Saying “Sayyiduna” (master) when mentioning the Prophet (ﷺ)
By: Qays Arthur
Many consider it simply good manners and an additional mark of respect to say “sayyiduna” (sayyid means master and sayyiduna means our master) when mentioning the name of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). While that is certainly the case, there is more to it than that. Here a great jurist and judge from the 9th century explains that this simple practice is actually an act of great faith and worship.
The great jurist and judge al-Allama Qasim al-’Uqbani al-Tilimsani (d. 854 H – Allah shower him in mercy) was asked about saying “sayyiduna“, our master, and the like when mentioning the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). He responded:
“The best formulas of remembrance are those done in the exact manner described by the Patron of the Sacred Law (i.e. the Prophet – peace be upon him). Nevertheless mentioning our prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) with the honorific ‘master’ and with its like of the attributes of veneration and reverence is by no means prohibited. Rather it an increase in worship and faith particularly after the confirmation of his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) saying:
‘I am the master of the children of Adam…’ in Bukhari and Muslim and elsewhere.
This is so because mentioning him (Allah bless him and grant him peace) with ‘sayyiduna‘ given the transmission of that hadith is simply an affirmation of faith in that hadith, and every affirmation of what was brought by al-Mustapha (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is faith and worship.” (Taken from al-Wansharisi’s Mi’yar al-Mu’rib as cited in Dar al-Salam’s edition of Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuda’s Min Adab al-Islam.)
To summarize, since there are rigorously authenticated reports that our master Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) referred to himself as “master” then referring to him as such is an affirmation of faith in those reports which itself is ‘ibada (worship) and iman (faith).
Al-Allama al-Qadi, Qasim al-’Uqbani al-Tilimsani, known as Abu al-Fadhl was a jurist who reached the rank of ijtihad. He held the post of head of the judiciary in Tilmisan (Tlemcen in Algeria) then retired to teach until he passed away. He authored Urjuza in Sufism, and a gloss on Ibn Hajib in Maliki jurisprudence. (Source: Al-Bustan of Abi Abdillah Muhammad bin Muhammad al-Tilimsani)