Assalaamu alaykum. So far, I know that my name has been taken from one of the glorious names of Allaah, i.e., 'Al-Sayyid'. Many people jokingly and affectionately call me 'Saadu', or other names, by changing the pronunciation of my name. At times, when someone is angry with me, they also shout at me, changing my name's pronunciation, although they know that it is Allaah's name. What is the ruling on them? Are they only sinful, or have gone out of the fold of Islam?
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.
First of all, we say that there is no harm in being named Sayyid - without the definite article 'Al' - contrary to Al-Sayyid (pronounced As-Sayyid), because that is exclusively used as a name for Allah, The Exalted. Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen was once asked about the ruling of being named with the names of Allah such as Kareem, ‘Azeez, and the like. He replied:
“There are two ways of naming with the names of Allah ... the first with the definite article 'Al', such as Al-‘Azeez, As-Sayyid, Al-Hakeem, etc., and in this case, these names are not to be used to name other than Allah, The Exalted, because the definite article "Al" is indicative of the original meaning of the name... The second is by using the name without the definite article (‘Azeez, Sayyid, Hakeem, etc.) and in this case, the meaning of the name is not intended; it is allowed to use it to name people. One of the Companions was named Hakeem (ibn Hizaam)...”
Ibn Al-Qayyim wrote:
“As for the names that are preceded with the definite article 'Al' such as As-Samee‘ (The All-Hearing), Al-Baseer (The All-Seeing), Al-Ra'oof (The Compassionate), and Ar-Raheem (The Merciful), they may be used to describe an attribute of the created being without the definite article 'Al' (human beings exhibit the attributes of hearing, seeing, compassion, and mercy, but only Allah, The Exalted, has such attributes in their absolute sense). It is impermissible to use these names with the definite article 'Al' in reference to people, as they are used in reference to Allah alone.”
As long as your name is Sayyid, without the definite article 'Al', there is no religious impediment to bearing this name, because there is no sanctity ascribed to it. It is sacred only when it is used in reference to Allah, The Exalted (As-Sayyid), and it is only in this case that it becomes impermissible to change its pronunciation or to treat it with disrespect.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen was asked, “If I wrote to a person, 'So-and-so Al-Kareem' (the honorable) or 'So-and-so Al-‘Azeez' (the dear one) and then wanted to dispose of this piece of paper, do I have to erase the words Al-Kareem or Al-‘Azeez because they are among the names of Allah?”
He answered, “No, because they are used as attributes of a person (a created being, not the Creator) in this context and, accordingly, you do not have to erase them (before throwing away the paper).”
If the name, which is used in reference to Allah, is ascribed to the created being (without the 'Al'), then there is no sanctity ascribed to it and changing its pronunciation is not forbidden, unlike the case if it refers to Allah, as then it would be sanctified and prohibited to change its pronunciation. Hence, when someone changes the pronunciation of your name Sayyid, he does not go out of the fold of Islam, because he intended changing the pronunciation of your name and not the name of Allah. However, he may bear a sin if you dislike being called with the mispronounced version of your name.
Allah knows best.
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