My brothers and sisters:
The word, Sayyid - also spelt Syed, is an Arabic word literally meaning - master, leader, employer, etc.
The word Sayyid / Syed as a prefix or suffix to one's name generally implies to be a descendant of Rasulullah SAW. However, as a rule of thumb, and for our understanding that is not a general principle.
If a person does not know whether he/she is a descendant of Rasulullah SAW, then he/she should research that. Nevertheless, there is no prohibition in any person's family name being 'Syed' or 'Sayyid' and any existing identity does not need to be removed.
Who exactly are the Ahlul Bayt?
Many people get confused and they tend to link the Ahlul Bayt with the "12 Imams" of the Shi'ahs. This is incorrect. Further on people get confused - are Ahlul Bayt only from the progeny of Fatimah RA, daughter of Rasulullah SAW, or more than just from her e.g. like Abdullah ibn Abbas RA?
To begin, please first of all note that the uses 'Ahl' and 'Al' are the same in meaning. However, Ibn Manzur RA said in Lisan Al-Arab that - 'Al' is nobler in usage. Note that in Arabic, a man's "bayt" denotes his wife, and that is also one of the meanings of a man's "ahl". That is why we see many Muslim men too, especially da'ies refer to their wife as "Ahlia" when speaking about her to others. Nevertheless, under both entries - "al" means "ahl" in all the senses of "family", "relatives", and "wives".
The following terms all have the same meaning:
(a) Ahl al-Bayt - "People of the House";
(b) Al Al-Nabi - "Family of the Prophet SAW";
(c) Al Bayt Al-Nabi - "Family of the House of the Prophet SAW";
(d) 'Itrat Al-Nabi - "(People of the) Mantle of the Prophet".
However, in common usage, (a) and (b) have a more restrictive meaning, coinciding with (i) below, whereas (b) and (c) is more inclusive, usually coincide with (i), (ii), and (iii). The term "Al Al-Nabi" is the most inclusive of all, since Imam Nawawi RA reports among its meanings: "All of the Community." This can be referred to in his kitab - Tahdhib Al-Asma' Wa Al-Lughat as well as his Tahrir Al-Tanbih.
The People of the House of the Prophet Muhammad SAW are those for whom it is unlawful to receive zakat and whom the Prophet SAW ordered all Muslims to respect, honour, and follow.
(i) Ali ibn Abi Talib RA, Fatimah binti Muhammad RA, Hasan RA, and Husayn RA (in addition to their descendants: Muhassan RA, Zaynab RA, and Umm Kulthum RA; as well as other children of Ali RA and Fatimah RA).
Among the children of Al-Hasan RA are: Zayd RA, Al-Qasim RA, Abu Bakr RA, Abdullah RA, Umar RA, Al-Hasan RA, Abdur Rahman RA, Al-Husayn RA, Amr RA, Muhammad RA, Ya'qub RA, Ja'far RA, Hamzah RA, and Talha RA.
Among the children of Al-Husayn RA are: Abu Bakr RA, Abdullah RA, Ali Al-Kabir RA, Ali Zainal Abidin RA, Umar RA, Fatimah RA, Sukayna RA, Zaynab Al-Sughra RA, and Umm Kulthum Al-Sughra RA.
(ii) The wives of the Prophet Muhammad SAW, except that zakat is lawful for them by consensus, as reported by Hafiz Ibn Hajar RA in Fathul Bari from Ibn Battal RA. They are:
1. Khadijah binti Khuwaylid RA. She gave birth to: Al-Qasim RA, Abdullah RA, Zaynab RA, Fatimah RA, Ruqayyah RA and Umm Kulthum RA;
2. Sawda binti Zam'a RA;
3. A'ishah binti Abu Bakr As-Siddiq RA;
4. Hafsah binti Umar RA;
5. Zaynab binti Khuzaymah RA;
6. Umm Salamah, Hind binti Umayyah RA;
7. Zaynab binti Jahsh RA;
8. Juwayriyah binti Al-Harith RA;
9. Safiyyah binti Huyayy RA;
10. Umm Habibah binti Abi Sufyan RA;
11. Maymunah binti Al-Harith RA; and
12. Maria Al-Qibtiyya RA, she gave birth to Ibrahim RA.
(ii) The Banu Hashim and the Banu Al-Muttalib. Except that zakat may be given to the wives of the Banu Hashim and to the freedmen of Banu Al-Muttalib, by consensus as stated by Ibn Battal RA, as related by Shawkani RA in Nayl Al-Awtar and by Imam Nawawi RA in Sharh Sahih Muslim.
