Category Archives: I- Ruboobiyyah

Meaning of ‘Rabb’
All of Creation is under the Ruboobiyyah of Allah
Islamic Proofs for Ruboobiyyah
Logic as a Proof for the Existence of Allah
Western Proofs for the Existence of God
Responding to Atheists: Pain and Suffering in this Life

6 – Responding to Atheists: Pain and Suffering in this Life

If God is All-Good, He must want to prevent evil. But evil and suffering exist. How is it possible for God to be both All-Powerful and All-Good and still allow a world in which evil and suffering exist?

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, Director of the Islamic Society of Orange County and President of the Islamic Society of North America, states in response to the question:

“Indeed Allah is All-Powerful (Al-`Aziz) and He is able to do all things (`ala kull sha’in qadir). The Qur’an has mentioned this hundreds of times. It is also mentioned in the Qur’an that Allah is the Creator and He is the Best Creator. “Glory be to Allah, the best Creator.” (Al-Mu’minun: 14)

But then the question comes, why does pain and suffering exist in the world? We find sickness, old age and death. We see things that are ugly, people who are insane and foolish. There are storms, earthquakes, floods, draught and famine. We also see people commit sins, show disloyalty, unfaithfulness, greed and insincerity. We see people commit rapes, murders; they fight and make wars. We know all these and many more problems. There are evils caused by human beings and there are natural disasters. There are suffering for individuals and there are those that involve a large number of people.

But we also know that this is not the whole story. Besides all these negative things, we also see beauty, health, prosperity, life, birth, wisdom, intelligence, growth and progress. We also see goodness among people, faith, sincerity, charity, love and the spirit of sacrifice. We also see a lot of virtue and piety. It is wrong to see one side of the coin and not to see the other side. Any philosophy that concentrates on one aspect of the creation and denies or ignores the other side is partially true and partial truths are no truth at all.

It is also the fact that the element of good is more in the creation than the element of evil. We all see that there are more people who are healthy than those who are sick. There are more that eat well than those who starve.

There are more that lead decent lives than those who commit crimes. Goodness is the rule and evil is the exception. Virtue is the norm and sin is the aberration. Generally trees bear fruits, the flowers bloom, the winds move smoothly.

But then the question is why does Allah allow these exceptions to the rules?

Let us ask this question to understand Allah’s ways in His creation. The Qur’an tells us that good, evil and whatever happens in this world happens by Allah’s Will (mashi’at Allah). Only Allah knows fully His Will. We finite beings cannot grasp fully His infinite Will and Wisdom. He runs His universe the way He deems fit. The Qur’an tells us that Allah is Wise and everything that Allah does is right, just, good and fair. We must submit and surrender to His Will. The Qur’an has not given us all the details about Allah’s Will, but it has enlightened us with the guidance that is useful and sufficient for us. There are several points that we should keep in our mind to understand this issue:

1. First of all, Allah did not make this world a permanent world. This is a temporary world and everything here has a time limit. When its times comes it will die, come to an end and finish. Neither the good things of this world are forever, nor the bad things eternal. We are here for a short time and we are being tested. Those who will pass this test will find an eternal world that is perfect and permanent. Those who will fail this test shall see the evil consequences of their sins and corruption.

2. Allah has placed a physical law and a moral law in this universe. Allah allows suffering to occur when one or more of these laws are broken. The physical law is based on cause and effect. Sickness comes if one does not take care of one’s health or is exposed to infections. A car accident occurs when one is not alert, or drives in a careless manner, or if the cars are not checked, roads and freeways are not made and kept in right shape, or the traffic laws are not right or not properly enforced. Study of causes and effects is very important to facilitate safeguards. Even here we should keep in mind that Allah often saves us and He does not let us suffer from every negligence. How many times it happens that we are not careful and still we reach safely to our destinations. The way people drive in some cities, it is a miracle that more accidents do not happen and more people do not suffer. Allah says:

“(Allah) Most Gracious! It is He Who has taught the Qur’an. He has created man: He has taught him speech (and Intelligence). The sun and the moon follow courses (exactly) computed; and the herbs and the trees both (alike) bow in adoration. And the Firmament has He raised high, and He has set up the Balance (of Justice), in order that you may not transgress (due) balance. So establish weight with justice and fall not short in the balance. It is He Who has spread out the earth for (His) creatures.” (Ar-Rahman:1-10)

