The Ghassanids (Arabic: al-Ghasāsinah, also Banū Ghassān, “Sons of Ghassān”) are the descendants of a group of South Arabian Christian sedentary (not nomadic) people that emigrated in the early third century from Yemen to the Hauran in southern Syria, Jordan, and the Holy Land, where some intermarried with Hellenized Roman settlers and Greek-speaking early Christian communities, becoming maybe some of the first “cosmopolitan” nations in the world, benefiting from the modernity of the West without losing their Arab roots. The term Ghassān refers to the first kingdom of the Ghassanids. Its rulers in the Middle East can be compared to the Habsburgs in Europe. It’s the longest reigning Arab dynasty in history and also the one that ruled over the most extensive territory.
It is said that the Ghassanids came from the historical city of Ma’rib in Yemen, from the Kingdom of Sheba (or Saba), notorious in several historical accounts, including the main sacred scriptures. There was a legendary dam in Ma’rib that suffered several ruptures. At the beginning of the third-century ad, there was so much rain and big rats, that the dam was carried away by the ensuing flood, forcing the people and the royal family to emigrate, seeking to live in less arid lands and becoming scattered far and wide. The proverb “They were scattered like the people of Saba” refers to that exodus in history. The emigrants were from the southern Arab tribe of Azd of the Kahlan branch of Qahtani tribes. The actual founders of the Ghassanid dynasty were princes of the Sabean kingdom.
Prince Jaffna bin ‘Amr, one of the four sons of the king of Sheba, headed north with his family and settled in Hauran (south of Damascus) where the Ghassanid state was founded. He became the first Ghassanid king in 220 CE. Around that period it is assumed that the Ghassanids adopted the religion of Christianity.
The Ghassanids were the buffer zone against the Bedouins penetrating Roman territory. The capital was at Jabiyah in the Golan Heights. Geographically, it occupied much of Syria, Mount Hermon (Lebanon), Jordan, west of Iraq, and Israel, and its authority extended via tribal alliances with other Azdi tribes, all the way to the northern Hijaz and as far south as Yathrib (Medina). The ruins of palaces, churches, monasteries, public baths, and aqueducts in Houran are evidence of the sophistication of their culture and civilization.
The Ghassanid Dynasty is the oldest Arab Royal House, which ruled for the longest time and over the largest territory. It’s also the oldest Christian Royal Dynasty still active (even no longer ruling, still legally organized and officially recognized)
Historical Imperial and Royal Titles (chronological order)
– Kings of Ghassan or Kings of the Ghassanids (220-638 CE)
– Kings (or Emperors) of All Arabs “Basileus Araves” (529-638 CE)
– Roman (Byzantine) Emperors of the Phocid Dynasty (802-813 CE)
– Ceasars and Masters of the Island of Rhodes (1203-1250 CE)
– Sultans of Rasul (1229-1454 CE)
– Sheikhs of Akoura (1211-1633 CE)
– Sheikhs of Zgharta-Zawyie (1641-1747 CE)
– Princes of Jabal Shammar (Chemor) (1836–1921 CE)
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