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Sayyid (also spelled "Seyd", "Syed", "Sayed", "Sayyed", "Saiyid", "Seyed" and "Seyyed") (pronounced [ˈsæjjɪd], or [ˈsæjjed], Arabic: سيد; meaning Mister) (plural Sadah Arabic: سادة, Sāda(h)) is an honorific title denoting 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). Conventionally, descent is patrilineal. 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.:130
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 Ali Sultan. 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 it is called Sayyidah) has been used to denote descendants from Husayn.
Although reliable statistics are unavailable, conservative estimates put the number of Sayyids in the tens of millions.
- 1 Indication of descent
- 2 Sayyids in the Arab world
- 3 Sayyids in Iran
- 4 Sayyids in South Asia
- 5 Sayyids 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
|Hashemi, Hasani, or Tabatabaei حسنى||Hassani or Hasani حسنی or Hashemi or Hashmi هاشمي|
|Husayn ibn Ali||al-Hussaini الحُسيني||al-Hussaini الحسيني
Hashemi or Shah
|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-Zaydi الزيدي
|Idris ibn Abdullah||al-Idrisi الإدريسي||al-Idrisi الإدريسي||His descendants are mostly from the Maghreb||Same as before|
|Muhammad al-Baqir||al-Baqari الباقري||al-Baqiri الباقري||Baqeri باقرى||Baqri باقری|
|Ja'far al-Sadiq||al-Ja'fari الجعفري||al-Ja'fari or al-Sadiq/Sadegh or al-sherazi الصدق او الجعفري||Jafari or Sadeghi جعفرى/ صادقي||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 النقوي||al-Naqawi النقوي or al-Bukhari البخاري||Naqawi نقوى||Naqvi نقوی or Bukhari بخاری|
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
In the Arab world Sayyid families are predominantly found in Iraq but they can also be found in Syria and Lebanon and in Egypt, Libya, Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Pakistan, India etc.
Sayyids in Iraq
The Sayyid families in Iraq are so many, there are books written specially to list the families and connect their trees, some of these 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 many others.
Sayyids in Yemen
In Yemen the sayyids are more generally known as sadah, and 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.
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 who 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).
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; eight million in Pakistan, seven million in India, 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 the Mughal Empire, encompassing 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 Muslims appointed to the Council of India and the first appointed to the privy council were both Sayyids. Common surnames used by Sayyid families are Hussaini, Jafri, Kazmi, Naqvi, Shah, Bukhari, Gilani, Zaidi, Wasti etc
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), Tamil Nadu (206,000),and Jammu & Kashmir is 25,000. 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 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. 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 of Gazi 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 a direct descendant of Muhammad's grandson Hussain ibn Ali and came to India from Iraq during the reign of Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq.
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 a few of the well - known 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 descent 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.
The Sayyids of Wasa Dargah trace their ancestry back to the Makhdoom Syed Hisamuddin who came from Kenan, Iran and settled at Wasa Dargah, in the Siddhartha Nagar, 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 descendants 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 well - known 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 role in the medieval and early modern history of Gujarat, and is 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 Sayyids in Pakistan. Some of these Sayyids first migrated to Bukhara and then to South Asia. Sayyids settled early in Sindh and threre are many sayyids of both shia and sunni sects of islam. 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.
Sayyids in Punjab
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 (descendants of Ali al-Hadi).
Important Sayyid communities
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Important Sayyid communities in South Asia include:
- Hasani syeds of Rudauli District Barabanki
Ibraheem al-Ghamar bin Hasan Muthanna had a son named Isma'eel ad-Deebaj. Ad-Deebaj had two sons: Hasan bin Isma'eel ad-Deebaj - he left a large progeny; and Ibraheem bin Isma'eel ad-Deebaj - he came to be known as Tabataba. It is mostly his progeny who have spread across Iran and Iraq who are known as the Tabatabai and use that as their last name. It was the children of Imam Hasan and their children who came to India as the first Muslims in Sind. This was in the time of Hajjaj bin Yusuf. Later many of them moved from Sind to other parts of India. Hasani Syeds populate a town named Rudawlee near Lucknow, in Punjab and in other areas of the sub-continent.
