Sayyid[lower-alpha 1] (UK: /ˈsɪd, ˈsjɪd/, US: /ˈsɑːjɪd/;[1][2][3] Arabic: سيد [ˈsæjjɪd], Persian: [sejˈjed]; meaning "Mister"; Arabic plural: سادة sādah; feminine: سيدة sayyidah) is an honorific title denoting people accepted as descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his cousin and son-in-law Imam Ali (Ali ibn Abi Talib) through his grandsons, Hasan ibn Ali and Imam Husayn ibn Ali (combined Hasnain),[4]:31 sons of Muhammad's daughter Fatimah and Ali.[5]:149

Female sayyids are given the titles sayyida, syeda, alawiyah or sharifa. In some regions of the Islamic world, such as in India, the descendants of Muhammad are given the title amīr or mīr, meaning "commander", "general".[lower-alpha 2] The descendants of Muhammed honour the possession of family trees tracing back their ancestry. In other regions, they are called Shah. Children of a Sayyida mother but a non-Sayyid father are referred to as Mirza.[6]

Although not verified, many Arabic language experts state that it has its roots in the word al-asad الأسد, meaning "lion", probably because of the qualities of valour and leadership.[7]:158[8]:265

Although reliable statistics are unavailable, conservative estimates put the number of Sayyids in the tens of millions.[9]

In the Arab world, sayyid is the equivalent of the English word "liege lord" or "master" when referring to a descendant of Muhammad, as in Sayyid Ali Sultan.[10] The word sidi (from the contracted form sayyidī, 'my liege') is often used in Arabic.[11] Sayyids are respected in all denominations in Islam.


The Sayyids are by definition a branch of the Banu Hashim, that traces its lineage to Adnan and therefore it is directly descended from Ishmael (Ismâ`îl), as well as being collaterally descended from his paternal half brother Isaac (Isha'aq), the sons of Abraham (Ibrahim).

Banū Hāshim (Arabic: بنو هاشم) is the clan of Muhammad, whose great-grandfather was Hashim ibn Abd Manaf, for whom the clan is named. Members of this clan are referred to as Hashemites. Descendants of Muhammed usually carry the titles Sayyid, Syed, Hashmi, Sayed and Sharif, or the Ashraf clan (synonymous to Ahl al-Bayt). Today, two sovereign monarchs – Abdullah II of Jordan and Muhammad VI of Morocco – and the erstwhile royal family of Libya are also considered to be a part of Banu Hashim.

The Hashemites (Arabic: الهاشميون, Al-Hāshimīyūn; also House of Hashim) are the ruling royal family of Jordan. The House was also the royal family of Syria (1920), Hejaz (1916–1925) and Iraq (1921–1958). The family belongs to the Dhawu Awn, one of the branches of the Hasanid Sharifs of Mecca – also referred to as Hashemites – who ruled Mecca continuously from the 10th century until its conquest by the House of Saud in 1924. Their eponymous ancestor is Hashim ibn Abd Manaf, great-grandfather of Muhammad.

Traditionally, Islam has had a rich history of the veneration of relics, especially of those attributed to the Muhammad.[12] The most genuine prophetic relics are believed to be those housed in Istanbul's Topkapı Palace,[13][14][15] in a section known as Hirkai Serif Odasi (Chamber of the Holy Mantle).

Indication of descent

In the early period, the Arabs used the term Sayyid and Sharif to denote descendants from both Hasan and Husayn. However, in the modern era, the term 'Sharif' (Sharifah for females) has been used to denote descendants from Hasan, and the term 'Sayyid' (Sayyidah, Syeda for females) has been used to denote descendants from Husayn.[16]

Sayyids (who are shia) often include the following titles in their names to indicate the figure from whom they trace their descent, sunni sayyids would often use the last name shah or hashmi. .[16][17] The descendants of Ali and his other wives are called Alevi sayyid; they are titled Shah, Sain, Miya Fakir or Dewan.

