Assalam o alaikum mufti sahib, my question is regarding nasab.We call us as ‘syed’ and everyone in our family says that we are syeds.I know the names of my grand father,grand grand father and grand grand grand father,all of them were syeds and use to call themselves as syeds.But the problem is that we do not have the complete ‘shijra e nasab’ till prophet(peace be upon him).My question is that is it right for us to call us as ‘syed’
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
The word Sayyed as a prefix or suffix to one’s name generally implies to be
a descendant of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam). If you are unsure of being a descendant of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam), you should conduct a research to ascertain this. It is not permissible to associate oneself incorrectly to a lineage. It is mentioned in a Hadith;
عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ “ مَنِ ادَّعَى إِلَى غَيْرِ أَبِيهِ أَوِ انْتَمَى إِلَى غَيْرِ مَوَالِيهِ فَعَلَيْهِ لَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ الْمُتَتَابِعَةُ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ ”
Anas bin Malik (Radhiallahu Anhu) reported the Messenger of Allah (May peace be upon him) as saying: If anyone claims to be the son of a man other than his father (or ancestors), or attributes his freedom to people other than those who set him free, on him will be the curse of Allah that will continue till the day of resurrection. (Sunan Abi Dawud 5115)
A family lineage comes down from ancestors. If three generations of your ancestors regard themselves as Syeds, it is possible that it is borne and carried forward by them through their ancestors. While you should research the issue further, you may not possibly attain certainty as the family tree (shajara e nasab) is not available.
It is therefore best to exercise precaution by not referring yourselves as Syeds and also by not accepting Zakaat as the probability is that you all may be Syeds. A Syed cannot be given Zakaat due to the superiority of the family of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alahi Wa Sallam.
While being from the lineage of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) is indeed a great honour, the true honour and the most noble in the eyes of Allah Ta’ala is the one that possesses the most Taqwa and piety.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Mufti Arshad Ali
Darul Iftaa, Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad)
 شرح المشكاة للطيبي الكاشف عن حقائق السنن (7/ 2363)
((من ادعى)) ((نه)): الدعوة بالكسر في النسب، وهو أن ينسب الإنسان إلي غير أبيه وعشيرته، وقد كانوا يفعلونه، فنهي عنه، والادعاء إلي غير الأب مع العلم به حرام
This answer was collected from Fatwa-tt.com, which is operated by the Darul Iftaa of Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad and Tobago) under the advice and guidance of Mufti Ebrahim Desai (Daamat Barakaatuhum) of South Africa.