Question: A Salafist says, "Our sheikh Muhammad bin Abdulwahhab had the book Dalail-ul Khairat burned because it contains such words as sayyidina and maulana used when our Prophet is addressed. Sayyidina [our Master] and Maulana [our Maula] is Allah alone. It is shirk [polytheism] to use the titles sayyid and mawla for humans because our Master the Prophet said, 'Sayyid and master is Allah' to a person who said to him, 'You are our sayyid and master.'" For centuries, scholars have used these words for humans. Is it really a mistake?
Salafists are imprudently loyal to their sheikh and his words about this matter, so they say that it is not right to use the title master for the Messenger of Allah, whereas this is not wrong at all. Some words have several meanings, and a particular meaning is implied depending on the context.
The words sayyid and master that appear in the statement "Sayyid and master is Allah" mean a god.
The word maula has such meanings as an owner, a god, a master, a glorious person, a tamer, a helper, a friend, a beloved one, and an emancipated slave.This word is used in the Qur'an al-karim in several meanings:
(You are our Maulana, so help us against disbelievers.) [Al-Baqarah 286]
(Allah is your Maula. What an excellent Maula [owner] and what an excellent helper.) [Al-Hajj 78]
(Know well that Allah is your Maula [owner, helper].) [Al-Anfal 40]
(He who has left the true religion invokes him whose harm is nearer than his profit. What an evil maula [helper] and what an evil companion!) [Al-Hajj 13]
(That Day a maula [friend] cannot avail a maula [friend] in aught, and no help can they receive.) [Ad-Dukhan 41]
(Allah is the Maula [owner] of the Believers, but the disbelievers have no maula [owner, helper].) [Muhammad 11]
A hadith-i sharif says:
(For whosoever I am maula [friend], then Ali is his maula, too.) [Nasai]
Some sentences related to the subject are as follows:
The word maula that appears in the sentence "Our Maulaís mercy is plentiful" means a god.
The word maula in the sentence "Maulana Khalid al-Baghdadi, Maulana Jalaladdeen al-Roumi, and Maulana Abdurrahman Jami are valuable persons" means a master and a glorious, beloved person. Maulana means "our master."
The word maula that appears in the sentence "Hadrat Bilal was maula of Hadrat Abu Bakr" means an emancipated slave.
Sayyid, like the word maula, means a master. It means a notable person as well. It is also used for our Master the Prophet and his descendants. The word sayyid, just like the word maula, is used in several meanings in the Qur'an al-karim:
(Then the angels said to him [Zakariyya alaissalam] while he was performing salat in Al-Mihrab: "Allah gives you glad tidings of a child named Yahya. He will verify the Word [the Prophet Isa] from Allah, will be a sayyid [master, outstanding among them] for his people, will be abstinent, and will be a prophet from among the pious.") [Al-i Imran 39]
(They [Yusuf 'alaihis-salam and the woman] rushed to the door, and she grabbed and tore his shirt from the back. They met her sayyid [her master, her husband] at the door.) [Yusuf 25]
The word sayyid was also used for notables among the Blessed Companions. Some pertinent hadith-i sharifs from Sahih al-Bukhari are as follows:
When Saíd bin Muaz came in, the Messenger of Allah ordered, "Stand up for your sayyid."
Hadrat 'Umar said to Hadrat Abu Bakr, "We swear allegiance to you because you are our sayyid, our good one, and the one who is the most beloved to the Messenger of Allah among us."
Hadrat 'Umar used to say, "Abu Bakr, our sayyid, emancipated Bilal al-Habashi, our sayyid, so he obtained freedom."
It is written in the book Nimat al-Islam:
"It is mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari on the authority of Sayyidina ibn Abbas that our Sayyid alaihissalatu wassalam used to perform Salat al-Tahajjud as 12 rak'ats."
The prayer "O my Allah, I ask You of beneficial knowledge, plentiful provision, and healing from every disease," recited while one is drinking zamzam, is the prayer of Sayyidina ibn Abbas.
