Sayyid is an honorific title denoting people accepted as descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his cousin and son-in-law Ali through his grandsons, Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali, sons of Muhammad's daughter Fatimah and Ali.
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". The descendants of Muhammad honour the possession of family trees tracing back their ancestry.
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.
Although reliable statistics are unavailable, conservative estimates put the number of Sayyids in the tens of millions.
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. The word sidi is often used in Arabic. Sayyids are respected in all denominations in Islam.


The Sayyids are by definition a branch of Banu Hashim, which traces its lineage to Adnan, and therefore directly descends from Ishmael, and collaterally descends from his paternal half-brother Isaac, the sons of Abraham.
Banū Hāshim 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 Muhammad usually carry the titles Sayyid, Syed, Hashmi, Sayed or Sharif, or the Ashraf clan. Today, two sovereign monarchs – Abdullah II of Jordan and Muhammad VI of Morocco – and the former royal family of Libya are also considered to be a part of Banu Hashim.
The Hashemites are the ruling royal family of Jordan. The House was also the royal family of Syria, Hejaz and Iraq. The family belongs to the Dhawu Awn, one of the branches of the Hasanid Sharifs of Mecca – also known 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 Muhammad. The most genuine prophetic relics are believed to be those housed in the Hirkai Serif Odasi in Istanbul's Topkapı Palace.

Indication of descent

In the early period, the Arabs used the terms Sayyid and Sharif to denote descendants from both Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali. However, in the modern era, the term Sharif has been used to denote descendants from Hasan, and the term Sayyid has been used to denote descendants from Husayn.
Sayyids often include the following titles in their names to indicate the figure from whom they trace their descent, while Sunni Sayyids often use the last name Shah or Hashmi. 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 or Hashemi or Hashmi
Husayn ibn Alial-Hussaini1 الحُسينيal-Hussaini الحسيني
al-Hashemi الهاشمي
Hashemi هاشمی
Hussaini حسینی
Hashemi or Shah
Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidinal-Abidi or Abid العابديal-Abidi العابديAbedi عابدىAbidi or Abdi
Zayd ibn Aliaz-Zaidi الزيديal-Zaydi الزيدي
al-Hashemi الهاشمي
Zaydi زیدیZaidi
Hashemi 'Alawîyyun
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
Ja'far al-Sadiqal-Ja'fari الجعفريal-Ja'fari or al-Sadiq/Sadegh الصدق او الجعفريJafari or Sadeghi جعفرى/ صادقیJafri or Jafry or Jaffery shamsi
Musa al-Kadhimal-Moussawi الموسوي او الكاظميal-Moussawi or al-Kadhimi الموسوي او الكاظميMoosavi or Kazemi موسوى / کاظمىKazmi
Ali al-Ridhaar-Radawi الرضويal-Ridawi or al-Radawi الرضويRazavi or Rezavi رضوىRizvi or Rizavi
Muhammad at-Taqiat-Taqawi التقويal-Taqawi التقويTaqavi تقوىTaqvi
Ali al-Hadian-Naqawi النقويal-Naqawi النقوي or al-Bukhari البخاريNaghavi نقوىNaqvi or Bhaakri/Bukhari
Hasan al-Askarial-Askari العسکريal-Bukhari البخاريSadat ساداتSadat or Attar al Bukhari

Note: When transliterating Arabic words into English there are two approaches.
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. 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. In actuality, this term is applied only to Sayyids who have both Hassan and Husayn 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 line 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-coloured 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 a second son called Sayyid Ali Akbar, which indicates that al-Askari had children and 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-Askari's Imamah. Another group of historians studying the pedigrees of some Central Asian saints' shejere believe that the Twelfth Imam was not the only son of Hasan al-Askari, and that the Eleventh Imam had two sons: Sayyid Muhammad and Sayyid Ali Akbar. According to the earliest reports as from official family tree documents and records, Imam Hasan al-Askari fathered seven children and was survived by six. The names of his biological children were: Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi, Musa, Ja’far, Ibrahim, Fatima, Ayesha, and ‘Ali, sometimes referred to as Akbar, Asghar or Abdullah.
These Central Asian notable sayyid families have historical genealogical manuscripts that are confirmed with seals by many Naqibs, Muftis, Imams, Kadi Kuzzats, A’lams, Khans, and Emirs of those times. One descendant of Sayyid Ali Akbar was Saint Ishan Imlo of Bukhara. is called "saint of the last time" in Bukhara, as it is believed that after him there were no more saintsAsian Muslims generally revere him as the last of the saints. According to the source, Ishan Imlo died in 1162AH ; his mausoleum is in a cemetery in Bukhara. Notable descendants of Sayyid Ali Akbar are Sufi saints like Bahauddin Naqshband, descendant after eleven generations; 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; qadi ; and 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:
Although Shiite historians generally reject the claim that Hasan al-Askari fathered children other than Muhammad al-Mahdi, Bab Mawlid Abi Muhammad al-Hasan writes, in the Shiite hadith book Usul al-Kafi:

Middle East

Men belonging to the Sayyid families or tribes in the Arab world used to wear white or ivory coloured daggers like jambiyas, khanjars or shibriyas to demarcate their nobility amongst other Arab men, although this custom has been restricted due to the local laws of the variously divided Arab countries. Wearing turbans of various colours, especially white, black, green, yellow, orange, or maroon is done as a substitute and practised more by non-Arab Sayyids than their Arab counterparts.


