Using the title ‘Maulana’ is permissible



Al-Wali and al-Mawla are names of Allah, but it is permissible to call a Muslim “mawlana”


Is the name Al-Wali one of the beautiful names of Allah? Sometimes we hear people calling a shaykh “mawlana” or saying “So and so is mawlana” – is that permissible?

Published Date: 2013-04-18

Praise be to Allah.


Al-Wali and al-Mawla are two of the names of Allah, because Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):

Or have they taken (for worship) Awliya (guardians, supporters, helpers, protectors, etc.) besides Him? But Allah, He Alone is the Wali (Protector, etc.). And it is He Who gives life to the dead, and He is Able to do all things”

[Ash-Shoora 42:9]

Allah is the Wali (Protector or Guardian) of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into light”

[Al-Baqarah 2:257]

And if they turn away, then know that Allah is your Mawla (Patron, Lord, Protector and Supporter, etc.), (what) an Excellent Mawla, and (what) an Excellent Helper!”

[Al-Anfaal 8:40]

Pardon us and grant us Forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Mawla (Patron, Supporter and Protector, etc.) and give us victory over the disbelieving people”

[Al-Baqarah 2:286]

Say: Nothing shall ever happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is our Mawla (Lord, Helper and Protector).” And in Allah let the believers put their trust”

[At-Tawbah 9:51].

And the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said:

You are its Guardian (Wali) and its Lord (Mawla).”

Narrated by Muslim, 7081

See: Fayd al-Qadeer, 2/613; al-Qawaa’id al-Mathla, p. 15


It is permissible to call another person “mawlana” if he is Muslim, but it is not permissible to say that to a disbeliever.

Some of the scholars said that it is permissible to use the word mawla to refer to a Muslim who is distinguished in knowledge or righteousness.

The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said to Zayd ibn Haarithah: “You are our brother and our mawla.”

Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2552

The word mawla may be used with reference to an owner, companion, relative, neighbour, ally, supporter, lover, benefactor, recipient of kindness, slave or freed slave. See: al-Qamoos al-Muheet.

Ibn al-Atheer said: The word mawla appears frequently in hadeeth. It is a word that may be applied to many things.

It may refer to the Lord, the owner, the master, the benefactor, the freed slave, the supporter, the lover, the follower, the neighbour, the cousin, the ally, the son-in-law, the slave, and the recipient of kindness.

It mostly appears in hadeeth and should be interpreted according to the context of the hadeeth in which it is mentioned. Everyone who is in charge of a matter or undertakes a matter may be described as its mawla or wali.

End quote from an-Nihaayah fi Ghareeb al-Hadeeth, 5/227

Hence there is nothing wrong with giving this name to a person so long as he is not a disbeliever.

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said: Section: The dhimmi cannot be addressed as Sayyiduna etc

With regard to addressing (the dhimmi) as sayyiduna, mawlana and the like (titles roughly meaning “our master”), that is definitely haraam.

End quote from Ahkaam Ahl adh-Dhimmah, 2/771

An-Nawawi said: Imam Abu Ja‘far an-Nahhaas said in his book Sinaa‘at al-Kitaab: With regard to the word al-mawla, we do not know of any difference of opinion among the scholars concerning the fact that no one should say “mawlaya (my master)” to another person. But I say: We have seen in the previous chapter that it is permissible in all cases to say mawlaya and there is no difference between (the two forms of the word). An-Nahhaas was speaking of the word with the definite article (Al-mawla). Similarly, An-Nahhaas said: The word sayyid may be said to anyone who is not an evildoer, but it should not be used with the definite article (As-sayyid) to refer to anyone other than Allah, may He be exalted. But the more correct view is that there is nothing wrong with saying al-mawla and as-sayyid (with the definite article, with reference to people) subject to the conditions mentioned above, i.e., a person may becalled as-sayyid (with the definite article) if he is a person of virtue and goodness, either because of his knowledge or his righteousness and so on. If he is an evildoer or there is some doubt concerning his religious commitment and the like, it is makrooh to call him sayyid.

End quote from al-Adhkaar, p. 840. See also Mu‘jam al-Manaahi al-Lafziyyah, p. 535

And Allah knows best.

Islam Q&A

Calling a person ‘Mawlaana

Fatwa No : 117533

Fatwa Date : Safar 1, 1430 / 28-1-2009


Assalmu Alaikum is it permissible to call person Maulana? i read your fatwa in which you said Yes. but threr is hadith in sahih muslim, in the forbidden words section (may be kitabul alfaj) (also mishkat-kitabul adab) which prohibits calling any person maula. but there is also hadith which permits. so shouldn’t we refrain from calling Maulana to be on the safe-side? what is your opinion? and what about calling Rasulullah (peace be upon him) -maulana? may Allah reward you.