AncestorArabic styleArabic last namePersian last nameUrdu last name
Hasan ibn Alial-Hasani الحسني او الهاشميal-Hasani الحسني

al-Hashemi الهاشمي

Hashemi, Hasani, or Tabatabaei حسنىHassani or Hasani حسنی or Hashemi or Hashmi هاشمي
Husayn ibn Alial-Hussaini1 الحُسينيal-Hussaini الحسيني

al-Hashemi الهاشمي

Hashemi هاشمی

Hussaini حسین

Hussaini حسيني

Hashemi or Shah

Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidinal-Abidi or Abid العابديal-Abidi العابديAbedi عابدىAbidi or Abdi عابدی
Zayd ibn Aliaz-Zaidi الزيديal-Zaydi الزيدي

al-Hashemi الهاشمي

Zaydi زیدیZaidi زيدي

Hashemi 'Alawîyyun هاشمي

Idris ibn Abdullahal-Idrisi الإدريسيal-Idrisi الإدريسيHis descendants are mostly from the MaghrebHis descendants are mostly from the Maghreb
Muhammad al-Baqiral-Baqari الباقريal-Baqiri الباقريBaqeri باقریBaqri باقری
Ja'far al-Sadiqal-Ja'fari الجعفريal-Ja'fari or al-Sadiq/Sadegh الصدق او الجعفريJafari or Sadeghi جعفرى/ صادقیJafri or Jafry جعفری
or Jaffery shamsi جعفری‌شمسی
Musa al-Kadhimal-Moussawi الموسوي او الكاظميal-Moussawi or al-Kadhimi الموسوي او الكاظميMoosavi or Kazemi موسوى / کاظمىKazmi کاظمی
Ali al-Ridhaar-Radawi الرضويal-Ridawi or al-Radawi الرضويRazavi or Rezavi رضوىRizvi or Rizavi رضوی
Muhammad at-Taqiat-Taqawi التقويal-Taqawi التقويTaqavi تقوىTaqvi تقوی
Ali al-Hadian-Naqawi النقويal-Naqawi النقوي or al-Bukhari البخاريNaghavi نقوىNaqvi نقوی or Bhaakri/Bukhari بھاکری/بخاری
Hasan al-Askari[18]al-Askari العسکريal-Bukhari البخاري[Sadat ساداتSadat سادات or Bukhari بخاري

Note: (For non-Arabic speakers) When transliterating Arabic words into English there are two approaches.

  • 1. The user may transliterate the word letter for letter, e.g., "الزيدي" becomes "a-l-z-ai-d-i".
  • 2. The user may transcribe the pronunciation of the word, e.g., "الزيدي" becomes "a-zz-ai-d-i". This is because in Arabic grammar, some consonants (n, r, s, sh, t and z) cancel the l (ل) from the word "the" al (ال) (see sun and moon letters). When the user sees the prefixes an, ar, as, ash, at, az, etc... this means the word is the transcription of the pronunciation.
  • An i, wi (Arabic), or vi (Persian) ending could perhaps be translated by the English suffixes -ite or -ian. The suffix transforms a personal name or place name into the name of a group of people connected by lineage or place of birth. Hence Ahmad al-Hassani could be translated as Ahmad, the descendant of Hassan, and Ahmad al-Manami as Ahmad from the city of Manami. For further explanation, see Arabic names.

1Also, El-Husseini, Al-Husseini, Husseini, and Hussaini.

2Those who use the term Sayyid for all descendants of Ali ibn Abi Talib regard Allawis or Alavis as Sayyids. However, Allawis are not descendants of Muhammad, as they are descended from the children of Ali and the women he married after the death of Fatima, such as Umm ul-Banin (Fatima bint Hizam). Those who limit the term Sayyid to descendants of Muhammad through Fatima, Allawis/Alavis are the same how Sayyids.

Some Sayyids also claim to be "Najeeb Al Tarfayn", meaning "Noble on both sides", which indicates that both of their parents are Sayyid. But in actuality this term is applied only to those Sayyids who have both Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain in their ancestry. These Sayyids, especially in the Arab world, would keep the prefix of Sayyid Alshareef or Shareefayn, or Sayyidayn or Sheikh Assayyid before their names, followed by their father's and grandfather's names and then the clan's and tribe's names followed by AlHasani bil Hussaini or Al Hussaini bil Hasani, depending on which Imam is patrilineal or matrilineal. Many Sayyids, especially in South Asia and Shia Sayyids, think that only the progeny of both Sayyid parents are called Najeeb Al Tarfayn, but this idea may be attributed to a lack of knowledge in Arabic language and Genealogy. The importance of this concept of Najeeb AlTarfayn has its source in the Hadeeth of Muhammad wherein he stated that the Mahdi, or "The Hidden One", would be Najeeb AlTarfayn from his lineage. Hence, Shia and Sunni Sayyids have different interpretations of this concept.In the Arab world Najeeb AlTarfayn Saadah would keep two white-colored daggers as opposed to just one by other Sayyids to demarcate their superiority amongst them. Hence their International coat of arms also shows two daggers.

