Zaidi (surname)

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Not to be confused with Zaidiyah.

People with the surname Zaidi trace their origins to the Islamic Holy City of Mecca, located in present-day Saudi Arabia. Descendants of Zaid ibn Ali are known as Sayyid, an honorific title bestowed upon to the descendants of Muhammad. The Zaidi surname is derived from Zaid ibn Ali, the son of Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn al-'Abidin, who was the great grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Descendants of Zaid ibn Ali who chose to move away from the Arabian Peninsula and have the surname Zaidi are commonly located in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The surname Al-Zaidi (Az-Zaidi) can denote one or both of the following:

  • Sayyid Arab descendents of Zayd bin Ali that either stayed in Kufa, Iraq or returned to Al-Hijaz.
  • The use of the surname Al-Zaidi to designate association may be with the Zaidiyyah madhhab, whose adherents are found in Yemen. This is akin to the use of the surnames Al-Hanafi, Al-Maliki, Al-Shafi'i, etc.

In contrast, people with the surname Zaidi are not associated with the Zaidiyyah madhhab.

The Wasitis/Zaidis in South Asia[edit]

The Zaidis of the Indian subcontinent use the proper noun "Wasiti" as a form of self-identification. Zayd ibn Ali is believed to have succumbed to injuries he sustain during a a battle in Kufa, Iraq; many of his descendants either returned to al-Hijaz or remained in Iraq. Some of those who stayed in Iraq settled in Wasit. Some descendants from Wasit then moved to the Indian subcontinent. Most of the Zaidis migrated after the Mongol Siege of Baghdad in 1258. A majority of the Zaidi community practice Twelver Shiism. Most of them are settled in Iraq, Iran and Pakistan.[1]

The largest group among those identifying themselves as Zaidi is Saadat-e-Bara. Saadat means descendant of Muhammad and Bara means twelve in Urdu. There are many interpretations of word bara and many spellings are current: Bara, Bahera, Barha (as spelled in Tuzuk-e-Jahangiri, Akbarnama and other Moghul sources) and Bahira meaning "bright" in Arabic language. One explanation of the word is as mentioned above; another is that there are twelve villages in Muzaffarnagar District and their residents were called Sadat Barha. This explanation is mentioned by the Emperor Jahangir in his autobiography Tuzuk-e-Jahangiri or Memoirs of Jahangir. Living outside of imperial camps and not indulging in hedonism of court life is another explanation of the term, as these families avoided the wrath of the noble families of Moghul court, most popular belief about Barha epithet is that they live in twelve villages in Muzaffarnagar district.

These Sayyeds are descendants of Sayyid Abu'l Farah Al Hussaini Al Wasti who came to India from Wasit (Iraq) in the 11th century along with his four sons who settled in four villages of Punjab, Kundliwaal, Chhatbanur, Tihanpur and Jajner giving names to all four clans of Sadat Barha. Their numbers are highest in Karachi (Pakistan) and Muzaffarnagar (India). The Kundliwal clan mainly live in Mujhera, Hashimpur, Valipura, Saifpur, Sikrehra Khola, Tandhera, Khujhera, Khedhi Pachenda and Sarai Rasulpur. The Chhatraudi clan live in Sambalhera, Luckhmapur (Jaunpur), Peeropur (Bhadohi), Kakrauli, Miranpur, Saidpura Kalan, Morna, Senthal and Kaithora (Gothada) in the State of Gujarat. Zaidi Sayyed also migrated from Jansath to villages located in the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh, namely Sikanderpur, Kandipur in Ambedkar Nagar district.

Notable people with the surname Al-Zaidi[edit]

  • Muntadhar al-Zaidi (born 1979), Iraqi broadcast journalist who serves as a correspondent for Iraqi-owned, Egyptian-based Al-Baghdadia TV

Notable people with the surname Zaidi[edit]

Art & literature

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Article by Sayyid 'Ali ibn 'Ali Al-Zaidi, A Short History of the Yemenite Shi‘ites (2005)[where?][self-published source]