Four Key Concepts From the Quran

Basic Terms
Ilah, Rabb, Deen and ‘Ibadah, are four terms basic to the whole teaching of the Qur’an.

Through- out its pages, it stresses again and again that Allah Almighty is the Rabb and
the Ilah ;that there is no ilah but He, nor is there any other rabb, nor does He share
with anyone else the qualities and attributes implied by these terms. He, and He alone
should therefore be accepted as one’s Ilah and Rabb, and no-one else should in the
least be believed to possess the attributes which these words imply. It also demands
that we should give our ibadah to Him and Him alone, and not to anyone else, and
make our deen exclusive to Him and reject all other deens!
And to every Messenger We ordained before you (O Prophet), the message which We
gave (for himself and for others) was none other than that “There is no Ilah but Myself,
and therefore give your ‘ibadah to Me alone. ” (Quran 21:25)
…., And (they) were not Ordered except to give their ‘ibadah to one Ilah, only; there is
no ilah except He, (end) He is free of (the taint of) what they attribute to Him by their
shirk (that is, by associating others with Him in His exclusive qualities and attributes).
(Quran 9:31)
Verily this Brotherhood of the Prophets is single Brotherhood, and I am the Rabb of you
all, wherefore give your ‘ibadah to Me alone. (Quran 21:92)
Say’ to them (0 Prophet): Would you have me seek-for rabb any other then Allah, and
He the Rabb of everything there is! (Quran 6:164)
So, whosoever yearns to meet his Rabb, let him do good deeds, and let him not mix up
his ibadah of Him with that of any other(s). (Quran 18:110)
And indeed we raised a Messenger in every people that they should give their ‘ibadah
to Allah, and abstain severely from giving it to taghoot. [Literally, this word can apply
to a person who commits any kind of transgression. In the sense in which it is used in
the Qur’an it denotes a person who transgresses the limits prescribed by his status as a
creation of God, who sets himself up as a god and makes the people treat him as such.
There are three degrees of transgression or rebellion of a human being vis-a-vis God.
The first is that, so far as the principle of the thing is concerned, a person believes in
obedience to God to be the right course, but when it comes to deeds, he disobeys. This
is known as fisq … The second is that he should give up obedience to God as a matter
of principle and either do as he pleases or obey someone else (in the sense in which
one owes obedience to God). This is Kufr. The third is that not only does he rebel
against God, denying Him and His right to lay down the law for man but also begins to
make his own law prevail in the land. It is the person who reaches this third stage who
is a Taghoot and no person can be a Mu’min of Allah in the real sense unless he
repudiates Taghoot. A.A. Maududi (Note by the Translator: From the point of view as
last explained all those “Muslim” heads of state who deliberately substituted any
portion of Islamic by non-Islamic law fall naturally to the category of Taghoots, no
matter how much they might protest their devotion to Islam and their professed desire
for the glory of Muslims, though in the latter case the glory, actually sought is only that

of their own notion and the means advocated are often either a return to their pre-
Islamic culture or the adoption of the present day decadent Western culture. Abu

Asad)] (Quran 16: 30)
Do you wish for some deen other than’ Allah’s, (and this despite the fact that to Him
submits all there is in the Heavens and in or upon the Earth, willingly or unwilling, and
all are to return unto Him? (Quran 3:83)
Say (O Prophet): The Injunction laid upon me is to give my ‘ibadah to Allah, and
reserve my deen exclusively for Him. (Quran 39:11)

Verily Allah is my Rabb, and is yours too; therefore, give your worship to Him alone-
that (truly is the only real) straight path. (Quran 3:51)

The verses quoted above are just by way of example, and not the only ones of their
kind. Whosoever makes more than a cursory study of the Qur’an will soon realize that
the entire contents revolve round these four terms only, and that the central idea of
the whole book is that:
Allah is the Rabb, and the Ilah;
No-one else possesses the qualities and attributes implied by these terms;
Therefore men should give their ‘ibadah to Him and Him alone; and one’s deen should
be exclusively for Him with no share of it for any other.
It should however be obvious even from the quotations given that it is essential for
proper comprehension of the teachings of the Qur’an fully to understand the
implications of these four terms. The Qur’an will in fact lose its whole meaning for
anyone who does not know what is meant by ilah or rabb, what constitutes ‘iba’dah,
and what the Qur’an means when it uses the word deen. He will fail to learn what
Tawhid (belief in the One-ness of Allah in the fullest sense) is, or what constitutes its
anti-thesis, that is, shirk (the attribution to others, either wholly or partially, of any of
Allah’s exclusive qualities or attributes).
It will not be possible for him to make his ‘ibadah, or his deen, exclusive for Allah
alone. And little better than such a completely ignorant man would be the one who has
only a vague idea of what the terms imply, because in that case the whole teaching of
the Qur’an will remain vague and incomplete for him, and both his belief and his
conduct will fatally leave much to be desired. He will no doubt keep on reciting the
words of the kalimah, and even explain that it means that there is no ilah but Allah,
and yet, in practice, he will keep treating many another to be an ilah too. He will go
through life proclaiming that there is no rabb but Allah, and yet for all that there will be
many whom he will be treating as rabbs. He will protest, and affirm, with all
seriousness and sincerity, that he does not give his ‘ibadah to any but Allah, and will
yet keep giving to others unknowingly, If anyone even so much as hints that he has
any other deen, he would feel offended enough to come to blows with the accuser, and

yet in practice, he will unwittingly be giving his allegiance to many another deen. No-
one will ever hear him actually use the words Allah or rabb in respect of any but in the

specific sense in which the words have been employed in the Qur’an, but he will be
conducting himself as if he had many an ila’h and many a rabb though without realizing

this just like the person who never realized until he was specifically fold that he had
been uttering prose all his life; If someone were to tell him in so many words that he
was giving his ‘ibadah to others, and thus committing shirk, he might resent this
strongly and even quarrel violently, but according to the criteria applicable he will
unconsciously have been living as a worshiper of others as an adherent of the deens of
others, without ever suspecting that in fact was the case.