and as you learn of yourselves and teach others." Nor, again, is it for a prophet to tell the people to regard the angels and the prophets as rabbs. Would he enjoin kufr to you after you have become Muslims? (Quran 3:79-80)
What we learn from the relevant verses is that the first error of the Jews and Christians was to raise their Prophets, and saints, and the angel, etc., to the status of divinity out of exaggerated regard for them, to believe them to have a say in the ordering of the universe and its affairs, to worship and address their prayers to them, treat them as partners in rububiyyah and in godhood in the supernatural sense, and to believe that they could remit their sins and come to their rescue and protect them from misfortune and disasters.
Their second error lay in their making even their scribes and hermits into rabbs, besides God (cf.9:31). In other words, the people whose real function was to expound God's law to others, and to reform the people morally and spiritually to make their conduct conform to Divine precepts were gradually assigned authority to determine, on their own, what was to be treated as forbidden and what as permitted, without reference to what was said in the Book. They could forbid any practices they did not approve, and institute any others they fancied. And in this way both Jews and Christians fell into the same two basic errors as that into which the people of Prophets Nuh and Ibrahim (on whom both be peace), the 'Aadites and the Thamud and the people of Madyan and others had fallen earlier. Like them, they too made the angels and their religious leaders to be partners with God in Rububiyyah in the supernatural sense, and in moral, cultural and political spheres too. And so they began to take their cultural, economic, moral and political principles from human beings, disregarding the Divine injunctions, until they reached a stage about which the Qur'an says:
Have you noticed the people who were given a portion of the Book of God, but who (instead of making it the basis for their conduct), believed in jibt and taghoot? (Quran 4:51)
Say (O' Muhammad): "Shall I tell you who are worse as to their ultimate fate with Allah than even the fasiqs [ A fasiq, according to the Qur'an is one who breaks his covenant with Allah, who severs the ties between Him and His creatures and between man and man, and who creates mischief upon earth (cf. note in Tafhim-ul-Qur'an. Vol.1. p.61. relative to 2-27-2). A. A. Maududi]. It is those who drew the curse of God upon them, those who invited His wrath, and of whom many were turned into apes and swine by His Command, and who gave their worship to taghoot; they are the lowest in degree, and the farthest astray from the straight path." (Quran 5:60)
The word jibt is a comprehensive term for all myths and superstitions, embracing such superstitious things as magic, the art of the occult, black magic, necromancy, witch-craft, soothsaying, divination, the belief in talismans or lucky stones or unlucky colours or numbers or natural phenomena, etc., or in the influence of the heavenly bodies on human affairs. As for taghoot, this term applies to every person, or group of persons, or organisation or institution which, instead of submitting to God and His Injunctions, rebels against them and virtually sets up himself or itself as god instead, or is so set up by people. So when the Jews and Christians committed the two errors indicated above, the result of the first was that different kinds of superstitious beliefs took hold of their minds and of the second that their scribes and hermits, etc., gradually came to assume the same right to tell people what to do and what not as had been presumed by those who were open rebels against God.
Last of all, we come to the Meccans, to whom Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him), was sent as God's Messenger and to whom therefore the Qur'an's message was immediately addressed. What was the nature of their error? Were they ignorant of God, or did they deny His existence, and was the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace), sent as God's Messenger to make them acknowledge His existence? Or did they deny His being the Ilah and the Rabb, and was it therefore the purpose of the Holy Qur'an to persuade them of His godhood and Rububiyyah? Did they hold that He was not worthy of worship and adoration, or did they disbelieve His being able to listen to their prayers and grant their supplications? Did they think that Lat, Manat, and Uzza and Hubal and their other supposed gods were the real creators, masters, planners and organisers and administrators of the universe and the providers for all the creatures in it? Were their gods, according to them, the sources of all law and moral and social codes? When we study the Qur'an, we find all such questions answered in the negative. The pagans of Arabia not only acknowledged the existence of God but they also believed Him to be Creator and Master of the universe as well as of their own gods, and also the Ilah and Rabb. It was to Him that they addressed all their prayers in the last resort, when all else failed, and they acknowledged His right to their worship and adoration. As for their gods, they believed them neither to be their own creators and masters nor of the universe nor able to provide guidance in the social and moral affairs of life, cf.
