The meaning of “Sayyid”: Was Imam Nawawi a Mushrik ?

Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab makes a bold claim, that is at the root of his deviance :

“And when you have come to know that their [mere] affirmation of Tawheed ur-Ruboobiyyah did not enter them into Islaam, and that their seeking the Angels, or the Prophets, or the Righteous, seeking their intercession and seeking nearness to Allaah through all of that was the reason that made their blood and wealth lawful.”

After which he writes:

“then you will have come to know [the true nature] of the Tawheed which the Messengers invited to and which the Mushriks refused to affirm and accept. And this Tawheed is the meaning of Laa ilaaha illallaah. For a deity (ilaah) in the view of the Mushriks is the one who is sought for the sake of these affairs (that is intercession and nearness to Allaah), whether it be an Angel, a Prophet, a tree, a grave or a jinn. They did not intend or mean that a deity (ilaah) is the Creator, Sustainer or Regulator (Mudabbir), for they knew that this is only for Allaah alone as has preceded but what they meant by ilaah is what the Mushriks of our time intend by the word “sayyid”. [Ref: “Kashf ush-Shubuhaat” of Muhammed bin Abdul Wahhab]

His assertion is clear. “Ilaah” according to him means “one who is sought for the sake of intercession and nearness to Allah” and this meaning of “Ilaah” is the same meaning the “Mushriks of our time” (i.e., the Muslims whom he declared shirk upon) intend with the word “Sayyid”. In other words, the meaning of “Sayyid” used by his Muslim opponents is the same meaning the polytheists intended with the word “Ilaah”.

This new invented personal definition of “Ilaah”, is neither to be found in the Quran or the Sunnah, not by the Salaf nor by any of the Mujtahid Imams or authorities of Islam. Its his personal ijthihad on the meaning of this word, which is a key word of the kalimat ash-shahadah and of the foundational principles of Islam . This innovation is the sole principle basis upon which the entire Wahhabi creed inreality rests as a whole. All of their other insinuations of shirk and kufr are emerging from this distortion of Islam.

Leaving aside a detailed refutation of this heretical innovation for a later article(Inshaallah!), I instead compare it with the meaning of “Sayyid” as understood by one of the mujthahid Imams and authorities of Islam who’s scholarship and piety is accepted by the unanimous opinion of the Muslim world, and from whom even the Wahhabi sect is forced to often relate opinions from. Imam Nawawi (631-676 AH), in his world reknown commentary of Sahih Muslim, explained the meaning of “Sayyid” when commenting on the narration of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be on him):

“I am the sayyid of all the children of Adam on the Day of Judgment, the first to have his grave split open, the first to intercede, and the first to be granted intercession”

Imam Nawawi (Allah have mercy on him) gives two possible meanings for sayyid:

(a) “someone who surpasses his people in something good“, or

(b) “someone who is sought out in difficult times, when he responds by bearing their difficulties and giving them relief”.

This bolded definition given by Imam Nawawi(rahimahullah) makes him a Mushrik if one is to follow the creed of Ibn Abdul Wahhab (which we mentioned above). We hope the zealous followers of Wahhabism have an answer :

Was Imam Nawawi a Mushrik ? Was he one who disbelieved in La Illaaha Illallah ? Was he one who affirmed an Ilaah besides Allah with the word “Sayyid” ?

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