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Summary of question
What is the reason behind respecting the Seyeds? Is there a difference between the Seyeds and other people in their status in this world and the hereafter?
question
What guidelines are there in regard to treating the Seyeds? Is there a difference between the Seyeds and other people in their status in this world and the hereafter?
Concise answer

The word “Seyyed” means “sir”, “honorable” and “chief” and when used by Shias and in Farsi it refers to those who descend from the prophet through Lady Fatimah. However, individuals that descend from Imam Ali through Abbas Ibn Ali, Mohammad Bin Hanafiyya, Ja’far Tayyar and Aqil are also called Seyyed as a means of respect.

The main reason for respecting the Seyeds is the verse of Mawaddah, because friendship and love is an example of respect.

Also there are some guidelines mentioned in the ahadith in this regard.

However, this respect is a natural thing and a sign of having love and affection for the prophet. In other words, if someone loves another person, he will also have affection and respect for those related to him. As a result, respecting the Seyeds is a way of respecting the prophet and his aims and values.

Meantime, it is noteworthy that despite the fact that the Seyeds should be greatly respected due to their relationship with the prophet, but when it comes to Ahkam and religious duties all the of the prophet’s Ummah are equal and the Seyeds are not privileged over others

Detailed Answer

The word “Seyyed” means “sir” “honorable” and “chief” [1] and when used by Shias and in Farsi it refers to those who descend from the prophet through Lady Fatimah. However, individuals that descend from Imam Ali through Abbas Ibn Ali, Mohammad Bin Hanafiyya, Ja’far Tayyar and Aqil are also called Seyyed as a means of respect.[2]

Respecting the Seyeds from the Ahadith and Quran’s perspective

Islam respects all human beings, including non-Muslims, but it shows more respect for Muslims and believers, and from among the believers it has encouraged and emphasized on respecting the descendants of the prophet and the progeny of Lady Fatimah.

The verse of Mawaddah is one of the reasons behind such respect: “Say," I do not ask you any reward for it (Allah’s message) except love of my relatives (The Ahlul-Bayt).”[3] 

The main reason for such respect is the verse of Mawaddah which firstly covers the Ahlul-Bayt of the prophet, and also covers the Seyeds, the progeny of Lady Fatimah and the descendants of the Imams.

In this verse, Allah commands the prophet to tell the people to be friendly with his relatives and close ones, for this friendship is an example of respect.

Also, respecting the Seyeds has been greatly encouraged in the ahadith and on many occasions, some of which we will mention here:

1- The holy prophet stated: “I will be the intercessor of four groups of people even if they come to the field of Mahshar with the sins of all other people added up together; those who help my children and offspring, those who grant from their wealth to the those of my children that are poor, those who show friendship towards them with their tongues and hearts and those who try to satisfy the needs of those of my children that are exiled or expelled.”[4]

2- The prophet said: “Honor the good of my children because of Allah and the bad of them because of me.”[5]

3- Imam Sadiq said: “When the Day of Judgment comes, the announcer (Munadi) will call ‘O people! Be quiet for Muhammad will speak. Everyone will be quiet as the prophet moves and announces: O people! Whoever has done me a favor or good should come forward so that I return his favor. The people say: what favor or good have we done for you?  Instead the prophet and Allah have done these things for people. The prophet explains: whoever has given shelter to one of my children, done him good, given him clothes to cover himself or has given him food when he was hungry should come forward so that I return his favor. At this moment, the people who have done so stand up whereupon a voice from Allah calls: O Muhammad! My beloved one! I have left their reward to you. Place them in whichever part of paradise you wish. The prophet will place them in Wasilah, a place where they can see the prophet and his Ahlul-Bayt.”[6]

However, this respect is a natural thing and a sign of having love and affection for the prophet. In other words, if someone loves another person, he will also have esteem and respect for those that are related to him. As a result, showing respect for the Seyeds is a way of respecting the prophet and his aims and values.

The Seyeds and other people in this world and the hereafter

Despite the fact that the Seyeds should be greatly respected due to their relationship with the prophet, but:

1- When it comes to Ahkam and religious duties all the of the prophet’s Ummah are equal and the Seyeds are not privileged over others.and no one is excused from not carrying out his religious obligations. All people, whether they are among the Seyeds or not, are being tested at every moment by Allah and every person has his one set of deeds that he will be questioned for on the Day of Judgment.[7] 

2- Due to their relationship with the prophet, the Seyeds have a greater responsibility in regard to carrying out the Ahkam and religious duties.[8]



[1] Qurashi, Seyed Ali Akbar, Qamuse Quran, vol. 3, pg. 350, Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyyah, Tehran, Sixth Print, 1371 (solar calendar); Tirrihi, Fakhruddin, Majma’ al-Bahrain, vol. 3, pg. 71, Murtazavi Bookshop, Tehran, Third Print, 1375 (solar calendar); The Abjadi Arabic-Farsi Dictionary, pg. 507.

[2] Khamenei, Seyed Ali, Ajwibah al-Istiftaa’aat, pp. 216-217; Golpaygani, Seyed Muhammad Reza, Majma’ al-Masaa’il, vol. 1, pg. 392, Dar al-Quran al-Karim, Qom, Eighth Print, 1409 (AH).

[3] Shura:23.

[4] Thiqah al-Islam Kuleini, Al-Kafi, vol. 4, pg. 60, Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyyah, Tehran, 1365 (solar calendar).

[5] Thaqafi Tehrani, Muhammad, Tafsire Ravaane Jaavid, vol. 1, pg. 52, Burhan Publications, Tehran, Third Print, 1398 (AH).

[6] Wasaa’el al-Shia, vol. 16, pg. 333.

[7] Majma’ al-Masaa’el, vol. 1, pg. 393.

[8] Majma’ al-Masaa’el, vol. 1, pg. 393.

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