(i) Say to them O 'Prophet, "Whose is the earth and all who are in it? Tell me, if you know." Their reply will be: "It all belongs to Allah," Ask them then, "And still you do not listen?" Ask, “Who is the Rabb of the seven heavens and of the Mighty Throne," and they will say, "It is Allah." Ask them then, "And still you do not fear?" Ask, "Whose is the Sovereignty over everything, and who is it who grants shelter but against whose displeasure there is no protector? Tell me, if you know." And they will say, "Allah alone has this attribute." Ask them then, "If that is all so, what makes you go astray?" The fact indeed is that We have given them the Truth, but they practice falsehood. (Quran 23:84-90)
(ii) It is He, Allah, Who enables you to travel over the land and the seas; you board your ships and sail on them and rejoice at favourable winds and then, all of a sudden there comes a stormy gale, and the waves buffet the ship from all sides, and you find yourselves caught in a storm; you then pray to Allah, most devoutly, with hearts filled with faith in Him only and say, 'Deliver us from this storm, ('O Lord,) and we shall be Your truly grateful creatures." But when He has delivered you from the storm, there you go again, turning your back upon the Truth and spreading rebellion in the land. (Quran 10:22-23)
(iii) And when disaster overtakes you while on the sea, all those you worship other than God fail you, (and it is certainly He alone who delivers you), but when you are safe again upon the land, you turn away from Him. Truly, man is a rank ingrate! (Quran 17:67)
As to their beliefs about their gods, the Qur'an brings these out in their own words, as follows:
(i) Those who take others than God as protectors say: "We only give them of our worship that they may bring us closer to God (or intercede with Him)." (Quran 39:3)
(ii) And they say, "They (our gods) are our intercessors with God." (Quran 10:18)
That they had no pretensions about their gods being in any way capable of providing guidance in the affairs of life, is clear from the following verse:
Ask them, O' Prophet: "ls there any among those you associate with God, who will guide you towards Truth?" (Quran 10:34)
But when the question is asked it begets nothing but silence. None dares answer that Lat, or Manat, or Uzza, or any of the other gods provide guidance to right thinking and conduct, or teach the ways of justice, peace and harmony, or provide knowledge of basic realities of the universe. And so, receiving no reply, the Qur'an makes the Prophet (on whom be peace) add:
(So much then, for you gods. As for) Allah, (He) indeed guides to Truth. And so, who is worthier of being obeyed-He who guides towards Truth, or he who does nothing of the kind? What is wrong with you? Why can't you be sensible, and how do you come to your baseless conclusion? (Quran 10:34)
This being so, we again come up against the question as to what was their real error about rububiyyah which was sought to be removed through the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace), and for which purpose Allah revealed the Holy Qur'an. When we look into the Qur'an for an answer to this, we find that in their case too the basic errors were the same two which had occurred among those before them, viz.,
(i) Insofar as godhood and rububiyyah in the supernatural sense are concerned, they associated others with God, and thought that in some way or other the angels, the men of piety, and the heavenly bodies, had also a share in the realm of cause and effect. And that is why, in matters of worship, and making supplications, and seeking help, etc., they turned not only to God but also to those others they supposed to be gods.
(ii) As for mundane affairs like culture and politics, etc., they did not regard God as the Rabb with regard to such matters, but instead assigned the right to lay down the law to their priests, their chiefs, and the elders of their clans or tribes and followed their dictates.
