Sayid Jarrah is a middle-section survivor of Oceanic Flight 815. A courageous man and a competent leader, Sayid maintains a conservative manner which reflects both strength and spirituality, and tries to atone for the demons in his past. Through his skills and leadership, he plays a key role in the survival of his group, and exploring the Island's secrets.
Before the crash
The son of a celebrated Iraqi hero, Sayid Hassan Jarrah was born in 1969 in Baghdad. After attending Cairo University, Sayid served as a Communications officer in the Iraqi Republican Guard for 5 years (during which time he learnt crucial skills which would aid him on the Island). However, his time of duty was also the source of many tormenting memories.
During Desert Storm, Sayid's base was captured by the US forces. As the only English-speaking member of his unit, he was delivered to Sergeant Major Sam Austen. Sergeant Austen utilized Sayid in interrogating his commanding officer, Tariq, to find the location of a US pilot captured by his enemies. However, Sayid successfully evaded this task out of loyalty, despite Tariq's repeated humiliations during the process. Observing his reluctance, DIA operative Joe Inman conspired to gain Sayid's full cooperation, by showing him a video of his home village, attacked by nerve gas in an offensive that Tariq had ordered. After watching, the traumatized Sayid agreed to help, not knowing what awaited him: He was given a torture kit by Inman, with which he extracted from Tariq the burial location of the pilot. At the end of the war, Sayid was transported to an isolated desert area and released by Inman and Sam Austen. Before abandoning him in the desert with a large sum of money, Inman whispered to Sayid in Arabic that he would find his new skills in torture useful some day in the future. ("One of Them")
Condemning these skills that was forced upon him, Sayid returned to the Republican Guard after being released. However, he was soon promoted to the Intelligence division, and tasked with the interrogation of rebels and military prisoners through torture. On this duty, Sayid was reunited with Nadia, his long-lost childhood love, while imprisoned, and was tasked with her interrogation, after it came to light that she had been involved with an insurgent group in the country. However, the little time they had together only gave them a chance to reconnect, and caused Sayid to question his loyalties. When the orders of his superior officer, Omar, changed for her execution, Sayid found no resolution but to help her escape. In his attempt, Sayid had to shoot Omar, who caught up with him and Nadia. As a cover story, he shot himself as well in the leg, to let Nadia escape, aided with his gun. Before escaping, Nadia begged Sayid to come with her, and at his refusal she left him her photo with the Arabic inscription; "You will see me in the next life, if not in this one".("Solitary")
Sayid eventually left the Republican Guard and Iraq, setting on an overseas journey to find Nadia. 7 years later, in England, he was arrested at Heathrow Airport, before delivering him to CIA and ASIS officials. The agents offerred Sayid an exchange, where they would give him information about Nadia's whereabouts, but in return task him with infiltrating a terrorist cell in Sydney and recovering 300 pounds of stolen C-4 explosives. ("The Greater Good")
Sayid was tasked with infiltrating the terror cell because of his former college roommate from Cairo University, Essam, was known to be a member. Essam was eventually assigned to be the martyr on the operation, and designated to detonate the stolen C4 explosives. However, Essam confided to Sayid his strong doubts about the legitimacy and his role in the operation. At this knowledge, Sayid asked his informants to let him save Essam and bring him in. However, they refused and blackmailed Sayid into convincing Essam to go through with his mission, to enable the uncovering of the explosives' location.
Unable to stand his guilt, Sayid revealed his true role to Essam just before the mission was to begin, offering him time to escape. However, Essam was by this time unstable and distraught that he immediately shot himself in front of Sayid. Later, CIA Agent Cole informed Sayid that Nadia was living in Irvine, California, working as a Lab Tech. He was given a ticket for an Oceanic flight to Los Angeles Airport on September 21, 2004, but insisted on staying in Australia an extra day to arrange a proper Muslim burial for Essam. In Sydney airport, the following day, Sayid first met Shannon in the waiting area and asked her to watch his bag for a moment. However, she reported him to airport security as an "Arab man" who had left his bag unattended. After interrogation, airport security released him with apologies, and he successfully boarded Flight 815, where he sat in the last seat in business class, looking at photos of Nadia. ("Exodus, Part 2")
On the Island
After the crash, Sayid was the first target of blame for the survivors' misfortune, including accusations of being a terrorist and the US Marshal's prisoner from Sawyer. However, the early contributions of Sayid, facilitated by his military background, soon proved him to be a vital member of the group.
