Shaikh, also rendered as Sheikh, Sheik, Shaik, Shaykh, Shaikh, Shekh, Cheikh, Šeih, Šejh, Şeyh and other variants (Arabic: شيخ, shaykh; pl. شيوخ shuyūkh), is a word or honorific term in the Arabic language that literally means "elder." It is commonly used to designate an elder of a tribe, a revered wise man, or an Islamic scholar. Although the title generally refers to a male, a small number of female sheikhs have also existed in history.
In South Asia it is not an ethnic title but an occupational title generally attributed to Muslim trading families. The descendants from arab usually carries the title Shaikh. After the advent of Islam in South Asia, (Brahmins, Rajputs, Khatris, Kayasthas and vaishya) tribes also converted to Islam and adopted the title. In South Asia, the Hindu Brahmins, Kshatriya, Rathores, Bhattis, Chauhans, manihar and other Rajput converted by different Ismaili Pirs to Islam. Ismaili Pirs gave the new converts the hereditary title of Shaikh as well as the Muslims who immigrated from Central Asia and settled in Punjab adopted this title.
The subdivisions of the Shaikh include:
- Shaikh Qidwai, descendants of the Qazi Qidwa, a son of the Sultans of Rum
- Shaikh Hashmi, members of the Banu Hashim clan of the Banu Quraish tribe. The Islamic prophet, Muhammad belonged to this clan. Usually carry the title Sayyid or Sharif
- Shaikh Abbasi[disambiguation needed] descendants of Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib
- Shaikh Siddiqui, descendants of Abu Bakar, the first Khalifa of Islam
- Shaikh Usmani (Osmani), descendants of Uthman Ibn Affan the third Khalifa of Islam
- Shaikh Farooqi, Honorific reverence to Umar Farooq Bin Al-Khattab
- Shaikh Quraishi, members of Banu Quraish tribe prophets belong to this tribe only.
- Javed Sheikh, Pakistani Actor.
- Farooq Sheikh, Indian actor (Bollywood and theatre), television presenter and philanthropist.
- Shaikh Ayaz, Sindhi poet of Pakistan.
- Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bengali statesman and leader of the Bangladesh independence movement.
- Sheikh Abdullah Kashmiri politician and statesman.
- Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad Pakistani Politician
- Sindhi Shaikh
- Punjabi Shaikh
- Muslim Kayasths
- Kashmiri Shaikhs
- Gujarati Shaikh
- Rajasthani Shaikh
- Shaikh of Bihar
- Shaikh of Uttar Pradesh