Allah mentions in the Qur'an of the People of the House:
"Allah's wish is but to remove uncleanness far from you, O Folk of the Household, and cleanse you with a thorough cleansing." (Surah 33: Ayat 33)
Umm Salamah RA related that when that verse was revealed, the Prophet SAW surrounded with his garment Ali RA, Fatimah RA, Al-Hasan RA, and Al-Husayn RA, and said:
"O Allah! These are the People of my House, therefore remove uncleanness far from them and cleanse them with a thorough cleansing."
Ahmad ibn Hanbal RA narrated it in his Musnad with six chains, also Imam Tirmidhi RA with several chains and he qualified this narration as Hasan Sahih. This narration has also been preserved by Al-Hakim RA, and At-Tabarani RA.
Imam Muslim RA, Imam Tirmidhi RA, Al-Hakim RA, and others also narrated that when Allah SWT revealed the verse:
"... say (unto him): Come! We will summon our sons and your sons, and our women and your women, and ourselves and yourselves, then we will pray humbly (to our Lord) and (solemnly) invoke the curse of Allah upon those who lie." (Surah 3: Ayat 61)
Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqqas RA said:
"The Prophet (SAW) summoned Ali, Fatimah, Hasan, and Husayn, and said: "O Allah! These are my Family." ("allahumma ha'ula'u ahli.")
Allah SWT has given the People of the House the right to 'fay' and 'khumus' when He said:
"That which Allah giveth as spoil unto His Messenger from the people of the townships, it is for Allah and His Messenger and for the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer..." (Surah 59: Ayat 7)
"And know that whatever ye take as spoils of war, lo! a fifth thereof is for Allah, and for the Messenger and for the kinsman (who hath need) and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer." (Surah 8: Ayat 41)
The Prophet Muhammad SAW said:
"I am leaving among you the two weighty matters: Allah's Book and the People of my House." (Riwayat Muslim, Tirmidhi, and Ahmad)
Some of these narrations state:
"I am leaving among you the two weighty matters: Allah's Book and (the People of) my mantle: these two shall never part ways until they come to me at the Pond. Therefore attend to how you act with them after me."
The dictionary Mu' Jam Maqayis Al-Lugha defines a man's " 'itra" (mantle) as:
"His relatives, such as his children, grandchildren, and paternal cousins."
From Hasan ibn Ali RA, Umm Kulthum RA daughter of Ali RA, and others:
"Sadaqah is not lawful for the family of Muhammad (SAW)."
Below is as narrated by Imam Bukhari RA in his book of zakat, Ahmad RA through five chains and Al-Darimi RA in his Sunan, book of Solat; Ahmad RA in his Musnad and Imam Muslim in his Sahih narrated from Zayd ibn Arqam RA, also Al-Hakim RA, Ibn Hibban RA, Al-Darimi RA, Al-Bazzar RA, and Al-Tabarani RA:
"The Messenger of Allah stood to speak to us beside a pond which is known as Khum, located between Makkah and Madinah. He praised Allah and admonished us to remember Him, then said: "O people! I am a human being and the time is near when my Lord's Messenger shall come to me (with death) and I shall answer him. Behold! I am leaving among you two weighty matters. The first of them is the Book of Allah, in which is the guidance and the light; and the People of my House. I remind you by Allah of the People of my House! I remind you by Allah of the People of my House! I remind you by Allah of the People of my House!"
Huswayn ibn Sabra RA said to Zayd RA:
"Who are the People of his House, O Zayd? Are not his wives among the People of his House?" Zayd replied: "His wives are the People of his House, however, the People of his House are those for whom sadaqah is unlawful after the Prophet (SAW)."
Huswayn RA said:
"And who are they?"
"The family of Ali, the family of Aqil (a son of Abu Talib), the family of Ja'far (another son of Abu Talib), and the family of Abbas. Sadaqah is unlawful for all of these."
The above hadith is not in Tirmidhi. The version narrated by Imam Tirmidhi RA (where he qualified is as: hadith hasan gharib) states that Zayd ibn Arqam RA said that the Messenger of Allah said:
"I am leaving among you that which, if you hold fast to it, you will never go astray after me. One of them is greater than the other: that is, the Book of Allah, the rope that is extended down from the heaven to the earth; and my mantle - the People of my House. These two shall never part ways until they both come to me at the Pond. Therefore attend to how you act with them after me."
Thus, we are ordered to invoke blessings on the Family of the Prophet Muhammad SAW including his wives.
When the Companions asked the Prophet SAW how they should invoke blessings on him, he said:
Say: "O Allah, bless Muhammad, his wives, and his offspring as you blessed Ibrahim; and further grant blessing on Muhammad, his wives, and his offspring, as you granted blessing on Ibrahim. Verily, Yours is all the Majesty and Glory." (This is similar to the salawat that we recite after Shahadah in Tahiyyat in Solat.)