All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

The matter is as you have read in Fatwa 88538 that it is permissible to call a particular person with the term Mawlaana with its proper meaning which applies to him, and it is permissible to call the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) with it as it is confirmed that he said: ‘‘Whoever considers me as his Mawla (master), then Ali is his Mawla.’’

[Ahmad, At-Tirmithi and Ibn Maajah]

This term is among the common terms and it differs in its real meaning from when it is added to the Creator, and when it is added to a creature, like all other terms such as Samee’ (All-Hearer), Baseer (All-Seer) and so forth. Allaah Says [about Himself] (what means):

{Indeed, Allaah is ever Hearing and Seeing.}[Quran 4:58]

Allaah Says about man (what means): {Indeed, We created man from a sperm-drop mixture that We may try him; and We made him hearing and seeing.}

[Quran 76:2]

Indeed, there is evidence that saying this term is permissible, and there is no need to say that it is better to be on the safe side and not attribute this to a creature. In fact the Salaf (the scholars among the righteous predecessors) used this term and no one objected to them from doing so.

We have not come in the books that we have across something that suggests that it is prohibited to say this term, rather the Prophetic narration which is reported by Muslim may Allaah have mercy upon him says the contrary as it reads: “Let him say “Sayyidi” (my Master) and “Mawlaaya” (my Mawla)”. Therefore, please send us the wording of the narration so that we may look for it.

Allaah Knows best.

Using the title ‘Maulana’ is permissible

Fatwa No : 88538

Fatwa Date : Rajab 15, 1425 / 31-8-2004


Are we aloud to say Mawlana to Imaams or big Sheikhs.


All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. We ask Allaah to exalt his mention as well as that of his family and all his companions.

Yes, it is permissible to say so, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): {Your Wali (protector and helper) is none but Allaah and [therefore] His Messenger and those who have believed….} [5:55].

Allaah further says (interpretation of the meaning): {But if you cooperate against him (the Prophet) – then indeed Allaah is his protector, and Gabriel and the righteous among the believers and the angels moreover, are [his] assistants.} [66:4].

Mawlaa is a common word that means: Lord, King, Mister, Benefactor, neighbour, beloved one, etc…

Allaah knows best.

Usage of the title “Maulana”


Usage of the title “Maulana” has become popular among Muslims to refer to our esteemed scholars with respect and honor. However some Muslims have strongly prohibited this usage, saying that it implies “shirk” or ascribing partners unto Allah Almighty who refers to Himself as being “Maulana” in the Holy Quran meaning Our Master. Is it permissible to refer to a human being as “Maulana” and more specifically is it permissible to refer to the Messenger of Allah as Maulana.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.


The term Maulana (مولانا) comprises of two words ie. “Maula” (مولى) which is normally translated as Master/Protector and “Naa” (نا) a pronoun which means “our”. Therefore the term Maulana (مولانا) generally means Our Master/Our Protector.

Allah Ta’ala refers himself as Maula in various places in The Holy Quran:

{وان تولوا فاعلموا ان الله مولاكم نعم المولى ونعم النصير}

And if they turn away, then know that Allah is your protector, an excellent protector, and an excellent helper”

{انت مولانا فانصرنا على القوم الكافرين}

You are our Protector, help us against the disbelievers”

{هو مولانا وعلى الله فليتوكل المؤمنون}

He (Allah) is our Protector and on Allah let the Believers put their trust”

The word Maula in the Arabic language has different meanings, Al-Hafidh Ibn Athir mentions in his famous book An-Nihaayah fi Ghareeb al-Hadeeth that word Maula can refer to the following;

Lord, Master, Leader, Benefactor, Emancipator, Helper, Lover, Follower, Neighbour, Cousin, Ally, Colonel, Son-in-law, Slave, Freed Slave, Beneficiary. [1]

And all of these meanings are in conformation with the various traditions of the The Holy Prophet .

Therefore, it is absolutely wrong to claim that the term “Maulana” refers to Allah Ta’ala alone, since this word contains meanings that are not befitting to Majesty of Allah Ta’ala, which is clearly shown in the aforementioned.