Existence of descendants of Hasan Al-Askari

The existence of any descendant of Hasan al Askari is disputed by many people. Genealogy trees of Middle Eastern and Central Asian families, mostly from Persia, Khorasan, Samarqand and Bukhara, show that Hasan al-Askari had also a second son called Sayyid Ali Akbar. It definitely indicates that al-Askari had children and it also substantiates the existence of Muhammad al Mahdi. Whether Al Askari had children or not is still disputed may be because of the political conflicts between the followers of the Imamah and the leadership of the Abbasids and Ghulat Shiites who do not believe in Hasan al-Askaris Imamah. Another group of historians studying the pedigrees of some Central Asian saints' "shejere" (genealogy trees), believe that the Twelfth Imam was not the only son of Hasan al-Askari, and that the Eleventh Imam had two sons, Sayyid Muhammad (i.e., the Shia Mahdi) and Sayyid Ali Akbar.[19] One descendant of Sayyid Ali Akbar was Saint Ishan (Eshon) Imlo of Bukhara. Ishan Imlo[20] is called "saint of the last time" in Bukhara, as it is believed that after him there were no more Saints  Asian Muslims generally revere him as the last of the Saints. According to the source, Ishan Imlo died in 1162 AH (1748–1749); his mausoleum (mazar) is in a cemetery in Bukhara. Notable descendants of Sayyid Ali Akbar are Sufi Saints like Bahauddin Naqshband,[21][22] descendant after eleven generations,[18] Khwaja Khawand Mahmud known as Hazrat Ishaan, descendant after eighteen generations, the two brothers Sayyid ul Sadaat Sayyid Mir Jan and Sayyid ul Sadaat Mir Sayyid Mahmud Agha, maternal descendants of Hasan al Askari.[18] and also qadi Qozi Sayyid Bahodirxon.,[23] Sufi saints Tajuddin Muhammad Badruddin and Pir Baba.

In her book Pain and Grace: A Study of Two Mystical Writers of Eighteenth-Century Muslim India, Dr. Annemarie Schimmel writes:

Khwaja Mir Dard`s family, like many nobles, from Bukhara; led their pedigree back to Baha'uddin Naqshband, after whom the Naqshbandi order is named, and who was a descendant, in the 11th generation of the 11th Shia imam al-Hasan al-Askari.[24]

Although Shiite historians generally reject the claim that Hasan al-Askari fathered children other than Muhammad al-Mahdi, the Shiite hadith book Usul al-Kafi, in Bab Mawlid Abi Muhammad al-Hasan b. 'Ali confirms the Sufi claim that Hasan al-Askari had more than one wife, in addition to slave girls, with whom he had relations. In his Usul, al-Kafi writes:

When the caliph got news of Hasan 'Askari's illness, he instructed his agents to keep a constant watch over the house of the Imam...he sent some of these midwives to examine the slave girls of the Imam to determine if they were pregnant. If a woman was found pregnant she was detained and imprisoned....[18][25][26][27][28][29]

Middle East

Men belonging to the Sayyid families or tribes in the Arab world used to wear White or Ivory colored daggers like Jambiyas, Khanjars or Shibriyas to demarcate their nobility amongst the other Arab men although this custom has been restricted due to the local laws of the variously divided Arab countries. Wearing Turbans of various colors especially white, black, green, yellow, orange or maroon is still done in its place and this practice has been followed more by the Non Arab Sayyids than Arabic speaking ones.


The Sayyid families in Iraq are so numerous that there are books written especially to list the families and connect their trees. Some of these families are the Alyassiri, Al Aqeeqi, Al-Nasrullah, Al-Wahab, Al-Hashimi, Al-Quraishi, Al-Obaidi,Al-Mayali, Al-Samarai, Al-Zaidi, Al-A'araji, Al-Hasani, Al-Hussaini, Al-Shahristani, Al-Qazwini Al-Qadri, Tabatabaei, Al-Alawi, Al-Ghawalib (Al-Ghalibi), Al-Musawi, Al-Awadi (not to be confused with the Al-Awadhi Huwala family), Al-Gharawi, Al-Sabzewari, Al-Shubber, Al-Hayali, Al-Kamaludeen and many others.[30]


