Lesson Three: The Arabic word Rabb means Lord, Sustainer or Nurturer - A Basic Introduction to Tawhid – Part 2


In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

The Principles of Religion for Children


The “Principles of Religion” course has been collected and edited by volunteer experts and teachers in the Mohammad (PBUH) Scientific and Cultural Foundation Office for Kids and Teens (Khaane Koodak va Nojavan in Farsi). This course is appropriate for children between the ages of 8-12. The course aims to help students gain basic knowledge on Shia Islam, including beliefs and doctrine.

The course literature differs as the age group of students changes (e.g., eight years-old when compared to twelve years-old) allowing teaching attitudes and course structure to match with the students capacity for learning while the course objectives and learning outcomes remain the same.


Lesson Three: The Arabic word Rabb means Lord, Sustainer or Nurturer
A Basic Introduction to Tawhid – Part 2


Zahra Moradi, Zahra Entezar Kheyr and Sara Entezar Kheyr

Translated by: Marzie Salehi

Edited by: Ali Mansouri


Instructive Note: We must say ‘Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim’ (in Arabic) before eating and ‘Al-hamdu lillahi rabbil 'alamin’ (in Arabic) after finishing our meal.



In the last session, we discussed about Tawhid. We explained that Tawhid is one of the five principles of the religion of Islam. Belief in Tawhid denotes belief in Uniqueness and Oneness of God. We said God has a hundred different descriptive names. What do we call them? {The teacher will react to the students’ responses :} Excellent, we call them Asma’ al-Husna.

In the Holy Quran, God says:

There are the ‘Asma’ al-Husna’ for God so call out God with them[1]. To know God better, we need to learn the names of God and their meanings. Last session, we learned the fundamental meanings of two names of the Asma’ al-Husna’: ‘Ahad’ and ‘Samad’. We explained that the name ‘Ahad’ means that which is One, Unique, and Matchless. We also explained that ‘Samad’ describes someone or something as being free from any imperfection such as deficiency, disability, sleep, fatigue, hunger, thirst, weakness, illness, aging, or death. Today, we intend to talk about another beautiful name of God: ‘Rabb’. {The teacher will write “Rabb” on the board and continue :} Rabb’ means the lord and master, the one who sustains and nurtures.

{The teacher continues by asking the following question from students :}

What does someone do when he/she has the authority for caring for someone? He/she will give them food and clothing, provide them with a place to live, and nurse them during sickness. These things nurture and nourish that person under his/her care.


Can you think of any example of someone that does these things? {The teacher will wait for the student’s responses}.Correct! Like our parents!

Parents/guardians take care of us. They have supported us since we were born. For example, parents protect their kids from hunger, thirst, and illness by providing them with food, water, and a safe place to live. If we getting sick, they would be nursing us so we can get well soon. They bring us up and direct us in our activities. They show us what is right or wrong; for example, by telling us this/that is right, or notifying a behavior is impolite, etc.

Our parents or guardians put in every effort to help us grow up and be successful; but who created our parents and gave them this power and ability to protect us?

The answer is God, the Kind and Merciful. God is indeed the only One who is our guardian, sustainer, and nurturer. He is called ‘Rabb’ because not only has He created us and is our Master, but also has granted us many favours and blessings; He created air, water, food, land, and so many things for us to live; He has given us our parents; He knows better what suits us best; and He has sent us the Prophets and Imams to direct us to the right path. He has full authority over His property. He has the full power to control and lead the creatures; thus, we seek that He raise us by purifying our hearts and souls and correcting our manners through regulating the affairs and granting all types of favours and blessings.

Can you imagine what would be happened if God were not our sustainer and nurturer? What would we have done? What if God had not created so many different amazing creatures, colourful foods, and thirst quenching water? What if God put unconditional love for us in our parents’ hearts and had them take care of us? What if He had not given us the wisdom and discretion to distinguish right from wrong? What if God had not given our body the ability to survive and recover from illness? What if we did not have any guardians to protect us from hardness and suffering?What if we did not have any guardians to protect us from hardness and suffering? What if God had not sent us His best and the most compassionate people (i.e. messengers) to show humans the right path in life?