Employing his experience as a communications officer, Sayid repaired the transceiver recovered from the fuselage. He led an expedition to find high ground for receiving a signal. There, they picked up a looped French signal from the Island. Sayid deduced that it has been on a loop for 16 years, and fearing such information would take away the hope of the survivors, Sayid asked the expedition group to keep the information a secret. Later, Sayid attempted to locate the origin of the signal, but just as he began to pick up the signal again, he was knocked unconscious and his equipment smashed. Initially, he was led by Locke to believe that Sawyer might have been behind this sabotage, but much later Locke revealed himself to being the actual culprit.
When Sawyer fell under suspicion for hoarding Shannon's Asthma medicine, Sayid and Jack decided that they should use any means necessary to get it back from him. During an interrogation, Sayid tortured Sawyer, causing injury to his arm. When Kate then discovered Sawyer was innocent all along, Sayid was severely abashed, recalling his times as a torturer. This guilt led Sayid to leave his group on a solitary journey of redemption, under the pretense of attempting to map the Island.
While following the beach, Sayid found a cable, which led him straight into a trap set by Danielle Rousseau. Rousseau took Sayid to her dugout, and began to interrogate him. Finding himself on the receiving end of torture, Sayid was questioned, amongst other things, about the photo of Nadia which he carried. When Rousseau was distracted by noises outside the dugout, Sayid managed to escape, stealing Rousseau's maps and notes and bringing them back to camp. On his return journey, Sayid was surrounded by whispers, coming out from the jungle.
Back at camp, Sayid enlisted Shannon to help him translate the French markings on Rousseau's maps, and as they continued work together, Shannon and Sayid began to develop a relationship ("Whatever the Case May Be").
As they grew more intimate, Sayid was faced with a rising enmity from Boone, but eventually Boone relented for his own reasons. However, after Boone's death, Shannon asked Sayid to kill Locke, whom she blamed, and when he refused she attempted to shoot Locke herself. Sayid intervened, preventing her from killing him. A temporal breakup was then initiated between the couple by the resentful Shannon, during which Sayid led Charlie into the Jungle to pursue Rousseau, and got back Aaron who was kidnapped by her. At his safe return, Sayid was met by a worried Shannon who hurried to embrace him. ("Exodus, Part 2")
In the events of their confrontation with Desmond, Jack and Locke used Sayid's skills to repair the Swan's Computer. Later, Sayid continued his efforts to comfort Shannon over Boone's death by building her a beautiful tent, where they eventually made love on the same night. When Sayid returned after stepping out for a moment, Shannon claimed she had a vision of Walt. Gently, he conveyed his disbelief, but Shannon insisted and left him to search for Walt. Later, Sayid found Shannon in the jungle on her search, accompanied with Vincent. As they met, Sayid assured Shannon of his belief and love for her, when suddenly a vision of Walt, dripping wet, appeared to them both. As Shannon ran towards Walt, she was shot in the chest by Ana-Lucia Cortez, who emerged from the forest, thinking her to be an Other. Sayid held her as she died in his arms, and then buried Shannon the next day. After the accident, Sayid was filled with rage towards Ana, but when she later gave him the chance to kill her, he refused, adding that "we're both already dead".Much later, Sayid was led by Rousseau to a trap in which she had caught a man claiming to be an innocent castaway, named Henry Gale. In spite of Rousseau warnings, Sayid decided to save the man, and brought him back to the Swan. However, during a subsequent interrogation, Sayid started to believe the mysterious man to be one of the Others, whom by now he regarded as the actual culprits in Shannon's death.
In a fit of grieve and anger, the interrogation process soon changed into a torture, which was only stopped by a skeptical Jack. "Henry", however, had a story about a balloon crash site and his wife's burial there, so Sayid went with Ana Lucia and Charlie to verify this physical evidence, only to find the body of the real Henry Gale. In the following interrogation of the fake Henry, Sayid nearly shot him but was blocked by Ana Lucia. Later, in a conversation with Charlie, Sayid revealed that he introspectively knew "Henry" was lying all along, because while torturing him, he had felt no guilt.
When Michael returned and began planning for his return trip to retrieve Walt, Sayid became suspicious. Suspecting Michael's motivations may have been compromised by the Others, he brought this to the attention of Jack. However, he asked Jack to avoid an immediate confrontation, until a plan was developed. The return of Desmond provided a critical resource to use in gaining a speed advantage; the sailboat allowing Sayid to go by sea to the other side of the Island, surprising the Others.