- 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 Naqvis 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 a 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 the 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 and 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. But Haplogroup J2 reflects presence from the neolithic period in the subcontinent. J2 occurs among 11% of Austro-Asiatic tribals. The frequency of J2 is higher in South Indian castes (19%) than in North Indian castes (11%) or Pakistan (12%). J2 appears at 20% among the Yadavas of South India while among the Lodhas of West Bengal it is 32%. In Maldives, 22% of the Maldivian population were found to be haplogroup J2 positive. Overall, the presence of J1 and J2 markers in Indian populations is thought to be at least 3000–4000 years old.
Currently, the genetic marker Haplogroup J1c3d and J2-M172 is a 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 paternally from father to son. Currently research is ongoing on this topic at Family Tree DNA.
Sayyids in South East 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 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.
Some popular surnames of these Sayyids are al-Saqqaf, Shihab (or Shahab), al-Aidaroos, 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).
- Abdul-Qadir Gilani, Sufi Saint
- Abdullah Shah Ghazi, Sufi Saint
- Ahmed ar-Rifa'i – was the founder of the Rifa'i Sufi order.
- Bulleh Shah, Sufi Saint of Punjab
- Hassan Nasrallah (b. 1960) – Secretary General of the Lebanese political and paramilitary organization Hezbollah
- Mirza Sayyed Mohammad Tabatabai (1842-1920) – one of the leaders of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution who played an important role in the establishment of democracy and rule of law in Iran
- Abu al-Qasim al-Khoei (1899–1992) – Shia marja'
- Agha Hasan Abedi (1922–1995) – Pakistani banker and founder of Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI)
- Muntadhar al-Zaidi (b. 1979) – Iraqi broadcast journalist who served as a correspondent for Iraqi-owned, Egyptian-based Al-Baghdadia TV
- 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
- Ali Khamenei (b. 1939) – current Supreme Leader of Iran
- Ali Haider Tabatabai (1854–1933) – 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.
- Abbas al-Musawi (c.1952–1992) – Lebanese Muslim cleric and leader of Hezbollah
- Seyed Mohsen Mousavi – Iranian diplomat
- Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi (b. 1958) – Iranian Twelver Shi'i Muslim cleric who advocates the separation of religion and government and has been imprisoned several times by the Iranian government
- Seyed Mehdi Hosseini Bami, (b. 1979) – Iranian composer of contemporary classical music.
- Ibrahim al-Jaafari (b. 1947) – former Prime Minister of Iraq
- Idries Shah, Sufi writer
- Intezar Ahmed Abidi – former minister of Uttar Pradesh
- Irfan Abidi (1950–1997) – was a noted Pakistani scholar, religious leader, public speaker and poet
- Meher Ali Shah, Sufi Saint of Pakistan
- 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
- Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah (1935–2010) – foremost marja' of Lebanese Shia Muslims
- Muhammad Ahmad Al Mahdi (b. 1845-1885) – Mahdi, the messianic redeemer of the Islamic faith; Ruler of Nubia & Sudan
- Mohammad Khatami (b. 1943) – reformist Iranian politician and former President of Iran
- Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari (1905–1986) – an Iranian Grand Ayatollah of Iranian Azerbaijani origin
- Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr (1943–1999) – Shia marja'
- Sayed Ammar Nakshawani (b. 1981) – British-Iraqi Islamic historian, lecturer, and author
- Muhsin al-Hakim (1889–1970) – Shia marja' in the early 1960s
- Ruhollah Khomeini (1902–1989) – Marja, philosopher and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution
- Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin ibni Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail (b. 17 May 1943) – His Majesty was elected as the 12th Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Supreme Head / King) of Malaysia on 13 December 2001 until 2004.
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