It is narrated by Imam Bukhari RA with two chains, Imam Nasa'i RA, Imam Abu Dawud RA, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal RA, Imam Ibn Majah RA, and Imam Malik RA that:
Abu Ya'la RA narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (SAW) said:
"The best among you are the best towards my family after me."
Al-Haythami cited it in Majma Al-Zawa'id and said: "Abu Ya'la narrates it and its narrators are all trustworthy."
Abdullah ibn Abbas RA said that the Messenger of Allah said:
"Allah divided people into two groups, and He put me in the best group. Allah talks of 'The Companions of the Right' and 'the Companions of the Left.' I am among the Companions of the Right and I am the best of the Companions of the Right. Then He divided the two groups into three and put me in the best of the three. He says, 'The Companions of the Right and the Companions of the Left and the Outstrippers, the Outstrippers.' (Surah 56: Ayat 9)
I am among the Outstrippers and I am the best of the Outstrippers. Then He divided the three into tribes and He put me in the best tribe. Allah says, 'We have appointed you races and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed the noblest among you is the most Godfearing. Allah is Knowing, Aware.' (Surah 49: Ayat 13)
I am the most Godfearing of the sons of Adam and the noblest in the sight of Allah, and it is no boast. Then He divided the tribes and put me in the best house. He says, 'Allah only desires to remove impurity from you, People of the House, and to purify you. (Surah 33: Ayat 33) (Riwayat At-Tabarani and Al-Bayhaqi)
The following is from Ash-Shifa of Qadi 'Iyad RA in the chapter - "Devotion to his family, descendants and wives":
"Part of respect for the Prophet (SAW) and devotion to him is devotion to his family, his descendants and his wives, the Mothers of the Believers, as he urged and as the Salaf did."
"Allah wants to remove impurity from you, people of the House."(Surah 33: Ayat 33)
"His wives are their mothers." (Surah 33: Ayat 6)
Zayd ibn Arqam RA related that the Messenger of Allah said:
"I implore you by Allah! The people of my House!" three times . We asked Zayd who constituted the people of his House and he said, "The family of Ali by the People of his House, and he said, "The family of Ali, the family of Ja'far (a son of Abu Talib); the family of Aqil (another son of Abu Talib); and the family of Al-Abbas." (Riwayat Muslim)
Our pious Ulama have given simple guidance to us, that recognition of the Ahlul Bayt means recognising their place in relation to the Prophet Muhammad SAW; and brings with it recognition of rights and respect that are due to them because of it.
Umar ibn Abi Salama RA said:
"The ayat: 'Allah wants to remove impurity from you, People of the House.' ( Surah 33: Ayat 33) - was revealed in Umm Salamah house. The Prophet (SAW) summoned Fatimah, Hasan, and Husayn and enfolded them in a garment and Ali was behind him. Then he said, "O Allah! These are the People of my House, so remove all impurity from them and purify them completely!" (Riwayat Tirmidhi)
Saad ibn Abi Waqqas RA said:
"When the ayat of mutual cursing was revealed - ("And whosoever disputes with you concerning him after the knowledge that has come to you, say, 'Come, let us call our sons and your sons, our wives and your wives, our selves and your selves, then let us humbly pray and so lay the curse of Allah upon the ones who lie." (Surah 3: Ayat 61) ) - was revealed, the Prophet (SAW) called Ali, Hasan, Husayn and Fatimah, and said, "O Allah! These are my family." (Riwayat Muslim)
The Prophet Muhammad SAW said about Saiyidina Ali:
"Whoever has me for a master, Ali is his master. O Allah, befriend the one who befriends him and oppose the one who opposes him!" ( Riwayat Ahmad ibn Hanbal RA)
The Prophet Muhammad SAW also said to Saiyidina Ali RA:
"Only a believer will love you and only a hypocrite will hate you." (Riwayat Muslim)
Rasulullah SAW said to Al-Abbas RA:
"By the One who has my soul in His hand, belief will not enter a man's heart until he loves Allah and His Messenger. Whoever harms my uncle has harmed me. A man's uncle is like his father." (Riwayat Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)
Nabi Muhammad SAW also said to Al-Abbas RA:
"Feed Ali with your children, my uncle."
Then he gathered them and wrapped them with his robe, saying:
"This is my uncle and my father's twin and these are the people of my house, so veil them from the Fire as I am veiling them."
The lintel of the door and the walls of the house said, "Ameen! Ameen!" (Riwayat Bayhaqi)
Nabi Muhammad SAW used to take the hand of Usama ibn Zayd RA and Al-Hasan RA and say:
"Love them, O Allah, for I love them." (Riwayat Bukhari)
Saiyidina Abu Bakr As-Siddiq RA said:
"Respect Muhammad by respecting the People of his House." (Riwayat Bukhari)
Saiyidina Abu Bakr As-Siddiq RA also said:
"By the One who has my soul in His hand, the near kin of the Messenger of Allah are dearer to me than my own kinsfolk." (Riwayat Bukhari)
The Prophet Muhammad SAW said:
"Allah loves those who love Hasan." (Riwayat Tirmidhi)
The Prophet SAW also said: "Whoever loves these two (Al-Hasan and al- Husayn)."