Sayyids (in Persian: سید seyyed) are found in vast numbers in Iran. The Chief of “National Organization for Civil Registration” of Iran declared that more than 6 million of Iranians are Sayyid.[31] The majority of Sayyids migrated to Iran from Arab lands predominantly in the 15th to 17th century during the Safavid era. The Safavids began transforming the religious landscape of Iran by imposing Twelver Shiism on the populace. Since most of the population embraced Sunni Islam, and since an educated version of Shiism was scarce in Iran at the time, Ismail imported a new Shia Ulama corps who predominantly were Sayyids from traditional Shiite centers of the Arabic-speaking lands, such as Jabal Amel (of southern Lebanon), Syria, Bahrain, and southern Iraq in order to create a state clergy. The Safavids offered them land and money in return for loyalty.[32][33][34][35][36] These scholars taught the doctrine of Twelver Shiism, made it accessible to the population, and energetically encouraged conversion to Shiism.[33][34][35][36][37]

During the reign of Shah Abbas the Great, the Safavids also imported to Iran more Arab Shias, predominantly Sayyids, built religious institutions for them, including many Madrasas (religious schools), and successfully persuaded them to participate in the government, which they had shunned in the past (following the Hidden imam doctrine).[38]

Common Sayyid family surnames in Iran are Husseini, Mousavi, Kazemi, Razavi, Eshtehardian, Tabatabaei, Hashemi, Hassani, Jafari, Emami, Ladjevardi, Zaidi, and Imamzadeh and Sherazi.

They were given accommodation free of charge.[39]


In Oman Sayyid is used by members of the Al Said ruling royal family.[40] The absolute ruler of the country retains the title Sultan with members of the royal family eligible for succession to the throne given the title Sheikh, these may also use the title Sayyid should they wish to, although as Sheikh supersedes this, it is not a widely used practise.[41] Members of the extended family or members by marriage carry the title Sayyid or Sayyida for a female. Such titles in Oman are hereditary through paternal lineage or in some exceptional circumstances may be given as an honorary title by Royal Decree.


In Yemen the Sayyids are more generally known as sadah; they are also referred to as Hashemites. In terms of religious practice they are Shia, Sunni, and Sufi. Sayyid families in Yemen include the Rassids, the Qasimids, the Mutawakkilites, the Hamideddins, some Al-Zaidi of Ma'rib, Sana'a, and Sa'dah, the Ba 'Alawi sada families in Hadhramaut, Al-Wazir of Sana'a, Al-Shammam of Sa'dah, the Sufyan of Juban, the Al-Jaylani of Juban, and others.[42][43][44]


The Sayyids in Libya are Sunni, including the former royal family, which is originally Zaidi-Moroccan (also known as the Senussi family).[45] Add to that the El-Barassa Family are Ashraf as claimed by the sons of Abdulsalam ben Meshish, a descendant of Hassan bin Ali bin Abi Talib.


The Isaaq tribe who are Sunni, they also live in Southern Yemen, through Gulf countries, in other Horn of Africa countries including Djibouti, Ethiopia as well as Kenya. Current president of Somaliland Sayid Moussa Behi is an Isaaq.

South Asia

Although millions of people in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal claim Hashemite descent (Genealogy family trees 'Shajra' are looked into in identification of the authenticity of the claim to Hashemite descent).[43] In 1901 the total number of Sayyids in British India was counted as 1,339,734.[46] Recent estimates show that in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal there are more than fifteen million Sayyids: eight million in Pakistan, seven million in India, over one million in Bangladesh, and around seventy thousand in Nepal.

History of South Asian sayyids

Sayyids migrated many centuries ago from different parts of the Middle East, Central Asia (Turkestan), during the invasion of the Mongols, and other periods of turmoil such as during the periods of the Ghaznavid dynasty, Delhi Sultanate, and Mughal Empire, encompassing a timespan of roughly until the late 19th century. Sayyids migrated to Sindh, Uch and Attock Khurd (Punjab) in the north and settled there very early. Other early migrant Sayyids moved deep into the south, to the Deccan sultanates located in the Deccan Plateau region in the time of the Bahmani Sultanate, and later the Qutb Shahi kings of Golkonda, Nizam Shahi of Ahmednagar, and other kingdoms of Bijapur, Bidar, and Berar. Several visited India as merchants or escaped from the Abbasid, Umayyad, Safavid, and Ottoman Empires. Their names figure in Indian history at the breakup of the Mughal Empire, when the Sayyid Brothers created and dethroned Emperors at their will (1714–1720). The first Muslims appointed to the Council of India and the first appointed to the privy council were both Sayyids.[16][47][48]


