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Sayyid Hussein bin Ali
Sharif and Emir of Mecca, King of Hejaz
Sharif Husayn.jpg
Reign Sharif and Emir of Mecca 1908 – 1917
King of Hejaz 1917 - 1924
Full name Sayyid Hussein bin Ali El-Hashimi
Born 1854
Birthplace Istanbul
Died 4 June 1931
Place of death Amman
Buried Royal Mausoleum, Adhamiyah
Predecessor Ottoman Empire
Successor Ali bin Hussein
Consort Abdliya bin Abdullah
Adila Khanmun
Offspring King Ali of Hejaz
King Abdullah I of Jordan
Princess Fatima
King Faisal I of Iraq and Syria
Princess Saleha
Princess Sarra
Prince Zeid
Dynasty Al Hashimi Dynasty
Father Ghazi I
Mother Aliya bint Nasser
Religious beliefs Sunni Islam [1]

Sayyid Hussein bin Ali, GCB (1854 — June 4, 1931) (حسین بن علی; Ḥusayn bin ‘Alī) was the Sharif of Mecca, and Emir of Mecca from 1908 until 1917, when he proclaimed himself King of Hejaz, which received international recognition. In 1924, he further proclaimed himself Caliph of all Muslims. He ruled Hejaz until 1924, when, defeated by Abdul Aziz al Saud, he abdicated the kingdom and other secular titles to his eldest son Ali.


Early life

The eldest son of Sharif Ali bin Muhammad by his wife, Salha, Hussein bin Ali was born in 1853 in Istanbul and was the last of the Hashemite rulers over the Hejaz to be appointed by the Ottoman Sultan. Claiming direct descent from the Prophet Muhammad, he was highly respected in the Islamic world.

Arab Revolt

Sharif Hussein bin Ali shared with his fellow Arabs a strong dislike for his Ottoman overlords. During World War I, Hussein was initially allied with the Ottomans and Germany. Evidence that the Ottoman government was planning to depose him at the end of the war soured this alliance. The British Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, appealed to him for assistance in the conflict on the side of the Triple Entente but Hussein wanted an Arab nation and political recognition in return. Starting in 1915, an exchange of letters with British High Commissioner Henry McMahon assured him that his assistance would be rewarded by an Arab empire encompassing the entire span between Egypt and Persia, with the exception of imperial possessions and interests in Kuwait, Aden, and the Syrian coast. But after protracted negotiations, Hussein became impatient and started what would become known as The Great Arab Revolt against Ottoman control in 1916.

Following World War I

In the aftermath of the war, the Arabs found themselves freed from centuries of Ottoman Sultanate rule, and under the mandate colonial rule of France and the United Kingdom. As these mandates ended, the sons of Hussein were made the kings of Transjordan (later Jordan), Syria and Iraq. However, the monarchy in Syria was short-lived, and consequently Hussein's son (Faisal) instead presided over the newly-established Iraq.

King of Hejaz

When Hussein declared himself King of the Hejaz, he also declared himself King of all Arabs (malik bilad-al-Arab). This aggravated his conflict with Ibn Saud, with whom he had fought before WWI on the side of the Ottomans in 1910. Two days after the Turkish Caliphate was abolished by the Turkish Grand National Assembly on March 3, 1924, Hussein declared himself Caliph at his son Abdullah's winter camp in Shunah, Transjordan.[2] The claim to the title had a mixed reception, and he was soon ousted and driven out of Arabia by the Saudis, a rival clan that had no interest in the Caliphate. Saud defeated Hussein in 1924. Hussein continued to use the title of Caliph when living in Transjordan.

Exile and abdication

The funeral of King Hussein in Jerusalem, 1931.

Though the British had supported Hussein from the start of the Arab Revolt and the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence, they elected not to help Hussein repel the Saudi attack, which eventually took Mecca, Medina, and Jeddah. He was then forced to flee to Cyprus, where he donated funds for the construction of an Armenian church. He went to live in Amman, Transjordan, where his son Abdullah was king. After his abdication, his son 'Ali briefly assumed the throne, but then he too had to flee the encroachment of Ibn Saud and his Salafi forces. His son Faisal was briefly King of Syria and later King of Iraq.

Hussein died in Amman in 1931 and is buried in Jerusalem.

Marriage and children

Hussein, who had four wives, fathered four sons and three daughters with three of his wives. With his first wife Abdiya bin Abdullah he had:

  • Prince Ali, last King of Hejaz married to Nafisa bint Abdullah.
  • Prince Abdullah, Emir (later King) of Transjordan married to Musbah bint Nasser, Suzdil Hanum, and Nahda bint Uman.
  • Princess Fatima - married a European Muslim Businessman from France.
  • Prince Faisal, King of Iraq and Syria married to Huzaima bint Nasser.

With his second wife Madiha he had:

  • Princess Saleha married to Abdullah bin Muhammed.

With his third wife Adila Khanmun he had:

  • Princess Sara married Muhammad Atta Amin in July 1933 divorced September 1933.
  • Prince Zeid, succeeded King Faisal II of Iraq on his assassination in 1958, but never ruled as Iraq became a republic. Married to Fakhrelnissa Kabaac.


In the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia, Alec Guinness portrayed Prince Faisal, Sharif Hussein's son.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Teitelbaum, 2001, p. 243.

See also


  • Teitelbaum, Joshua (2001). The Rise and Fall of the Hashemite Kingdom of the Hijaz. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. ISBN 1850654603
  • A detailed genealogy
Preceded by
Ottoman Empire
King of Hejaz
Succeeded by
Ali bin Hussein


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