Ustād or Ostād (abbreviated as Ust., Ut. or Ud.; from Persian استاد) is an honorific title used in West Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia. It is used in various languages such as Persian, Azerbaijani, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Dhivehi, Punjabi, Pashto, Dari, Turkish, Indonesian, Malay and Kurdish.


The Persian word استاد (ostad) is from Middle Persian 𐫀𐫇𐫏𐫘𐫤𐫀𐫅‎ (awestād, “master, craftsman”).


The title precedes the name and was historically usually used for well-regarded teachers and artists. It can be used for any sort of master of an art or occupation; for example, an acknowledged master motorcycle mechanic would be addressed as "ustad."[1] The term is also used by an apprentice (shagird) for their teacher.

In Persian and in the Arabic-speaking world, it also refers to a university professor. "Ustad" is only used for qualified Islamic scholars in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore, where it is a direct equivalent of terms such as Shaykh in the Arab world, and Mawlānā in the Indian Subcontinent. In the Maldives, the title is used by people who are licensed to practice law.

Use of Ustad as a Music Title in Hindustani classical musicEdit

Ustad or Ostad (abbreviated as Ust. or Ut. or Ud. and from Persian استاد) is an honorific title for an expert man in Indian classical singing and instrumental playing, used for a Muslim musician. It is used in Hindustani classical music to recognize master performers. It is used as a Music Title. An expert other than a Hindu musician is given the title of Ustad. The title is awarded to musicians by their teachers, prominant individuals, or members of their gharana in recognition of their expertise.[2] It is used in various languages including Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi. A Muslim woman, who is an expert in Indian classical music is given the title of Begum. Pandit is the equivalent title for an Indian man.


As these titles of Ustad (and even Pandit) are appended informally to the names of classical singers and players by their admirers, individuals or institutions, once they have reached eminence in their performing art, especially on public performances. As they are informal titles mentioning names of eminent singers without those appendages is ok unlike prefixes like Dr. awarded formally by educational institutions.[3]

But this title Ustad of a classical musician and the Ustad which is used as a title given to a knowledgeable person, is different.

There are many Ustads in Hindustani classical music, for example, Ustad Alla Rakha, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Ustad Vilayat Khan, Ustad Shahid Parvez, Ustad Rashid Khan, Ustad Bismillah Khan, etc.

Equivalent titles for a Indian woman is Begum.

Few examples are, Begum Akhtar, Begum Parveen Sultana, etc.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Daniel Neuman (1980). The Life of Music in North India. Wayne State University Press. p. 44.
  2. ^ "Pandit title usage".
  3. ^ "Ustad title usage".