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Sayyid (can also be spelled Seyd", "Syed", "Sayed", "Saiyid", "Seyed" and "Seyyed) (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 Husayn ibn Ali, sons of Muhammad's daughter Fatimah and his son-in-law Ali (Ali ibn Abi Talib).
Daughters of sayyids are given the titles Sayyida, Alawiyah, or Sharifa. Children of a Sayyida mother but a non-Sayyid father cannot be attributed the title of Sayyid. However, they may claim the title Mirza for males or Mirziya for females. In some regions of the islamic world, e.g. India, the descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad are given the title Amir or Mir to point towards their ancestry to the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
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. This is the reason the word sidi (from the contracted form sayyidī, 'my liege') is used in the Arabic.
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' (for female it is called Sharifah ) has been used to denote descendants from Hasan and the term 'Sayyid' (for female is called Sayyidah) has been used to denote descendants from Husayn.
- 1 Indication of descent
- 2 Sayyids in the Arab world
- 3 Sayyids in Iran
- 4 Sayyids in South Asia
- 5 In South East Asia
- 6 Notable Sayyids
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Indication of descent
The 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 Ishmael (Ismâ`îl) the son of Abraham (Ibrahim). Sayyids often include the following titles in their names to indicate the figure from whom they trace their descent.
|Ancestor||Arabic style||Arabic Last Name||Persian Last Name||Urdu Last Name|
|Hasan ibn Ali||al-Hasani الحسني او الهاشمي||al-Hasani الحسني او الهاشمي||Hashemi, Hasani, or Tabatabaei حسنى||Hassani or Hasani حسنی or Hashemi or Hashmi هاشمي|
|Husayn ibn Ali||al-Hussaini الحُسيني||al-Hussaini1 الحُسيني||Husseini حسینى||Hussaini or Husaini حسینی|
|Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin||al-Abidi العابدي||al-Abidi العابدي||Abedi عابدى||Abidi or Abdi عابدی|
|Zayd ibn Ali||az-Zaidi الزيدي||al-Zaidi الزيدي||Zaidi زیدی||Zaidi زیدی|
|Idris ibn Abdullah||al-Idrisi الإدريسي||al-Idrisi الإدريسي||His descendants are mostly from the Maghreb||Same as before|
|Muhammad al-Baqir||al-Baqiri الباقري||al-Baqiri الباقري||Baqeri باقرى||Baqri باقری|
|Ja'far al-Sadiq||al-Ja'fari الجعفري||al-Ja'fari or al-Sadiq الصدغ او الجعفري||Jafari or Sadeghi جعفرى/ صادغي||Jafri, Jafry or Jaffery جعفری|
|Musa al-Kadhim||al-Mousawi الموسوي او الكاظمي||al-Mousawi or al-Kadhimi الموسوي او الكاظمي||Moosavi or Kazemi موسوى / کاظمى||Kazmi کاظمی|
|Ali al-Ridha||ar-Radawi الرضوي||al-Ridawi or al-Radawi الرضوي||Razavi or Rezavi رضوى||Rizvi or Rizavi رضوی|
|Muhammad at-Taqi||at-Taqawi التقوي||al-Taqawi التقوي||Taqawi تقوى||Taqvi تقوی|
|Ali al-Hadi||an-Naqawi التقوي||al-Naqawi التقوي||Naqawi نقوى||Naqvi نقوی|
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 a 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, will not consider Allawis/Alavis to be Sayyids.
3This transliteration is usually reserved for the Alawites sect.
Sayyids in the Arab world
Sayyids in Iraq
The Sayyid families in Iraq are the Al-Wahab Al-Hashimi ul Qureshi, Al-Obaidi, Al-Yasiri, Al-Samarai, Al-Zaidi, Al-A'araji, Al-Hasani, Al-Hussaini, Tabatabaei, Al-Alawi, Al-Ghawalib (Al-Ghalibi), Al-Musawi, Al-Awadi (not to be confused with the Al-Awadhi Huwala family), Al-Sabzewari, Al-Hayali and others.
Sayyids in Yemen
In Yemen the sayyids are more generally known as sadah, and also referred to as Hashemites. In terms of relegious 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 and Al-Saqqaf in Hadhramaut, Al-Wazir of Sana'a, Al-Shammam of Sa'dah and others.
