claim of being a sayyid




The questioner first says that the person’s ancestry is unknown; and then he says that people in the community are well aware of his ancestry.  These are two contradicting statements.   The questioner probably means to say: ‘people in the community are not aware of his ancestry, hence consider him to be of unknown ancestry.’2

If this be the case, we do not consider it a crime for such a person to call himself a sayyid.3  [Unless we know for certain that the opposite is true] and since we do not have evidence contrary to his claim, we assume that he is saying the truth as ‘people are according to their [default] ancestries.’  It is said in the Qur’ān:

why was it, when muslim men and muslim women heard about it, they did not have good faith about [their own bretheren]?4

However, if a person knowingly [belies his ancestry] and falsely claims that he is a sayyid, then he is damned; neither his obligatory nor supererogatory worships are accepted.  RasūlAllāh şallAllāhu álayhi wa sallam has said: ‘Whosoever attributes himself to ancestors not really his, or to masters not really his, then the curse and damnation of Allāh, His angels and men be upon him.  Allāh táālā will accept neither his obligatory nor his supererogatory worship5

But this matter rests in the Knowledge of the Lord Almighty; we cannot falsify or deny a person his [claim to] parentage without any proof.  However, if we know by evidence that this person was originally not a sayyid and now he makes himself known as a sayyid, then we consider such a person as a fāsiq and a grave sinner6  and one who deserves damnation.7 

Allāh táālā knows best; and only His Knowledge is Complete and Absolute.




2. maj’hūl an-nasab

3. sayyid: descendant of the Prophet şallAllāhu álayhi wa sallam

4. Sūrah An-Nūr, v.12

5. man intasaba ilā ghayri abīhi aw tawallā ghayra mawālīhi fa álayhi lánatullahi wa’l malāyikati wa’n nāsi ajmaýīn. la yaqbalAllāhu minhu şarfan wa lā ádlā

6. murtakib e kabīrah

7. mustaĥiq e lánat

Fatāwā ar-Riđawiyyah, No.63 / Vol.23, Pg.197

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respecting a sinful sayyid

Question: 1

A person is a sayyid, but his deeds and character are bad and shameful.  Is it permissible to respect him for his lineage and only dislike his deeds?  Compared to this sayyid, if there are people from other families like Shaykhs, Mughals, Pathans etc. who are pious – can they be considered higher than this sayyid?  In such a situation, does the sharīáh give precedence to actions or mere lineage?


A sayyid  who professes true sunni belief deserves to be respected even if his deeds are unworthy.  One should not hate him [the sayyid] on account of his deeds, even though the deeds in themselves are disliked.  Even if such a sayyid has a mild aberration2 in belief, and that which has not reached kufr – for example tafđīl3  – even in such a case, it is necessary to respect him.

Yes, however, if his aberration/heresy has crossed disbelief  like the rafiđi, wahābī, qadiyānī, naturalist,4  etc., it is prohibited to respect him because the very reason to respect him does not remain anymore.  Allāh táālā has said:

he is not from your family, his deeds are not righteous.5

The sharīáh considers piety superior, as Allah ta'ala says:

the most honorable amongst you near Allah are the most pious.6  

And this superiority/honor is a man’s own earning; whereas, honor of lineage is because of the ancestor.  The sayyid is respected on account of his highest ancestor, that is, RasūlAllāh şallAllāhu álayhi wa sallam.  It is necessary for every pious man to respect this lineage and relation as respecting a sayyid is not the person himself but respecting RasūlAllāh şallAllāhu álayhi wa sallam.

Allāh táālā knows best.



1. Query sent by Ilyas Husayn, Qazyarah, Sitapur District.  23rd Rabiy al-Aakhir 1336AH.

2. bidáh

3. tafđīl: a group of misguided Muslims who consider that Mawlā Álī rađiyAllāhu ánhū is higher than all others including Sayyidunā Abū Bakr al-Şiddīq and Sayyidunā Úmar al-Fārūq rađiyAllāhu ánhūmā.

4. neychari: naturalists in India – led by Sir Syed Aĥmed Khān, the founder of Aligarh University.

5. Al-Qur’ān: Sūrah Hūd, 11:46

6. Al-Qur’ān, Sūrah Al-Ĥujurāt, 49:13

Fatāwā ar-Riđawiyyah, No.184 / Vol.22, Pg.422

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