Sayyid (pronounced [ˈsæjjɪd], or [ˈsæjjed], Arabic: سيد; meaning Mister) (plural Sadah Arabic: سادة, Sādah) is an honorific title, it denotes males accepted as descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his grandsons, Hasan ibn Ali and Husain ibn Ali, sons of the prophet's daughter Fatima Zahra and his son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib.[1]

Daughters of sayyids are given the titles Sayyida, Alawiyah, Syarifah, or Sharifah. Children of a Sayyida mother but a non-Sayyid father cannot be attributed the title of Sayyid, however they may claim the title Mirza by maternal descent. Sayyids are by definition a branch of the tribe of Banu Hashim, a clan from the tribe of Quraish that traces its lineage to Adnan and thence to the Prophet Ismael.

In the Arab world, it is the equivalent of the English word "liege-lord" or "master" when referring to a descendant of Muhammad, as in Sayyid John Smith. [2] This is the reason the word sidi (from the contracted form sayyidī, 'my liege') is used in the Moroccan dialect of Arabic.[3] Some Sayyids take the title Sheikh.

The Alevi use seyyid (the Turkish form) as an honorific before the names of their saints. El Cid, the name given to a famous Spanish knight of the 11th century C.E., is derived from Al-Sayyid (as-sayyid). As-Sayyid is also used as title or a form of address to denote a prince or superior in the Sultanate of Oman.


Language Transliteration Areas spoken
Arabic Sayyid, Sayyidi, Sayyed, Sayid, Saiyyid, Saiyid, Sidi Arab world
Azerbaijani Seyid, Seyyid Azerbaijan, Iran
Baluchi Sayyid, Syed, Sayyed, Sayid Pakistan, Baluchistan region
Indonesia Sayyid, Syed, Sayid Indonesia
Kurdish Seyid, Syed, Seyyid, Seyit Kurdish region
Malay Syed, Sheikh Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore
Pashto Sayed, Syed, Said Afghanistan and Pakistan
Persian Said, Sayyed, Sayed, Saeyd, Seyyed, Seyed, Saiyed, Saeid, Siyyid Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan
Seraiki, Sindhi, Punjabi Sayed, Syed Pakistan
Somali Sayyid Somalia, Djibouti
Turkish Seyed, Seyit, Seyyid, Seyyed Turkey, Azerbaijan and Central Asia
Bosnian Seid, Sait, Sead Bosnia and Herzegovina
Urdu, Marathi, Hindi, Assamese, Konkani, Kannada, Bhojpuri, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, Malayalam, Gujarati Syed, Saiyad, Saiyed, Sayyid, Saiyed, Saiyid, Sayyed, Sayid South Asia
Spanish Cid Al-Andalus

Other titles Edit

Language Title Areas spoken
Arabic Sharif, Habib, Sheikh Arab world
Urdu, Saraiki, Punjabi, Hindko Shah, Saab, Badshah Pakistan
Sindhi Shah, Sain, Saab, Makhdoom, Mir Sindh, Pakistan.
Indonesian Habib, Sayid Indonesia
Minangkabau Sidi West Sumatra, Indonesia
Palembang Ayib South Sumatra, Indonesia
Malay Sharifah, Syarifah Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei
Malayalam Thangal Kerala, India
Gujarati Sayedna, Syedna, Sayednah Northwest India
Urdu, Punjabi, Shah, Shah Ji, Pir, Pir Sahib Pakistan, India
PersianShah, Mir, Mirza Iran and Afghanistan
Bengali, Malay Shah, Agha, Saab, Mir South and South East Asia

The line of Hassani sayyids who ruled Mecca, Medina, Iraq and now rule in Jordan, the Hashemites, bore the title 'Sharif' (plu. Ashraf). 'Sharif' is reserved for descendants of Hassan while 'Sayyid' is used for descendants of Husayn. However since the post-Hashemite era began, the term 'Sayyid' has been used to denote descendants from both Hassan and Husayn. Arab Shi'ites use the term 'Sayyid' and 'Habib' to denote descendants from both Hassan and Husayn.

Indication of descentEdit

Sayyids are Arabs, and Sayyids in Asia are of Arab origin. The Sayyids are a branch of the tribe of Banu Hashim, a clan from the tribe of Quraish, which traces its lineage to Adnan, whose lineage traces back to the Prophet Ismael the son of the Prophet Ibrahim or Abraham.

Some Muslims also use the term Sayyid for the descendants of Abu Talib, uncle of Muhammad, by his other sons: Jafar, [Abbas], Aqeel and Talib. Sayyids often include the following titles in their names to indicate the figure from whom they trace their descent. If they are descended from more than one notable ancestor or Shi'a Imam, they will use the title of the ancestor from whom they are most directly descended.