As to the first, error, here is what the Holy Qur'an says:
And there are among men some who give their 'ibadah to Allah, as it were, on the verge; if good befalls them they are well content; but if it is trying circumstances, they turn away-losers in this life and the next-a sheer and utter loss. Then, having turned away from Allah, they call to those who have no power to do them either harm or good-and this is straying far indeed, for they call those for help whose being thus sought brings more loss than gain. How useless is the (supposed) helper, and how evil a companion! (Quran 22:11-13)
And instead of Allah they give their 'ibadah, to those who cause them neither profit nor harm, and they claim they are their intercessors with Allah. Ask them, O' Prophet, "Do you presume to tell Allah of something of which you think He is not aware either in the heavens or in the earth? Glory be to Him, and He is free of what they associate with Him." (Quran 10:17-18)
Say, (O' Prophet:) "Do you give your 'ibadah to those other than Allah who have power neither to do you aught of harm or of good, while Allah is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing?" (Quran 5:76)
And when in distress man calls to his Rabb whole heartedly, but when He has bestowed His favour upon him, he forgets that which had made him pray to Him, and begins to treat others as co-partners with Him, as if they too had a share in his change of fortune or as if their special powers or at least intercession alone brought it about, thus to mislead others from Allah's (True) Path. (Quran 39:8)
And any good thing of life you have is but the bounty of Allah and when any harm befalls you, it is to Him that you address your prayer, but when He has turned it away from you, there are some among you who begin to assign a share to others in your deliverance, to return ingratitude for Our favour. So be it, and do what you like, for soon will you know the outcome. These are the people who attribute to other, out of ignorance, a share in the granting of bounties which are Ours, wholly and solely. By God, (all) you (who do so) will (one day) certainly be taken to task for the falsehood you commit. (Quran 16:53-56)
As for the second error, this is the charge which the Qur'an makes in proof of it:
And in this wise was for many a pagan the slaying of their own children made to look a worthy act by those they associated with God, to lead them to their Doom and cause confusion in their religion. (Quran 6:138)
Obviously, the `associates' referred to here are not the idols or gods but those leaders and chiefs who had made the killing of one's own children seem like a noble act in the eyes of the pagans, and had thus contaminated this abominable act into the pure faith that had come down from Hazrat Ibrahim and Hazrat Isma'il (may peace be upon both). And, further, these leaders are not characterised here as `associates' in the sense of their being regarded as having a say in the affairs of the universe, nor did the pagans worship or pray to them. Certainly, this was not so. But they are dubbed as associates in rububiyyah and godhood because the pagans treated them as having the absolute right to lay down the law, as they pleased, in cultural and social and moral and religious matters:
Have they taken for themselves supposed associates with God who have given them laws in the way of Deen [ The "d" sounds like "th" in" the". Abu Asad], having no sanction from Allah? (Quran 42:21)
We shall discuss the full significance of the term deen later and comment also in detail on this verse, but what is clear here is that laying down of the law by the leaders and chiefs in those matters which formed part of deen, and the pagans' acceptance thereof as binding codes did constitute, in effect, the leaders and chiefs being treated as associates with Allah both in godhood and in rububiyyah.
The foregoing detailed exposition of the misguided conceptions of various pre-Islamic people make it patently clear that from earliest times to the revelation of the Qur'an, none of those whom it mentions as the transgressors, the misguided, and the astray, actually denied the existence of God, or His being the Rabb and the ilah. All, however, went wrong in much the same ways in dividing the attributes of rububiyyah, in its five different senses, into two separate compartments.
Insofar as such attributes of Allah as His being the Cherisher, the Provider, and the Protector and Helper of the creatures in the transcendental sense were concerned, the people regarded them as something apart from the rest. And, although in this sphere they did regard Allah as the Supreme Rabb, they also believed that the angels and various gods, the genii, and invisible forces, the stars, and other heavenly bodies, the Prophets and saints and other holy men, also had different shares in this rububiyyah.
As for the remaining attributes, namely, Allah's being the Supreme Sovereign, the Fountainhead of authority, the Supreme Law-giver, and the Supreme Lord of all creation etc., the people either assigned these roles wholly to particular human beings or, while assigning them to God in theory, in practice treated the entire rububiyyah in moral, cultural, and political spheres as vesting in these beings.
