“Amir” versus “Sheikh”: understanding the Arab titles

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His Majesty Hamad Ibn Isa Al Khalifa, the King of Bahrain. The Al Khalifa  family rules Bahrain since 1783 and their royal titles are “sheikh”. They’ve adopted “Amir” in 1971 and “Malik” (or King) in 2002

We could end this article in one sentence by saying that both titles, in essence, mean the same thing.

In the last couple of centuries, it was created a convention that the title “Amir” (or “Emir”) would be the equivalent of the European “Prince”.  According to several encyclopedias, “Amir”, means “lord” or “commander-in-chief”, being derived from the Arabic root ‘a-m-r’ or “command“. Originally, simply meaning “commander-in-chief” or “leader”, usually in reference to a group of people, it came to be used as a title for governors or rulers, usually in smaller states. Therefore, the title had a military – not necessarily royal/noble – connotation.

The title Emir or Amir was equivalent of that of Commander.” The Black Book of the Admiralty, 1873, V.2, p.xiii (Cambridge University Press, 2012 edition, edited by Travers Twiss)

In the past, amir was usually a military title, now used to mean prince or as a title for various rulers or chiefs.” The New Encyclopedia of Islam, By Cyril Glassé, Huston Smith, Rowman Altamira, 2003, p.48

Whereas the title “Sheikh” was used mostly in three different connotations:

  1. Religious – although more recent, doesn’t concern this article,
  2. Royal – “sui iuris” hereditary sovereign or semi-sovereign ruler,
  3. Noble – noble title given by a sovereign or semi-sovereign ruler hereditary (“ad eternum”) or not (“ad personam”)

Sheikh (pronounced /ʃeɪk/ SHAYK or /ʃiːk/ SHEEK; Arabic: شيخ‎ šayḫ [ʃæjx], mostly pronounced [ʃeːx/ʃejx], plural شيوخ šuyūḫ [ʃuju:x])—also transliterated Sheik, Shaik, Shayk, Shaykh, Cheikh, Shekh, and Shaikh—is an honorific title in the Arabic language. It commonly designates the ruler of a tribe, who inherited the title from his father. “Sheikh” is given to a royal male at birth, whereas the related title “Sheikha” is given to a royal female at birth.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheikh

The word ‘sheikh’ can be used as a label for a head of a tribe in the Arab culture; for a member of a ruling family (as in Kuwait and the other Gulf States, for example), or for a religious person who perform religious duties.” Religion and Terrorism: An Interfaith Perspective, by Aref M. Al-Khattar, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003, p.15

Important to note that the meaning of the word “tribe” in the Anthropological sense means a group of people, politically organized, that has the same language, beliefs, customs, and interests. However, some historians use the term “tribe” in a pejorative fashion, to mean indigenous, primitive, and insignificant.

“In such contexts, members of a tribe are typically said to share a self-name and a contiguous territory; to work together in such joint endeavours as trade, agriculture, house construction, warfare, and ceremonial activities; and to be composed of a number of smaller local communities such as bands or villages. In addition, they may be aggregated into higher-order clusters, such as nations.

As an anthropological term, the word tribe fell out of favour in the latter part of the 20th century. Some anthropologists rejected the term itself, on the grounds that it could not be precisely defined. Others objected to the negative connotations that the word acquired in the colonial context. Scholars of Africa, in particular, felt that it was pejorative as well as inaccurate.” https://www.britannica.com/topic/tribe-anthropology

Originally, the title “Sheikh” was more related to hereditary royal/noble pedigree than the title “Amir”.

Besides the sovereigns referred to above, there are several oriental potentates who should be mentioned, the rulers of the Sultanates and Sheikdoms of East Africa and the Persian Gulf (…) The style of these Sheikhs is His Highness.” “Titles: How the king became His Majesty”, L.G. Pine, New York, 1992 (Barnes & Noble) p. 137-138

In the modern United Arab Emirates, however, none of the rulers of the constituent states are called emirs (princes); all are Sheikhs.”

https://www.britannica.com/topic/emir

For a better understanding of the subject we strongly recommend the reading of the following article:

The Sheikhs El Chemor: a legal study of titles

Royal House of Ghassan honors Lebanese Ambassador

Today, at the building of the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants in Beirut, the Royal House of Ghassan honored His Excellency Ambassador Jean Makaron, PhD. His Excellency has served with a brilliant career in several countries as Ambassador like Armenia and also served as Consul General in Los Angeles. Currently, he is Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. HRH Prince Gharios El Chemor bestowed upon the Ambassador the rank of Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael Archangel. Present to the meeting, the president of the Royal House of Ghassan in Lebanon Sheikh Dr Elie Gharios and Mr Petro Al Achkar, the PR Manager.

