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I am a newb at Islam and Arabic, however, I have been learning Arabic and I have come across a question that can be said in Arabic:

مَنْ رَبُّكُمْ

"Who is your God (to a bunch of guys)?" with a response of:

رَبُّنَا الله

"Our God is Allah".

This confuses me a little bit because Muslims, and Google, all say that the only word for God in Arabic is Allah, with al-lah being its particles; a.k.a lah-un with a definite particle.

So where has this Rabbun come from and is lah-un really the Arabic word for God or is it really meaning something else?

  • Related: islam.stackexchange.com/a/1205/18 – Ansari Jun 30 '14 at 0:19
  • @Ansari thanks, the forth point there helped quite a bit – Sammaye Jun 30 '14 at 7:21
  • Questions on Arabic can be asked here area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/62022/… – Sayyid Jun 30 '14 at 9:28
  • @Sayyid I thought about whether it was a general question about Arabic but it seemed to have a very religious background to it, it wasn't like a question about hamza-tul-wasli usage but about the use of Allah as a word. – Sammaye Jun 30 '14 at 9:59
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It is pathetic that there is not authentic Arabic to English translation available online. I came across a few closer definitions. This wiki link translates Rub as

rub is an Arabic name which means the master & the owner of something. It's used to talk about God as the Lord of everything. It also has other usages & it's NOT used as a name of a person.

I agree with this because "Rub" does not really mean God but it can. In fact for non-arabic speakers (like myself) it is always taken as God but that definition is not true. Even Google translate it to God

Babla dictionary does not lists its actual meaning but gives a few examples of it. Eg.

رَبُّ is not an actual word for God although it can be translated into God as one of it meaning. The meaning of "Rub" is masters or Lord. It can be used for God as well as he is the true master and lord.

ربّ العمل -> employer

"وقل ربِّ زدني علمًا" -> And say, "My Lord, increase me in knowledge."

"وقل ربِّ زدني علمًا". -> But say, "O my Lord! advance me in knowledge."

As you can see, one use of it has meaning of "Employer", the other usages means "God". Therefor "Rub" is not a specific word for God but more of Lord, Master, owner. Since God is the ultimate Master, Lord, this word can be used for God. In fact I have seen the word "Owner" in my native language used for God as well.

In short "God" in English is Translated to "Allah". "Lord" is translated into Rub. This google translation may be helpful. A native arabic speaker may provide a more authoritative answer on this.

  • Indeed it was Google translate that threw me off, normally, due to seeing possible translations you can see where it goes wrong on singular words but 2/3 translations were God, so I thought lord was in relation to talking about God as the lord. The answer below does make me think as well, that's from a native Arabic speaker. – Sammaye Jun 30 '14 at 7:18
  • Rub actually meaning is Lord, which can mean God but can also mean other things. I will have to modify my answer a little bit when I get a chance. – muslim1 Jun 30 '14 at 13:24

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