The way we exceed the measures set by Allah and violate His laws of cause and effect is incredible. It is really the mercy of Allah that we are saved. Strictly speaking, the question should not be why does Allah allow suffering, but how much Allah protects us and saves us all the time in spite of our violations and negligence. The Qur’an says:

“If Allah were to punish people according to what they deserve, He would not leave on the back of the (earth) a single living creature: but He gives them respite for a stated Term: when their Term expires, verily Allah has in His sight all His servants.” (Fatir:45)

But sometimes Allah does punish people because of their violations of His laws whether they are physical or moral. The Qur’an tells us that many nations and communities were destroyed because of their sinful lifestyles:

“If they treat thy (mission) as false, so did the Peoples before them (with their Prophets), the People of Noah, and Ad and Thamud. Those of Abraham and Lut; and the Companions of the Madyan people; and Moses was rejected (in the same way). But I granted respite to the Unbelievers, and (only) after that did I punish them: but how (terrible) was My rejection (of them)! How many populations have We destroyed, which were given to wrong-doing! They tumbled down on their roofs. And how many wells are lying idle and neglected, and castles lofty and well-built?” (Al-Hajj: 42-45)

3. Suffering can also be a test and trial for some people. Allah allows some people to suffer in order to test their patience and steadfastness. Even Allah’s Prophets and Messengers were made to suffer. Prophet Ayyub is mentioned in the Qur’an as a Prophet who was very patient. Good people sometimes suffer but their sufferings heal others and bring goodness to their communities. People learn lessons from their good examples. Martyrs die for their faith, soldiers give their lives for their nations and this brings liberation and freedom for their people.

4. Allah sometimes allows some people to suffer to test others, how they react to them. When you see a person who is sick, poor and needy, then you are tested by Allah. Allah is there with that suffering person to test your charity and your faith. In a very moving Hadith Qudsi (Divine Hadith) the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

“Allah will say on the Day of Judgment, ‘O son of Adam, I was sick and you did not visit Me.’ He will say, ‘O my Lord, how could I visit You, when you are the Lord of the Worlds.’ Allah will say, ‘Did you not know that My servant so-and-so was sick and you did not visit him? Did you not know that if you had visited him, you would have found Me there?’ Allah will say, ‘O son of Adam, I asked you for food and you fed Me not.’ He shall say, ‘O my Lord, how could I feed you and you are the Lord of the Worlds?’ And Allah will say, ‘Did you not know that My servant so-and-so was in need of food and you did not feed him? Did you not know that if you had fed him, you would have found that to have been for Me?’ ‘O son of Adam, I asked you for water and you did not give Me to drink.’ The man shall say, ‘O my Lord, how could I give You water, when You are the Lord of the Worlds?’ Allah will say, ‘My servant so-and-so asked you for water and you did not give him to drink water. Did you not know that if you had given him to drink, you would have found that to have been for Me.’ (Muslim, Hadith no. 4661)

Prophet `Isa (Jesus), peace be upon him, is also reported to have said something similar. (See Matthew 25: 35-45)

So to summarize, we can say that sufferings occur to teach us that we must adhere to Allah’s natural and moral laws. It is sometimes to punish those who violate Allah’s natural or moral laws. It is to test our faith in Allah and to test our commitment to human values and charity. Whenever we encounter suffering we should ask ourselves, “Have we broken any law of Allah?” Let us study the cause of the problem and use the corrective methods. “Could it be a punishment?” Let us repent and ask forgiveness and reform our ways. “Could it be a test and trial for us?” Let us work hard to pass this test.

Believers face the sufferings with prayers, repentance and good deeds. The non-believers face the sufferings with doubts and confusions. They blame Allah or make arguments against Him.

May Allah keep us on the right path, Amen!

*some minor grammatical mistakes were edited in adapting from the original which can be found here.

5 – Western Proofs for the Existence of God

Ontological Proof

This is “proof by definition” and requires no reason. So they say,

  • ‘God is something than which nothing greater can be conceived.’
  • Which is greater: something that is real or something that is only conceived in the mind?
  • Therefore, the notion of the greatest conceivable being cannot be conceived of in thought alone, but rather must also be conceived of as existing. Otherwise, the ‘concept’ of god would actually be contradictory since an existing god would be more perfect than a conceptual god.

In other words: God must exist by definition.

Cosmological Proof

This was first proposed by Aristotle in rudimentary form, and then unfortunately was taken by “Muslim” philosophers who refined it. This is counted amongst the western proofs because the philosophers were actually not Muslim. Ibn Seena (Avicenna), for example, actually ended up denying that Allah has knowledge or that He created us.

