The authenticity of the Hashimite lineage ...
The story of the Hashimites dates back over fourteen hundred years to the lifetime of Hashim, great-grandfather of the Prophet Muhammad (d.632 A.D.) and grandfather of Abbas, the forerunner of the Abbasid caliphs. Though the authenticity of this lineage cannot be proved beyond question, most Muslims have always accepted it; and it is this traditional consensus that legitimised the ascendancy of the Hashimites in the Holy land of the Hijaz for over six centuries until their expulsion by the father of the present Saudi Arabian monarch in 1925.
As Sharifs - or, more properly, Amirs - of Mecca, they directed the vast concourse of pilgrims that flocked to Mecca and Medina each year from every corner of the Islamic world. Arch-predators among the devout masses, they were nonetheless deeply revered. Until simpler fashions took hold during the Sharifate of ´Aun al-Rafiq (1882-1905), they were overwhelmingly formidable and impressive figures. Indeed no one privileged to observe them in those earlier centuries ever forgot the sight of a Grand Sharif in his ceremonial gold-embroidered robes and elaborate turban processing through the Grand Mosque beneath the huge umbrella of State, surrounded by his trumpeters, bodyguards, reciters of the Qur´an and African slaves.
The Emirate of Mecca
It was after the outbreak of the First World War when Sharif Hussein began to make secret approaches to the British, that his personal, long-term ambitions were revealed. These communications with British officials and the later story of the Arab Revolt form the substance of the first five volumes of this work. After the success of the Revolt and the defeat of Germany and Turkey, Sharif Hussein was understandably angered and embittered by Britain´s failure to honour her promises in full regarding Hashimite rule in the former Ottoman provinces. On the other hand, reading his innumerable, often incomprehensible protests over the Balfour Declaration and the Sykes-Picot Agreement and recalling the enormity of his ambition to become ´King of all the Arabs´ and bearing in mind, also, his shortcomings as a ruler, we can easily understand why the British Government abandoned him and why, in the end, he achieved no more than the kingship of the Hijaz.
In October 1924, friendless and menaced by the Wahhabi forces of Ibn Sa´ud (later King ´Abd al-´Aziz), he abdicated and joined his second son, Abdallah, in Transjordan. His eldest son, Sharif Ali, succeeded him; but within fifteen months, after Ibn Sa´ud´s occupation of the Holy Places he too abandoned the throne and went into exile; thus ending the centuries-old Sharifian Emirate of Mecca.
The Hashimite succession
Especially interesting are the sections of Volume 8 of this work relating to the succession crisis that followed Abdallah´s assassination in 1951. Shortly before his death, doubting the wisdom of devolving power upon either of his sons, Talal and Naif, he had considered directing the succession to his nephew, King Faisal II of Iraq.
In view of this and, in particular, of Talal´s mental condition and his grandson Hussein´s tender age it was not surprising that the Iraqi Regent, ´Abd al-Ilah, intervened and, in so doing, alarmed those favouring the preservation of Jordan´s independence and the succession of Talal and Hussein.