A 2017’s Retrospective

retro2017

We sincerely hope that you’re having very pleasant holidays with your family and friends.

It’s time to remember what has happened in 2017 and plan for the new year.

We had many achievements in 2017, here are some highlights. More details and photos, please, follow the links:

* In February, a top Maronite scholar in Lebanon has validated the historical chronicles about the Ghassanid Royal Family https://royalblog.org/2017/02/02/top-maronite-historian-validates-chronicles-about-el-chemorgharios-family/

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TIRH, Sheikh Camil. Sheikh Dr. Elie, Prof. Schirrmacher, HE General Michel Aoun the President of Lebanon, HIRH Prince Gharios, Sheikh Dr. Naji and HIRH Prince Cheikh Selim

* In May, invited by the Lebanese Government, HIRH Prince Gharios El Chemor has traveled to Lebanon and was received officially by the President of the Lebanese Republic with other members of the Royal Family. President Gen. Michel Aoun also accepted the Order of Saint Michael https://royalblog.org/2017/05/11/royal-house-of-ghassan-is-received-by-lebanese-president-in-private-audience/

Prince Gharios was also interviewed by Lebanese TV https://royalblog.org/2017/05/11/prince-gharios-el-chemor-is-interviewed-by-otv-lebanese-tv/

And also featured at the AlHurra Arab TV https://royalblog.org/2017/06/27/royal-house-of-ghassan-featured-at-alhurra-arab-tv/

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* In June, Prince Gharios and the Royal Family were received by His Excellency the President of Albania at the Presidential Palace in Tirana. He also has received the Order of Saint Michael https://royalblog.org/2017/06/15/royal-family-officially-received-by-albanian-president/

fullsizeoutput_c237* During the trip to Albania, the Royal Family was also officially received by HRH Crown Prince Leka II of the Albanians. HRH also received the Order of Saint Michael  https://royalblog.org/2017/06/15/prince-gharios-el-chemor-and-royal-delegation-received-by-crown-prince-leka-ii-of-the-albanians/

DSC05154* In Tirana, the Royal family was also officially received by the Orthodox Patriarch https://royalblog.org/2017/07/25/royal-family-visits-orthodox-patriarch-of-albania/

DSC05803* The Grand Mufti (Sunni Muslim highest authority) https://royalblog.org/2017/07/31/prince-gharios-royal-family-received-by-the-grand-mufti-of-albania/

DSC05021* The world leader of the Bektashi Order (Sufi Islam) https://royalblog.org/2017/07/29/ghassanid-royal-family-visits-sufi-world-leader/

pgstiftung* The Prince Gharios Foundation in Germany has sponsored the construction of a church for refugees https://royalblog.org/2017/07/07/prince-gharios-foundation-in-germany-supports-construction-of-a-church-for-christian-refugees/

* In August, Prince Gharios El Chemor has visited His Eminence Cardinal Koch, the President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity in Rome https://royalblog.org/2017/08/26/royal-couple-visits-cardinal-koch-in-rome/

SOSMA Karcher* And Monsignor Karcher, the Pontifical Secretary of Protocol at the Vatican Secretariat of State. He has received the Order of Saint Michael https://royalblog.org/2017/08/25/pontifical-secretary-of-protocol-receives-the-order-of-saint-michael/

Valentino* Prince Gharios also met the fashion legend Valentino in Capri, Italy https://royalblog.org/2017/08/24/prince-gharios-el-chemor-meets-fashion-legend-valentino/

* In September, Prince Gharios was invited by the Lebanese Government to an official event in Las Vegas https://royalblog.org/2017/09/26/prince-gharios-el-chemor-participates-in-official-event-invited-by-lebanese-government/

princebishopnayrouz2017* In October, Prince Gharios El Chemor was invited to the Neyrouz service of the Coptic Orthodox Church at Westminster’s in London, UK  https://royalblog.org/2017/10/21/prince-gharios-el-chemor-attends-coptic-orthodox-service-in-london/

IMG_0417* The Coptic Archbishop of London Anba Angaelous has received the Order of Saint Michael https://royalblog.org/2017/10/24/coptic-bishop-angaelos-receives-the-order-of-saint-michael-archangel-in-london/

archbishop boutros Mattar maruni* In November, Prince Gharios was invited to participate at the commemoration of the 74th Lebanese Independent Day in Beverly Hills https://royalblog.org/2017/11/21/prince-gharios-el-chemor-participates-of-the-74th-lebanese-independence-day-in-los-angeles/

