Apart from the tribesmen there is in Hejaz and south Arabia a privileged, religious class, the Sharifs or Seyyids, who claim descent from Mahomet through his daughter Fatima.
Until the Egyptian invasion in 1814 the Sharifs of Mecca were the recognized rulers of Hejaz, and though the Turks have attempted to suppress their importance, the Sharif still executes justice according to the Mahommedan law in the holy cities, though, nominally, as a Turkish official.
In Yemen and Hadramut many villages are occupied exclusively by this religious hierarchy, who are known as Ashraf, Sada or Kudha (i.e.Sharifs, Seyyids or Kadhis); the religious affairs of the tribes are left in their hands; they do not, however, interfere in tribal matters generally, or join in fighting.
It is celebrated for its large and luscious dates, to the successful cultivation of which, soon after the arrival of an ancestor of the reigning dynasty of Morocco (hence called the Filali Sharifs, i.e.
Since 1648 it has been the custom of Moorish sultans to despatch superfluous sons and daughters to Tafilalt, and as the males are all sharifs, the fanaticism against Europeans is comprehensible.