The Sayyid population in India is distributed. The total population of Sayyids in India is 7,017,000, the largest populations being those of Uttar Pradesh (1,493,000), Maharashtra (1,108,000), Karnataka (766,000), Andhra Pradesh (727,000), Rajasthan (497,000), Bihar (419,000), West Bengal (372,000), Madhya Pradesh (307,000), Gujarat (245,000), and Tamil Nadu (206,000), with 25,000 in Jammu and Kashmir.[47][49] Sayyids are also found in the north-eastern state of Assam, where locally they are also referred to as Dawans.[50][51]

In India, Sayyids of Hadramawt (who originated mainly from the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf) gained widespread fame. There is a big community of Sayyids settled in and around the Nanganallur region in Chennai. They can trace their ancestry directly to the Sayyids of Iraq.[52]

North India

The earliest migration of Sayyids from Afghanistan to North India took place in 1032 AD when Gazi Saiyyed Salar Sahu (general and brother-in-law of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni) and his son Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud established their military headquarters at Satrikh (16 km (9.9 mi) from Zaidpur) in the Barabanki district, Uttar Pradesh. They are considered to be the first Muslim settlers in North India. In 1033 AD Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud was killed at the battle of Bahraich, the location of his mazr. Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud had no children. His Parental Uncle Syed Maroofuddin Ghazi had his Family lived in Tijara till 1857 ,then migrated to Bhopal.(Munshi Hakimuddin is direct Desendent of Syed Masroofuddin Ghazi). Syed Ahmed Rizvi Kashmiri and Khan Bahadur Aga Syed Hussain were both Rizvi Sayyids through Aaqa Meer Sayyid Hussain Qomi Rizvi, whose sacred shrine is in the Zainageer Village of Sopore, Kashmir. Iraqi Sayyids or Iraqi biradri in Eastern Uttar Pradesh are descendants of Sayyid Masud Al Hussaini who was direct descendant of Prophet's grandson Hussain ibn Ali and came to India from Iraq during the reign of Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq in 1330 A.D. He settled with his seven sons and forty champions in Ghazipur (U.P.). This is because some of them (i.e. Syed Abu Bakr in Nonahra, Ghazipur) converted to Sunni Islam in the reign of Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi circa A.D. 1517. His Shia descendants are now known as Sayyids of Ghazipur.[53]

Sayyids of Syed nagli, or Said Nagli, or the Baquari Syeds had migrated from Termez (Present day Uzbekistan)[54] during the Sultanate era. Sikandar Lodi[55] was the ruler of Delhi when Mir Syed Mohammad al Hussain al Hussaini al Termezi Haji al Haramain came to India and settled at Syed Nagli. He was a Baquari Syed who drew his lineage from Imam Mohammad al Baqir.

Perhaps the most important figure in the history of the Sayyid in Uttar Pradesh was Sayyid Basrullah Shustari, who moved from Mashad in Iran in 1549 and joined the court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Akbar later appointed Shustari as his chief justice, and Shustari used his position to strengthen the position of the various Sayyid families. They were preferred in administrative posts, and formed a privileged elite. When the Mughal Empire disintegrated, the Sayyid played an important role in turbulent politics of the time. The new British colonial authorities that replaced the Mughals after the Battle of Buxar also made a pragmatic decision to work with the various Sayyid jagirdars. Several Sayyid taluqdars in Awadh were substantial landowners under the British colonial regime, and many other Sayyid still played their part in the administration of the state.[56] After abolition of zamindari system many Sayyid zamindars (e.g. that of Ghazipur) had to leave their homes.[57]

Uttar Pradesh

The ancestor of the Bārha Sayyids, Sayyid Abu'l Farah Al Hussaini Al Wasti left his original home in Wasit, Iraq, with his twelve sons at the end of the 13th century (or the beginning of the 14th century) and migrated to India, where he obtained four villages in Sirhind-Fategarh. By the 16th century Abu'l Farah's descendants had taken over Bārha villages in Muzaffarnagar.[58]

The Sayyids of Bilgram are Hussaini Sayyids, who first migrated from Wasit, Iraq, in the 13th century.[59] Their ancestor, Syed Mohammad Sughra, a Zaidi Sayyid of Iraq, arrived in India during the rule of Sultan Iltutmish. In 1217–18 the family conquered and settled in Bilgram.[60]