DRgl7cQX4AIHM9k* In December, the Royal House of Ghassan had a Christmas Charity event in Lebanon https://royalblog.org/2017/12/21/royal-house-of-ghassan-has-christmas-charity-event-in-lebanon/

Also, during the year, Prince Gharios El Chemor has received many honors and awards, amongst them:

Medal from the Dragomanov University (Ukrainian Ministry of Education) https://royalblog.org/2017/06/15/prince-gharios-el-chemor-receives-medal-from-the-ukrainian-ministry-of-education/

Goodwill Ambassador of the State of Arkansas (USA) https://royalblog.org/2017/07/28/prince-gharios-el-chemor-honored-by-the-state-of-arkansas/

US Congressional Special Recognition https://royalblog.org/2017/08/25/prince-gharios-el-chemor-receives-u-s-special-congressional-recognition/

We also invite you to learn more about the history of the Ghassanid Royal Family and ancestors:

The El Chemor/Gharios family Vis-à-vis with the International Law https://royalblog.org/2017/06/23/the-el-chemorgharios-family-vis-a-vis-with-the-international-law/

Father Ignatios El Khoury, one of the most acclaimed Maronite historians of the 20th century https://royalblog.org/2017/08/04/father-ignatios-el-khoury-one-of-the-most-acclaimed-maronite-historians-of-the-20th-century/

The Middle Eastern Laws of Succession https://royalblog.org/2017/09/07/the-middle-eastern-laws-of-succession/

HIRH Prince Cheikh Antonios El Chemor The Honorary Founder of the modern Royal House of Ghassan https://royalblog.org/2017/10/12/hirh-prince-cheikh-antonios-el-chemor-the-honorary-founder-of-the-modern-royal-house-of-ghassan/

Understanding the Royal Ghassanid family tree https://royalblog.org/2017/11/19/understanding-the-royal-ghassanid-family-tree/

The Sheikhs El Chemor: a legal study of titles https://royalblog.org/2017/12/26/the-sheikhs-el-chemor-a-legal-study-of-titles/  

We wish you and yours a Blessed 2018, full of health, wealth and peace!    

The Sheikhs El Chemor: a legal study of titles

maronitesheikh

After the advent of Islam, it’s known that the Ghassanid Royal Family had to leave the Ghassanid territory (today’s Syria, Jordan, Northern Saudi Arabia and Northern Iraq). Part of the family went to Byzantine empire and part sought refuge in the heights of the Mount Lebanon, a safe haven for Christians.

It’s known and documented that the El Chemor Sheikhs descended directly from Ghassanid King El Chemor Jablah Ibn Aiham (ruled 632-638 CE), the last King of Ghassan:

 “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 [King] 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

By “jus sanguinis” (or law of blood) as the undisputed descendants and heirs ofGhassanid King Chemor Jablah they were already the legitimate heirs of the Ghassanid Imperial and Royal titles. Nevertheless, for local and circumstantial reasons, they’ve ruled two small sheikhdoms or principalities (Akoura and Zgharta-Zawiye) in Mount Lebanon for approximately 500 years (until 1747 CE) using the title of “Sheikh”.

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

There were several different categories of “Sheikh” in Mount Lebanon through history. To understand the role and importance of the Sheikhs El Chemor in later times one has to comprehend the nobiliary system of Mount Lebanon in the last centuries.

For that understanding, it’s necessary a division:

Mount Lebanon BEFORE the Ottoman rule

Ottoman Sultan Selim I invaded Syria and Mount Lebanon in 1516 CE and allied to the famous Druze Prince Fakhr ad Din I established a semi-autonomous country that only worked in practice for the urbanized areas, since the rural areas, specially in Northern Mount Lebanon, were ruled by the local chiefs. That would take over a century to change. But lets’ return to that later.

