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And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye Members of the Family (Ahl al-Bait – the household of the Prophet), and to make you pure and spotless.
(al Ahzab, Verse 33, Quran).

Zaid bin Arqam says: ‘Once the Prophet stood in front of us to advice. I’m leaving you behind me two imperative things: One is the Quran, the Holy book of Allah. The other one is the members of my family.
(Sahih Muslim, 15/170).
Sayyid, literally means leader or more generally every elites. But, according to Islamic epistemology the term denotes the descendants of Prophet Muhammad. Hasan and Husain were two beloved grandsons of Prophet Muhammad, through his daughter Fathima and her husband Ali; and the descendants of the Prophet were spread through them. In Islamic epistemology, the terms Aalunnabi and Shareef connote the same meaning. Generally they have known as Ahl al Baith, Members of the Family, i.e., the members of Prophet’s family.

Hasan’s children are Zaid, Ummul Hamza, Ummul Husain, Hasan II, Umar, Qasim, Abdulla, Abdul Rahman, Thalhath, Husain, Fathima, Ummu Salama, and Ruqiyya. Among them, Umar, Qasim and Abdulla were killed in the Battle of Karbala, and only Zaid and Hasan II had the grandchildren. Husain’s children were Abdulla, Sukaina, Ali Asgar (Zainul Abideen), Ali Akbar, Jafar, and Fathima. Among them most of them were murdered with Husain in the Battle of Karbala, and only Zainul Abideen had the grandchildren. Therefore, the Ahl al Bait or Sayyids spread all over the world through Zaid and Hasan II, sons of Hasan, and Zain al Abideen, son of Husain. There is another descendant-family of the Prophet Muhammad, through Zainab, the daughter of Fathima.

23 gentlemen from the family of the Prophet were killed in the Battle of Karbala. Zainul Abideen didn’t participate in the battle, though the enemies tried to kill him through deceptions, but was in vain. Zainul Abideen had 11 sons and 4 daughters. Though Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet had migrated from Madina to Basra, in present-day Iraq, Zainul Abideen and other members of the Ahl al Bait returned to Madina after the Battle of Karbala. Zainul Abideen’s grand-grandson Muhammad and his son Isa al Naqeeb came back to Basra. After the demise of Isa al Naqeeb in Basra, his son Ahmad al Muhajir conducted a journey to Makkah and Madina with his sons and relatives. Later on, they settled in Husaiyya, in Hadarmouth region, in present-day Yeman. Ahmad al Muhajir’s sons Ubaidulla and Muhammad migrated from Husaiyya to Bait al Jubair and later to Tarim, the fatherland of the Alawi Sayyids all over the world.

W.H. Ingram, the British historian writes in his A Report on the Social Economic and Political Condition of the Hadarmouth: ‘The Sayyids of the Hadarmouth derive their descent from Ahmad bin Isa al Muhajir, who migrated to Hadarmouth from Basra and died there about 1050 year ago. His grave is on the right bank of the main Wadi Hadarmouth at al Hasisa, a few miles east of Seiyun. Many of families of Sayyids have hereditary chiefs bearing the title of mansab. They are recognized as spiritual leaders by the surrounding tribes and even by tribes far away.’ (pp. 36-37)

As the Sayyids were travel-lovers, they travelled much to everywhere with the spiritual and religious teachings. As the Hadramouth, or more specifically Tarim was a coastal area touching the Indian Ocean, Sayyids from there began to widen their travels from inland to ocean. Through the ocean each descendants of the Prophet, travelled all over the world and settled in different parts of the worlds. As ocean became their prime travel-route they mostly settled in coastal areas, and never went back to their homelands. They have voyaged to East Africa, West Asia, South Asia, South East Asia, and East Asia. Zanzibar, Morocco, Tunisia, Malabar, Malacca, Philippines, Malaysia, Java are some of the coastal areas with immense presences of the Sayyids.

Most of the coastal areas in the Indian Ocean had a strong Islamic community, through the influence of the Arab traders from long-centuries. Therefore, wherever these Sayyids arrived, they got good reception and recognition, as the descendants of the Prophet Muhammad. Utilizing this legal acceptance, Sayyids tried to reform the Muslim community and spread the message of Islam among other communities. They had some metaphysical powers which attracted the people, within and outside the Muslim community. They cured the diseases, gave-back the lost properties, and many other powers.

Ba Alavi Sayyids
The descendants of the Prophet were very later named after the grandfathers, as Arab genealogical culture used to. Therefore, the Sayyids themselves were divided to sub-clans in different names, according to the grandfathers. Kadhimi Jalaliyya, Ahdal, Shihabuddhin Jifri, Jamalul Laili, Hadi, Aidarusi, Dahlavi, Mashhur, Munaffar, Saqaf, Jeelani, Mushayyaq, Ba Abood, Rifaee, Ba Faqeeh, Al Faqeeh, Bil Faqeeh, Haddad, Vahthwi, Ba Hasan, Khareed, Musava, Siddheequi, Shathwiri, Sahir, Aideed, Alu Swalabiyyu, Maula al Daveela, Hibshi, Muqaisil, and Ba Abood are some of the sub-clans within the House of the Prophet.

