Ruling on using the word 'Sayyid'

Question:

We often address each other using the word “Sayyid” (Master or Sir) for people whose ancestry can be traced to a particular family. Is it permissible to do this?

Answer:

If a person is known by this title, there is no harm in this, because the word “Sayyid” may be used for the leader of a people, a Faqih (Muslim jurist), a scholar, or for the descendants of Fatimah through the children of Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn. All of these are forms of address which are well known among the people.

The Arabs used to call tribal leaders and elders “Sayyid” (e.g. Sayyid Banu Fulan means the leader of such-and-such tribe, etc). The Prophet (peace be upon him) used this word when he asked some of the Arabs, “Who is your Sayyid?” i.e. Who is your chief? 1

He (peace be upon him) said concerning Al-Hasan, “This son of mine is a Sayyid (a noble); may Allah reconcile between two big groups of Muslims through him.2

It is Makruh (disliked) to address a person as “Ya sayyidi” (O my master) or “Ya sayyidana” (O our master), because when it was said to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), “You are our master”, he said, “The Master is Allah, may He be Blessed and Exalted.3

This might also make that person conceited and proud, so we should not do it. Instead we can say, “O so-and-so” or “O Abu so-and-so” using the names, Kunyahs (honorific starting with ‘Abu’ for men and ‘Um’ for women) and nicknames which are known.

With regard to using the phrases “Ya Sayyidi” and “Ya Sayyidana” when addressing each other, it is better not to do that.


  1. Narrated by Al-Haythamy, Majma’ Al-Zawa’id, vol. 9, p. 315; and related by Al-Suyuti, Al-Durr Al-Manthur and Kanz Al-‘Ummal, nos. 36858-36859. 

  2. Narrated by Al-Bukhari, Book on reconciliation, no. 2505, and the wording is his; and Al-Tirmidhy, Book on merits and virtues, no. 3706. 

  3. Narrated by Abu Dawud, Book on manners, no. 4172. 

  • Date: Muharram 16, 1442 AH
  • Source: Majmu' Fatawa wa Maqalat p. 9/290
  • Muftis: Shaykh Abdul-Aziz Ibn Baz