Before the Ottoman invasion, the natural local leaders called “Sheikhs” or “Muqqadams”, ruled sui iurissovereign and semi-sovereignsheikhdoms” or small principalities only paying taxes to neighboring dynasties. And they were left considerable alone to take care of their own affairs. In other words, they were “sovereign” (or “semi-sovereign”) being considerably independent and autonomous. That characteristic makes those ruling families technically “royal” giving the title “Sheikh” the same connotation that it had and still has in the Arabian gulf today. The Sheikhs El Chemor were ruling Akoura since 1211 CE, exact 305 years before the Ottoman invasion. They were known and acclaimed by the people as sui iuris”  Sheikhs”, they were not formally invested (or elevated) by an Emperor, Sultan or Emir.

Local leaders in fragmented Lebanon were called Zu’ama, and their followers were described by an English visitor as ‘of an independent turn of mind; all are armed from the age of boys, and are governed by their own Emirs, or Sheikhs, or PrincesThey are all warriors, loving athletic exercise.’ They included Christian Maroniteswho dominated the highlands of Mount Lebanon.”

Nicolle ill. McBride 1998 p22

Maybe the most important point to be understood about the honor system in Lebanon is the fact that the Sheikhs that had this title before the Ottoman invasion (1516 CE) were “natural autonomous tribal rulerslike their counterparts in the Arabian Gulf, they had the title sui iuris” (by their own right), having autonomy and powers similar to the princes and sovereigndukes of the Holy Roman Empire. However, different than in Europe, their Lebanese counterparts had sovereignty locally but no saying in the administration of the Caliphates. (see “A House of many mansions: the history of Lebanon reconsidered”, Berkley, 1988, Kamal Salibi and “Lebanon A History 600-2011, Oxford, 2012, William Harris)

The Sheikhs El Chemorascended to power due to their genealogical direct descent to the Ghassanid Kings. They were known as “the descendants of Ghassanid King Chemor Jablah. That’s the origin of the surnameChemor” (other transliterations: Shamir, Shammar, Chemr, etc. ) It was very common at the time the knowledge of genealogy.

“Druze and Maronite muqataajis (feudal lords) could trace their descent back over many generations to the ancestors of their families…” All Honourable Men: The Social Origins of War in Lebanon, Oxford, 2001, Dr. Michael Johnson pgs. 98-99

The founder of the Ghassanid Dynasty was King Jafna Ibn Amr (ruled 220-265 CE). He was the son of the Azd ruler Amr Ibn Muzaikiya. The other sons of Amr gave origin of other important Arab ruling families like the Al-Said Sultans of Oman, the Al-Nahyam rulers of Abu-Dhabi, the Al-Maktoums rulers of Dubai and the Al-Nasrids rulers of Al-Andaluz (Spain). Originally as part of the Azd tribe, the Sheikhs El Chemor have blood ties with many major Arab ruling houses. The El Chemor Sheikhs were related by marriage to the El Hachem Sheikhs of Akoura in Lebanon (descendants of the Hashemites rulers of Jordan and Iraq) and, more recently, to the Shihab Emirs, the latest rulers of Lebanon before the republic.

Mount Lebanon AFTER the Ottoman rule

Although the “Iltizam” system was effective implemented in Mount Lebanon only in 1667, some “noble” (not “royal) Sheikhs were created during the previous century by the Ottoman appointed princes. They were not natural “sovereign or semi-sovereign” tribal leaders but wealthy notable commoners elevated to nobility.

Iltizām, in the Ottoman Empire, taxation system carried out by farming of public revenue. The state auctioned taxation rights to the highest bidder (mültazim, plural mültezim or mültazims), who then collected the state taxes and made payments in fixed installments, keeping a part of the tax revenue for his own use. The iltizām system included the farming of land taxes, the farming of urban taxes, the production of certain goods (such as wine, salt, or senna), and the provision of certain services. It began during the reign of Sultan Mehmed II (1444–46, 1451–81) and was officially abolished in 1856. Various forms of iltizām, however, continued until the end of the empire in the early 20th century, when the system was replaced by methods of taxation that were supervised by public officials.

https://www.britannica.com/topic/iltizam-tax-system#ref158373

About the difference between the original tribal Sheikhs and the appointed “multazimsSheikhs:

“… [the tribal Sheikh] was a hereditary feudal chief whose authority over a particular district was vested within a patrilineal kinship group. He lived in his own village and maintained ties of patronage with his atba’ [following]. In contrast, the multazim [Sheikh] was not indigenous to the tax farm he controlled. He was more akin to a government official than a feudal sheikh.”  “Lebanon’s Predicament“, Columbia, 1987, Samir Khalaf

In 1711, the Shihab Princes had codified the honor system which is the one known today. The system was divided as:

Grand Emirs (princes), Emirs, Muqqadams and Great Sheikhs (five Druze and three Maronite families) and Sheikhs.