Allah refers to himself as: AL Aleem (The All Knowledgeable), AL Samee (The All Hearing) Baseer (The All Seeing)

He also refers to his creation as Aleem, Samee, Baseer

{وبشّروه بغلام عليم}

And they gave him the glad tidings of a knowledgeable son (Ishaaq, peace be upon him)”

{فجعلناه سميعا بصيرا}

We made him hearing, seeing

These terms are used both for Allah and human beings, except when attributed to Allah it carries a meaning which is exclusive to His Majesty and is not attributed to any of His creation, not even His Prophets or His Angels. There is none like Allah, whether in His Being, His Names and His Attributes.

Hence, the word Aleem, when attributed to Allah, it means All Knowledgeable, there is none like Him in knowledge. And when referred to a human being, it implies the possessor of some knowledge, which is limited and no way in comparison to the knowledge of Allah.

Similarly is the usage of the term Maulana, it can be referred to Allah in a way befitting to His Majesty and it can be used for human beings also in a manner befitting them.


Allah Ta’ala mentions the word Maula in The Holy Quran referring to other than Himself e.g.

[يوم لا يغني مولى عن مولى شيئا ولا هم ينصرون إلا من رحم الله]

On this day no Maula will benefit another Maula, neither shall they be assisted” [2]

The word Maula in this Ayah refers to a companion or relative and cannot be refered to The Almighty. If anyone insist that Maula in this Ayah refers to Allah has committed apostasy and left the fold of Islam.

The Holy Prophet mentions in a Hadith reported by Imam Al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurairah, May Allah be pleased with him.

لا يقل أحدكم أطعم ربك وضئ ربك، اسق ربك، وليقل سيدي، مولاي

You should not say, ‘Feed your lord (referring to the owner of the slave) help your lord in performing ablution, or give water to your lord, but should say my master or my Maula”

Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajr mentions in his commentary: This hadith shows the permissibility of using the word Maula to refer to other than Allah Ta’ala.

The Holy Prophet mentions in a Hadith reported by At-Tirmidhi, Ahmad and Ibn Majah

[من كنت مولاه فعلي مولاه]

Whoever considers me as his Maula (Master), then Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) is his Maula.”

Not only did The Holy Prophet refer to himself as Maula but referred to Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) also.

The permissibility of using the word Maula referring to other than Allah is clearly proven from The Quran and authentic Traditions of The Holy Prophet . There are no differences of opinion amongst the scholars with regarding this issue.

Imam An-Nawawi mentions in his Al-Adhkaar quoting from Imam Abu Ja‘far an-Nahhaas, an early fourth century scholar, master in the field Arabic Language and Hadith.

With regards to the word Al-Maula, we do not know of any difference of opinion among the scholars concerning the fact that no one should say mawlaya (my master) to another person. “[3]

Sheikh Ibn Uthaymeen in his Al-Manaahi al-Lafziyyah has mentioned the permissibility of using the term Maulana for other than Allah.[4]

Those who claim that it is shirk to address someone other than Allah Ta’ala as Maulana may have drawn such a conclusion by regarding “an addition” to the original text of the Hadith mentioned above (i.e Hadith of Abu Hurairah) which is reported by Imam Muslim and Imam An-Nasaai :

[ولا يقل أحدكم مولاي، فإن مولاكم الله ولكن ليقل سيدي]

You should not say My Maula for indeed Your Maula is Allah, You should rather say Sayyidi”

The Scholars of Hadith have stated that, most of the narrators who reported this hadith did not mention this “addition” and have thus declared such addition as weak and unacceptable because of its contents being contrary to general sayings of The Holy Prophet . [5]

In summary, it is permissible to refer to The Holy Prophet , our esteemed scholars and religious leaders as “Maulana” since there is no prohibition in the Shariah, Rather its permissibility is proven from Quran and Sunnah.


And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Kaleem Muhammad



قال ابن الأثير في النهاية في غريب الحديث: وقد تكرر ذكر المَوْلَى في الحديث، وهو اسْمٌ يقَع على جَماعةٍ كَثيِرَة، فهو الرَّبُّ، والمَالكُ، والسَّيِّد، والمُنْعِم، والمُعْتِقُ، والنَّاصر، والمُحِبّ، والتَّابِع، والجارُ، وابنُ العَمّ ، والحَلِيفُ، والعَقيد، والصِّهْر، والعبْد، والمُعْتَقُ، والمُنْعَم عَلَيه، وأكْثرها قد جاءت في الحديث، فَيُضاف كُلّ واحِدٍ إلى ما يَقْتَضيه الحديثُ الوَارِدُ فيه. وكُلُّ مَن وَلِيَ أمْراً أو قام به فَهُو مَوْلاهُ وَوَليُّه


