Wayfarer's Rest

Some assorted ramblings and occasional thoughts from Talib al-Habib. Updated randomly and irregularly (if at all). Talib takes no responsiblity for anything that he may write, as responsiblity implies capacity, and capacity implies a sound mind...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The term 'sayyidina'


A response to a sister from Australia (whom I later learnt was a recent convert, masha-allah). She wrote in asking about the usage of the word 'sayyidina' to describe our beloved Rasulullah (s), having thought that it meant 'Lord' and therefore was a term that should be used exclusively for Allah. She also questioned whether we should 'love Rasulullah (S) more than Allah.' May Allah bless her for asking - half of knowledge is asking questions [the other half is listening to the response!].

The reply ...

In the name of Allah, most Compassionate, Most Merciful. Peace and blessings upon Sayyidina Muhammad, his family and companions.

I hope this email finds you in the best of physical and spiritual health. Your email was passed on to me for answering. Thank you for having the adab to expressing your reservations 'in person' as it were, and for giving me the chance to explain the lyrics to the best of my paltry ability. It should firstly be noted that I am not a scholar, but merely a student and as such in no position to issue legal rulings. However, during the compilation of this CD, some of the most prominent ulama in the world were consulted - specifically regarding the lyrics - and they not only were satisfied with them, but actively recommended them to others. Therefore, in answer to your question,

1. The Arabic word for 'Our master' is 'Sayyidina,' a word that the Beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him) explicitly used for himself ('ana sayyid walad Adam, wa la fakhra'), and so forth. It was also a word that he used for other companions, such as when he instructed people to 'stand for your master' ('qum li-sayyidi-kum'). Allah also uses it in the Quran to describe his Prophets (such as the description of the Prophet Yahya (as) as 'sayyidan husuran,' (chaste master). As the scholars of Islam have explained to us, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (s) is worthy of any epithet used for any Prophet - may Allah bless them all and grant them peace. It is - as such - a word that no scholar has a problem using for Rasulullah (S) - and in fact, it is inappropriate to use it for Allah for various reasons.

2. It is both logically and legally impossible for the status of Rasulullah (s) to be compared to Allah's. However, it is not an issue of 'loving Rasulullah (S) more than Allah,' for various reasons:

a. Love is a gift, not something that one can control. Sayyidina Umar once told Rasulullah (S) that 'I love you more than anything except my own self and my parents.' When Rasulullah (s) questioned him about this, he didn't say to him, 'that is haram /shirk!' rather he caused Umar to look deeper into his heart, where he found that, in reality, he loved Rasulullah (S) more than anything else.

b. In reality, the differentiation between 'love of Allah' and 'love of Rasulullah' is an artificial one. They are one and the same thing. Love for Allah cannot exist without love of Rasulullah (S) and vice-versa. He (s) is the door to Allah, and one cannot come to knowledge (therefore worship therefore love) of Allah without him (s). Love of the flower necessitates love of the earth from whence it sprang. Much more could be said about this, insha-allah.

c. The foremost in love of Rasulullah (s) were his own companions, who - according to the most rigorously authenticated hadith - cherished his gaze, his touch, his voice and his presence beyond anything else, used his perspiration as perfume, caught his used wudu water before it fell to the earth, collected his hair, and expressed their love for him in poetry, as mere words were too poor to express the depth of their emotion.

3. The idea of those 'who yearn for the light of his beauty / Who pass days and nights seeking his company' is the reality of the righteous and lovers of Rasulullah (s) in every generation from the sahaba to present day. Sayyidina Abu Bakr was reported to have said that, 'the thing most beloved to me in all the world is gazing upon the face of Rasulullah.'

4. Regarding the actual title 'Abd al-Mustafa - slave of Muhammad - there is a scholarly difference of opinion as to whether or not this is appropriate. You would be advised to speak to a scholar regarding this matter. The point is that linguistically, the word 'abd does not only infer a sense of 'worship' but also of 'obedience and servitude.' Thus a report attributed to Sayyidina Ali (ra) and whose meaning has been verified by the scholars reads, 'I am the slave (`abd) of the one who has taught me a letter' [ie: even the smallest amount of knowledge].

I hope I have gone some way to answering the questions that you so kindly sent Nur al-Habib Productions. If they are still unclear, my advice to you would be to speak to scholars regarding such issues. www.sunnipath.com is an excellent site, and no doubt there are others. Otherwise, I hope that you will now be able to enjoy the CD without doctrinal reservations or uncertainties. It was written in the love of Rasulullah (s), for the love for Rasulullah (s), in order to help myself and others attain the love of Rasulullah (s). Also be aware that - short of attributing divinity to the Holy Prophet (s), which no Muslim has ever done - it is impossible to praise Rasulullah (s) 'more' than he deserves. His reality is known only to Allah - as he told Sayyidina Abu Bakr, 'nobody knows my reality except for Allah.' Imam Busiri says,

'And how could any encompass his reality
a people sleeping, deluded in a dreamworld;'


'Leave [the divinity] that the Christians attribute to their Prophet
Then say whatever you will in praise of him
For verily, the blessedness of the Prophet
Has no limit that any tongue could ever utter.'

May Allah fulfill all our hopes and keep us with the lovers of the Beloved of Allah (S).

was salam
`abd da`if
talib al-habib


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