The systemwas not based on pedigree but in political prestige and economical favors.

Even though the “Great Sheikhs” were maybe more relevant and prestigious in Lebanon’s modern history than the El Chemor Sheikhs, their titles are of “noble” assent, not “royal since they were given by a higher authority corresponding to the equivalent of the European (non-sovereign)  “Duke”.

A similar case happened with the Arslan Emirs (princes). According to several historians, they had less actual power than some Sheikhs but a higher social importance. (see “All Honourable men: the social origins of war in Lebanon, Oxford 2001, Dr. Michael Johnson, p.99)

If you ask any Lebanese, even historians, who’s “royal” for them, they’ll immediately think of the princely families that ruled the whole Mount Lebanon under the Ottoman empire (i.e. Shuf Emirate, Emirate of Jabal Druze, Emirate of Mount Lebanon, as well as Ma’an Emirate)

However, 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.”

In the technical sense, the El Chemor family was also sovereign in Mount Lebanon as it was in Ghassansince their power was considerable autonomous and didn’t emanate from a higher authority. The family had to make deals with the Ottomans only in the last years of rule, to join the Iltizam system for some time culminating with the deposition.

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.

By the aforementioned, the “sovereign” or “semi-sovereign” ruling Sheikh is the equivalent of a Prince.

The original, but now less common use of the word, originated in the application of the Latin word princeps, from late Romanlaw, and the classical system of government that eventually gave way to the European feudal society. In this sense, a prince is a ruler of a territory which is sovereign, or quasi-sovereign, i.e., exercising substantial (though not all) prerogatives associated with monarchs of independent nations, as was common, for instance, within the historical boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire.”

(…)

As a title, by the end of the medieval era, prince was borne by rulers of territories that were either substantially smaller than or exercised fewer of the rights of sovereignty than did emperors and kings [exactly as the Sheikhdoms]. A lord of even a quite small territory might come to be referred to as a prince before the 13th century, either from translations of a native title into the Latin princeps (as for the hereditary ruler of Wales), or when the lord’s territory was allodial.”

(…)

Lords who exercised lawful authority over territories and people within a feudal hierarchy were also sometimes regarded as princes in the general sense, especially if they held the rank of count or higher. This is attested in some surviving styles for e.g., British earls, marquesses, and dukes are still addressed by the Crown on ceremonial occasions as high and noble princes (cf. Royal and noble styles)

(…)

Generically, prince refers to a member of a family that ruled by hereditary right, the title referring either to sovereigns or to cadets of a sovereign’s family. The term may be broadly used of persons in various cultures, continents or eras. In Europe, it is the title legally borne by dynasticcadets in monarchies, and borne by courtesy by members of formerly reigning dynasties

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince#Prince_as_generic_for_ruler

There are so many examples in the Arabian peninsula and Gulf like Kuwait, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Qatar, etc

“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

Another undeniable evidence that proves the ROYAL character of the El Chemor titles is the fact that the origins of the Gulf Royal families and the El Chemor family is the very same, they came from Yemen and settled in different areas, before Islam. It’s more than natural that the pre-Islamic tribal traditions inherent to the titles be the same.

Even though all the Lebanese feudal titles were abolished by the Ottoman empire in 1858 CE, the empire could only do so with the titles bestowed by their own honor system. The El Chemor Family had both the Imperial and Royal Ghassanid titles and the ruling Sheikh titles by the “sui iuris” (by own right) legal principle, therefore, the revocation didn’t legally affect them.

However, both the empire and the subsequent Lebanese regimes have formally recognizedall the feudal titles by printing them in the official documents like birth certificates, driver’s licenses and passports. No birth legal privilege attached to those titles, only the prerogative of using them publicly. Not much, but still a formal recognition.