قوله تعالى : يوم لا يغني مولى عن مولى شيئا يوم بدل من يوم الأول . والمولى : الولي وهو ابن العم والناصر . أي : لا يدفع ابن عم عن ابن عمه ، ولا قريب عن قريبه ، ولا صديق عن صديقه اهـ .تفسير القرطبي دار الفكر


الأذكار للنووي ط ابن حزم (ص: 575)

قال الإمام أبو جعفرٍ النحاسُ في كتابهِ صناعة الكتاب: أما المولى فلا نعلمُ اختلافاً بين العلماءِ أنه لا ينبغي لأحدٍ أن يقول لأحدٍ من المخلوقين: مولاي

قلتُ: وقد تقدم في الفصل السابق [برقم: 1832] جوازُ إطلاق مولاي. ولا مخالفةَ بينهُ وبينَ هذا، فإن النحاس تكلمُ في المولى بالألفِ واللامِ، وكذا قال النحاسُ: يُقالُ: سيد لغير الفاسقِ، ولا يقالُ: السيد بالألف واللام لغير الله تعالى، والأظهر أنه لا بأس بقوله: المولى والسيد بالألف واللام بشرطه السابق؛ والله أعلم


سئل فضيلة الشيخ عن قول الإنسان إذا خاطب ملكا ( يا مولاي ) فأجاب بقوله

الولاية تنقسم إلى قسمين : القسم الأول : ولاية مطلقة وهذه لله عز وجل كالسيادة المطلقة ، وولاية الله بالمعنى العام شاملة لكل أحد قال الله – تعالى -:(ثم ردوا إلى الله مولاهم الحق إلا له الحكم وهو أسرع الحاسبين)(70) فجعل له سبحانه الولاية على هؤلاء المفترين،وهذه ولاية عامة،وأما بالمعنى الخاص فهي خاصة بالمؤمنين المتقين قال الله – تعالى – : (ذلك بأن الله مولى الذين آمنوا وأن الكافرين لا مولى لهم ( (71) وقال الله – تعالى – : (إلا إن أولياء الله لا خوف عليهم ولا هم يحزنون الذين آمنوا وكانوا يتقون) (72) وهذه ولاية خاصة

القسم الثاني: ولاية مقيدة مضافة ، فهذه تكون لغير الله ولها في اللغة معاني كثيرة منها الناصر ، والمتولي للأمور،والسيد، قال الله – تعالى –(وإن تظاهرا عليه فإن الله هو مولاه وجبريل وصالح المؤمنين)(73) وقال ، صلى الله عليه وسلم :(من كنت مولاه فعلي مولاه ) وقال صلى الله عليه وسلم : ( إنما الولاء لمن أعتق ). وعلى هذا فلا بأس أن يقول القائل للملك : مولاي بمعنى سيدي ما لم يخشى من ذلك محذور


وأما ما أخرجه مسلم والنسائي من طريق الأعمش عن أبي صالح عن أبي هريرة في هذا الحديث نحوه وزاد: ولا يقل أحدكم مولاي، فإن مولاكم الله ولكن ليقل سيدي. فقد بين مسلم الاختلاف في ذلك على الأعمش، وأن منهم من ذكر هذه الزيادة ومنهم من حذفها. وقال عياض: حذفها أصح. وقال القرطبي: المشهور حذفها. قال: وإنما صرنا إلى الترجيح للتعارض مع تعذر الجمع وعدم العلم بالتاريخ. انتهىفتح


Significance of Titles used for Scholars

I was wondering whether or not anyone could shed any light on what the various titles used for Ulama in the Subcontinent such as Maulvi, Maulana, etc., really mean.


And whether or not there are agreed upon standards that one must meet before having the title conferred upon them, or do different madrassas, schools, governments, etc. have different standards.


Also, are there any equivalent titles/certifications for ulema in the Arab lands?



Question # q18145316


Date Posted: 30/03/2004



In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,


The using of various titles for the scholars (ulama) in the Indian Subcontinent is merely something that is customary and widespread in those lands.


The titles are not based upon any injunction or ruling of Shariah. As such, titles used for scholars may vary from one place to another and from one era to another.


For example: The title “Mawlana” which literally means “our master” is normally used for an individual who graduates from a traditional Islamic institution (madrasa) known as a Dar al-Uloom, for example…


The student normally concludes his course in these Dar al-Ulooms with the study of at least the six major books of Hadith (kutub al-sittah) with the chain (isnad) that goes back to the authors of the books and consequently to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace).