It was for the task of removal of both these types of misconceptions that there were ordained all the different Prophets from time to time (may peace be upon them) and, finally, Allah sent Muhammad (peace be upon him), as His last Prophet. All of the Prophets called to man to believe that there was but one Rabb, that is, Allah, in all of the various senses of the word, and that rububiyyah was not divisible nor was any portion of it available to any creature. The management and control of the universe, they emphasised, was centered is One Authority only, the Authority Who alone had created it, entirely to His own Grand Design and purpose, and Who exercised both de jure and de facto rule over all its affairs, and no-one had any share either in the creation or the running of the universe. As the Centre of all authority, God alone was and is the Rabb, in all the senses of the word, both in transcendental matters and the temporal affairs of men. He alone was and is worthy of all worship, of being made the focus of all adoration and prayer. He alone listens to all prayers and He alone is worthy of our reliance and capable of providing for the needs of all too. He alone is at the same time the King, the Lord of the Universe and the source of all law and authority, and He alone has therefore the right to lay down what is right and what is wrong and what ought or ought not to be done. It is in the very nature of things a misconceived notion to think of rububiyyah as something which could be split up into compartments. It is an essential, and exclusive attribute of Allah and; hence, obviously and necessarily indivisible.
This call of the various Prophets (on whom be peace), is brought out in the Qur'an in many a place, e.g.:
Verily, your Rabb is Allah (alone)-He Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and then established Himself on the Mighty Throne; He it is Who draws the night as a veil over the day, each seeking the other in rapid succession; the sun and the moon, and the stars are all subservient to His Law and Commands; Verily, it is patent that all creation is His, and authority too vests in Him, and Most Blessed is he, the Lord of all the Worlds. (Quran 7:54)
Ask them (O Prophet), "Who is it who provides sustenance for you from the heavens and the earth? Is it He in Whose power are hearing and sight, and Who brings forth the living from the dead and the dead from the living, and Who rules and regulates all affairs?" (If you ask) they will say, "It is Allah (Who does all this)." Ask them, then, "Wherefore, then, do you not fear Him (and change your ways)?” (Say): “Such is Allah, your real Rabb and true, and, apart from Truth, what remains but error, and so wherefore do you get turned astray?’ (Quran 10:31,32)
He (it is Who) created the heavens and the earth in Truth; He it is Who makes the night overlap the day and the day overlap the night, and made, the son and the moon subservient (to His Law), each one following a course till an appointed time … such is God, your Rabb; His is the Kingdom and there is no ilah but He; and why, then, do you keep getting turned away? (Quran 39:5-6)
Allah it is Who made the night for you that you may find rest and peace in it, and the day in which you are enabled to see ... Such is Allah, your Rabb Creator of every thing. There is no ilah but He; so why are you deluded into straying? ... Allah it is Who made the earth a place for you to live and rest upon, and the sky a roof over you, and gave you shapes; and good shapes at that, and provided for your provision good and wholesome food; such is Allah, your Rabb, and, so, blessed be He, the Lord of all the Worlds. He alone is the Living (One); there is no ilah, but He and to Him alone then address all your prayers. (Quran 40:61-65)
And Allah (it was Who) created you from clay…He merges night into day and day into night, and made the sun and the moon obey His Law, each following its course until an appointed timer Such is Allah, your Rabb; in Him vests all Sovereignty, while those; on call to besides him possess no such authority; and if you call upon them, they hear not your call and if they did they would not make any reply and, on the Day of Judgement, they will (to you discomfiture), (but) repudiate (and disown) your association of them with God. (Quran 35:11,13-14)
And to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth, and all are abjectly obedient and subservient to Him..., He propounds to you a similitude from your own (experience): Has any of your slaves a share in owning any of the things which We have bestowed upon you? Do they equal right, with you in the ownership and use of these things? Do you fear them as you fear your equals? Thus do we expound arguments to point the way to reality to those with wisdom and understanding, but wrong-doers merely follow their own baseless notions… Therefore (O' Prophet, and those of you who believe in him), set your face steadily and truly to the Faith; establish God's handi-work according to the pattern on which He has read, mankind; no change let there be in the work wrought by Him. This is the straight and correct road, but many among mankind know this not. (Quran 30:26,28,20,30)
And, (the wrongdoers) did not appreciate God (and His attributes) in proper measure, and (they will see that) on the Day of judgment He will hold the earth in his fist, and the heavens will be rolled-up in His right hand; blessed is He and far above the (supposed) partners they associate with Him. (Quran 39:67).
