Sovereign Imperial & Royal House of Ghassan

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The Ghassanids (Arabic: al-Ghasāsinah, also Banū Ghassān, “Sons of Ghassān”) are the descendants of a group of South Arabian Christian sedentary (not nomadic) people that emigrated in the early third century from Yemen to the Hauran in southern Syria, Jordan, and the Holy Land, where some intermarried with Hellenized Roman settlers and Greek-speaking early Christian communities, becoming maybe some of the first “cosmopolitan” nations in the world, benefiting from the modernity of the West without losing their Arab roots. The term Ghassān refers to the first kingdom of the Ghassanids. Its rulers in the Middle East can be compared to the Habsburgs in Europe. It’s the longest reigning Arab dynasty in history and also the one that ruled over more the most extensive territory.

It is said that the Ghassanids came from the historical city of Ma’rib in Yemen, from the Kingdom of Sheba (or Saba), notorious in several historical accounts, including the main sacred scriptures. There was a legendary dam in Ma’rib that suffered several ruptures. In the beginning of third century ad, there was so much rain and big rats, that the dam was carried away by the ensuing flood, forcing the people and the royal family to emigrate, seeking to live in less arid lands and becoming scattered far and wide. The proverb “They were scattered like the people of Saba” refers to that exodus in history. The emigrants were from the southern Arab tribe of Azd of the Kahlan
branch of Qahtani tribes. The actual founders of the Ghassanid dynasty were princes of the  Sabean kingdom.

Prince Jafna bin ‘Amr, one of the four sons of the king of Sheba, headed north with his family and settled in Hauran (south of Damascus) where the Ghassanid state was founded. He became the first Ghassanid king in 220 CE. Around that period it is assumed that the Ghassanids adopted the religion of Christianity.

The Ghassanids were the buffer zone against the Bedouins penetrating Roman territory. The capital was at Jabiyah in the Golan Heights. Geographically, it occupied much of Syria, Mount Hermon (Lebanon), Jordan, west of Iraq, and Israel, and its authority extended via tribal alliances with other Azdi tribes, all the way to the northern Hijaz and as far south as Yathrib (Medina). The
ruins of palaces, churches, monasteries, public baths, and aqueducts in Houran are evidence of the sophistication of their culture and civilization.

The Byzantine Empire’s main concern was the other competing superpower at that time, the Sassanid Persians. The Ghassanids maintained their rule as the guardian of trade routes and policed Bedouin tribes. The Ghassanids, who had successfully opposed the Persian-allied Lakhmids of al-Hirah (Southern Iraq and Northern Saudi Arabia), prospered economically and engaged in much religious and public building. They also patronized the arts and sponsored poets like Nabighah adh-Dhubyani and Hassan ibn Thabit. The Ghassanid kings were famous for their generosity and sophistication. They were “addicted” to poetry.

The Ghassanids remained a Byzantine-allied state until its rulers were overthrown by the Muslims in the seventh century following the Battle of Yarmuk in 636 CE.

It's known that Jabalah IV, the last Ghassanid king of the first state, and his followers didn’t convert to Islam. Some tales account that the king was forced to convert and then escaped and turned back to Christianity. Although the legal concept of "subito la debellatio" wasn’t yet notorious, the Ghassanids were not interested in giving up their royal status, so King Jabalah returned to the Byzantine land with around thirty thousand Ghassanids forming what’s known today as a “government-in-exile.” He was such a good and strong king that for decades after his death, his name was a symbol of strength and glory. It's known that his oldest son went to today's Lebanon establishing the El Chemor (or Shammar, or Shummar) family in the city of Akoura. It's also confirmed that his descendants ruled the same city  (the largest Christian city back then with 40 churches) in the 13th century. Other Ghassanid princes have tried to rebuild the kingdom several times with small principalities all over the Middle East, Greece (Rhodes) and even in Spain.

They maintained a high noble status within the Byzantine Empire until the ninth century when Emperor Nikephoros I claimed to be the head of the Ghassanid Dynasty. The Phocid (or Nikephoros) dynasty ruled the Byzantine Empire from 802 ad to 813 ad. Nikephoros was credited for his efforts to revive the greatness of the Byzantine Empire. He was the first Byzantine emperor to refuse paying the Tribute to the Caliph of Baghdad and to recognize Charlemagne’s imperial status. He was betrayed by his own officers and later defeated.

