Is it permissible to say to a kaafir “Ya sayyid [polite form of address, roughly equivalent to calling someone “sir” or “Mr.”], such as writing on an invoice and so on, “al-Sayyid Fulaan (Mr. So and so), when it is known that he is a kaafir? Or is it permissible when speaking English for example, to say “Mr. So and so”? If it is not permissible to say to a kaafir “Ya sayyid” what is the evidence for that? Please advise me, may Allah reward you with good.
Yes, it is not permissible to say “sayyid” to a kaafir or evildoer, because it is narrated from the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) that he said: “Do not say to the hypocrite ‘sayyiduna (our master).’” The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) forbade this, so the believer should not say “sayyid” to a kaafir or evildoer, because this is a good description which is not befitting for the kaafir or evildoer. The sayyid is the leader, chief or faqeeh, so it should not be said to one who disbelieves in Allah or one who is known for committing sin openly; rather these people should be called by their known names, such as Fulaan (So and so) or Abu Fulaan (Father of So and so), as the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said concerning ‘Abd-Allah ibn Ubayy: “What happened to Abu’l-Habbaab?”
If he is called by his nickname or his name, or it is said “So and so who is known as …,” there is nothing wrong with that and this is sufficient. But to address him as “al-Sayyid Fulaan (Mr So and so)” or titles that are greater than that, that is not permissible because he is an evildoer who is known for committing evil. And there is no power and no strength except with Allah. End quote.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him)