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The Evolver (Rabb) of all the Worlds

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Quran 1:2:

[All] praise is [due] to Allah , Lord of the worlds –

The following excerpt is taken from “Islamic Theory of Evolution” pg. 131-132:

The first command that came to the Prophet was:

96:1-2: Read in the name of thy Sustainer (Rabb), who has created created man out of a germ cell.

The general translation of the word Rabb as Sustainer does not contain its overall meaning. The noun Rabb is derived from the Arabic word Rububiyat, the meaning of which cannot be fully rendered in English with one word. Based on his analysis of the works of early Arabic lexicographers, Abul Kalam Azad, a Muslim Quranic scholar and commentator from the Indian subcontinent, deciphers the meaning of the word as follows:

“To develop a thing, stage by stage, in accordance with its inherent aptitude and needs, its different aspects of existence and also in the manner affording the requisite freedom for it to attain its full stature.”

Likewise, Imam Aul’l-Qasim ar-Raghib (11th century), in this book Al-Mufradat fi Gharib al-Quran (The Vocabulary of the Quran), defines the meaning of the word Rabb as follows:

“Rabb signifies the fostering of a thing in such a manner as to make it attain one condition after another until it reaches its goal of perfection.”

The major components of the meaning of the word Rububiyat are thus: (a) development of a thing by an external agent, (b) a step-by-step process, not an instant event, and (c) the freedom for the objects “to attain full stature” within the overall creative process. Therefore Rabb, the derived noun from Rububiyat, means an evolver. The use of the noun Rabb as an attribute of God suggests that God lets organisms evolve, affording them the freedom to attain complete perfection within the limits of His laws of nature.


Shanavas, T.O. (2005). Islamic Theory of Evolution: The Missing Link between Darwin and the Origin of Species. (p. 131-132).

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