As stated earlier that linguistically “Mawlana” means “our master”. It is a term that is used in order to respect someone, such as a religious scholar.



This term is also used in the Arab world out of regard for a respectable person, not necessarily a religious scholar. During my stay in Syria and Jordan, many times I heard the Arabs say:


Ya Mawlana” (O our master) or “Ya Sayyidi” (O our leader).


Sayyiduna Ali (Allah en noble his face and be pleased with him) said:


Whoever teaches me even a word, he is my master. If he so desires, he may free me and if he wishes he may take service from me.”


(Ta’lim al-Muta’allim)


Thus, this term is only used in order to respect someone, and due to the fact that religious scholars deserve the utmost respect, they are given this title. This also signifies that one does not need to be a scholar in order to be described with this title, for it is merely a word of respect.


However, if the term is customarily used in a place for recognized scholars, then it would not be permissible to give that title to other than scholars.


Therefore, if one was to call a non-scholar with the title of “Mawlana” in an area where this term is not exclusively recognized for scholars (such as in many Arab countries), then it would be perfectly okay. However, to use this term for non-scholars in the Indian subcontinent would not be permissible due to deception.


Also, it is not necessary for one to graduate from a traditional Dar al-Uloom in order to be described with this title. However, what is necessary is that the one given this title must learn and study by other recognized scholars, whether in an organized institution or privately.


There are also other titles that are used in the Indian Subcontinent.


For example: A’lim (the knowledgeable), Mawlavi (my master) and Shaykh are all used for the one who graduates from a traditional Dar al-Uloom.


Mufti” literally means the one who answers questions, and in the Indian Subcontinent it refers to a person who after graduating from the A’lim course, specializes in the field of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) and giving religious verdicts (fatwa) under the supervision of recognized experienced Muftis.


It is only a customary term for anyone who takes up the course of specialization in Islamic jurisprudence, thus the term may differ from the understanding of the Arab world.


The term “Shaykh al-Hadith” normally refers to a person who is appointed and honoured to teach the most authentic book after the book of Allah “Sahih al-Bukhari”. This again is a term that is customary in the Indian Subcontinent and may differ from other Islamic countries and societies.


In conclusion, the different titles given to the scholars in the Indian Subcontinent are merely customary, thus they may differ in application from other Islamic societies and cultures.


And Allah knows best

Muhammad ibn Adam


Darul Iftaa


Leicester , UK


Copyright© 2005 Darul Iftaa. All rights reserved

Calling a scholar Mawlana

What is the answer to those who say that only Allah Almighty is Maulana, and it is not permissible to call anyone Maulana?


Question # q-20114860


Date Posted: 04/02/2004



In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,



The word “Mawlana” literally means our master. It is a word of honour and respect normally used in the Indo/Pak for a person who has graduated from a traditional religious institute (Dar al-Uloom). The words Alim, Mawlavi and Fadhil are also used for the same person.


It is also used in the Arab world (out of regard) for a respectable person, not necessarily a religious scholar. During my stay in Syria, many times I heard the Arabs say: “Ya Mawlana” (O our master) or “Ya Sayyidi” (O our leader).


It is clear from the above that there is nothing wrong in calling someone Mawlana.


It is merely a word used to respect someone you have regard for, such as a religious scholar.

Those who object to this, say that the real “Mawla” (master) is only Allah Almighty, and therefore to grant somebody the name of Allah is not permissible.


This however, is incorrect, as many words and titles used for Allah Almighty are also used for his servants. The great commentator of the Holy Qur’an, Imam Ibn Kathir (Allah have mercy on him) states in his Tafsir:


There are certain names of Allah that are used (as names) for other than Allah, and certain names of Allah are exclusive for Him alone, such as: Allah, al-Rahman (Merciful), Al-Khaliq (Creator), al-Raziq (Sustainer) and so forth”


(Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 1/42).


The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) was described as “Rahim” in the Qur’an, which is also a name of Allah Almighty.


Similarly, the term “Rabb” is used repeatedly in the Arabic language (in connection with another word). The books of Fiqh are full of this. The head of a house is called Rabb al-Bayt, even though, the word Rabb is used for Allah Most High in the very first verse of the Qur’an. The word ‘Mawla’ itself is used in the Arabic language for a master of a servant or slave.


In conclusion, it is totally permissible to call a person “Mawlana” out of respect. One should always remember that these are trivial matters, and one should avoid arguments with regards to it. The Muslim Ummah is in need of more important matters to be solved.



And Allah Knows Best

Muhammad ibn Adam

Darul Iftaa

Leicester , UK


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