It three primary forms:

  1. Argument from motion
  2. Argument from Cause
  3. Argument from contingency (existence)

Motion

This argument says that every object is either in motion, or at rest. If it is in motion, it must have been put in motion by another object. If an object is at rest, it cannot move itself, therefore there must be a ‘mover’ that put it into motion. There cannot, however, be an infinite regression of things causing movement to take place, otherwise there would be no first mover. Therefore: There must be a primary, ‘unmoved mover’ that is the cause of all motion, but does not move itself, and this is God.

Their entire concept of Allah is an “unmoved mover.”

The problems with this proof are numerous. It is extremely complicated, and its conclusions have repercussions that go against Tawheed. One example of this is that the people who believe like this will, for example, deny that Allah comes to the lowest heaven in the last third of the night.

Teleological Proof

This means “proof from the creation.” The most famous example is that of Paley’s watch. It basically says, if you were walking on the beach, and saw a watch sitting in the sand, you would conclude that it was made by a watchmaker. Similarly, when we see the creation, it is assumed that there must be a Creator.

This example is maybe the most Islamic of the philosophical proofs, but even it has been heavily criticized. Among the criticisms are that the creation is not perfect, so therefore there cannot be a Creator. They may also argue that watch-making shows evolution to more perfect watches, and thus would actually be a proof for evolution.

Pascal’s Wager

This simply says that there is a 50/50 chance that God exists or does not exist. The consequences of believing he does exist are far greater than that of non-belief. It therefore follows, that to believe in God is the “safer bet.”

Conclusion

These “proofs” give us an appreciation for the Quranic methodology. We do not need to do any mental gymnastics to prove the existence of Allah, or give it so much undue attention. Rather, we take the simple Quranic proof. Due to the spread of atheism in our times, as well as the incoporation of some of these ideals into Islamic literature, it is important to at least familiarize ourselves with these concepts.

4 – Logic as a Proof for the Existence of Allah

Once, a Bedouin was asked what made an unsophisticated man like him believe in Allah.

Bedouin: “Do you see these marks in the sand?”
Man: “Yes.”
Bedouin: “What do they tell you?”
Man: “A camel went by.”
Bedouin: “Did you see the camel?”
Man: “No, but these footprints in the sand suggest that a camel made them.”
Bedouin: “Do you see these mountains?”
Man: “Yes.”
Bedouin: “They are indicative to me that Allah made them.”

Once Khalifa Haroon Rasheed asked Imam Malik: “What is the evidence (daleel) pointing to the existence of Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala)?” Imam Malik replied: “Difference in languages, difference in pitches of voice, difference in singing are proof that Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala) exists!”

The same question was asked, by an atheist, of Imam Abu Hanifa and he replied, “Forget it! At the moment, I am busy thinking about this ship. People tell me there is a big ship, it contains different goods on board. There is no one to steer it, no one maintaining it. Yet, this ship keeps going back and forth; it even traverses big waves on the oceans; it stops at the locations that it is supposed to stop at; it continues in the direction that it is supposed to head. This ship has no captain and no one planning its trips.”

The atheist who posed the question interrupted and exclaimed, “What kind of strange and silly thought is this? How can any intelligent person think that some thing like this can occur?”

Imam Abu Hanifa said, “I feel sorry about your state! You cannot imagine one ship running without some one looking after its affairs. Yet you think that for this whole world, which runs exactly and precisely, there is no one who looks after it, and no one owns it.”

Hearing the reply, the atheist was left speechless but he found out more about Haqq (The Truth) and proclaimed Islam.

Imam Shafi`i replied to the question in the following way, “The leaves of Toot (berries) are all but one. Each leaf tastes exactly the same. Insects, honey bees, cows, goats, and deer live off of it. After eating these the insects produce silk; bees produce honey; deer give musk (a special kind of scent), cows and goats deliver off-springs. Is this not clear evidence that one kind of leaf has so many qualities, and who created these qualities? It is the Khaliq (Creator) who we call Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala) Who is the Inventor and the Creator.”

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal reflected on the question in the following way. He said, “There is an incredibly strong fort, it has no doors, there is no way to get in. In fact, there is not even a hole in it. From outside it glows like the moon and from inside it shimmers like gold. It is sealed from all sides, matter of fact it is air tight. Suddenly one of its doors breaks down, a living thing with eyes and ears, a beautiful looking animal appears yelling and wandering all over. So is not there a creator who made it possible for life to take place in this secured and closed fort? And is not this Creator better than humans? This Creator has no limit.” Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was referring to an egg which is closed from all sides but Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala) The Khaliq (Creator) puts life in it and a chick pops out.

