Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Apologist of Shirk Strikes Again!

Even More Groans For Shabir Ally

Sam Shamoun

The following excerpt is taken from Shabir Ally’s debate with Christian apologist Jonathan McLatchie titled, “What is God Like -- Tawhid or Trinity?”, which took place on August 16 2015.

After indicating that the word for “Lord” in Greek can either refer to God or human masters, Ally went on to say that:

“In Arabic we have it as well. Rabb can mean the Lord God, or it can refer to a human master. In Hebrew rabbi is still being used, meaning 'my master,' 'my teacher.' It’s similar to maula in Arabic. So this is ambiguous.”

Unfortunately, Ally has again decided to misinform and mislead his audience since Islamic theology expressly prohibits the use of rabb for anyone other than Allah, just as the following ahadith confirm:

Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "You should not say, ‘Feed your lord (Rabbaka), help your lord in performing ablution, or give water to your lord’, but should say, ‘my master (e.g. Feed your master instead of lord etc.), (Saiyidi),’ or ‘my guardian (Maulai),’ and one should not say, ‘my slave (Abdi),’ or ‘my girl-slave (Amati),’ but should say, 'my lad (Fatai), my lass (Fatati),’ and ‘my boy (Ghulami).’" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 46, Number 728)

Narrated AbuHurayrah:
The Prophet said: None of you must say: "My slave" (abdi) and "My slave-woman" (amati), and a slave must not say: "My lord" (rabbi or rabbati). The master (of a slave) should say: "My young man" (fataya) and "My young woman" (fatati), and a slave should say "My master" (sayyidi) and "My mistress" (sayyidati), for you are all (Allah’s) slaves and the Lord is Allah, Most High. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 41, Number 4957)

The Quran itself censures anyone who would serve or worship someone other than Allah as his/her rabb

Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to an agreement between us and you: that we shall worship none but Allah, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords (arbaban) beside Allah. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him). S. 3:64 Pickthall

It is not (possible) for any human being unto whom Allah had given the Scripture and wisdom and the prophethood that he should afterwards have said unto mankind: Be slaves of me instead of Allah; but (what he said was): Be ye faithful servants of the Lord by virtue of your constant teaching of the Scripture and of your constant study thereof. And he commanded you not that ye should take the angels and the prophets for lords (arbaban). Would he command you to disbelieve after ye had surrendered (to Allah)? S. 3:79-80 Pickthall

They have taken their rabbis and their monks as lords (arbaban) apart from God, and the Messiah, Mary's son -- and they were commanded to serve but One God; there is no god but He; glory be to Him, above that they associate -- S. 9:31 Arberry

The Muslim scripture is quite emphatic that Allah is the only rabb that a person can confess and embrace,

Lo! I have put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord (Allahi rabbee wa’rabbikum). Not an animal but He doth grasp it by the forelock! Lo! my Lord (rabbee) is on a straight path. S. 11:56 Pickthall

Thus We send thee (O Muhammad) unto a nation, before whom other nations have passed away, that thou mayst recite unto them that which We have inspired in thee, while they are disbelievers in the Beneficent. Say: He is my Lord (rabbee); there is no God save Him. In Him do I put my trust and unto Him is my recourse. S. 13:30 Pickthall

But He is Allah, my Lord (rabbee), and I ascribe unto my Lord no partner. S. 18:38 Pickthall

He said: This is a mercy from my Lord (rabbee); but when the promise of my Lord (rabbee) cometh to pass, He will lay it low, for the promise of my Lord (rabbee) is true. S. 18:98 Pickthall

“And a believing man of Pharaoh's family, who hid his faith, said: Would ye kill a man because he saith: My Lord is Allah (rabbiyya Allahu), and hath brought you clear proofs from your Lord (rabbikum)?…” S. 40:28 Pickthall

Since he is the rabb or lord of all creation:

Verily your Ilah (God) is indeed One (i.e. Allah); Lord of (rabbu) the heavens and of the earth, and all that is between them, and Lord of (wa’rabbu) every point of the sun's risings. (None has the right to be worshipped but Allah). S. 37:4-5 Hilali-Khan

The Islamic deity is also the only rabb that one can pray to and seek forgiveness from:

Praise be to Allah Who hath given me, in my old age, Ishmael and Isaac! Lo! my Lord (rabbee) is indeed the Hearer of Prayer. My Lord (rabbee)! Make me to establish proper worship, and some of my posterity (also); our Lord! and accept my prayer. S. 14:39-40 Pickthall

