A father, to his child, is shelter. A father is strength. A father is discipline, compassion, strictness and love, all rolled into one. A compassionate father may sometimes be likened to رب البيت (Master of the House). However, Allah is the One and only ar-Rabb; He guides, He loves, He advises, He admonishes, He forgives, He punishes and He protects. He is our Rabb, a name that none deserves to be called by without a possessive. His tarbiyah (rearing) of us for our one true purpose is what makes Him our Rabb.
Just as the name Allah is related to the divinity of Allah i.e. Uloohiyyah (Him being the only One that is worthy of being worshipped), the name ar-Rabb is connected to His Ruboobiyyah. The essence of Ruboobiyyah is understanding who Allah is, what Allah does and recognizing that He is singular and unique in those actions, and that none holds even a semblance of similarity to Him. It is understanding why He is the only one worthy of being worshipped, loved and feared. Since Uloohiyyah has to do with our actions and dedication to Allah and our worship towards Him, fully understanding these two names and their corresponding aspects is extremely necessary for our Iman and our Ibadah.
This is beautifully summarized in the ayah:
قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah , Lord of the worlds.
[Surah al-An’am, Ayah 162]
Linguistically, the word الرب (The Lord) is said to refer to six names [according to Ibn al-Atheer]- المالك (The Owner), السيد (The Master), المدبر (The Controller), المربي (The Nurturer), القيّم (The Sustainer/Provider) and المنعم (The One who bestows favors). Due to what it intrinsically means, we are not allowed to use this word for other than Allah, unless it comes with a possessive eg: رب المنزل, where منزل is the possession.
This name takes a possessive noun in Arabic, which none of the other names are used with. He is ربي (my Lord) and ربكم (your Lord)- the One who owns everything and everyone; the One who has loaned us our houses, our bodies, our parents, our spouses, our loved ones. He is the Owner and everything ultimately returns to Him (إنا لله و إنا إليه راجعون). He is the One to whom every single one of us is ultimately accountable to- He is our Master. What He wills happens, even if the whole world is against and vice-versa.
No matter how inane life might seem right now, and how impossible things might seem right now, stay strong and have faith- He is the Planner of our Lives, the Controller of all affairs. He is taking care of us and constantly providing for us, no matter what we do- He sustains us. He throws trials and tests our way to hone us, to prepare us for the ultimate win- He is constantly engaged in our nurturing. He has blessed us with so many luxuries we don’t really need, and continues to do so- He is the One who bestows blessings and favors upon us.
وَآتَاكُم مِّن كُلِّ مَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُ وَإِن تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَظَلُومٌ كَفَّارٌ
And He gave you from all you asked of Him. And if you should count the favor of Allah , you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful
[Surah al-Ibrahim, Ayah 34]
HE is our Rabb, our Lord- He who is all this and more. Then why must we not worship Him with all we have? Why must we complain and cry when things aren’t going our way? Should we not trust that He, Creator of all worlds and creatures, Designer of every single atom in this universe, Sustainer of thousands of generations that have passed us, and thousands more that will follow, knows what is best for us?
Let’s renew our faith in Him and our vigor in worshipping Him because the least we can do for His overwhelming blessings upon us is to worship Him alone and the way He asked us to. Let’s look back at how perfectly He planned our lives, at how He has been taking care of us all along, and turn to him with renewed gratitude.
يا رب لك الحمد كما ينبغي لجلال وجهك و عظيم سلطانك