And praise all is due to Allah alone, the Rabb of the heavens and the Rabb of the earth, and Rabb of all the Worlds; and to Him belongs all Greatness and Glory throughout the heavens and the earth; and He is exalted in Power, and the All-Wise. (Quran 45:36,37)
He is the Rabb of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them; so give your 'ibadah to Him (O' Prophet) and remain steadfast in your worship of Him; (and) do yen know of aught like Him? (Quran 19:65)
And Allah (alone) knows the hidden realities of the heavens and the earth, and to Him are referred all matters, so give your 'ibadah to Him (alone), and rely not upon any but Him. (Quran 11:123)
He is the Rabb of the East and of the West; No ilah there is but He, and so entrust all your affairs unto Him (alone). (Quran 73:9)
Verily this brotherhood of yours (that is, of all the prophets) is a single brotherhood, and I am your Rabb, wherefore give your 'ibadah to Me. Men have apportioned rububiyyah and the duty of 'ibadah on their own (without any sanction from Us), and all of them will, ultimately, return to Us. (Quran 21:92-93)
Obey that which has been sent down to you from your Rabb, and do not obey others besides Him (as supposed protectors or guardians). (Quran 7:3)
Say (O Prophet): "O people of the Book: Pledge your creed to that which is common between us and you, that we do not give our 'ibadah to any but Allah and that we associate none with Him, and that we do not asks any human being a rabb besides Him. (Quran 3:64)
Say (O Prophet): I seek refuge with the (Sole) Rabb of all mankind, the (Sole) Monarch over all mankind, and the (Sole) Ilah of all." (Quran 114:1-3)
So whosoever looks forth to meeting his Rabb let him do pious deeds, and associate not any with his worship of Him. (Quran 18:110)
The foregoing verses bring out as clearly as possible that the Holy Qur'an uses rububiyyah as exactly synonymous with sovereignty, and the concept of Rabb it presents is that Allah is the Absolute Monarch of all creation, and its sole Lord and Master, and, as such:
He is our Cherisher and Provider and Sustainer, and of all that constitutes creation; It is He Who looks after all our needs, governs all our affairs, and is alone worthy of our entrusting all our affairs to His discretion; It is by virtue of this very attribute that faith. in Him is the only right basis on which to build up the structure of human life in proper manner, and attachment only to His central Personage is capable of bringing together different individuals and groups and forming them into an Ummah.
He alone is worthy of the 'ibadah, and submission, and worship, of all humanity and other creatures; and He alone is the Lord, Master, and Ruler, of ourselves, and all else besides.
The pagans, whether Arabs or others, have always committed the error, which continues even today, of splitting up the comprehensive concept of rububiyyah into its five facets as if they could exist separately or be vested in different beings. The Qur'an lives most cogent and irrefutable arguments that the Universe is one, and that there is no room in it at all for Supreme Authority and rububiyyah vesting in any but the same Being. The very fact that the universe is subject to one supreme law shows that rububiyyah is reserved solely for Allah, Who alone brought the universe into existence. Therefore, whoever attributes any portion of rububiyyah to any but Him seeks but to depart from or ignore the ultimate fundamental Reality, to turn away from the Reality of the universe, to rebel against Truth, and, by thus going against what exists, only brings loss to himself and ultimate disaster.