THE WORD OF THE MONTH : THE HASHEMITES. THE HASH…WHAT??
5 February 2018
Let’s begin this new category “word of the month” with a quite important word, at least as far as Jordanian are concerned. Please forgive me for my bad english, as I write my posts in french, and (try to) translate in english afterwards.
As some of you may have noticed, we now have the privilege to leave in the HASHEMITE Kingdom of Jordan, not only the Kingdom of Jordan.. Hashemite, hashemite…what does it stand for, exactly?
Let’s start by cutting short the smoky dreams of some of you. No, bro’, you don’t spell hashemite “ASH E-MEAT”, or even worse “HASCH & MEET”.
Hashemite, so…What is that, except the official name of a Kingdom whose current king Abdallah the 2nd, in the right line of his ascendants, appears to be the 41st direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad? Now this becomes interesting : in Islam, Muhammad, who died in 632 AD is also the grand-grand son of a wise man called….Hashem. This means that the current King of Jordan is actually the 43rd descendant of this Hashem, who would have so given his name to the reigning family of Jordan..
The hashemite dynasty: a family story…
Hashem, whose full name was Hashem ibn abd Manaf, was himself the son of abd Manaf (the grand-grand-grand father of Muhammad…)
Easy until now, huh? OK, here’s a tip to help you to understand the names in arabic : you can easily understand who is who by observing the way each name is structured. In fact, there are 2 main things : (1) “family” names actually don’t really exist, only first names or tribes names (we’ll go deeper in another post because there are many subtelties when you get really into it), and (2) every man is the son (“ibn, bin, or ben “) of his/her parents, and sometimes, also the happy father (“abu”) of somebody else…
Now, you might wonder why is it that the current dynasty isn’t designed as “MUHAMMADITE”, of course the most prestigious name in arabic as it related to the Prophet himself, or even as “MANAFITE”, since the dynasties are supposed to take the name of the first character of the line? (by the way, the name of abd Manaf was Qusay….and Qusay’s father was Fihr…And Fihr’s father was…OK, I stop now).
Several answers can be provided to that puzzling plot, that undoubltedly gives you insomnias :
- Hashem created the clan, which took the name from him…the clan called “Banu Hachem” in arabic. Had his father creatd the clan, the full name of Jordan would now be the”Hanafide Kingdom of Jordan”… So why Hashem, and not someone else? It appears that Hashem was actually a excellent leader, he was efficient and charismatic. In arabic, the connotation of “Hashem” has to do with breaking something, such as the bread, for example. In the second half of the VIst century, Hashem had gained the reputation of developping the local economy and fulfilling the needs of his peers. It sounds thus reasonable to imagine that he managed to build a clan around him amongst the “Qoraish” tribe (we’ll shortly get back to it ! ) , along with 11 other clans. Having said that, you might want to know that the line of Hashem (and Muhammad) could be mapped far before, until 122 BC. And the first ancestor of the line was Adnan, the mythical ancestor of all the “Arabs of the North” , that is to say, the Hedjaz, in the North Western part of Saudi Arabia.
Just check it out:(i’s in french, but if you complain too much, I’ll put it in arabic):
- Hard to claim an ascendance to Muhammad as a “starting point” of the family. Despite the prestige itself, Muhammad has had 7 children, his daughter Fatima was actually the only one who had children (by the way, this why the term “fatimide” was used to designate one arab caliphate…). And in the clanic and tribal arabic system, the power is transmitted on a patrilinear pattern. This is not specific to the Arabs, as this system also works in most of the European Royal societies – and even in Game of Thrones (so sorry for Deynerys).
The right stuff?
So? Where we at now?
I don’t want to make an awkward pun, but being able to claim a ascendance to Hashem represents for the arab-muslims the equivalent of the Saint-Graal (OK, now that was an awkaward pun). Today, there is no legitimacy which could be higher than this. The well-know Umayyads are not that far (one generation below Hashem . Hashem’s Nephew, more precisely). However, Umayyads cannot’ claim to be issued by the same blood of the Prophet.
Wait wait wait… (the article is almost over, you’ll soon be able to grab an aspirin). Please be sure that 43 generations and 1500 years after Hashem, many people try to claim to be issued from the same prestigious line than the Prophet! By the way, this is what the indescribable Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a.k.a.the self-proclaimed Caliphe of the Islamic State, tried to appear as a far descendant of Mohammad’s tribe. Yes, to be a caliphe, and amongst other things, you are supposed to belong to the Qoraish tribe.
This is why it is so important to identifiy those who are actually the direct descendants of the Prophet. Basically, by separating the descendants of the cousins, little cousins (etc) of the Prophet….from the children of his own line (is daughter Fatima, his two only sons Hassan and Hussein, etc.). For the latters, we’ll use the term “SHARIFIAN“. This why the reigning family of Jordan is also Sharifian. Does it ring a bell? Morocco…Sharifian…Muhammad 6th…
Here we are! Now you’ve just came to realized that the kings of Jordan and Morocco are cousins..and that they also are the only current arab leaders with an unquestionnable legitimacy on a religious prospective. In the past, that small circle also included the libyan el-Sanoussi family, but it was overthrown in 1969 by the young Mouammar Kadhafi…by the way, “.
What about today?
Let’s make it short between the XIth century and the beginning of the 20th century. During all this period, the Hashemites were “the custodians of the two Holy mosques”. They were also “the great sharifs of Mecca” (yes, “sharif”, again ! By the way, Sharif” in arabic, basically stands for noble or respectable. Caliphes and sultans, were – or were not -hachemites and sharifians, depending of the periods.
And then, things gained momentum, mainly
thanks to because of the British.
In 1915, different exchanges of letters known as ” Mac Mahon-Hussein correspondence” created amongst the Hashemites a great hope, with the idea of letting them create an arabic state once the Ottoman empire would have been pushed away from the region.
In may 1916, the Sykes-Picot agreement (yes, guys, sometimes, french and british can actually agree on something) implemented the first doubts about the viability of the Hashemite project…But because the Sykes-Picot agreement was supposedly secret, eveyone justd decided to let the Hashemites do the job against the Turks…and thus postponed to solve the issues raised by this new Levant partition between the french and the british.
Meanwhile, between june 1916 and 1918, the indisputable success of the Arab Revolt continued to nourrish the hopes of Hussein and its people, of ruling an actual state, in addition to their religious legitimacy on the holy mosques. In other terms, to make the linkage between the temporal and the intemporal powers. But it just didn’t work this way.
In 1924, the Hashemites were wiped out from Mecca by their Hedjaz rivals, the Ibn Saoud. Please note that said Ibn Saoud were also supported….by the british government. Stakes were high : national influence had to be defended against others, and the oil industry was already of a strategic importance. Thus, it was assessed as a necessity to have several strings on its bow… (and, to keep it simple, I didn’t even mentionned the Balfour declaration).
Driven from the South (the Saudis ! ) , bloked at the West (with this new idea of a jewish national home), prevented from the North (France got in 1920 an mandate on Syria and Lebanon from the League of Nations ), the Hashemite finally ended up in Trans-Jordania, then in Jordania as of 1946.
Nowadays, his majesty the King Abdallah 2 rules the Hachemite Kingdom of Jordan, as the 43th direct descendant of Hashem. And, having a short glance on the genealogical tree below, the male succession is definitely here. 🙂
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