Sharif Hussein of Mecca

  • A sharif is "a descendant of the prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatima; one of noble ancestry or political preeminence in predominantly Islamic countries" (Merriam-Webster)
  • Hussein bin Ali was the Sharif of Mecca and Emir of Mecca from 1908 until 1917
  • His family had ruled the Hejaz Region since 1201
  • With the assurance of Britain in the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence, Hussein claimed himself king of the Hejaz in 1917 with hopes that with Britain's help, an Arab state would soon be formed
    • Hussein's vision was an Arab state stretching from Syria to Yemen, under governing Islamic principles, separate from the semi-oppressive Turkish authority in the Ottoman Empire
  • McMahon's promises, however, were too vague to stand as concrete obligations:
    • "[Britain] will assist them to establish what may appear to be the most suitable forms of government in those various territories"
      • "forms of government" are not specified, and "those various territories" does not point to any specific area
    • "...interests of Great Britain necessitate special administrative arrangements..."
      • one may wonder exactly what "special administrative arrangements" were expected, or facilitated by whom, etc.
    • "This declaration...will result in a firm and lasting alliance..."
      • "a firm and lasting alliance" is somewhat ironic due to the fact that Britain's negotiations with other entities in the coming years resulted in distrust between the Arabs and Britain
  • The Balfour Declaration inspired the same hope in Zionists, yet increased tensions between Jews and Arabs as British diplomats promised both an Arab state and a Jewish homeland "in Palestine"
  • These blatant inconsiderations of courtesy for the Arabs resulted in Hussein's bitter disappointment in the British nation
    • the British failed to defend him against the Saudi rebellion in later years

Works Cited

"Hussein Bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca." Funk and Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia.
N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Nov. 2009. <

McMahon, Henry. "The McMahon Letter." Letter to Hussein Ibn Ali. 24 Oct. 1915.

"sharif." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009.
Merriam-Webster Online. 1 November 2009 <>