(Prophets and messengers are sayyids of Paradise.) [Abu Nu'aym]
(Hassan and Hussein are sayyids of Paradiseís young people. Their father is more valued than they are.) [Muslim]
(On the Day of Judgment, Hamza will be sayyid of all martyrs.) [Shirazi]
(Sayyid of humans is Adam ['alaihis-salam]. Sayyid of Arabs is Muhammad ['alaihis-salam]. Sayyid of Rum is Suhayb. Sayyid of Iranians is Salman. Sayyid of Abyssinians is Bilal.) [Deylemi]
(Sayyids of the women in Paradise are Maryam, Fatima, Khadija and Asiyya.) [Taberani]
(A runaway slaveís salats will not be acceptable until he returns to his sayyid [master].) [Muslim]
(Whoever says "my sayyid" [whoever says "my master" respectfully] to a hypocrite causes his Rabb to become angry.) [Nasai]
(On a journey, the sayyid [master] of people is the one who is a servant to them. Nothing else, except martyrdom, can reach the thawab of serving people.) [Hakim]
(Curse upon a slave who takes another sayyid [master] as his own sayyid [master].) [Imam-i Ahmad]
(Let a slave not call his sayyid [master] "my Rabb." Let him say "my sayyid [master]," for you are servants, and Rabb is Allahu ta'ala.) [Abu Dawud]
(Ramadan is the sayyid of the months.) [Bayhaqi]
(Friday is the master of the days.) [Daylami]
If the word sayyid can be used for precious and beloved people, why can it not be used for the most valuable person, the Messenger of Allah? Some more hadith-i sharifs are as follows:
(I am the sayyid of all the worlds.) [Bayhaqi]
(I am the sayyid [master] of all humanity.) [Bukhari, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Imam-i Ahmad, Darimi]
(I am the sayyid [master] of all prophets.) [Darimi, Ibn Najjar]
(I am the sayyid [master] of all humans on the Day of Judgment.) [Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi]
In the abovementioned hadith-i sharifs, the word sayyid means a master.
The meaning of the phrase "Sayyidina Rasulullah" is "our Master the Messenger of Allah" or "our Master the Prophet." When saying salawat, we donít mention the name of the Prophet alone, but we say, "Allahumma salli 'alaa sayyidinaa Muhammad wa 'alaa aali sayyidinaa Muhammad." Attacking the usage of the word sayyidina is an open enmity to our prophet.
It is only Allahu ta'ala who kills. A Qur'anic verse says (what means):
(It is Allahu ta'ala who kills man.) [Az Zumar 42]
Although the One who kills is Allahu ta'ala alone, it is not wrong to say in the metaphorical sense, for example, "Ali killed Ahmad" or "Azrail 'alaihis-salam took the soul of Ali".
Wahhabis also say that it is shirk to address someone besides Allahu ta'ala as "rabb." The word rabb has several meanings. For example, Yusuf alaihis-salam said "rabb" to the ruler.
A Qur'anic verse says (what means):
(Mention me in the presence of your rabb [ruler, master].) [Yusuf 42]
It means that the word rabb does not only mean a god. It also means a ruler and a tamer. Thatís why we use the word murabbi for a male educator and a murabbiya for a female educator. Wahhabis call mushrik those people who use the word rabb for someone else besides Allah. For example, they label Muslims who say "Abdunnabi" as polytheists. Surely, Ali and Nabi can have slaves. Some words may have several meanings. Depending on the context, a particular meaning is implied.
The word qul means a creature, human, slave, follower, dependant, etc. The word abd means a slave. Abdunnabi means Nabiís slave.
What is wrong with calling a slave Nabiís slave if the slave belongs to someone called Nabi? In the Qur'an al-karim, Allahu ta'ala uses the word ibaadukum to describe slaves. It means that people can have quls, that is, slaves.
The 32nd verse of Surat an-Nur says (what means): "Marry off those slaves of yours who are pious."
Those people are unaware of the Qur'an al-karim. As they do not think that a word may have several meanings, they call it tawhid to label any Muslim they come across as mushrik by putting the stamp of shirk. Anyone who calls a Muslim a disbeliever becomes a disbeliever himself.