The Prophet SAW said:
"Whoever demeans Quraysh, Allah will demean him." (Riwayat Tirmidhi)
The Prophet SAW said:
"Give preference to Quraysh and do not precede them." (Riwayat Al-Bazzar)
Rasulullah SAW said to Umm Salamah:
"Do not injure me by injuring A'ishah." (Riwayat Bukhari)
Uqba ibn Al-Harith RA sai:
"I saw Abu Bakr putting Al-Hasan on his shoulders, saying, "By my father, he resembles the Prophet! He does not resemble Ali!" Ali was laughing."
It is related that Abdullah ibn Hasan ibn Husayn RA said:
"I came to Umar ibn Abdul Aziz when I was in need of something and he said, 'If you have need, then send for me or write to me. I am ashamed before Allah to see you at my door."
(That is - even though he was the Khalifah, he was ashamed to have someone from the Prophet SAW's family asking for something in public)
Ash-Shab'i RA said:
"Zayd ibn Thabit prayed in his mother's funeral prayer and then brought his mule near so he could mount it. Abdullah ibn Abbas came and took hold of the stirrup. Zayd said - 'Let go, nephew of the Messenger of Allah!' He said, 'This is the way we act with men of knowledge.' Then Zayd kissed the hand of Ibn Abbas. He said, 'This is the way I was commanded to act with the people of the House of the Prophet.' "
Al-Awza'i RA said:
"The daughter of Usama ibn Zayd, the Prophet's Companion, went to see Umar ibn Abdul Aziz. A mawla of hers was with her holding her hand. Umar rose for her and walked to her and put her hand in his and then placed his hand on his garment. Then he walked some way with her, sat her in his own place and then sat down in front of her. He did not leave any request she had ungranted."
When Umar ibn Al-Khattab RA allotted his son - Abdullah three thousand and Usama ibn Zayd three thousand five hundred, Abdullah said to his father, "Why did you give him more than me? By Allah, he did not get to the battle ahead of me! He said, Because Zayd was dearer to the Messenger of Allah than your father, and Usama was dearer to him than you, so I preferred the love of the Messenger of Allah to my love."
Mu'awiyah RA heard that Kabis ibn Rabi'a RA resembled the Messenger of Allah SAW. When he came to him, he got up from his seat, met him and kissed him between the eyes and gave him Al-Mirghab (A very valuable piece of land.) as a fief because of his resemblance to the Messenger of Allah SAW.
It is related that when Ja'far ibn Sulayman (Abbasid governor of Madinah for the Khalifah - Ja'far Al-Mansur; a descendant of Al-Abbas) flogged Malik ibn Anas RA(Imam Malik RA) and he was carried out unconscious, the people came in to him. He regained consciousness and said, "I testify to you that I have made my flogging a lawful act!" Later he was asked about that and said, "I am afraid of dying and meting the Prophet with the shame that one of his family entered the Fire because of me."
Such was the piety of Imam Malik bin Anas RA.
It is said that Khalifah Al-Mansur said that he could take retaliation on Ja'far (upon knowing of the brutal punishment of Imam Malik RA). Imam Malik said to him, "I seek refuge in Allah! every time the whip left my body I made it lawful because of his kinship to the Messenger of Allah."
Abu Bakr ibn Ayyash RA said:
"If Abu Bakr, Umar and Ali had come to me, I would have begun with what Ali needed first. Because of his kinship to the Messenger of Allah I would rather fall from heaven to earth than prefer them to him."
Someone said to Abdullah ibn Abbas RA:
"So-and-so has died", referring to one of the Prophet's wives.
He prostrated and people asked him:
"Do you prostrate at this hour?"
"What sign could be greater than the departure of one of the wives of the Prophet?"
(This is a reference to the prayer that is performed during an eclipse of the sun or moon.)
When Halimah As-Sa'diyyah (The Prophet Muhammad SAW's wet-nurse) came to the Prophet SAW, he spread out his cloak for her and took care of what she needed. When the Prophet SAW died, she came up to Abu Bakr RA and Umar RA and they did the same for her.
Blessings and peace upon the Prophet Muhammad SAW, his Family, Wives, and Children, and his Companions. May Allah grant us to love Him, His Prophet SAW, all His Prophet's Companions RA, as well as to love the People of the House of the Prophet, and may He raise us under his banner and enter us into Paradise with the Pious: the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs, and the Righteous; what an excellent company! And praise belongs to Allah.