Sharif(redirected from sherifs)
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in pre-Islamic Arabia, a member of a distinguished family, the leader of a tribe, or the ruler of a town. The term was later used as an honorary title for Muslims tracing their genealogy to the prophet Muhammad. Only the descendants of Hasan, a grandson of Muhammad’s, had a formal right to the title, but usually all of the descendants of Muhammad were called sharifs and sayyids. In Arabia from the tenth century until 1916, the grand sharif was the ruler of the Hejaz and Mecca.