Sayyids in Libya
Sayyids in Iran
Sayyids (in Persian: سید seyyed) are found in vast numbers in Iran. The majority of Sayyids migrated predominantly in the 15th to 17th century from Arab lands 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 of whom predominantly were Sayyids from traditional Shiite centers of the Arabic speaking lands, such as Jabal Amel (of southern Lebanon), Bahrain and southern Iraq in order to create a state clergy. The Safavids offered them land and money in return for loyalty. These scholars taught the doctrine of Twelver Shiism and made it accessible to the population and energetically encouraged conversion to Shiism.
During the reign of Shah Abbas the Great, the Safavids also imported more Arab Shias which included predominantly Sayyids to Iran, 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).
Common Sayyids family surnames in Iran are Husseini, Mousavi, Kazemi, Razavi, Tabatabai, Hashemi, Hassani and Zaidi.
Sayyids in South Asia
Millions of people in South Asia claim Hashemite descent. In 1901 the total number of Sayyids in British India was counted as 1,339,734. Recent estimates show that in South Asia there are more than fifteen million Sayyids; seven million in India, six to seven million in Pakistan, little over one million in Bangladesh and around seventy thousand in Nepal.
Sayyids migrated many centuries ago from different parts of the Middle East (virtually only from the Arab world and Iran), 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, encomprising a timespan of roughly until the late 19th century. Sayyids migrated to Sindh 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 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.
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.
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). Sayyids are also found in the north-eastern state of Assam, where locally they are also referred to as Dawans.
Sayyids in North India
The earliest migration of Saiyeds 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 esatablised their military headquarters at Satrikh (16 km (9.9 mi) from Zaidpur) in the Barabanki district, Uttar Pradesh. They are considered to be 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. In 462 Hijri/1070 AD Saiyed Abdullah ‘Zar-baqsh’ migrated from the city of Qom in medieval Persia to the place which is now known as Zaidpur in the Barabanki district. He was a Rizvi/Taqvi Saiyed and claimed to be 14th in descent from Muhammad. Saiyed Abdullah ‘Zar-baqsh’ married Bibi Yadgaar Bano the daughter ofGazi Saiyyed Salar Sahu of Satrikh. Saiyed Abdullah ‘Zar-baqsh’ established the town of Zaidpur and named the place after his only son Saiyed Zaid (born 462 Hijri/1070 AD). 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.He was settled with his seven sons and forty champions in Ghazipur. He was a Shia but Iraqi Sayyids are Sunni muslims. This is because some of them converted to Sunni Islam in the reign of Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi. His Shia descendants are now known as Sayyids of Ghazipur
Notable sayyids migrating from the Middle East and Central Asia
Sayyids from Iran initially chose four places to settle in North India. These were Wasa Dargah, Hallaur, Baraha, Mohan and Bilgram. Sa'daat of Barha, Bilgram and Amroha are few of the wellknown groups of Sayyids around the world.
The ancestor of Bārha Sayyids, Syed Abu'l Farah 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.
The Sayyids of Mohan claim to trace their descend from one of the descendants of the Ali al-Ridha, Sayyid Mahmood Neshapuri who migrated to India from Iran and settled in Mohan. One of the branch of Moosavi and Nishapuri Sayyids from Mohan settled at Bijnor, near Lucknow.
The Sayyids of Bilgram are Hussaini Sayyids, who first migrated from Wasit, Iraq in the 13th century. 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.
The Sayyids of Kichaucha Sharif claim to trace their ancestry back to the illustrious saint Ashraf Jahangir Semnani who came from Semnan, Iran and settled at Kichaucha Sharif, in the Ambedkar Nagar district, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Zaidi Sadat in Amya, Utraula Balrampur- Sayyeds of Amya, Utraula in Balrampur district of Uttar Pradesh are Zaidi Sadat who are settlers from Miranpur, Jannsath in Muzaffarnagar and direct decendent of Sadat-e-barha.
In addition, many of the early Sufi saints that came to North India belonged to Sayyid families. Most of these Sayyid families came from Central Asia, Iran, Yemen, Oman, Iraq, and Bahrain. Perhaps the most famous Sufi was Syed Salar Masud, from whom many of the Sayyid families of Awadh claim their descent. Sayyids of Salon (Raebareli), Jarwal (Bahraich), Kintoor (Barabanki) and Zaidpur (Barabanki) were wellknown Taluqadars (feudal lords) of Awadh province.