For all these blessings, God is called Rabb; meaning the one who nurtures and sustains through all types of favours granted. God is not just ‘our’ Rabb, but is Rabb of ‘all’ creatures, from those that live in the skies and galaxies to the small worm that lives at the bottom of the sea in the hole of a small rock! So, let’s thank this merciful God and say all together ‘Al-hamdu lillahi rabbil 'alamin’ (in Arabic).

Children! Do you know “what is a good and easy thing to do to make God happy and Satan angry?” The answer is: saying ‘Al-hamdu lillahi rabbil 'alamin’ (in Arabic) especiallyafter finishing your meal[2]. We should thank the Creator and our guardians for all the blessings which we’ve been given. From now on, let’s first say ‘Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim’ (in Arabic) whenever we want to eat; and say Al-hamdu lillahi rabbil alamin’ (in Arabic) at the end of the meal. By saying these, we have shown good manners and thanked our Creator, Guardian, and Nourisher for all the blessing we have been given.


Well, let’s review what we have learned today. We’ve learned another name of God’s Asma’ al-Husna’; that is ‘Rabb’. What is the meaning of ‘Rabb’?

Excellent! It describes the Creator[3], who is our Lord[4] and Guardian and our Nurturer and Educator[5].

{The teacher will write the meaning of ‘Rabb’ in front of it.}

We also made a deal. From now on, we will say ‘Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim’ (in Arabic) before starting our meal and thank our ‘Rabb’ by saying ‘Al-hamdu lillahi rabbil 'alamin’ (in Arabic) when we are finished.


Main Source: Mohammad Foundation


[1]وَ لِلَّهِ الْأَسْماءُ الْحُسْنى‏ فَادْعُوهُ بِها: Surah Al-A’raf, Verse 180.

[2]Our dear prophet (SWA) states:

«إِذَا وُضِعَتِ الْمَائِدَةُ حَفَّهَا أَرْبَعَةُ أَمْلَاكٍ فَإِذَا قَالَ الْعَبْدُ بِسْمِ‏ اللَّهِ‏ قَالَتِ الْمَلَائِكَةُ بَارَكَاللَّهُ لَكُمْ فِی طَعَامِكُمْ‏ ثُمَّ یقُولُون لِلشَّیطَانِ اخْرُجْ یا فَاسِقُ لَا سُلْطَانَ لَكَ عَلَیهِمْ فَإِذَا فَرَغُوا قَالُوا الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعالَمِینَ‏ قَالَتِ الْمَلَائِكَةُ قَوْمٌ قَدْ أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَیهِمْ فَأَدَّوْا شُكْرَ رَبِّهِمْ فَإِذَا لَمْ یسَمِّ قَالَتِ الْمَلَائِكَةُ لِلشَّیطَانِ ادْنُ یا فَاسِقُ فَكُلْ مَعَهُمْ وَ إِذَا رُفِعَتِ الْمَائِدَةُ وَ لَمْ یذْكُرِ اللَّهَ قَالَتِ الْمَلَائِكَةُ قَوْمٌ أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَیهِمْ فَنَسُوا رَبَّهُم»

It means: When the table is spread, four thousand angels surround it. If the God ‘servant says ‘Bismillah’: the angels say: God bless you and your food, and they take Satan away. Then, if the God’ servant says ‘Al-hamdu lillahi rabbil 'alamin’ after finishing his meal, the angels say: This is a group whom God has blessed, and thanked God for this blessing. But if the servant of God doesn’t say ‘Bismillah’ at the start of his meal, angels say to Satan: Come and eat with them and if the God’s servant finishes his meal without saying ‘Al-hamdu lillahi rabbil 'alamin’ at the end of it, the angels say: This is a group whom God has blessed but forgot their God: Bihar Al-Anwar, V. 63, P.371.  

[3]Imam al-Sadiq (AS) states: «مَعْنَى رَبِ‏ أَيْ خَالِق»the meaning of ‘Rabb’ is creator: Bihar Al-Anwar, V. 82, P. 51.

[4]«الرَّبُّ: هو اللّه عزّ و جلّ، هو رَبُّ كلِّ شي‏ءٍ أَي مالكُه»: Lisan al-Arab, V. 1, P. 399.

[5]The word ‘Rabb’ has the same meaning and application for God Almighty as a person that educates a child, brings them up, constantly takes care of them, and does not neglect their needs: Qamus Al-Quran, V. 3, P. 43.

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