The grave of His Highness Sheikh Selim El Chemor (the great grandfather of HRH Prince Sheikh Selim El Chemor, honorary head of the Royal House of Ghassan) passed away in 1909 CE), note that the royal title of Sheikh (in Arabic, upper right side) is on his tombstone, a capital proof that the family has been publicly using the ‘sui iuris’ titles for centuries until the present date. (Grave at the cemetery at the Mar Mama Ancient Church in Kferhata, Lebanon)

Photo: The grave of His Highness Sheikh Selim El Chemor (the great grandfather of HRH Prince Sheikh Selim El Chemor, honorary head of the Royal House of Ghassan) passed away in 1909 CE), note that the royal title of Sheikh (in Arabic, upper right side) is on his tombstone, a capital proof that the family has been publicly using the ‘sui iuris’ titles for centuries until the present date. (Grave at the cemetery at the Mar Mama Ancient Church in Kferhata, Lebanon)

As mentioned, the El Chemor family was ruling since 1211 CE, almost 80 years before the Ottoman empire was even founded and over 300 years before the first emirate was created with prince Fakhr al-Din I (1516–1544).

We can conclude that there’s a huge difference between the prestige of titles in Mount Lebanon and their actual legal value. Important to note that we’re not debating neither the prestige nor the historical deeds of a particular family, but the actual title’s legal pedigree. There are many families with a more active and glamorous participation in Lebanon’s history than the Sheikhs El Chemor, however, only the families that actually ruled before the Ottoman invasion can claim sovereign or semi-sovereign status along with the Maanid and the Shihab Emirs.

More about the Sheikhs El Chemor and the Ghassanid Kings HERE

Royal House of Ghassan has Christmas Charity event in Lebanon

Again this year, the Lebanese branch of the Royal House of Ghassan had a Christmas Charity Event in Furn El Chebbak, Lebanon. In partnership with the Amicale des Freres Association the Royal House has distributed food and gifts to the elderly people forgotten by their own families. Congratulations to Sheikh Dr. Elie Gharios, the President of the Lebanese branch of the Royal House of Ghassan for the initiative! Happy Holidays

Official article from Lebanese Government about the late Sheikh Nassif El Chemor

Nassif el chemor article

Lebanon has two state-owned news agencies. The most important of them is The National News Agency (NNA), official news body of Lebanon, launched in 1964. They’re an entity subjected to the Ministry of Information Lebanese Republic.

The Ministry of Information consists of the General Directorate of Information and several other directorates including:  Directorate of Lebanese Studies and Publications, The National News Agency and  The Lebanese Broadcasting Directorate  Auditing Department (Diwan).  The Ministry includes other departments and sections.  It was organized by legislative decree no. 6830 released on June 15, 1961.

In other words, whatever is published or stated via any of the entities subjected to the Ministry of Information is considered and recognized as “official information from the Lebanese Government“.

Please CLICK HERE  for the official 2013’s article (in English) from the The National News Agency  (Lebanese Government News’s Agency – Ministry of Information) mentioning the late HH Sheikh Nassif El Chemor (transliterated there as “Shamir”) famous author, historian and former mayor of Kferhata in Lebanon. His Highness Sheikh Nassif has left us earlier this year victim of cancer. May God rest his soul. 

 

Legendary action films director receives the Order of Saint Michael

art camacho

Art Camacho  is one of the most well-known directors and fight choreographers in the movie business. He won several awards and worked in over 50 films with names like  Arnold Schwarzenegger, Val Kilmer, Steven Seagal, Robert Vaughn, Armand Assante, Richard Grieco, Don “The Dragon” WilsonCynthia RothrockJa Rule, etc.  Mr. Camacho has received the Order of Saint Michael Archangel from HIRH Prince Gharios El Chemor last night at the Martial Arts History Museum in Burbank.

But the reason he was honored goes beyond his successful work in action movies. Mr. Camacho‘s life’s story has inspired many people. It’s about how a poor Hispanic boy is able to go against the odds and through the martial arts being able to succeed and live his dream. His story is portrayed in the book “Art Camacho – A filmmaker’s journey” available at Amazon.com

More about Art Camacho HERE

More about Mr. Camacho’s book HERE

More about the Order of Saint Michael Archangel HERE

More about the Martial Arts History Museum HERE