Sayyids in Gujarat
In Gujarat, most of the Sayyid families are descended from individuals invited by the Muslim rulers of Gujarat, as advisors 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 for 20 months, conquered the fort 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 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.
In Gujarat, the Sayyid have ten sub-divisions, the main ones being the Shirazi, Mattari, Bukhari, Naqvi, Tirmizi, Zaidi, Rifa'i, Bhaktari, Qadiriyyas, Chishti, Mahdavi, Kitoi, Mashadi, Idrusi, and Bahraini. Of these, the Bukhari Sayyids are perhaps the most well known. Their ancestor, Syed Burhanuddin Qutb-Alam was the patron saint of Sultan Muzaffar Shah, the first Muslim sultan of Gujarat. Even more well known was his son, Shah Alam, who flourished during the reigns of Qutibudin Shah and Mahmud Begada. It played an important in the medieval and early modern history of Gujarat, and now divided into several branches. Other prominent Sayyids include the Mahdavi family. They are now found mainly in Palanpur and Dabhoi, and claim descent from Muhammad Jaunpuri, the founder of the sect and his son in law, Syed Khundmir. They are the hereditary pirs of the Tai community. And finally, the family of the Nizari Ismaili pirs is perhaps the most influential of the Gujarat Sayyid. They are distributed all over Gujarat, and descend from Imam Shah, a famous medieval Ismaili missionary. The Dais (heads) of the Taiyabi (Mustaali/ Ismaili), mainly known in Gujarat as the Dawoodi Bohra, are also Sayyids.
Other communities include the Bahrain Sayyid, whose ancestors arrived from Bahrain during the rule of Sultan Mahmud Begada, the Matari Syeds who arrived from the village of Mattar in Sindh during the period of Mughal rule. The ancestors of the Khodari Syeds were invited by the Nawabs of Junagadh, while those of the Bukhari Sayyids arrived from Central Asia at the invitation of Sultan Ahmed Shah. The community now speak both Gujarati and Urdu, and are concentrated in Kutch, Gandhinagar, Vadodara, and Bhavnagar, with two thirds of the Sayyid found in the village of Gothada, near Savli, Vadodara The Sayyid of Gothada are Zaidi Sayyid – Saadat-e-Bara and others such as the Bukhari and Qadiri Sayyid also settled there.
Sayyids in Kerala
Kerala has its 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.
There are numerous number of Sayyids in Pakistan. Some of these Sayyids first migrated to Bukhara and then to South Asia. Others reportedly settled in Sindh to escape the atrocities of the Omayya and Abbasi caliphs of Arabia. The 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.
Sayyids in Punjab
The Sayyids of Punjab belong to Hasani (descendants of Hasan), Husaini (descendants of Husayn), Alavi (descendants from other sons of Ali) and Zaidi (descendants of Zayd ibn Ali, grandson of Husayn) groups of sa'dat and also Rizvi, descendants of Ali al-Ridha and Naqvi (Ali al-Hadi).
Important Sayyid communities
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Important Sayyid communities in South Asia include:
- Rizvi Sayyids of Zaidpur, Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh
- Sadaate Kichaucha or Ashrafi Saadat
These Sayyids are the descendants of the saint Syed Ashraf Jahangir Semnani who himself was a descendant of Husayn.
- Sadaat Nasirabad
One of the earliest settlements of Naqvi's is reported from Nasirabad, Raibareli in North India. Naqvi Sadats migrated from Sabzevar, Iran and arrived in Nasirabad around 410 Hijri (around 1027 A.D.) and settled there. After some time adjacent Patakpur (Nasirabad), was also inhabited by Mu'mins and rechristened as Nasirabad after the name of Syed Naseerudin. Nasirabad is the earliest known Naqvi Sadats of India. Naseerabad is the native land of Khandan e Ijtihad and multitude of very high ranking scholars have come from there. The first Mujtahid from India, Dildar Ali Naseerabadi was from here and later his family came to be called "Khandan e Ijtihad" due to the heavy presence of high-ranking scholars. Some famous and known religious scholars from this lineage include Syedul Ulema Ayatullah Syed Ali Naqi Naqvi 'Naqqan', Jannat Ma'ab Ayatullah Syed Mohammad Naqvi, Ayatullah Aqa Hasan Sb, Ayatullah Syed Kalbe Hussain Naqvi, Hujjatul Islam Syed Kalbe Abid Naqvi, Hujjatul Islam Syed Kalbe Jawwad Naqvi, Hujjatul Islam Syed Hasan Zafar Naqvi(based in Karachi), Allama Syed Razi Jafar, Allama Nasir Ijtehadi, Dr Kalbe Sadiq, Hujjatul Islam Syed Ali Mohammad Naqvi.
