Addressing One’s Parents, Elders and Spouse by their Names

Addressing One’s Parents, Elders and Spouse by their Names

Question:

Is it Haram to call one’s parents or teachers with their names and not say father, mother, Shaykh, Ustadh, etc. What about a wife calling her husband with his name?

Answer:

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

It is not unlawful (haram) or sinful to address one’s mother, father, teacher and Shaykh by their personal names. However; it is inappropriate to do so, since it goes against religious propriety (adab) and the respect that Shari’ah encourages before those who are senior.

Sayyiduna Ubada ibn Samit (Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “Whosoever does not respect our elders is not of us.” In another version, he said: “Whosoever does not respect our elders, is not compassionate to our youth, and does not give our scholars due honour, is not of us.” (Musnad Ahmad, Hakim and Tabarani)

Imam Bukhari in his Al-Adab al-Mufrad has formed a chapter-heading ‘A man should not address his father by his name, sit before him, or walk ahead of him’ and then relates with his chain of transmission that the Companion Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) saw two men walking; so he asked one of them, “How is this man related to you?” He replied, “He is my father.” Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) said, “Do not call him by his name, do not walk ahead of him, and do not sit until he sits.” (Al-Adab al-Mufrad, p: 30 and Musannaf Abd al-Razzaq)

The great Tabi’i (student/follower of a Sahabi) Tawus ibn Kaysan (Allah be pleased with him) said, “It is from the Sunna to respect four people: A scholar, an elder, a leader, and a father. It is offensive for a man to address his father by his name.” (Tarikh Madinat al-San’a, p: 333)

As such, one should avoid addressing one’s parents and seniors by their names; rather, terms such as father, mother, Shaykh, Ustad should be used. This is more deserving of their right.

As for a wife addressing her husband by his name, this depends on the social customs (urf) of one’s family and culture. If it is considered rude and offensive in one’s culture, then it would be inappropriate for her to address him by his name. However, if it is not considered offensive, then there would be nothing wrong with it.

It is, however, preferable and from the Sunna for both spouses to address each other by a nickname (kunya). There are several examples in the biographies of the Companions that they addressed their spouses with titles such as “Abu such-and-such” and “Umm such-and-such.” This, at times, would be in relation to the name of their child (i.e. “Abu” followed by their child’s name), or some other reason. For example, Umm Sulaym (Allah be pleased with her) would address her husband by saying, “Abu Talha.” The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) once addressed his beloved wife A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) affectionately by the nickname “al-Humayra (the rosy cheeked one).”

The above ruling is concerning directly addressing one’s husband. As for mentioning his name to others – even in his presence – it is permitted regardless, as proven by the hadith wherein it is mentioned that Sayyida A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) would say, “By the Lord of Muhammad” in the presence of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace). (Sahih al-Bukhari no: 155)

And Allah knows best

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK

Question #: 6833
Published: 01/09/2012