Thus, Sayid set out on the sailboat to the Others' camp, with the help of Jin and Sun. While sailing, the three of them spotted the four-toed statue on the shore. When Sayid reached the Others camp he found it deserted. He opened "the Door" hatch and found it to be masking only a wall of solid rock. Sayid then created the signal fire as planned, and returned to the sailboat when the discharge occurred.
After a day of sailing around, looking for Jack and the Others, Sayid developed a new plan. He knew that their friends had likely been captured, so he placed a second signal fire as a lure to confront the Others at the Pala Ferry. However, the plan failed as the Others attacked by sea. By the time Sayid and Jin realized their mistake, the Others had already escaped on the sailboat, with Sun barely escaping the engagement with her life. On the shore, Sayid apologized for putting their lives in danger, and agreed to return to the main camp across the Island.
Back at the camp, Sayid met with Locke and Desmond, to discuss the rescuing of Jack and his captured group. He was asked by Locke to join him on his mission to the Pearl, as his knowledge of electronics would aid them in trying to fix the monitors.
At the station, Sayid managed to patch a feed from an unknown station into the monitors. On the monitor's activation, an eyepatched man appeared briefly, before his destruction of his station’s camera. The mechanical noises of the "Monster" were then heard from above, which caused the crew to rush upward. At their arrival, they found Eko mortally wounded. Disbelieving Locke's claim that Eko was likely killed by a Polar bear, Sayid insists on accompanying him on his journey back for shovels for the burial. Through his questioning of Locke, he ascertained that they were first taking "a detour" on their way back.
If Jack is a man of science, and Locke is a man of faith, Sayid is portrayed as a man of many skills. The importance of his skills, primarily, comes from its role in the Storyline, in which it is often employed in revealing new secrets of the Island. Many times, a secret was unfolded, as a result of an event triggered by one of these skills. Through the introduced secrets, new threads in the storyline are created that eventually help in its development.
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See main article: Islam section of Religion and Ideologies
Sayid is of Muslim faith, though how devout is uncertain. It seems, however, that his faith is a strong factor in helping him atone for what he did in his past. On the Island, he is seen occasionally practicing a number of Islamic rituals or taking faith-inspired actions. Whether Sayid's faith would play a role in the coming events, and complement that played by Locke or Mr. Eko, is still a matter of question.
- Sayid (Arabic: سيد ) is a common Arabic name meaning 'Master' or 'Lord' (Also often used in the Arabic language as an honorary title for addressing respected people and those of higher positions, much like 'Sir' or 'Mr.' in English). However, Sayid, as pronounced in the show, sounds more like the Arabic name spelled Said (Arabic: سعيد ) which ironically means someone who is happy / cheerful and lucky in life.
- Sayid's surname, Jarrah (Arabic: جراح), originally meant a 'Cutter' or a 'Wounder' in traditional Arabic, is currently the typical Arabic translation for the word 'Surgeon'.
- The names Sayid / Said hold a striking link to Palestinian-American Literary theorist, critic and philosopher Edward W. Said (Arabic: إدوارد سعيد ). Among other books on related topics, Edward W. Said wrote Orientalism; a book that reflects on Colonization and how the colonizers of a new land start to call the original habitants "the Other".
- Sayid is considered by many Lost fans to be the most level headed Lostie, and is highly regarded for being the best at judging characters, see: UrbanDictionary.com on Sayid.
- Sayid can be seen on the TV in the background of the U.S. Army Office where Kate's father works in the episode "What Kate Did".
- Sayid was the first member of the middle section group to hear the whispers (see Sawyer, Shannon, Charlie).
- In the beginning of the 2nd season finale, when everybody is running down the beach to the boat, you hear him say: "Perhaps it's Desmond." However, the DVD captions read, "Perhaps it's them".
- The name of Sayid's father, Hassan, as well as his own birth date and location were all obtained from his passport details as seen via the Oceanic Air Website
- Sayid served for 5 years in the Iraqi Republican Guard.
- Sayid searched for Nadia for 7 years.
- Contradicting his Muslim faith, Sayid & Shannon have premarital sex, which is forbidden in Islam. However, whether that means he is not very devout or the writers have made a mistake in writing the character remains to be seen.
- For fan theories about these unanswered questions, see: Sayid Jarrah/Theories
- How did Sayid learn to speak English so fluently, if not perfectly?
* To explore more of the Lost Themes related to Sayid's storyline, see also: