Sharif

Sharif

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Sharīf or Chérif is a traditional Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 tribal
Tribe
A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

 title
Title
A title is a prefix or suffix added to someone's name to signify either veneration, an official position or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may even be inserted between a first and last name...

 given to those who serve as the protector of the tribe and all tribal assets, such as property, wells, and land. In origin, the word is an adjective meaning "noble", "highborn". The feminine singular is sharifa(h) ( ). The masculine plural is Ashraf
Ashraf
Ashraf refers to someone claiming descent from Muhammad by way of his daughter Fatimah. The word is the plural of sharīf "noble", from sharafa "to be highborn"...

 ( ).

Primarily Sunnis
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 in the Arab world
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

 reserve the term sharif for descendants of Hasan ibn Ali
Hasan ibn Ali
Al-Hasan ibn ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib ‎ is an important figure in Islam, the son of Fatimah the daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and of the fourth Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib. Hasan is a member of the Ahl al-Bayt and Ahl al-Kisa...

, while sayyid
Sayyid
Sayyid is an honorific title, it denotes males accepted as descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his grandsons, Hasan ibn Ali and Husain ibn Ali, sons of the prophet's daughter Fatima Zahra and his son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib.Daughters of sayyids are given the titles Sayyida,...

is used for descendants of Husayn ibn Ali
Husayn ibn Ali
Hussein ibn ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib ‎ was the son of ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib and Fātimah Zahrā...

. Both Hasan and Husayn are grandchildren of Prophet Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

, through the marriage of his cousin Ali
Ali
' |Ramaḍān]], 40 AH; approximately October 23, 598 or 600 or March 17, 599 – January 27, 661).His father's name was Abu Talib. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam...

 and his daughter Fatima
Fatimah
Fatimah was a daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad from his first wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid. She is regarded by Muslims as an exemplar for men and women. She remained at her father's side through the difficulties suffered by him at the hands of the Quraysh of Mecca...

. However ever since the post-Hashemite era began, the term sayyid has been used to denote descendants from both Hasan and Husayn. Arab Shiites use the terms sayyid and habib to denote descendants from both Hasan and Husayn; see also ashraf
Ashraf
Ashraf refers to someone claiming descent from Muhammad by way of his daughter Fatimah. The word is the plural of sharīf "noble", from sharafa "to be highborn"...

.

From 1201 until the Hejaz
Hejaz
al-Hejaz, also Hijaz is a region in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia. Defined primarily by its western border on the Red Sea, it extends from Haql on the Gulf of Aqaba to Jizan. Its main city is Jeddah, but it is probably better known for the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina...

 was conquered by Ibn Saud in 1925, this family held the office of the Sharīf of Mecca
Sharif of Mecca
The Sharif of Mecca or Hejaz was the title of the former governors of Hejaz and a traditional steward of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina...

, often also carrying the title and office of King of Hejaz. Descendants now rule the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

, the name being taken from the Banu Hashim
Banu Hashim
Banū Hāshim was a clan in the Quraysh tribe. Muhammad, was a member of this clan; his great-grandfather was Hashim, for whom the clan is named. Members of this clan are referred to by the Anglicised version of their name as Hashemites, or Huseini or Hasani...

, the sub-tribe of Banu Quraish, to which Prophet Muhammad belonged.

In Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, several of the regnal dynasties have been qualified as "Sharifian", being descendants of Prophet Muhammad. The Saadian dynasty was issued from the Sharifian tribe of the Banu Said. Today's Alaouite dynasty
Alaouite Dynasty
The Alaouite Dynasty is the name of the current Moroccan royal family. The name Alaouite comes from the ‘Alī of its founder Moulay Ali Cherif who became Prince of Tafilalt in 1631. His son Mulay r-Rshid was able to unite and pacify the country...

 is also considered to be Sharifian.

The word has no etymological connection with the English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 term sheriff
Sheriff
A sheriff is in principle a legal official with responsibility for a county. In practice, the specific combination of legal, political, and ceremonial duties of a sheriff varies greatly from country to country....

, which comes from the Old English
Old English language
Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

 word scīrgerefa, meaning "shire-reeve", the local reeve
Reeve (England)
Originally in Anglo-Saxon England the reeve was a senior official with local responsibilities under the Crown e.g. as the chief magistrate of a town or district...

 (enforcement agent) of the king in the shire
Shire
A shire is a traditional term for a division of land, found in the United Kingdom and in Australia. In parts of Australia, a shire is an administrative unit, but it is not synonymous with "county" there, which is a land registration unit. Individually, or as a suffix in Scotland and in the far...

(county). Sharif, however, is the Arabic/Persian word for "honorable".