Respecting an Impious 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 into disbelief (reached disbelief), like that of a 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 respect for 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: followers of naturalistic philosophy – in India, the movement was 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

Fatawa Ridawiyyah: 22/422
Fatwā #184  [Query by: Ilyas Husayn, Qazyarah, Sitapur District]