In our time we have many people who claim to be ‘Sayyed‘ and ‘Shareef‘ or ‘Sibt‘. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who genuinely belong to one of the above mentioned families but they are not aware of it. I just want to write very brief article about issues related to this category of people.
With regards to the ‘Ahl al–Bait‘ we have several terminologies – here are some of them:
- Ahl al-Bait: literally it means ‘member of house’ or relatives. This term refers to the members of the family of Prophet Muhammad PBUH. In the Hanafi school, which is the oldest and most widely followed of the Sunni schools of Islamic law, it is the title of the descendants of five people; Abbas and Harith, the two sons of Abdul-Muttalib, Uqail, Ja’far and Ali three sons of Abu Talib. The widespread meaning of ‘Ahl al-Bait‘ is the descendants of Hasan and Husain, the sons of Ali. Yet this is not the full meaning of the ‘Ahl al-Bait‘.
- Shareef: literally means ‘honoured person’. It is also used to refer to the members of Ahl Bait. Mainly used to mean the sons of Hasan – the son of Ali.
- Sayyed: literally means ‘the head of some group’. It is also used to mean members of Ahl Bait. Mainly it is used for the sons of Husain, son of Ali, but sometimes is used for sons of Hasan as the Prophet PBUH gave the title of ‘Sayyed‘ to Hasan.
- Sibt: literally it means daughter’s son (grandson from your daughter’s side). It is used for the person who’s father is not from Ahl Bait but their mother is. It is not used if someone’s grandmother is from Ahl Bait.
- Naqeeb al-Ashraaf: researchers that test the lineages of Ahl Bait.
In the last several articles I’ve displayed how truth gets lost because of sectarian, political or financial reasons. We saw that people who oppose the truth will try their best to hide it in the field of Islam such as Theology, Jurisprudence, History, Hadeeth etc…
Unfortunately, we have the same problem in the field of testing the lineage of Ahl Bait. There are two types of researchers in this subject. Firstly, the official institutes supported by governments, and the secondly individual researchers. Each of them are split into a lot of groups based on sectarian, political or some other reasons.
All of these reasons which create different groups and affiliations are potential causes of hiding the truth related to lineage. For example:
- If you take your family tree to some official institute, they will look at several issues before certifying your lineage. Issues such as, for example, you are a 4th generation grandson of a wealthy Shareef who left some ‘Waqf‘ it will mean that you officially being his relative will give you the right to get your monthly share from this Waqf. Based on that, the official institute will think twice before certifying your family tree. That’s because financial heritage of any country will be under control of the government. No one wants to have a deal with the government.
- Sometimes it could be that you belong to a Shareef family which is considered as ‘Politically disliked’ in your country. That will make the official institutes not certify your lineage. A good example of that is the lineage of Khomeini. A lot of Sunni official institutes don’t accept it.
- Sometimes it could be that you belong to a Shia Shareef family, so then there is big chance that your lineage will be rejected if you take it to anti-shia institutes or individuals.
- Sometimes it could be ignorance or heedlessness. For example, if some Shareef from Mauritania will bring his lineage to an institute in Iran, there will be a good chance of missing details that Mauritanian researchers may know.
I know quite few lineages which are rejected based on sectarian and political reasons. Right now I am not ready to clarify them, but hope I will contact the institutes that sentenced these lineages to be ‘Fake’.
The biggest problem in this field is that once your lineage is ‘sentenced’ to be weak or fake, it is nearly impossible to restore its reputation, even if it is an authentic family tree. That is because researchers all around the world have good contacts with each other. If one of them tests some family tree he will most likely exchange it with many researchers around the world.
Luckily, we have a list of authentic sources which can shed light on about 30 % of lineages, but yet a lot of it remains to be tested, compared and searched. There are a good number of experts of this field in Iraq, Iran, KSA and other parts of the world who are making a good contribution to this subject, but yet a lot to be done. On the other hand there are no solid sources to fund this research, that’s why 99% of researchers (official and private) charge the people. Some of them actually charge a lot of money, because testing a linage is very time consuming and very tiring. Unfortunately, we had cases with very famous personalities who bribed some researchers to certify a fake linage. It was in very huge amount of money (about $600 000). Now, this multimillionaire family is classed as Ahl Bait even though they are not.
Furthermore, this is yet another field where Muslims seem to have been left behind. Things have moved on, with DNA testing and the presence of genetic markers enabling testing for different markers that can be linked to certain ethnicities or even families. In fact, this kind of thing has become popular in the West, with kits even available online:http://dna.ancestry.co.uk/. I wonder if any attempt has been made to conduct any kind of analysis of genetic markers that might be common to Ahl Bait, to try and make the procedure more error and bias free and bring matters up to date. Given the length of time, perhaps these markers are not to be found or now too widespread, but who knows? Researchers in the West claimed to have discovered that perhaps 1 in 20 people is related to Genghis Khan for instance.
Anyway, this field of testing the lineages is in need of a lot of effort, and very long and tiring work based on honesty.