Here’s the thank you letter from the eminent Ambassador:

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The Ignorance about Royalty

crown jewels

Fruit of the age of social media and the pseudo-intellectuals, we see today the rise of stupid opinions that have the pretention of replacing facts. That virus, using malice and political interests as catalysts, gave birth to the “fake news” phenomenon – common to the left as well to the right – and the “shower of ignorance” that we witness today. Everyone can give opinions about any subject.

The major problem is that those stupid opinions don’t arise only from less or non-educated people but also from people with degrees and significant information. Anyone with a diploma in a specific area feels entitled to give opinions about anything and everything.

Well, if someone is the world’s greatest orthopedist, even being a medical doctor, it doesn’t automatically makes him or her a brain or a heart surgeon. But people don’t care! The social media gave the idiots a megaphone and none can stop them! That has affected all areas of human knowledge, unfortunately.

People don’t know the “status quaestionis” or the actual broad scholarly vision of a certain subject and still think their opinion is law. Usually, because they heard “someone saying it”. They judge that someone usually as “more intelligent” or at least more knowledgeable in that particular field and they “go with it”, defending it with all their might, usually without any further comprehensive research (or with a rudimentary one).

They don’t realize that their opinion usually is not even that, but “a mere emotional reaction” to something that “doesn’t look right” for them. Because this “emotional reaction” is shared by that “intelligent someone” and/or by a celebrity or even by other members of his or her social group or someone they admire, he or she honestly believe that the reaction is actually a based assertion or the ultimate truth.

Regarding Royalty, there’s a great deal of ignorance from many parts, including some so-called scholars.

By definition:

A royal family is the immediate family of a king or queen regnant, and sometimes his or her extended family. The term imperial family appropriately describes the family of an emperor or empress, and the term papal family describes the family of a pope, while the terms baronial family, comital family, ducal family, grand ducal family, or princely family are more appropriate to describe the relatives of a reigning baron, count, duke, grand duke, or prince. However, in common parlance members of any family which reigns by hereditary right are often referred to as royalty or “royals.” It is also customary in some circles to refer to the extended relations of a deposed monarch and his or her descendants as a royal family“. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_family

Just being related to a King or Queen doesn’t make a family necessarily royal or eligible to a royal title. Specially in Europe where is estimated that around 80% of the population descends from some European sovereign.

For example, British Queen Elizabeth II‘s eldest grandson Peter Phillips (firstborn son of HRH Princess Royal Anne born in 1977) doesn’t even have a royal title due to the British Laws of succession. Although obviously considered to be part of the Royal Family, he’s called just “master” and is currently the 13th in line to the British throne, however, no title. His cousin HRH Prince William was born in 1982 but due to those laws of succession has a royal title and is the 2nd in line to the throne. In contrast, the Saudi Royal family has thousands of princes due to their particular laws of succession since just the descent from a ruler entitles them to a royal title.

The Thesaurus’ definition of the word “Royal” is:

“of or relating to a king, queen, or other sovereign”

But what does “sovereign” means?

“1. a monarch; a king, queen, or other supreme ruler. 2. a person who has supreme power or authority.”

According to accepted international law and its principle of “sovereign equality“, the Pope or the prince of Monaco is “as royal” as the Queen of England regardless of the size of their actual territories. That principle is one of the pillars of International Law itself.

There are not dozens nor hundreds, but thousands of families that ruled a sovereign or semi-sovereign territories all over the world. Any so-called expert who claims to know everything about any single one of them is simply lying. Naturally, their right to claim a title in present times depends of a series of factors, especially regarding the laws of succession of that particular family, voluntary abdications, treaties signed by their ancestors, etc.

One interesting example is Italy.

If you ask anyone about Royalty in Italy, people immediately will say: “the Savoy Family“! Maybe someone who knows a little bit more of history might cite the Bourbon-Two Sicilys’ Family. However, there were several ruling families in Italy. According to the official Review of the Italian College of Arms in 1922, named “ONCE SOVEREIGN HOUSES OF THE STATES OF ITALY and national families descended from these or from foreign dynasties” (you may access a .PDF file of the official essay by clicking on the title) there were, over 100 (one hundred) different Italian families that descend from sovereign houses in Italian territory and also some descending from foreign ruling houses, all of those,  fitting the definition of “Royal“.

One may claim that a lot of time has passed and the titles might have “expired” as if they were some kind of produce.