The Sadaat Amroha or Amrohi Syed are a community of Sayyids, historically settled in the town of Amroha, in Uttar Pradesh, India. Many members of Sadaat Amroha community have migrated to Pakistan after independence and have settled in Karachi, Sindh.
- Sadaat Bukhari of Pargana Chail of Allahabad
The Sadaat Bukhari of pargana Chail are Naqvi Syeds and being descended from syed Hussam aldin Bukhari ibn Sadruddin Rajju Qattal (brother of Jalaluddin Surkh-Posh Bukhari) ibn Syed Ahmed Kabir ibn Syed Jalaluddin Bukhari.
Sadat-e-Bara (Urdu: ہسادات بار), sometimes pronounced Sadaat-e-Barha, are a community of Sayyids, originally from a group of twelve villages situated in the Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh in India. This community had considerable influence during the latter days of the Mughal Empire. They were also found in the Karnal district and Haryana in India. Many members of this community have migrated to Pakistan after independence have settled in Karachi, Khairpur State in Sind and Lahore.
- Zaidi Sadat Of Kandipur, Ambedkar Nagar, Uttar Pradesh
Zaidi Sayyed migrated from Jansath to the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh namely Sikanderpur, Kandipur in the Ambedkar Nagar district. These Sayyeds are descendants of Abul Farah Wasti who came to India from Wasit, Iraq in the late 13th century along with his four sons.
Kintoor or Kintur is a village about 10 mi (16 km) north-east of Badosarai in the Barabanki district, famous for the battle of Kintoor of 1858 during the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
- Sayyids of Hallaur
Hallaur or Hallor (Urdu, Persian and Arabic: هلور, Hindi: हल्लौर, Bhojpuri: हलूर) is a town or a big village in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, situated near the banks of the West Rapti River. Residents of Hallaur are referred as Hallauri
- Sayyids of Wasa Dargah
Wasa Dargah is a village in the eastern part of Uttar Paradesh. Situated 12 km (7.5 mi) from Domariaganj.
Genetic studies of Sayyids of the Sub-continent
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."
In Northern India, 29% of the Shia Muslim belong to Haplogroup J. There are 18% belonging mainly to Haplogroup J2 and another 11% belong to Haplogroup J1, which both represent Middle Eastern lineages, which are not commonly found among Indian populations.
At current, the genetic marker Haplogroup J1c3d is strong contender for being the genetic signatures of the Sayyids, due to the haplogroup being predominantly found among people with the Y-chromosomal Aaron (Cohen Modal Haplotype CMH), who are people with patrilineal Jewish priestly caste known as Kohanim, which is passed down maternally from father to son. They trace their ancestry to Aaron (Hārūn), the brother of Moses (Mûsâ) and from there their ancestry goes all the way to Abraham and this haplogroup genetic marker is also predominantly found among two related groups, the Hashemites and people with Adnani Arab descent who trace their ancestry to Abraham through his son Ishmael. Muhammad belonged to these peoples, of whom Sayyids trace their ancestry to. Currently research is going on this topic at Family Tree DNA.
In South East Asia
Most of the Alawi Sayyids who moved to Southeast Asia were descendants of Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin. Even Though they are descendants of Imam Husain, it is uncommon for the female Sayyids to be called Sayyidah, but more commonly called Sharifah. Most of them live in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Brunei.