3 – Islamic Proofs for Ruboobiyyah

Creation and its Signs

There are only roughly 5 ayaat in the Quran are directed towards those who reject the existence of Allah, compared to hundreds of ayaat to mushrikeen and ahlul Kitab. This is because those who reject that they have a Creator have reached the height of arrogance in their beliefs.

Every object has a creator.

“Were they created of nothing, or were they themselves the creators? Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Nay they have not firm belief.” (Toor 52:35-36)

“This is the Creation of Allah. Now show me that which those (you worship) beside Him have created. Nay, but the wrong-doers are in manifest error!” (Luqmaan 31:11).

“O mankind! A similitude has been coined, so listen to it (carefully): Verily! Those on whom you call besides Allah, cannot create (even) a fly, even though they combine together for the purpose. And if the fly snatched away a thing from them, they would have no power to release it from the fly. So weak are (both) the seeker and the sought.” (Hajj 22:73).

Creation means to bring out of nothing. Even in modern science with cloning, they cannot create out of nothing.

Signs of the creation also testify to there being a Creator.

“In the creation of the heavens and the earth, the alternation of night and day, the ships that roam the ocean for the benefit of the people, the water that Allah sends down from the sky to revive dead land and to spread in it all kinds of creatures, the manipulation of the winds, and the clouds that are placed between the sky and the earth, there are sufficient proofs for people who understand.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 164)

There are numerous ayaat showing the signs of Allah in the creation.

Fitrah

“Such is the natural instinct placed into the people by Allah.” (Ar-Room, 30:30)

“Every child is born upon fitrah, then it is his parents who make him Jewish, or Christian, or Magian (Zoroastrian), just as an animal delivers a perfect baby animal; do you find it mutilated?” (Al-Bukhari)

“And (remember) when your Lord summoned all the descendants of Adam, and had them bear witness for themselves: ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They all said, ‘Yes. We bear witness.’” (Al-A’raaf, 7:172)

The fitrah includes the innate goodness that is in mankind, and it comes from the meethaq (covenant)

It was reported that Ibn Abbas (radhi Allâhu anhu) narrated: The Messenger of Allâh (sallAllâhu alaihi wa-sallam) related:

“(When Allâh created Adam (alaihis-salâm) Allâh took covenant from him in a place Na’mân on the day of Arafat, then He extracted from him all the descendants who would be born until the end of the world, generation after generation, and spread them out in front of Him in order to take a covenant from them also. He spoke to them face to face saying:

“Am I not your Lord?”

and they all replied: ‘Yes, we testify to it’. Allâh then explained why He had all of mankind bear witness that He was their Creator and only true God worthy of worship. He said:

“That was in case you (mankind) should say on the Day of Resurrection, ‘Surely, we were unaware of this. We had no idea that You, Allâh, were our Lord. No one told us that we were only supposed to worship You.”

[(Sahîh by Shaikh al-Albanî in Silsilah al-Ahâdîth as-Sahîhah vol: 4, no: 1623]

The memory of the covenant has been erased, but we have been given an innate nature to replace it. The fitrah is the remnants of the meethaq. It is because of this that mankind agrees on the general morality of things like killing and stealing. Everyone knows it is bad. Everyone looks up to goodnesss. There are no differences of opinions on this in the civilizations. Even in a society where adultery is widespread and ‘normal’ they still look up to those who do not perform this except within the bounds of marriage.

This is our most underused weapon in making dawah.

The best example of fitrah without Islam is the Prophet (saw) before the revelation of Islam.

Innate Feeling of Helplessness

“And when affliction touches a man, he calls on Us, whether lying on his side or sitting or standing; but when We remove his affliction from him, he passes on as though he had never called on Us on account of an affliction that touched him.” (Younus, 10:12)

See you not that the ships sail through the sea by Allah’s Grace? that He may show you of His Signs? Verily, in this are signs for every patient, grateful (person). And when a wave covers them like shades (i.e. like clouds or the mountains of sea­water), they invoke Allah, making their invocations for Him only. But when He brings them safe to land, there are among them those that stop in the middle, between (Belief and disbelief). But none denies Our Signs except every perfidious ungrateful. (Luqmaan 31:31-32)

Sending of Prophets and Books

This is more of a logical proof. Just the fact that there exist people claiming to be prophets, and coming with miracles and revelation shows that Allah exists and sent down revelation.