The Sheiks El Chemor were the last sovereigns princes to rule, bearing the titles of Royal Ghassanid successors until 1747 CE. The Sheikhs Chemor ruled the whole rich agricultural
region of Akoura since 1211 CE. They’ve ruled the Zawiya from 1641 to 1747 and took Kfarhata near Zgharta as their hometown. During this period, many troubles occurred between the Sheikhs Chemor and the Sheikhs Daher, which led one of the Chemors to escape from the village and take refuge in a small village uphill of Jbeil, Beit Habbak, from where a big ramification of the Chemor family took place, originating, amongst others, the Gharios family.

The titles of the El Chemor family were recognized by the Ottoman empire until its end (1924 CE) and also by the Lebanese republic until the present date. The family's history was kept and validated for centuries by the Maronite Church under the Holy See (Vatican) and the authority of the Pope. Please, CLICK HERE  for an official 2014's article (in Arabic) from the Lebanese Government New's Agency (Lebanese Republic - Ministry of Information) recognizing the titles and validating the book written in 1947 about the family's history.

Please, CLICK HERE to read the partial translation of the book  "Al-Sheikh Al-Chemor Al-Hakam Al-Akoura (1211-1633) Al-Hakam Zawie (1641-1747)" in English "The Sheikhs Chemor rulers of Akoura (1211-1633 CE) and rulers of Zawie (1641-1747 CE)" Beirut, Lebanon, 1948, by the famous Lebanese historian Ignatious Tannos Khoury, where several scientific and academic evidence, corroborated by several other scholars, link beyond a single solitary doubt, the Al-Chemor Sheikhs as direct descendants to the Ghassanid King Abu Chemor Jablah (reigned 518-528 CE) and the Gharios Family as a direct continuation of the El-Chemor Family.  For further understanding, please, read the article "The El Chemor/Gharios Family Vis-à-vis with the International Law" LEARN MORE  

Most of the Ghassanids remained Christians and some stayed in the Levant. The Ghassanid Dynasty is also composed by the Roman eastern empire (or Byzantine). That makes the dynasty originally but not exclusively Arab, but Romanized and Hellenized Arab. In a simplistic way, the Ghassanid dynasty has “one foot” in the Middle east and “one foot” in Europe. Also, for over a century, the great majority of Ghassanids (estimated 70-80%) doesn’t live in the Middle East and not even speak Arabic due to the ongoing persecution started in the Islamic conquest and continued by the Ottoman empire. Only in Brazil, the Lebanese colony in around 10 million people (immigrants and descendants). There are a couple of million in Latin-America and around 3 million in the United States. The current Lebanese population is around 4 million. That curiosly makes the main language of the Ghassanids to be Portuguese, Spanish and English, not Arabic.

Many Christian as well as Muslim families of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine trace their roots to the Ghassanids. Here are some known Ghassanid families:

Abla, Abou Haidar, Al Ashkar, Aranki, Atiyah, Ayoub, Ammari, Aridah, Azar, Batarseh, Barsa, Barakat, Bayouth, Chakar, Chalhoub, Chemor, Dibh, Fares, Farhat, Farhoud, Gharios, Ghanem, Ghanma, Ghannoum, Ghulmiyyah, Habbaki, Habib, Haddad, Hazboun, Hanna, Hamra, Howayek, Haddadin, Hbeish, Hellou, Hilweh, Ishaq, Jabara (Jebara or Gebara, Gibara), Jarrar, Kakish, Kandil, Karadsheh, Kawar, Khazens, Khoury, Lahd, Maalouf, Madi, Makhlouf, Matar, Moghabghab, Mokdad, Nasir, Nawfal (of Tripoli), Nayfeh, Nimri, Obeid, Oweiss, Rached, Rafeedie/Rafidi, Rahhal, Razook, Saab, Saah, Salama, Saliba, Samara, Sarkis, Sayegh, Saig, Shammas, Semaan (of Kaftoun), Sfeir, Shdid, Smeirat, Soub, Sweiss, Sweidan, Theeba, Tyan, Twal and Qumsieh, among many others.

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Download the full version of the book & Historical Scientific Research (in Arabic) "Sheikh El Chemor Rulers of Al-Aqoura (1211-1633) and Rulers of Al-Zawiye (1641-1747)"
Beirut, Lebanon, 1947 by Maronite Father Ignatios Tannos El-Khoury in a .PDF file

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IMPORTANTThe Royal House of Ghassan follows the customary monarchical tradition of non-interference in partisan politics and does not actively seek regime change in any country. On the contrary, the Ghassanid Princes sworn to serve the Middle Eastern people without asking anything in return continuing to fulfill their millennial role of serving as a bridge between the Middle East and the West

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