Ba Alavis are the famous sub-clan among the Sayyids. There are various arguments about who are actually the Ba Alavis. Most of the traditional scholars and historians opine that the Ba Alavis are grandchildren of Sayyid Alavi bin Abdulla, the grandson of Ahmad al Muhajir. Some scholars argue that Ba Alavis are the grandchildren of Ali bin Abi Talib, the son-in-law of the Prophet, while some others say that they are the grandchildren of Ali bin Abi Talib in his wives other than Fatima. But, the first observation had widely accepted among the genealogists and traditional scholars.

The Ba Alavis had divided to two streams, in accordance with their decentness from Muhammad bin Ali of Mirbath, who is widely known as mujammaa’ al-ashraf (the central point of Sayyids). Muhammad bin Ali’s grand-family-members were divided to two streams after his demise:
1. Children and grand children of Muhammad Faqih al Muqaddam, son of Muhammad bin Ali. 2. Children and grand children of Alawi, brother of Muhammad bin Ali. On this basis, the descendants of Faqih al Muqaddam known as the First Streamers of Ba Alavis, and the descendants of Alawi known as the Second Streamers of the Ba Alavis. The families in the First Streamers are: 1. Descents of Muhammad Mauladdaveela, 2. Descents of Alavi bin Faqeeh, 3. Descents of Eid Roos, 4. Descents of Ali bin Abi Bakr Sakran, 5. Descents of Shihabuddeen, 6. Descents of Hasan bin Ali bin Abi Bakr Sakran, 7. Descents of Ahmad bin Abi Bakr Sakran, 8. Descents of Saqaf, 9. Descents of Atthwas, 10. Descents of Shaikh Abu Bakr bin Salim, 11. Descents of Abdulla Ba Alavi, 12. Descents of Ahmad bin Faqih al Muqaddam, 13. Descents of Alawi bin Ahmad, 14. Descents of Ali bin Faqih.

The families in the Second Streamers are:
1. Descents of Abdullah Ba Abood Magfoon, 2. Descents of Nudhair, 3. Descents of Haiqan, 4. Descents of Bin Sameeth, 5. Descents of Hashim, 6. Descents of Auhaj, 7. Descents of Masraf, 8. Descents of Taweel, 9. Descents of Haddad, 10. Descents of Baithi, 11. Descents of Fakhr, 12. Descents of Aideed, 13. Descents of Fudaili, 14. Descents of Ba Faqih Amm al Faqih. Besides these families there are more than three hundred other families from the House of the Prophet itself.

However, the Ba Alavis, (Banu Alavis or Alavis) were spread everywhere in Hadarmouth through Alavi bin Abdulla. Tarim, a coastal area near to Mukalla port in Hadarmouth became their major familial centre. According to Bigyath al Mustarshideen, there were around one lakh Ba Alavis in Hadarmouth in (1203 AH). 99 percent of the total population of Tarim was once only the Alavi Sayyids. As mentioned earlier, this Alavis utilizing their coastal connections and links with the mercantile groups, migrated to different parts of the world through Indian Ocean. With a strong notion of Islamic propagation and spiritual awakening of the Muslim community, Alavis traveled around the world, and reached even Cambodia, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Spain, India, Zanzibar, etc. As Malabar was one of the major coastal area and trading center in South Asia at that time, hundreds of Sayyids, especially Alavis arrived in Kerala.

Sayyids and Kerala
Though it’s difficult to trace out the accurate time period of Sayyids’ advent in Kerala, they might have reached here after the demise of Muhammad bin Ali of Mirbath in Oman. The migration of Alavis happened in a large margin from 117 AH onwards, as there were some political disturbances from the state against the Sayyids. The first round migrants into Kerala might be Sayyid Ali Shihabuddeen of Valapattanam, Shaikh Jifri of Calicut, and Jalaluddeen Bukhari.

As the historical records prove, the grandson of Muhammad bin Ali of Mirbath, Abdul Malik bin Alawi landed in India from Tarim at the end of sixth century AH. In the beginning of the seventh century AH, the children and grandchildren of Abdul Malik migrated from India to Combodia, China, and Thailand for religious missionary activities.

According to the earliest historical evidences for the stay of Sayyids in Malabar, four brothers namely Husain bin Ahmad, Usman bin Abdul Rahman, Muhammad bin Ahmad Kareesha, and Eid Ruoos bin Abdul Rahman also had landed in Kerala. They were sent for the religious propagation to the East Asian countries, and in the course of their journey they landed in Malabar and stayed here in Calicut and Quilandi for four years. During their stay, they met Shaikh Jifri of Calicut. Later on they went to the East Asia and stayed there till the last breath.
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