Ethnic Arab communities in medieval India originate mainly from the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf. Among these Arabs, the ones that gained widespread fame within India and abroad were the Sayyids of Hadhramaut, descendants of Prophet Muhammad, through his daughter Fatima. Many of these Hadhrami Sayyids achieved rapid upward social mobility in India through their ascribed status as the Prophet's descendants, as exemplars of good Muslims, and as preachers and teachers of Islam in a non-Muslim environment. However, migration to India at the dawn of the modern era heralded changes in their traditional status and occupation. The sources of this article are primary works in Arabic, Persian and, Urdu, supplemented with interviews and field observations.