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.
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.
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.
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