According to the former president of the Italian (Supreme) Court of Cassation, Professor Doctor Renato de Francesco in 1959:

“… It’s simply ridiculous, from a legal point of view, the distinction intended to be done about Dynasties that have reigned until recently of those who ruled in the distant past. It’s not understandable how you can launch at the foot numerous pages of history, only to give luster to this or that family, who, aided by good luck, has managed to remain on the throne, after the year 1815. A Dynasty either reigned or not reigned. If reigned, even in very remote time, deserves the historical and legal treatment as a Dynasty and all its effects.”

A Court sentence of the Republican Italy (Pretoria de Vico Del Gargano, Repubblica Italiana sentence number 217/1949) corroborates the above-mentioned:

 “(…) it’s IRRELEVANT if that Imperial family is no longer ruling FOR CENTURIES, because the deposition doesn’t harm the sovereign prerogatives even if the sovereign renounces, spontaneously, to the throne. In substance, in this case, the Sovereign does not cease to be King, even living in exile or IN PRIVATE LIFE (WITHOUT CLAIMING HIS SOVEREIGNTY), because his prerogatives are, itself, by birth and CANNOT BE EXTINGUISHED, but remains and may be transmitted in time, from generation to generation.”

Also, one may ask if those families need any kind of special recognition from governments or any kind of official approval?

According to Professor Emilio Furno, an eminent Italian jurist and scholar, former advocate in the Supreme Court of Appeal, writes as follows in “The Legitimacy of Non-National Orders“, Rivista Penale, No.1, January 1961, pp. 46-70:

“There are not a few judgments, civil and criminal, albeit some very recent, all of which tend as a rule to the acceptance of traditional principles re-enunciated not long since. The issue is that of innate nobility – “Jure Sanguinis” – which looks into the prerogatives known as “Jus Majestatis” and “Jus Honorum” and which argues that the holder of such prerogatives is a subject of international law with all the logical consequences of that situation. That is to say, a deposed sovereign may legitimately confer titles of nobility, with or without predicates, and the honorifics which pertain to his heraldic patrimony as head of his dynasty.

The qualities which render a deposed Sovereign a subject of international law are undeniable and in fact constitute an absolute personal right of which the subject may never divest himself and which needs no ratification or recognition on the part of any other authority whatsoever.   A reigning Sovereign or Head of State may use the term recognition in order to demonstrate the existence of such a right, but the term would be a mere declaration and not a constitutive act. (Furno, op.cit.).

“A notable example of this principle is that of the People’s Republic of China which for a Considerable time was not recognized and therefore not admitted to the United Nations, but which nonetheless continued to exercise its functions as a sovereign state through both its internal and external organs.” (Furno, op.cit.).

The eminent author concludes:

“To sum up, therefore, the Italian judiciary, in those cases submitted to its jurisdiction, has confirmed the prerogatives “jure sanguinis” of a dethroned sovereign without any vitiation of its effects, whereby in consequence it has explicitly recognized the right to confer titles of nobility and other honorifics  relative to his dynastic heraldic patrimony. “(Furno, op.cit.).

An extract from the book “Studies on Nobility Law” (Estudos sobre Direito Nobiliário), by Dr. Mario Silvestre de Meroe, pg. 65:

“It is worth mentioning also that the princely families, with the sovereign attributes, require no recognition by the government of their country of origin, or submit any record in countries where its members settle in residence. The dynastic and political independence is based on the Sovereignty itself, which guides their social existence and regardless of any legal recognition, with respect to dynastic and private affairs. ”  

Of course, that doesn’t mean that anyone can claim to be the “King of Narnia” without any kind of historical and legal bases. But one should be very careful in state about the legitimacy of some family without a very deep study. There are several past royal families that are completely unknown for the general public and even to many historians since this subject is no longer in vogue due to the fact that the monarchies are, unfortunately, fading in the world.

We strongly recommend the reading of this article “The Disney concept of Royalty

 

HRH Prince Gharios El Chemor participates in event at the Austrian Parliament

 

Mr Wolfgang Sobotka and Prince Gharios El Chemor in Vienna

Last Monday and Tuesday (28th and 29th of May 2018) HRH Prince Gharios El Chemor of Ghassan Al-Nu’man VIII has participated of an inter religious event at the Austrian Parliament in Vienna. Under the high patronage of the Mr Wolfgang Sobotka, the president of the Austrian Parliament, the Second Austrian Prayer Breakfast had over 200 VIP participants from several countries and was a significant success.

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HRH Prince Gharios El Chemor with Dr Grudrun Kugler, Austrian MP and event’s organizer 

On Monday, a smaller group had a guided visit to the Austrian Imperial Treasury and to the Austrian Parliament provisional building at the Schönborn Palace, since the actual building is under renovation. In the end of the tour, a VIP coquetel reception was held with the presence of Austrian and international politicians, religious leaders and other VIP guests.

