Foto: letter from prophet Mohammad to Ghassanid King Al-Harith VI Abu Chemor * Shamir, also Shamar, Shamour or Chemor is one of the many transliterations of the same Arabic word الشمر
One may argue the reason why the El Chemor Family uses the Royal Ghassanid titles in addition to the “Sheikh” titles. Here are the legal reasons and the historical precedents:
1. The proven legatee succession from the Ghassanid Kings – The mere use of the last name “El Chemor” meant the ones from “Bani Chemor” or “the children of King Chemor” the famous Ghassanid King of the Levant.
“It is a reputed deep-rooted allegation that the heads of Al-Chemor tribe are rooted from Bani Chemor, who are the Christian Kings of Ghassan which belong to Al Jafna.” (Father Ignatios Tannos El-Khoury, Historical Scientific Research: “Sheikh El Chemor Rulers of Al-Aqoura (1211-1633) and Rulers of Al-Zawiye (1641-1747)”Beirut, Lebanon, 1948, p.38)
“This is the history of the Chemor family Sheikhs who are feudal rulers, a genuine progeny of the sons of Ghassan kings of the Levant… one of the most decent, oldest and noblest families in Lebanon.” (ibid p.125)
2. Arab tradition – a sovereign sheikh is a royal prince by the Arab tradition since pre-Islamic times. The title “sheikh” (in the secular sense) is even more related to hereditary ruler than “Amir” which was originally a military title (coming from the Arabic verb “amr” or “to command”), only associated as being analogous to the western title of “prince” since a few centuries ago. That can be corroborated not only by history but also by the existing Arab States ruled by sheikhs: Kuwait, Bahrain, Bahrain, Qatar, Dubai, Abu-Dhabi, Sharja, etc.
Also important to point that the origin of many of the aforementioned ruling royal families is from Al Azd tribe exactly the same of the El Chemor family, being natural that the traditions are similar, regardless of religion since the Arab laws of succession come mostly from pre-Islamic tribal customs.
3. Dynastic custom adopting past titles of the family patrimony – it’s perfectly accepted by the European jurisprudence the use of past titles that historically belonged to the family.
For example, Prince Henri, the head of the French Orleans family, uses the title “Count of Paris”, an old title belonging to the family but not used by other ruling head of the family. Count of Paris (French: Comte de Paris) was a title for the local magnate of the district around Paris in Carolingian times. After Hugh Capet was elected King of France in 987, the title merged into the crown and fell into disuse. However, it was later revived by the Orléanist pretenders to the French throne in an attempt to evoke the legacy of Capet and his dynasty.
4. Principle of “de jure” sovereignty – according to this principle, a deposed ruler and his descendants in perpetuity (following the respective laws of succession) keep two of the four powers of sovereignty: “jus majestatis” the right of being respected and recognized by his title and “jus honorum” the right of conferring titles, honors and awards. The two other powers “jus imperium” the right of rule a territory and a people and “jus gladii” the right of command an army and apply the capital penalty, remain dormant until the “de facto” sovereignty is restored. Being a “de jure” sovereign, the decision of the use of titles is a personal prerogative as stated by one of the forefathers of international law, Emmerich de Vattel:
The Law of Nations or the Principles of Natural Law, 1758 CE:
“BOOK 2, CHAPTER 3
Of the Dignity and Equality of Nations: of Titles and Other Marks of Honor
§ 42. Whether a sovereign may assume what title and honors he pleases.
If the conductor of the state is sovereign, he has in his hands the rights and authority of the political society; and consequently he may himself determine what title he will assume, and what honors shall be paid to him, unless these have been already determined by the fundamental laws, or that the limits which have been set to his power manifestly oppose such as he wishes to assume. His subjects are equally obliged to obey him in this as in whatever he commands by virtue of a lawful authority. Thus, the Czar Peter I., grounding his pretensions on the vast extent of his dominions, took upon himself the title of emperor.”
If we accept that a deposed sovereign and his descendants remain being sovereign (just “de jure” or by right, not “de facto” or in fact), the above mentioned by Vattel refers to the power of “jus majestatis”, fully active during the interregnum. Naturally, being the “jus imperii” dormant, in theory, his former “subjects” don’t have an obligation to acknowledge the prince pretender by his title.
“The refugees of Al Ghassani and bani Chemor who seeked refuge to Al ‘Aqoura turned into Maronites because the town now only has Maronites Christians and because Al Chemor tribe are the princes and children of kings, the Maronites reigned them over the land where the document states that: “… and Al ‘Aqoura is their own village from a long time, they can do as they wish…” and Al Chemori family could have taken over the throne due to their relentless efforts, money or battles, no one knows.” (Father Ignatios Tannos El-Khoury, Historical Scientific Research: “Sheikh El Chemor Rulers of Al-Aqoura (1211-1633) and Rulers of Al-Zawiye (1641-1747)”Beirut, Lebanon, 1948, p.42)
The above reference clearly shows sovereignty over the Al-Aqoura region.
The examples in the Middle East are also extensive where many sovereign Sheikhs have decided to use Royal titles like His Majesty King Abdullah I of Jordan who was originally the Emir of Transjordan and his ancestors were Sheriffs of Meca; or His Highness Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, was the 12th Hakim of Bahrain. His son, His Highness Sheikh Isa II bin Salman II Al Khalifa, changed the title to “Emir of Bahrain” in 1971 and his son, His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has changed the title again in 2002 from Emir (prince) to Malik (king).
The usage of the Arab title “Emir” or “Amir” (means “commander”, “general”, or “prince”) is a little different from the European use. A sovereign ruler using the title “Sheikh” or even “Hakim” is an “Emir” ‘per se‘ (intrinsically). In other words, even if the title is not openly used, it’s definitely implied. That tradition is what makes so natural for the aforementioned rulers to “update” their titles.
5. The heirs of a sovereign house (observed the laws of succession) are princes regardless of the fact that they use the title or not – Examples: the archdukes of Austria, the Tsareviches and grand-dukes of the Russian empire were/are princes even thought they didn’t use the title officially.
6. To avoid the confusion – there are several categories of “sheikh” titles in Lebanon bestowed by princes after the Ottoman invasion. Those titles are “noble” not “Royal”.