Please explain the concept of ‘Syed’, a label used by some Muslims, especially in the subcontinent.
The ‘Syeds’ claim that they are descendants of Prophet Muhammad’s (ﷺ) family.
First and foremost, any such claim must be supported by evidence. Ask the ones who make such a claim, to chase their ancestry back to the Prophet (ﷺ) for you. 99.99% of those people cannot do so because it is just a claim made a few generations back, which people accepted and handed down. It is false in most cases.
Secondly, the idea that only a Syed can marry a Syed is also false. Even if we accept them as being the descendants of Prophet Muhammad’s (ﷺ) family, the idea that they marry only amongst each other is false. Islam does not support that at all because that is tribalism.
The Prophet said,
“He is not one of us who calls to tribalism. He is not one of us who fights for the sake of tribalism. He is not one of us who dies following the way of tribalism.”
So, even the practice among some Muslims today, in ignorance, where they say that you cannot marry outside of our family or as an Indian, you cannot marry a Pakistani, or even from within the country, people from Hyderabad cannot marry those from Tamil Nadu, such a practice is completely outside of Islam. Islam is innocent from these kinds of beliefs and idealism. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) demonstrated this when he married Zaid Ibn Al Haritha (رضى الله عنه), a former black slave, to Zaynab (رضى الله عنها), his own cousin who was from the elite families of Makkah. He (ﷺ) did so to demonstrate that those kinds of feeling and attitudes have no place in Islam.
Thirdly, there are people who are from the family of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), among his very uncles who, Allah said, are people of Hell. Among the Prophet’s (ﷺ) own uncles, much closer to him than any of the Syeds today could possibly be, are people who have been designated as people of Hell. This tells us that being a relative of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) has no value before God.
Therefore, this practice or belief is a part of the ignorance of Muslims. As they drift away from the Islamic teachings, these kinds of racial, tribal and nationalistic feelings and ideas arise. This has historically been the way. When Islam is strong and the teachings are well known to the people, then such feelings go down. Know that the origin of racism is from Satan, when he refused to bow down with his claim of superiority. It is a satanic belief and so is tribalism. All human beings are one.
 (Sunan Abu Dawud 5102)< Back to Questions