Ancestor Arabic Title Arabic Last Name Persian Last Name Urdu Last Name
Ali ibn Abu Talib Alawi2 Allawi2 or Alawi3 Alavi2 علوى Alavi2 علوی
Hasan ibn Ali al-Hashimi or al-Hassani al-Hashimi or al-Hassani Hashemi, Hassani, or Tabatabai حسنى Hassani or Hasani حسنی or Hashemi or Hashmi هاشمي
Husayn ibn Ali al-Hussaini al-Hussaini1 Husseini حسینى Hussaini or Husaini حسینی
Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al Abidin al-Abidi al-Abidi Abedi عابدى Abidi or Abdi عابدی
Zayd ibn Ali ash-Shahid az-Zaidi al-Zaidi Zaidi زیدی Zaidi زیدی
Muhammad al-Baqir al-Baqiri al-Baqiri Baqeri باقرى Baqri باقری
Jafar as-Sadiq al-Ja'fari al-Ja'fari Jafari جعفرى Jafri, Jafry or Jaffery جعفری
Musa al-Kadhim al-Mousawi al-Mousawi or al-Kadhimi Moosavi or Kazemi موسوى / کاظمى Kazmi کاظمی
Ali ar-Rida ar-Radawi al-Ridawi or al-Radawi Razavi or Rezavi رضوى Rizvi or Rizavi رضوی
Muhammad at-Taqi at-Taqawi al-Taqawi Taqawi تقوى Taqvi تقوی
Ali al-Hadi an-Naqawi al-Naqawi Naqawi نقوى Naqvi نقوی or Bukhari بخاری

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

Some Muslims also use the term Sayyid for the descendants of Abu Talib, uncle of Muhammad, by his other sons: Jafar, Abbas, Aqeel and Talib.

  • 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 a place name, into the name of a group of people connected by lineage or place of birth. Hence Ahmad al-Hashimi could be translated as Ahmad of the lineage of Hassan and Ahmad al-Harrani as Ahmad from the city of Harran. 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 Zahra, such as Umm al Baneen/Fatima bint Hizam. Those who limit the term Sayyid to descendants of Muhammad through Fatima Zahra, will not consider Allawis/Alavis to be Sayyids.

3This transliteration is usually reserved for the Alawi sect.

In the Arab worldEdit

Sayyids in YemenEdit

There are Shia and Sunni Sayyid families in Yemen, they include the Rassids, the Qasimids, the Mutawakkilites, the Hamideddins, Al-Zaidi of Ma'rib, Sana'a and Sa'dah, the Ba'Alawi sadah and Al-Saqqaf in Hadramauwt, Al-Wazir of Sana'a and others.

Sayyids in Iraq Edit

There are sayyids in Iraq . 90%-95% of the Sayyids in Iraq are Shia Muslims. Many Sayyids in Iraq joined many Arab tribes centuries ago, especially in Southern Iraq. Because they used to be tortured and murdered, many Sayyids migrated from Iraq to South Asia. Also Sayyids have joined tribes in Iraq and are still now protected by the tribe. Genealogists claim that the Sayyids who have joined the tribes in Iraq are Real Sayyids. Many Sayyids in Iraq formed their own tribes and families such as Al-Yasiri, Al-Zaidi, Al-A'araji, Al-Hassani, Al-Hussaini, Al-Rifa'i, Al-Alawi, Al-Ghawalib (Al-Ghalibi), Al-Mosavi, Al-Awadi & others. There are also Sunni Sayyids in Kurdistan.

Sayyids in Saudi ArabiaEdit

There are many Sayyids in Saudi Arabia, families such as Bafaqih, Al-Hashemi (Also said as Bin Hashem), Al-Alawi, Al-Hussaini, Al-Hassani, Al-Mussallam (also said as Bin Mussallam), Al-Nasser and others.

Sayyids in Libya Edit

All Sayyids in Libya are Sunni Muslims. Many families in Libya are included within the Ashraf tribe, i.e. Sayyids tribe. Azzouz and Al-Hashemi are some of the families which descended from the ashraf tribes.

Sayyids in South AsiaEdit


An oil painting of Khair-un-Nissa, a Sayyida noblewoman from the princely state of Hyderabad by George Chinnery. c. 1805.

More than 14 million South Asians claim descent from the prophet,[4] in South Asia, approximately 3% of the Muslim population of South Asia. Their ancestors migrated from different parts of the Arab world, Iran, Central Asia and Turkestan, during the invasion of Mongols and other periods of turmoil during the periods of Mahmud Ghaznavi, Delhi Sultanate and Mughals and until the late 19th century. Some early migrant Sayyids moved deep to the region of Deccan plateau in the time of the Bahmani Sultanate and later Qutb Shahi kings of Golconda, Nizam Shahi of Ahmadnagar and other kingdoms of Bijapur, Bidar and Berar.

Several visited India as merchants or escaped from Abbasid, Umayyad and Ottoman empires. They also ruled over India during the Delhi Sultanate during the short-lived period of 1414-1451. Their name figures 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 Mohammedans appointed to the Council of India and the first appointed to the Privy Council were both Sayyids. Important Sayyid communities in India include the Sadaat Amroha, Nishapuri Sada'at of Barabanki, Saadat-e-Bara, Gardezi Sadaat, Sayyids of Hallaur, Sayyid of Gujarat, and Sadaat of Shergarh

An estimate of number of Sayyids in South Asia is as follows:[5]

Country Population Primary Language
India 6,696,000 Urdu
Pakistan 6,613,000 Western Punjabi, Sindhi, Urdu
Bangladesh 1,058,000 Bengali
Nepal 77,000 Various Hindi/Urdu Dialects (Maithili,Bhojpuri,Awadhi)
Sri Lanka 10 Urdu
Totals: 5 Countries 14,444,000 -

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ Ho, Engseng. 2006. Graves of Tarim. University of California Press. Berkeley. p. 149
  2. ^ Cleveland, W.L. & Bunton, M. (2009). A history of the modern middle east, 4th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Westview Press.
  3. ^ People of India by Herbert Risely
  4. ^ Sayyid Ethnic People in all Countries Joshua Project
  5. ^ Joshua Project > Discover > All Affinity Blocs / People Clusters > Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples > People Cluster: Urdu Muslim > People: Sayyid

External linksEdit

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Sayyid. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.

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