Ibrahim (Abraham) said: "Peace be on you! I will ask Forgiveness of my Lord (rabbee) for you. Verily! He is unto me, Ever Most Gracious. And I shall turn away from you and from those whom you invoke besides Allah. And I shall call on my Lord (rabbee); and I hope that I shall not be unblest in my invocation to my Lord (rabbee).” S. 19:47-48 Hilali-Khan

Say, verily I call upon my Lord (rabbee) only, and I associate no [other god] with him. S. 72:20 Sale

This explains why in Islamic theology, rabb is one of the names that belongs solely and uniquely to Allah:

Ar-Rabb: The Lord

Lord: master, owner; chief; the Cherisher, the one who takes care of a thing. Ar-Rabb is the one who puts right, manages, compels and guards. He is the One worshipped. Some scholars say that the name is the greatest name of Allah because of the great number of those who make supplication using it. It reflects the true relationship of a person with his Lord, containing both mastery and kindness, concern, and nurture. (Aisha Bewley, Divine Names)

Ally is now faced with two major problems. First, by arguing that the word rabb can be used for others besides his own deity, Ally is guilty of committing shirk, which is the unforgiveable sin of ascribing a partner with Allah in his exclusive divine functions, attributes, sovereignty and/or worship:

“… so do not set up equals to ALLAH, while you know.” S. 2:22 Sher Ali

Lo! Allah forgiveth not that a partner should be ascribed unto Him. He forgiveth (all) save that to whom He will. Whoso ascribeth partners to Allah, he hath indeed invented a tremendous sin. S. 4:48 Hilali-Khan – cf. v. 116

And (remember) when Luqman said unto his son, when he was exhorting him: O my dear son! Ascribe no partners unto Allah. Lo! to ascribe partners (unto Him) is a tremendous wrong – S. 31:13 Pickthall – cf. 6:83-88; 39:65

The second problem that Ally faces is that the NT documents as a whole, from the very earliest writing to the last one written, proclaim that Jesus is the one and only Lord whose followers are to serve and worship, being the One whom they call upon in prayer and whose forgiveness they eagerly seek after:

“You call Me Teacher and Lord. You speak accurately, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” John 13:13-14

I WILL DO whatever you ask in My name, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I WILL DO IT.” John 14:13-14

“They stoned Stephen as he was calling on God, praying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ Having said this, he fell asleep” Acts 7:59-60

“For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, so that He might be Lord of both the dead and living… For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.” Romans 14:9, 18

“For such people do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own appetites, and through smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” Romans 16:18

“… and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came to be, and we through him.” 1 Corinthians 8:6b New English Bible (NEB)

“knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. For you serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:24

“It is in danger from certain persons who have wormed their way in, the very men whom Scripture long ago marked down for the doom they have incurred. They are the enemies of religion; they pervert the free favour of our God into licentiousness, disowning Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord.” Jude 1:4 NEB

Christ is even said to be the Lord of all creation, being the King that is over all kings and the Lord who is above all lords:

“The word which He sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all,” Acts 10:36

“These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth… Their dead bodies will lie on the street of the great city that is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.” Revelation 11:4, 8 Common English Bible (CEB)

“These will wage war with the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those who are with Him are called and chosen and faithful.” Revelation 17:14 CEB – cf. 19:16

This leaves Ally in quite a predicament. In light of Islamic theology, Jesus could only be the one Lord of all creation if he is truly and fully God in essence. Moreover, the Quran says that Jesus’ true followers were made victorious by Allah, and would remain such until the day of resurrection (cf. Q. 3:55; 61:14). This therefore means that the NT proclamation that Christ is the sovereign Lord of all creation must be the very message which Jesus’ victorious disciples went around preaching with the express approval of Allah himself.

As such, Ally must accept the fact that Muhammad could not have been a true prophet since he expressly denied the proclamation of Christ’s triumphant followers that Jesus is the divine Lord of glory who reigns supreme over all creation:

“No one has ascended to heaven except He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man who is in heaven… He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.” John 3:13, 31

“He said to them, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.’” John 8:23

“None of the rulers of this age knew it. For had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 1 Corinthians 2:8

“and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He performed in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, FAR ABOVE all principalities, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet and made Him the head over all things for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all things in all ways.” Ephesians 1:19-23

Unless stated otherwise, all Scriptural citations taken from the Modern English Version (MEV) of the Holy Bible.