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-Witry, 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-Musawi, Al-Awadi, Al-Gharawi, Al-Sabzewari, Al-Shubber, Al-Hayali, Al-Kamaludeen and many others.


Sayyids 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. The majority of Sayyids migrated to Iran from Arab lands predominantly in the 15th to 17th centuries during the Safavid era. The Safavids transformed the religious landscape of Iran by imposing Twelver Shiism on the populace. Since most of the population embraced Sunni Islam, and an educated version of Shiism was scarce in Iran at the time, Ismail imported a new group of Shia Ulama who predominantly were Sayyids from traditional Shiite centers of the Arabic-speaking lands, such as Jabal Amel, Syria, 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 Twelver Shiism, made it accessible to the population, and energetically encouraged conversion to Shiism.
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, and successfully persuaded them to participate in the government, which they had shunned in the past.
Common Sayyid family surnames in Iran are Husseini, Mousavi, Kazemi, Razavi, Eshtehardian, Tabatabaei, Hashemi, Hassani, Jafari, Emami, Ladjevardi, Zaidi, Imamzadeh, Sherazi and Shahidi.
They were often given accommodation free of charge.


In Oman, Sayyid is used by members of the Al Said ruling royal family. 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 practice. 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, such as an honorary title given 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, and the Al-Jaylani of Juban.


The Sayyids in Libya are Sunni, including the former royal family, which is originally Zaidi-Moroccan. The El-Barassa Family are Ashraf as claimed by the sons of Abdulsalam ben Meshish, a descendant of Hassan bin Ali bin Abi Talib.

South Asia

Although millions of people in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal claim Hashemite descent, genealogy family trees are studied to authenticate claims. In 1901 the total number of Sayyids in British India was counted as 1,339,734. 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 and Central Asia during the invasion of the Mongols, 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 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 Golkonda, Nizam Shahi of Ahmednagar, Bijapur, Bidar, and Berar. Several visited India as merchants or escaped from the Abbasid, Umayyad and Safavid. Their names appear in Indian history at the dissolution of the Mughal Empire, when the Sayyid brothers created and dethroned emperors at their will. The first Muslims appointed to the Council of India and the first appointed to the privy council were both Sayyids.


The total Sayyid population in India is 7,017,000, with the largest populations in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and 25,000 in Jammu and Kashmir. Sayyids are also found in the north-eastern state of Assam, where they are locally also referred to as Dawans.
In India, Sayyids of Hadramawt gained widespread fame. There is a big community of Sayyids settled in and around the Nanganallur region in Chennai that trace their ancestry directly to the Sayyids of Iraq.
Traditional Sayyid families rarely marry outside their community, and emphasise marrying into Najeeb Altarfain families. This insistence on endogamy has begun to decline among the more urbanized families, with an increase in exogamy with other groups such as the Shaikh and Mughals.
Historically, the Sayyids of Uttar Pradesh 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 account for 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 and some moving to Pakistan. This was followed by the abolition 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 urban areas, there has been a shift towards modern occupations.

