"Sharīf" (Arabic: شريف) is a traditional Arab tribal title given to those who serve as the protector of the tribe and all tribal assets, such as property, wells, and land.

Primarily Sunnis in the Arab world reserve the term "sharif" for descendants of Hasan ibn Ali, while "sayyid" is used for descendants of Husayn ibn Ali. Both Hasan and Husayn are grandchildren of Muhammad, through the marriage of his cousin Ali and his daughter Fatima. However ever since the post-Hashemite era began, the term "sayyid" has been used to denote descendants from both Hasan and Husayn. Arab Shiites use the terms "sayyid" and "habib" to denote descendants from both Hasan and Husayn; see also ashraf.

From 1201 until the Hejaz was conquered by Ibn Saud in 1925, this family held the office of the Sharīf of Makkah, often also carrying the title and office of King of Hejaz. Descendants now rule the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the name being taken from the Banu Hashim, the sub-tribe of Banu Quraish, to which Muhammad belonged.

The word has no etymological connection with the English term "sheriff", which comes from the Old English word "scīrgerefa", meaning "shire-reeve," the local reeve (enforcement agent) of the king in the shire (county).

Usage in Popular culture

* "Rock the Casbah," a song by The Clash

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