- Sayyid Muhammad Al-Makki Ancestor of Bukkuri Naqvi Sayyids
- Jalaluddin Surkh-Posh Bukhari Ancestor of Bukhari Naqvi Sayyids
- Sayyid Qutb
- Abul A'la Maududi Sayyid Mawlana Abul Ala Maududi the Mujajadid of Islam in the sub-continent
- Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (born 11 Rabi al-Thani, 470 Hijri, in the town of Na'if, district of Gilan, Ilam Province Or Amol of Tabarestan, Persia, died 8 Rabi al-Awwal 561 AH, in Baghdad, (1077–1166 CE), was a Persian Hanbali jurist and Sunni, Sufi based in Baghdad. Qadiriyya was his patronym.Sheikh of Founder of Qadiriyyah silsilah, a very popular figure in sunni islam)
- Ali al-Sistani (b. 1930) – currently the pre-eminent marja' of Shia Muslims around the world and arguably the most influential political figure in Iraq today
- Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah (1935–2010) – foremost marja' of Lebanese Shia Muslims
- Ruhollah Khomeini (1902–1989) – marja, philosopher and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution
- Muhsin al-Hakim (1889–1970) – Shia marja' in the early 1960s
- Abu al-Qasim al-Khoei (1899–1992) – Shia marja'
- Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr (1943–1999) – Shia marja'
- Agha Hasan Abedi (1922–1995) – Pakistani banker and founder of Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI)
- Ali Khamenei (b. 1939) – current Supreme Leader of Iran
- Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (b. 1957) – former union minister of India
- Intezar Ahmed Abidi – former minister of Uttar Pradesh
- Ibrahim al-Jaafari (b. 1947) – former Prime Minister of Iraq
- Nayyar Hussain Bukhari (b. 1952) – Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan
- Mohammad Khatami (b. 1943) – reformist Iranian politician and former President of Iran
- Ali Haider Tabatabai (1854–1933) – he translated Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard from English to Urdu. He was head of the Translation Department of Osmania University, could speak write and understand English, German, French, Persian and Arabic.
- Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari (1905–1986) – an Iranian Grand Ayatollah of Iranian Azerbaijani origin
- Safi Lakhnavi (1862–1950) – Urdu poet, born Syed Ali Naqi Zaidi
- Mustafa Zaidi (1930–1970) – Urdu poet of Pakistan
- Ijlal Haider Zaidi (1928–2013) – former member of the Civil Service of Pakistan (CSP)
- Nayyar Ali Dada (b. 1943) – Pakistani architect, born Nayyar Ali Zaidi
- Maqbool Hussain Zaidi (1914–1969) – founder of Imambargah Colonel Maqbool Hussain
- Bashir Hussain Zaidi (1898–1992) – member of the first Lok Sabha and Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University
- Mir-Hossein Mousavi (b. 1942) – is an Iranian reformist politician, artist and architect who served as the seventy-ninth and last Prime Minister of Iran from 1981 to 1989. He was a reformist candidate for the 2009 presidential election and eventually the leader of the opposition in the post-election unrest
- Mehdi Hosseini (b. 1979) – Persian composer
- Irfan Abidi (1950–1997) – was a noted Pakistani scholar, religious leader, public speaker and poet
- Asad Abidi (b. 1956) – is a Pakistani American electrical engineer, who was the first dean of Lahore University of Management Sciences's School of Science and Engineering and studied at the University of California, Berkeley
- Azhar Abidi (b. 1968) – is a Pakistani Australian author and translator
- Khawar Rizvi (1938–1981) – was a prominent poet of Urdu and Persian
- Khurshid Rizvi – Pakistani scholar, poet, linguist and historian of Arabic languages and literature
- Majida Rizvi – is the first woman judge of the High Courts of Pakistan (Sindh High Court)
- Sa'id Akhtar Rizvi (1927–2002) – Twelver Shia scholar, father of Muhammad Rizvi
- Muhammad Rizvi (b. 1957) – is a Twelver Shia scholar, a speaker, as well as an author
- Behzad Razavi – is an Iranian American professor and researcher of electrical and electronic engineer
- Syed Ahmed Rizvi Kashmiri (1901–1964) – a Shia Mujtahid who lived in Kashmir
- Shaukat Hussain Rizvi (1914–1999) – was a pioneer of the Pakistani film industry
- Kaifi Azmi (1919–2002) – pen name of Akhtar Hussein Rizvi, noted Indian Urdu poet, born Akhtar Hussein Rizvi
- Mohammad-Taqi Ja'fari (1923–1998) – Iranian scholar, thinker, and theologian
- Ali Jafari – Iranian computer scientist
- Davoud Danesh-Jafari (b. 1954) – Minister of Economy and Finance Affairs of Iran
- Mohammad Ali Jafari (b. 1957) – commander of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution in Iran
- Muhammad bin Yahya al-Ninowy (b.1966)- founder of the Medina Institute. Resides in Atlanta
- Muhammad al-Yaqoubi (b.1963)-in exile from his native Syria. Linguist and religious scholar
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