Perhaps the most famous Sufi that belonged to a Sayyid family was Syed Salar Masud, from whom many of the Sayyid families of Awadh claim their descent.[56] Sayyids of Salon (Raebareli), Jarwal (Bahraich), Kintoor (Barabanki), and Zaidpur (Barabanki) were well known Taluqadars (feudal lords) of Awadh province. People from Sadaat also found in Kannauj. Kannauji Syed traces their lineage from Imam Hussain through Imam Naqi they are branch of Naqvi Bukhari.Mir Rahimuddin, served as a Munshi to Major Paim, was Bukhari Syed of Kannauj. Syeds usually donate Hashmi surnames. Many people from this sadaat have dispersed to cities like Kanpur and Unnao[61].[62]

Present circumstances

Traditional Sayyid families rarely marry outside their community, with an emphasis of marrying into Najeeb Altarfain (of Sayyid descent from both the mother's and father's side) families. This insistence on endogamy has begun to decline among the more urbanized families, with an increase intermarriage with other groups such as the Shaikh and Mughals.[12]

Historically the Sayyids of UP were substantial landowners, often absentees, and this was especially the case with the Awadh taluqdars. In the urban townships, Sayyid families served as priests, teachers and administrators, with the British colonial authorities given the community a preference in recruitment. Though they are less than 3% of Muslim population, they control a majority of economic resources. The community also has a very high literacy rate.The independence and partition of India in 1947 was traumatic for the community, with many families becoming divided, with some members moved to Pakistan. This was followed by the abolishment of the zamindari system, where land was redistributed to those who till the land. Many Sayyids who remained on the land are now medium and small scale farmers. While in the urban areas, there has been a shift towards modern occupations.[12]


In Gujarat, most of the Sayyid families are descended from individuals invited by the Muslim rulers of Gujarat to serve as advisers and administrators, and granted jagirs. During the period of Sultan Mahmud Begada (1458–1511), the Sayyid of Gothada, Thasra, and Pali, a Zaidi Sayyid  Saadat-e-Bara. Sultan Mahmud Begada provided land to three Sayyid brothers and a grant to settle there after the victory of Pavagadh fort. In 1484 the young Sultan, after laying siege to the fort for twenty months, conquered it on 21 November 1484. He then transferred his capital to Champaner, which he completely rebuilt at the foothills of the Pavagadh fort, calling it Muhammadabad. During Mughal rule in Gujarat (1570–1750), they held the majority of the civil and ecclesiastical posts. For example, the Sayyids of Thasra, Kheda district were invited to serve as administrators and judges by the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb, and provided land grants to settle there. They also provided an important element in the Mughal army, and many are still found in the old Muslim garrison towns such as Ahmedabad. In addition, many of the early Sufi saints that came to Gujarat belonged to Sayyid families. Most of these Sayyid families came from Central Asia, Iran, Yemen, Oman, Basra, and Bahrain.[63]


In Bihar, sayyids settled from the 13th century onwards, many Sufi saints of Bihar were sayyids, most famous was Makhdoom Yahya Maneri (d. 1381 AD).

Apparently the most prominent sayyids of bihar has been Malick community, who descended from the seven sons and immediate blood relatives of sayyid Ibrahim Malick,(d 1353 Ad) who was also a ruler of bihar and a famous Sufi Saint. In Bihar, sayyids were landlords, barristers, intellectuals, clerics, teachers, businessmen and farmers. They had apparently strong hold of Bihari politics prior to independence of India, as the first chief minister of Bihar during the British India was barrister yunus of panhar, also a sayyid of Mallick community, There is also a small minority of twelver sayyids in Bihar.

South India


Kerala has a two-thousand-year-old association with Arabia. In Malayalam, Thangal is an honorific Muslim title almost equivalent to the Arabic term Sayyid, which is given to males believed to be descendants of Muhammad. The present-day Thangals are supposed to be descended from Sayyid families who migrated from the historic city of Tarim, in the Hadhramaut Province, Yemen, during the 17th century in order to propagate Islam on the Malabar Coast. Sayyids selected coastal areas to settle. The royal family of Arakkal in Kerala had Thangal origins.[47][64]