North India

The earliest migration of Sayyids from Afghanistan to North India took place in 1032 when Gazi Saiyyed Salar Sahu and his son Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud established their military headquarters at Satrikh in the Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh. They are considered to be the first Muslim settlers in North India. In 1033 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 and his family lived in Tijara until 1857 before they migrated to Bhopal. 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 the 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 as some of them converted to Sunni Islam in the reign of Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi around 1517. His Shia descendants are now known as Sayyids of Ghazipur.
Sayyids of Syed nagli, or Said Nagli, or the Baquari Syeds had migrated from Termez during the Sultanate era. Sikandar Lodi 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 Muhammad 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 appointed Shustari as his chief justice, who used his position to strengthen the status 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 the turbulent politics of the time. The new British colonial authorities that replaced the Mughals after the Battle of Buxar 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 contributed to state administration. After the abolition of the zamindari system, many Sayyid zamindars had to leave their homes.
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 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 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.
A notable Sufi that belonged to a Sayyid family was Syed Salar Masud, from whom many of the Sayyid families of Awadh claim their lineage. Sayyids of Salon, Jarwal, Kintoor, and Zaidpur were well-known Taluqadars of Awadh province. People from Sadaat also found in Kannauj trace their lineage from Husayn through Ali al-Hadi, a branch of Naqvi Bukhari.
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 were granted jagirs. During the period of Sultan Mahmud Begada, the sultan provided land to three Sayyid brothers and a grant to settle there after the victory of Pavagadh Fort. In 1484 the sultan conquered the fort on 21 November 1484 and transferred his capital to Champaner, which he completely rebuilt at the foothills of the Pavagadh Fort and named it Muhammadabad. During Mughal rule in Gujarat, the Sayyid 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 were provided land grants to settle there. They also comprised a significant portion of the Mughal army, and many are still found in old Muslim garrison towns like Ahmedabad. Many of the early Sufi saints that came to Gujarat belonged to Sayyid families, most of which came from Central Asia, Iran, Yemen, Oman, Basra, and Bahrain.
Sayyids started settling in Bihar in the 13th century. Many Sufi saints of Bihar were Sayyids, such as Makhdoom Yahya Maneri.
The most prominent Sayyids of Bihar have been the Malick community, who descended from the seven sons and immediate blood relatives of Sayyid Ibrahim Malick, who was also a ruler of Bihar and a Sufi saint. In Bihar, Sayyids were landlords, barristers, intellectuals, clerics, teachers, businessmen and farmers. They were deeply involved in Bihari politics before India's independence.

South India

has a 2,000-year-old association with Arabia. In Malayalam, Thangal is an honorific Muslim title that is almost equivalent to Sayyid and is given to males whom are 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.
Tamil Nadu
There are a notable number of Sayyids in Tamil Nadu that mostly concentrate 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 middle of the 12th century. His descendants who live in Ervadi with the clan name 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. Until recently, his descendants lived in the same Kazimar Street locality in the center of Madurai city for over seven centuries and managed the Kazimar Big Mosque constructed by their forefather. Syed Tajuddin's younger son Kazi Alauddin lived in Kayalpattinam and his shrine is found there.


There are numerous Sayyids in Pakistan. Some of them first migrated to Gardez, Bukhara, and Termez, before moving to South Asia due to mass genocides, discrimination, and prejudice from the rulers of that era. Pakistani Sayyids have lineages which descend from Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali through Husayn and 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. His grandfather, Syed Ali Qaswer, a descendant of Ja'far al-Sadiq, the grandson of Husayn, 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 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 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.
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, Husaini, Zaidi, Rizvi,, and Naqvi and their sub-caste Bukhari.
The Sayyids from Sheraz, Iran, migrated to Baluchistan and later to Sindh are known as Sherazi Sayyid. They live in Jacobabad and Thatta. The first Sherazi Sayyid to migrate from Baluchistan to Sindh was Malook Shah who was a saint. Another saint, Sindh Mehr Shah, descended from 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 authors of the study, the Y chromosomes of self-identified Syeds from India and Pakistan are no less diverse than those non-Syeds from the same regions, suggested that Syed status, rather than being strictly patrilineal, may have been passed through other routes.
The paper, "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’ show a greater genetic affinity to Arab populations—despite the geographic distancethan do their neighbouring populations from India and Pakistan."
In Northern India, 29 per cent of the Shia Muslim belong to haplogroup J. There are 18 per cent belonging mainly to haplogroup J2 and another 11 per cent belong to haplogroup J1, which both represent Middle Eastern lineages. J1 is exclusively Near Eastern.

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, many of which were descendants of migrants from Hadhramaut. Even though they are alleged descendants of Husayn, 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, Pattani and Cambodia. Many of the royal families of this region such as the previous royal families of the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the existing royal family of Brunei are also Sayyids, especially of Ba'Alawi.
Some common surnames of these Sayyids are al-Saqqaf, Shihab, al-Aidaroos, al-Habsyi, al-Kaff, al-Aththos, al-Haddad, al-Jufri, al-Muhdhar, al-Shaikh Abubakar, al-Qadri, al-Munawwar.


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.

Maternal descendance

According to Iran's religious leader and the Deobandi creed—a creed especially followed by patriarchal Pashtun tribes—the status of being a Sayyid can only be attributed through patrilineal lineage. According to Shia opinions, children of a Sayyida mother and a non-Sayyid father are referred to as Mirza. The Persian notation "Mirza", which is a derivation of the word "Mirzada" has various meanings: one 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.
However, in 1632 when an Ottoman court challenged a man wearing a Sayyid green turban, he established that he was a Sayyid on his mother's side, which was accepted by the court.
In patriarchal societies, women usually have to assimilate themselves into their husband's status. However, this does not affect female descendants of Muhammad as 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. 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 Al-Suyuti. In Tajikistan matrilineal descendants are honoured. There is no total consensus indicating Sayyids and abandoning individuals of maternal descent, which may be to limit the number because of financial reasons, such as Khums or governmental support especially for Sayyids.