On Tuesday, the main event took place having not only participants from Austria, but also from other countries like United States, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Spain, etc

HRH Prince Gharios El Chemor with his great friend and the President of the Royal Ghassanid Academy of Arts & Sciences Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher

The team responsible for the organization of the successful event was formed by NAbg. Dr. Gudrun Kugler, NAbg. a.D. Dr. Josef Höchtl, NAbg. a.D. Dr. Andreas F. Karlsböck and Prof. Dr. Friedrich Schipper.

The Parliamentary Committee:

NAbg. Werner Amon MBA, LAbg. Peko Baxant, BM a.D. NAbg. DI Nikolaus Berlakovich, NAbg. Martina Diesner-Wais, NAbg. a.D. Ing. Waltraud Dietrich, NAbg. Efgani Dönmez PMM, NAbg. a.D. Asdin El Habbassi BA, NAbg. Mag. Martin Engelberg, NAbg. Mag. Klaus Fürlinger, NAbg. Mag. Wolfgang Gerstl, NAbg. Mag. Ernst Gödl, NAbg. Mag. Johann Gudenus M.A.I.S., MEP a.D. Dr. h.c. Karl Habsburg LL.M., NAbg. Mag. Gerald Hauser, NAbg. a.D. Dr. Josef Höchtl, NAbg. Mag. Carmen Jeitler-Cincelli, MEP Dr. Barbara Kappel, NAbg. a.D. Dr. Andreas F. Karlsböck, NAbg. Martina Kaufmann MMSc, NAbg. a.D. Asdin El Habbassi BA, NAbg. Karlheinz Kopf, NAbg. Dr. Gudrun Kugler, NAbg. Mag. Günther Kumpitsch, NAbg. David Lasar, NAbg. Dr. Reinhold Lopatka, NAbg. Ing. Robert Lugar, MEP Mag. Lukas Mandl, NAbg. a.D. Dr. Gabriela Moser, BR Monika Mühlwerth, NAbg. Werner Neubauer, NAbg. Mag. Christian Ragger, NAbg. Josef A. Riemer, NAbg. Carmen Schimanek, NAbg. Mag. Stefan Schnöll, NAbg. Norbert Sieber, NAbg. Johann Singer, MEP a.D. StR Ursula Schweiger-Stenzel, NAbg. Mag. Peter Weidinger, KO NAbg. August Wöginger, NAbg. a.D. Mag. Andreas Zakostelsky 

 

Royal House of Ghassan signs historical humanitarian agreement with high Iraqi Muslim Foundation

As part of theAlliance for Peace” initiative, The Royal House of Ghassan, in its mission of promoting humanitarian cooperation and inter religious dialogue around the world, especially in the Middle East, has signed a historical cooperation agreement with the Door Reference Foundation from Iraq . The organization has authorization from the Iraqi government to develop humanitarian projects and also has a mandate from the highest Iraqi Shi’a Muslim authority. One of the major points for the agreement is the protection of Christian communities in Iraq.

HRH Prince Gharios El Chemor of Ghassan Al-Nu’man VIII head of the Royal House of Ghassan and His Excellency Sheikh Hussein Al-Ramahi, high Shi’a leader and Secretary General of the Al-Wafa’a Iraqi National Party, signed the cooperation agreement. However, from the Royal House’s side, the credit of this fantastic achievement goes to the team of the Royal House of Ghassan in Lebanon: Sheikh Dr Elie Gharios – President, Ms Joyce Mansour Doumit – Managing Director, Mr Petro Al Achkar – PR Manager and Dr Firas Kanj – Legal Director, who spent months negotiating with the Iraqi counterparts.

Learn more about the Alliance for Peace HERE

Behind the signatories, the team of the Royal House of Ghassan in Lebanon

Prince Gharios El Chemor is the 1st Christian to receive high honor from Iraq

During the 1st Annual Royal Gala in Lebanon last Friday (May 18th), HRH Prince Gharios El Chemor of Ghassan Al-Nu’man VIII was the 1st Christian to receive “the shield” from the high Shi’a Muslim authority, represented by His Excellency Sheikh Hussein Al-Ramahi, notorious religious and political leader of Iraq.

Before the prince of Ghassan, the only recipients of the high honor were: the Iraqi Prime Minister, the Iraqi head of the Parliament and His Eminence Sheikh Massoudi, a prominent Iraqi religious leader.

According to Sheikh Al-Ramahi, the Prince has received this exclusive award due to his humanitarian work and his life commitment in having peace amongst the religions in the world, especially in the Middle East.