Tamil Nadu

There are a notable number of Sayyids in Tamil Nadu mostly concentrated in the cities like Erwadi, Nagore, Madurai and Kayalpattinam. Badusha Sulthan Syed Ibrahim Shaheed of Ervadi a Hussaini descendant of Mohammed and a ruler of Madinah travelled to South India in the mid 12th century. His descendants who live at Ervadi with the clan name of Levvai are from a single forefather and are Sayyids. The heirs of Shahul Hamid Abdul Qadir badusha of Nagore who live there and are called with clan name of Sahib or Saab or Saabu are Sayyids. Kazi Syed Tajuddin the son of Mufti Jamaluddin al Ma'abari who founded the Kazimar Big Mosque in the 13th century the first mosque in Madurai is a Hussaini descendant of Prophet Mohammed and hence belong to Syed family. Till today his descendants (Syeds-Qazis-Huqdars) have managed to live in the same Kazimar Street locality in the center of Madurai city for over 7 centuries and are managing the Kazimar Big Mosque constructed by their forefather. Syed Tajuddin's younger son Kazi Alauddin lived in Kayalpattinam and his shrine is found there. His female descendants live there.


There are numerous Sayyids in Pakistan. Some of these Sayyids first migrated to Gardez, Bukhara, and Termez, and then to South Asia due to mass genocides,brutal behaviors and insulting attitude from the rulers of that era, like Yazeed. That was the one and only basic main object for Sayyids (families) to compelled on migration in that area. That was the doctrine which followers called real Sayyids (Sadaat) and initially established the Sayyids are/were real or fabricated. Secondly, they have Shajra/family tree/family lineage which belongs to Imam Ali Mutaza through Imam Hussain and Imam Hasan. Many settled early in Uch, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Punjab. There are many sayyids of both Shia and Sunni sects of Islam. Amongst the famous Sayyids who migrated to this region were Shah Yousaf Gardez of Multan, who came to Multan, Punjab, around 1050 AD. His grandfather, Syed Ali Qaswer, a descendant of Imam Jafar Sadiq, the grandson of Imam Hussain, migrated from Bughdad and was settled in Gardez, Afghanistan. The Gardezis of Pakistan and the Azad of Jammu and Kashmir are his descendants. Other saints include Syed Ali Shah Tirmizi (Pir Baba) of Buner, Syed Kastir Gul of Nowshera, Jalaluddin Surkh-Posh Bukhari, Shaykh Syed Mir Mirak Andrabi of Khanqi Andrabi in Kashmir, Haji Syed Ahmed Shah (Haji Baba) of Dir and Sayyid Muhammad Al-Makki. Sayyid people of Pakistan are figured as the most prominent and well-established people of the country, with a number of them having become popular and well-known religious icons, political leaders, and professionals. Furthermore, Pakistan currently holds the largest Sayyid population in all of South Asia.[11] Mashwanis are also living in Pakistan.

The Syeds in Balochistan are present in the Pishine and District Harnai. The Harnai Syed include sub-categories such as Bukhari. The Syed Bukhari is popular in Harnai district because of his religious thoughts. The popular mazar of Syed Bukhari in the districts of Harnai Shaikh Mussa Baba and Shaik Zirak and Mubarak are also populated...

The Sayyids of Punjab belong to the Hasani (descendants of Hasan), Husaini (descendants of Husayn), Zaidi (descendants of Zayd ibn Ali, grandson of Husayn), Rizvi, (descendants of Ali al-Ridha), and Naqvi and their sub-caste Bukhari (descendants of Ali al-Hadi).[65]

The Sayyids from Sheraz, Iran migrated to Baluchistan and later to Sindh are known as Sherazi Sayyid. They are living in Jacobabad and Thatta. The first Sherazi Sayyid to migrate from Baluchistan to Sindh was Malook Shah who was saint. He is buried near Jacobabad cities. Another famous saint of Sindh Mehr Shah was from the lineage of Malook Shah. MPA Aijaz Ali Shah and Ex-Provincial Secretary Arbab Ali Shah are Sherazi Sayyid.

