(Photograph from the papers of John D. Whiting, US Library of Congress)
If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance. —G.B. Shaw
A friend sent me this photograph, wanting to know how I was related to Sheik Majid. After a bit of sleuthing, I established that Majid was the 2nd cousin of my great-grandfather…and there he is with Lawrence, a man I’ve never been much enamoured of.
Emir Abdullah Al-Hashemi, (later King of Jordan) working with T. E. Lawrence, played a key role as architect and planner of the Great Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule, leading guerrilla raids on garrisons and blowing up trains.
What I was unaware of was that a large contingent of the tribal levies that Emir Abdullah and his field commander (and brother) Faisal (played by Alec Guiness in David Lean’s film Lawrence of Arabia) depended on were Al-Adwani tribesman led by Sheik Majid.
I always knew that my family were (and are) prominent in Jordan1 and long-time allies of the Al-Hashemis (Jordan’s ruling family, formerly rulers of Mecca and the Hijaz until driven out by Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud) but I never realised that they’d fought with Lawrence and Faisal (who became, successively, King of Syria and King of Iraq). How embarrassing. Oh, well…nobody’s perfect.
Time for verse on the subject of exotic, reprehensible, inconvenient or disgraceful relatives.
1The government’s official spokesperson, Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Taher al-Adwani said, “Jordan definitely supports the Security Council Resolution on Libya, but it will not participate in any military action against it.”–AP
*I should point out that the ‘pasha’ part of Majid’s name is actually an honorific bestowed by the Ottomans (before, I suspect, he started blowing up their trains).
According to wiki: ‘Pasha or pascha, formerly bashaw, [Turkish: paşa] was a high rank in the Ottoman Empire political system, typically granted to governors, generals and dignitaries. As an honorary title, Pasha, in one of its various ranks, is equivalent to the British title of Lord, and was also one of the highest titles in pre-republican Egypt.’
**details of The John Whiting Collection and the collection itself can be seen HERE.