Al Rashid

Al Rashid
Āl Rasheed / Alrasheed
Āl Rasheed / Alrasheed
آل رشيد‎


Flag of Al Rashid

Capital Ha'il
Language(s) Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish
Religion Sunni Islam
Government Monarchy
 - Battle of Mulayda 1891
 - Unification of Saudi Arabia 1916
Flag of the Emirate of Ha'il, 1835 to 1920
Flag of the Emirate of Ha'il, 1920 to 1921

Al Rasheed, the House of Rashid, or the House of Rasheed (Arabic: آل رشيدĀl Rashid or Alrasheed) were a historic dynasty of the Arabian Peninsula, and the most formidable enemies of the House of Saud in Nejd. They were centered in Ha'il, a city in northern Nejd that derived its wealth from being on the route of the Hajj.

The Al Rasheed derived their name from the grandfather of Abdullah, the first Rasheedi amir ("prince") of Ha'il, who was named Rasheed.

The Rasheedi amirs cooperated closely with the Ottoman Empire. However, this cooperation became problematic as the Ottoman empire lost popularity.

As with many Arab ruling dynasties, the lack of a generally accepted rule of succession was a recurrent problem with the Rasheedi rule. The internal dispute normally centered on whether succession to the position of amir should be horizontal (i.e. to a brother) or vertical (to a son). These internal divisions within the family led to bloody infighting. In the last years of the nineteenth century six Rasheedi leaders died violently. Nevertheless The Al Rasheed Family still ruled and fought with each other hand in hand against Ibn Saud.

During the first twenty years of the 20th century the Arabian Peninsula saw a long-running series of wars as the Saudis and their allies sought to unite the peninsula under their rule. While the Al Rasheed rallied the majority of other tribes to their side the effort proved futile, and by 1921 Ha'il was captured and given to Ibn Saud's army by the British command.

Some members of the Rasheed family left the country and went into voluntary exile, mostly to Iraq. By the 1990s only a handful were still outside Saudi Arabia.


Amirs of the House of Rasheed

Rashidi rule at its height
  1. ʿAbdullah bin Rashīd (Arabic: عبدالله بن رشيد‎), (1836-48). Abdullah came to power after leading a revolt (together with his brother prince ʿUbayd Al Rashīd) against the ruler of Ha'il, Muhammad bin Ali, who was a fellow member of the Jaafar lineage. As a leader, Abdullah was praised for bringing peace and stability both to Ha'il and to the surrounding region. Abdullah demanded from his brother prince ʿUbayd an ahd (covenant) according to which succession to the office of amir would remain in Abdullah's line.
  2. Talāl bin ʿAbdullah (Arabic: طلال بن عبدالله‎), (1848–68). The son of Abdullah. Talal was known for his "urban" interests. During his rule the Barzan Palace in Ha'il was completed. He established regular trade connections with Iraq, and expanded the Rashidi sphere of influence:

    "The inhabitants of Kaseem, weary of Wahhabee tyranny, turned their eyes towards Telal, who had already given a generous and inviolable asylum to the numerous political exiles of that district. Secret negotiations took place, and at a favourable moment the entire uplands of that province—after a fashion not indeed peculiar to Arabia—annexed themselves to the kingdom of Shommer by universal and unanimous suffrage." (William Gifford Palgrave, 1865: 129.)

    Talal was considered relatively tolerant towards foreigners, including traders in Ha'il:

    "Many of these traders belonged to the Shia sect, hated by some Sunni, doubly hated by the Wahabees. But Telal [sic] affected not to perceive their religious discrepansies, and silenced all murmurs by marks of special favour towards these very dissenters, and also by the advantages which their presence was not long in procuring for the town". (William Gifford Palgrave 1865: 130.)

