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Summary of question
Can we call Hazrat Ali (a.s) as Raziq (sustainer) since he was the one who distributed food among the needy? Is it permissible to call the 14 Infallibles as 'rabb' because they are those who look after us?
question
Can we call Hazrat Ali (a.s) as Raziq because he was the one who distributed food among the needy with God's permission? Is it permissible to call the 14 Masoomeen (a.s) 'rabb' as they are those who look after us? Is it shirk or can we call them 'rabb' as parents are as well called rabb in the Holy Book! Wassalam
Concise answer

It depends on what a person means when he uses terms such as "raziq", "rab" and the likes which are the attributes of God, the Exalted. Hence, the intention and motive are very important. It can be said in the first glance that there is no problem in using such terms with the intention stated in the question. However, it should be noted that since extensive propagation is going on against Shia accusing Shiites of worshipping the Imams rather than God, the Almighty, it is necessary to avoid doing actions that cause sensitivity and misunderstanding, even thought the intention may be expressing love and devotion to the Imams (a).

Detailed Answer

These two questions are similar to each other, and one answer can be given to both of them. The answer is as under:

It depends on what a person actually means when he uses terms such as "raziq", "rab" and the likes which are some of the attributes of God, the Exalted. Hence, the intention and motive are very important. It can be said in the first glance that there is no problem in using such terms with the intention stated in the question because the Quran says:

"عَلَى الْمَوْلُودِ لَهُ رِزْقُهُن‏"؛[1]"وَ إِذا حَضَرَ الْقِسْمَةَ أُولُوا الْقُرْبى‏ وَ الْیَتامى‏ وَ الْمَساکینُ فَارْزُقُوهُمْ مِنْه"[2]؛ و "وَ قالَ لِلَّذی ظَنَّ أَنَّهُ ناجٍ مِنْهُمَا اذْکُرْنی‏ عِنْدَ رَبِّک"[3]

It can be concluded that God's servants also – longitudinally not latitudinally – can be raziq and rabb.

There are many proofs from the traditions that explicitly ascribe creation to the prophets and angels. Someone asked Imam Reza (a.s) if there existed any creator other than God. He replied: "God says, "فَتَبارَکَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخالِقِینَ Obviously, God says in the Quran that there exist creators and non-creators among His servants because we know that Prophet Jesus (a) made the statue of a bird with mud; he blew into it and the bird turned into a living creature. Also, Sameri made a calf for the Israelites which had the voice of a cow.[4] Likewise, creation has been ascribed in some traditions to the angels:

Imam Baqir (a) says about man's creation:

"ثُمَّ یَبْعَثُ اللَّهُ مَلَکَیْنِ خَلَّاقَیْنِ یَخْلُقَانِ فِی الْأَرْحَامِ مَا یَشَاءُ"

"Then, God sends down two angels to create in the wombs what God wills."[5]

These narrations relate to man's being "sustainer" and "lord" but there are certain points that should be noted in this connection:

1. Since extensive propagation is going on against Shia accusing it of worshipping the Imams rather than God, the Almighty, it is necessary to avoid things that cause sensitivity and misunderstanding, even thought the intention may be expressing love and devotion to the Imams (a).

2. One thing that has been emphasized in the traditions is that one should speak to people according to their level of knowledge and understanding. Imam Sadiq (a) says, "The Messenger of Allah never kept his own level of wisdom while talking speaking with people; rather he said: "We the prophets have been commanded to talk to people proportionate to their understanding."[6]

Therefore, it is necessary to avoid, as far as possible, propounding such issues that may cause people to misunderstand and which may require explanation and justification.

2. One of the rights of a child upon its parents is that they should choose a good name for him/her. What we have received from the divine leaders indicate that the best names are names that denote servitude to God and that the names of the Imams and divine prophets are the best names.[7] Naturally, the infallible Imams (a) did practice the same in their personal lives because they chose names such as "Abdullah" and "Abdur Rahman" for their children not names like "Abdul Hussain" or "Abdul Nabi" despite that the latter can be justified. Therefore, our prosperity in this world and in the hereafter rests in the fact that we should neither supersede the Imams (a) nor lag far behind them in our actions and sayings. In fact, we must walk in their footsteps and be together with them as stated in Ziarat-e Jame'ah Kabira.[8]



[1] - Baqarah: 233

[2] - Nisa:8 "But if at the time of division other relatives, or orphans or poor, are present, feed them out of the (property)".

[3] - Yusuf: 42 "And he said to him whom he knew would be delivered of the two: Remember me with your lord."

[4] - Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Behar al-Anwar, vol.4, pg.147, hadith 1,al-Wafa Institute, Lebanon, 1404 A.H.

[5] - Ibid, pg.364

[6] - Kulayni, Kafi, vol.1, pg.23, hadith 15, Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyah, Tehran, 1365 (1986).

[7] - Vide: Hurr Ameli, Wasail al-Shi'ah, vol.21, pg.391-396, Aalulbayt Institute, Qom, 1409 A.H.

[8] - "فَالرَّاغِبُ عَنْکُمْ مَارِقٌ وَ اللاَّزِمُ لَکُمْ لاَحِقٌ وَ الْمُقَصِّرُ فِی حَقِّکُمْ زَاهِق" Ziarat Jame'ah Kabira, See: Mafatih al-Jenan, pg.546.

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