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The phrase means "O [name]". Literally, the word Yā means O (a vocative, signifying a direct address to a person). It is a common prefix used by Arabs to call each other. Someone named Mohammed will be addressed in Arabic as Yā Mohammed.
Use in Various Parts of the World
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The vocative 'Ya' is used to call upon Allah for help. It is also used to sek intercession through the Prophet (Ya Muhammad) or his family, companions and venerated figures. This is separate from Shirk since the belief is that any help given by these individuals as a result of calling upon them, is only by Allah's permission. The Salafi sect believes that this action is tantamount to Shirk and Kufr.
Use to Call a stranger
In Saudi Arabia, Yā Muḥammad is used to address a stranger in order to begin a conversation. It is considered one of the polite and respectful ways to address a stranger, as Muhammad is considered as the most respectful name anyone can be called, hence its popularity among Muslims worldwide.
Request for strength
Ya Ali is mostly used as a request for strength by the Shia along with its alternative form Ya Ali Madad (یا علی مدد, O! Ali, help!). Ali is established as the strongest, bravest, cleverest, chivalrous warrior and the son-in-law of the Prophet. He is also one of the rightly guided Caliphs in Sunni school of thought. There is a tradition of using these phrases as slogans in religious gatherings meant to increase one's level of morale and also in situations demanding religious passion. For example, two or more people having to lift a weight would say 'یا علی مدد'. It is believed to give one strength to endure problems and difficulties, especially those who are helpless.
Remembrance of Muharram
During the Remembrance of Muharram, spontaneous slogans of Ya Hussain, Ya Ali and Ya Rasulullah "Messenger of God!" are very common. On such occasions, the slogans are mostly demonstrations of strong support.
Some of Sunni sects said that the interpretation of Islam is against the sayings of "Ya Ali", "Ya Rasoolullah and "Ya Hussain" as they believe these people are not alive and cannot hear them, whereas the Shia sect believes this to be a permissible form of asking for help. The difference between the 2 schools of thought being that the Sunni school considers this as invoking Allah and the Shia sect believing that it is not invoking Allah but merely seeking their assistance.
- "Ya Ali Ya Muhammad". F.I.E.L.D - First Ismaili Electronic Library and Database. A Project of the Heritage Society. Retrieved 2014-09-15.
- "Proclaiming the words 'Ya RASOOLALLH'". Islamic Academy, 1251 Shiloh Rd. Plano TX 75074. Retrieved 2014-09-15.
- "CONCEPT OF NIDAA YA RASOOLALLAH (CALLING OH MESSENGER OF ALLAH)". Usmani Mosque, 308 St Saviours Road, Leicester LE5 4HJ. Retrieved 2014-09-15.
- Sir Henry Yule; Arthur Coke Burnell (1903). Crooke, William, ed. Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms, Etymological, Historical, Geographical and Discursive (The University of Michigan ed.). J. Murray. p. 419. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
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