    In the 1860s internal disputes in the House of Saud allowed a Rashidi/Ottoman alliance to oust them. The Rashidi occupied the Saudi capital of Riyadh in 1865 and forced the leaders of the House of Saud into exile. Talal later died in a shooting incident which has been termed "mysterious". Charles Doughty, in his book Travels in Arabia Deserta, writes that Talal committed suicide. Talal left seven sons, but the oldest, Bandar, was only 18 or 20 when his father died.
  3. Mutʿib bin ʿAbdullah (Arabic: متعب بن عبدالله‎), (1868–9). A younger brother of Talal, he was supported by senior members of the Rashid family and the sheikhs of the Shammar sections. After only a year he was shot and killed in the Barzan Palace by his nephew and next amir, Bandar. Doughty's version of the events is that Bandar and Badr, the second-oldest son, cast a silver bullet to kill their uncle because they knew he wore an amulet that protected him against lead.
  4. Bandar bin Talāl (Arabic: بندر بن طلال‎), (1869). Ruled for only a short time before he was killed by his uncle, Muhammed, the brother of Mutʿib. Bandar reportedly married his uncle's widow and had a son by her.
  5. Muhammed bin ʿAbdullah (Arabic: محمد بن عبدالله‎), (1869–97) A confrontation outside Ha'il with his nephew, the young Amir Bandar, ended with Muhammed killing Bandar. Muhammed then continued his journey to Ha'il and announced himself as the new amir. In order to prevent the possibility of revenge, Muhammed gave orders for the execution of all of Bandar's brothers (the sons of Talal), Bandar's cousins (the children of Talal's sister), and their slaves and servants. Only one of Talal's sons, Naif, survived. In spite of the inauspicious beginning, his rule turned out to be the longest in the history of the Rashidi dynasty. His rule became "a period of stability, expansion and prosperity" (ref.: p. 61, Al Rasheed). His expansion reached al-Jawf and Palmyra to the north, and Tayma and Khaybar to the west. In 1891, after a rebellion, ʿAbd al-Rahman bin Faysal bin Turki Al Saud left Riyadh. The Saud family, including the ten year old Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, went into exile in Kuwait.
  6. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz bin Mutʿib (Arabic: عبدالعزيز بن متعب‎), (1897–1906). A son of Mutʿib, the third amir, he was adopted by his uncle Muhammed, the fifth amir, and brought up to be his heir. After Muhammed died of natural causes, Abd al-ʿAziz succeeded him unopposed. However Rashidi rule was insecure as their Ottoman allies were unpopular and weakening. In 1904 the young Ibn Saud, the future founder of Saudi Arabia, returned from exile with a small force and retook Riyadh. Abd al-ʿAziz died in the battle of Rawdat Muhanna with Ibn Saud in 1906.
  7. Mutʿib bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (Arabic: متعب بن عبدالعزيز‎), (1906–07). Succeeded his father as amir. However, he was not able to win support of the whole family, and within a year he was killed by Sultan bin Hammud.
  8. Sultān bin Hammūd (Arabic: سلطان بن حمود‎), (1907–08). A grandson of Ubayd (the brother of the first amir), he was criticized because he ignored the ahd (covenant) between his grandfather and the first amir. He was unsuccessful in fighting Ibn Saud, and was killed by his own brothers.
  9. Saʿūd bin Hammūd (Arabic: سعود بن حمود‎), (1908–10). Another grandson of Ubayd. Saʿud was killed by the maternal relatives of Saʿud bin ʿAbd al-ʿAziz, the 10th amir.
    Saud bin Abdul Aziz Rashid
  10. Saʿūd bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (Arabic: سعود بن عبدالعزيز‎), (1910–20). A boy of 10 when he was made amir, his maternal relatives of the Al Sabhan family ruled as regents on his behalf until he came of age, based on the constitution of Emara. In 1920 he was assassinated by his cousin, Abdullah bin Talal (a brother of the 12th amir). Two of his widows remarried: Norah bint Hammud Al Sabhan became Ibn Saud's eight wife, and Fahda bint Asi Al Shuraim of the Abde section of the Shammar tribe became Ibn Saud's ninth wife and the mother of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
  11. ʿAbdullah bin Mutʿib (Arabic: عبدالله بن متعب‎), (1920–21). A son of the 7th amir, he surrendered to Ibn Saud.
  12. Muhammad bin Talāl (Arabic: محمد بن طلال‎), (1921). A grandson of Naif, the only surviving son of Talal, the 2nd Amir. Surrendered to Ibn Saud. One of the daughters of Muhammad bin Talal, Watfa, married Prince Musa'id bin Abdul Aziz, the fifteenth son of Ibn Saud. Prince Musa'id and Watfa became the parents of Prince Faisal bin Musa'id, the assassin of King Faisal.

There has been a tendency to attribute the development of the House of Rashid to trading and commercial expansion, but recently documents have come to light which emphasise the significance of external pressures and the Rashidi's interaction with foreign governments and leaders.[1]

See also

  • Jebel Shammar
  • List of Sunni Muslim dynasties
  • List of countries in 1919
  • List of countries in 1922


Further reading

Many foreign travellers visited the Rashidi amirs at Ha'il and described their impressions in journals and books, including:

External links

  • Al Rasheed on, with pictures and flags. (Arabic)

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