Genetic studies of Sayyids of the Indian sub-continent

"the Y chromosomes of self-identified Syeds from India and Pakistan are no less diverse than those non-Syeds from the same regions." The authors of the study suggested that Syed status, rather than being strictly patrilineal, may have been passed through other routes.[66]

A study of Y chromosomes of self-identified Syeds from the Indian subcontinent by Elise M. S. Belle, Saima Shah, Tudor Parfitt and Mark G. Thomas showed that "self-identified Syeds had no less genetic diversity than those non-Syeds from the same regions, suggesting that there is no biological basis to the belief that self-identified Syeds in this part of the world share a recent common ancestry. However, self-identified men belonging to the ‘Islamic honorific lineages’ (Syeds, Hashemites, Quraysh and Ansari) show a greater genetic affinity to Arab populations—despite the geographic distance  than do their neighbouring populations from India and Pakistan."[67]

In Northern India, 29 percent of the Shia Muslim belong to Haplogroup J. There are 18 percent belonging mainly to Haplogroup J2 and another 11 percent belong to Haplogroup J1, which both represent Middle Eastern lineages. J1 is exclusively Near Eastern.[68]

Southeast Asia

Most of the Alawi Sayyids who moved to Southeast Asia were descendants of Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin, especially of Ba 'Alawi sada, majority descendants of migrants from Hadhramaut. Even though they are alleged descendants of Imam Husain, it is uncommon for the female Sayyids to be called Sayyidah, they are more commonly called Sharifah. Most of them live in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Moro Province in Philippines, and Pattani. Many of the royal families of this region such as the previous royal families of Philippines (Sultanate of Sulu, Sultanate of Maguindanao, Confederation of Sultanates of Ranao), Singapore (Sultanate of Singapore), Malaysia (Sultanates of Johor and Perlis) and Indonesia (Sultanates of Siak, Pontianak, Gowa, some Javanese Sultanates) and the existing royal family of Brunei (House of Bolkiah) are also are Sayyids, especially of Ba'Alawi.[69][70][71][72]

Some common surnames of these Sayyids are al-Saqqaf, Shihab (or Shahab), al-Aidaroos, al-Habsyi (or al-Habshi), al-Kaff, al-Aththos, al-Haddad, al-Jufri (or al-Jifri), al-Muhdhar, al-Shaikh Abubakar, al-Qadri, al-Munawwar (see Ba 'Alawi sada for a more complete list).

Sayyid is usually used in front of the given name as a title. Here are some of the notable people with Sayyid used in the beginning or end of their legal name,


In the Ottoman Empire, tax breaks for "the People of the House" encouraged many people to buy certificates of descent or forge genealogies; the phenomenon of teseyyüd – falsely claiming noble ancestry – spread across ethnic, class, and religious boundaries. In the 17th century, an Ottoman bureaucrat estimated that there were 300,000 impostors. In 18th-century Anatolia, nearly all upper-class urban people claimed descent from Muhammad.[73]

Maternal descendance

According to Iran's religious leader[74] and the Deobandi creed, which is a creed especially followed by patriarchal Pashtun tribes, the status of being a Sayyid can only be attributed through the patrilineal lineage.[75] According to Shia opinions, children of a Sayyida mother and a non-Sayyid father are referred to as Mirza.[6] The Persian notation "Mirza", which is a derivation of the word "Mirzada" i.e. Son of a "Mir" has various meanings. One of the meanings of "Mir" is a Sayyid leader of a Sayyid branch or community, simultaneously being a religious Islamic scholar. Thus, a Sayyid of patrilineal lineage, being the son of a Mir can also be called "Mirza". This example substantiates the fact that there are different opinions concerning the transmission of the title "Sayyid". Another historical opinion of Ottoman Naqib al Ashrafs expresses that children of maternal prophetical descent are called "Sharif".[76]:131

However, in 1632 when an Ottoman court challenged a man wearing a sayyid's green turban, he established that he was a sayyid on his mother's side, and this was accepted by the court.[76]:130

In patriarchal societies, women usually have to assimilate themselves into their husband's status. However, this does not affect female descendants of Muhammad, since it is seen as a sacred blood relation. Thus, the heraldic title can be given to an individual through his or hers mother's line in accordance to Ottoman Naqib al-Ashrafs.[76] Even the Zaynabids, the descendants of Lady Zainab, the daughter of Ali ibn Abi Talib can also be titled "Sayyid" or "Sharif", according to the Egyptian Imam al Suyuti.[77] In Tajikistan matrilineal descendants are also honored.[78] The fact why there is no total consensus indicating Sayyids and abandoning individuals of maternal descent, may be to limit the number, because of financial reasons, such as Khums or governmental support especially for Sayyids.

See also


  1. Also spelt sayid, said,[1] saiyed, seyit, seyd, syed, sayed, sayyed, saiyid, seyed and seyyed.
  2. Please note Amir is also a common given name name, as is any variant of Sayyid or Sayyida.


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