2 – All of Creation is under the Ruboobiyyah of Allah

For a Rabb to be a Rabb, every object of the creation must be completely under the control of the Rabb. Nothing can escape the Ruboobiyyah of Allah.

Every object of creation knows that it cannot survive by itself, rather, it needs the help of its Creator to obtain what it needs. No object can escape what is decreed for it, or control its own destiny. Every single object submits itself to the Power and Will of Allah, and whatever happens to it must be borne by it.

One proof of this is that in times of distress, everyone calls out to his Creator.

Allah (swt) gives some descriptions of ar-Rabb in the Quran:

“Go to Fir’awn and say, `We are messengers from the Rabb of the universe. (Saying): Let the Children of Israel go with us.’ He said, ‘Did we not raise you from infancy, and you spent many years with us? And you did (that) deed of yours which you did, and you are one of the ungrateful.’ He said, ‘Indeed, I did it when I was astray. Then I fled, when I feared you, and my Rabb endowed me with wisdom and made me one of the messengers. You are boasting that you did me a favor, while enslaving the Children of Israel.’ Fir’awn said, ‘What is the Rabb of the universe?’ He said, ‘The Rabb of the heavens and the earth, and everything between them. You should be certain about this.‘ He said to those around him, ‘Did you hear this?’ He said, ‘Your Rabb and the Rabb of your ancestors.‘ Fir’awn said, `Most surely, this Messenger of yours who has been sent to you is a madman.’ Moosaa said, ‘The Rabb of the East and of the West, and of all that is between the two, if only you have sense.‘ He said, ‘If you accept any god other than me, I will throw you in the prison.’ He said, ‘What if I show you something profound?’ He said, ‘Bring it then, if you are of the truthful ones.’ So Moosaa threw down his rod, and behold! It was a serpent plainly visible. And he took out his hand, and it was white to the beholders. Fir’awn said to the chiefs around him, ‘This is surely a skillful sorcerer. He wants to turn you out of your land by his magic. Now, what do you advise?’ They said, ‘Give him and his brother respite and send summoners into the cities; that they should bring to you every skillful magician.’ The magicians were gathered at the appointed time, on the appointed day. The people were told, ‘Come one and all; let us gather together here. Maybe we will follow the magicians, if they are the winners.’ When the magicians came, they said to Pharaoh, ‘Do we get paid, if we are the winners?’ He said, ‘Yes, and surely you will then be of those who are made near’ Moosaa said to them, ‘Throw what you are going to throw.’ So they threw down their ropes and their rods and said, `By Pharaoh’s honor, it is we who will surely win.’ Then Moosaa threw his staff and lo! It swallowed that which they did falsely show. And the magicians were thrown down prostrate. They said, ‘We believe in the Rabb of the worlds; the Rabb of Moosa and Haroon.“ (26:16-48)

A Rabb must be creator of everything, of the whole universe, not just your people.

Almost every du’a in the Quran starts with the word Rabb. It is the most powerful Name to use in general du’a, because this name embodies the perfect relationship with Allah.

There are two types of Ruboobiyyah

1.General – Applies to all of creation

2.Specific – This is specific to the believers and includes spiritual nourishment. This is why most of the du’as in the Quran begin with the name ‘Rabb’.

Meaning of ”Rabb”

Rabb is a linguistic term used for the owner (Maalik), the master (as-Sayyid), the one who takes care of, sustains, nourishes (al-Qayyoom), and provides or takes care of everything (ar-Razzaq) (Lisan al-Arab by ibn Mandhoor (d. 711)).

This definition includes the following:

  • True and complete owner
  • The one with the right to be obeyed.
  • The One who nourishes, and sustains. He is the Master and Controller of the universe.

This also means tawheed of Allah in His Actions. Only Allah nourishes, gives life, and sustains. No other being can do the things Allah does. No one else can legislate, or has the right to be obeyed other than Allah.

It is also important to know that creation is not mentioned in this definition, but it is implied by complete ownership, because only the Creator has the complete right of ownership. The One who creates out of nothing is the One with the right to legislate, and no one else has that right.

The word tarbiyyah is also derived from the same root, and means to take care of. Allah is the One who takes care of everything. The existence of creation is dependent upon Allah.

Rabb is used to mean the one who is obeyed,

“O two companions of the prison! As for one of you, he (as a servant) will pour out wine for his lord (rabb) to drink; and as for the other, he will be crucified and birds will eat from his head. Thus is the case judged concerning which you both did inquire.” (12:41)

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