Shaykh Mithqal al-Fayiz's life spanned a period of dramatic transformation in the Middle East. Born in the 1880s during a time of rapid modernization across the Ottoman Empire, Mithqal led his tribe through World War I, the development and decline of colonial rule and founding of Jordan, the establishment of the state of Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict that ensued, and the rise of pan-Arabism. As Mithqal navigated regional politics over the decades, he redefined the modern role of the shaykh.
In following Mithqal's remarkable life, this book explores tribal leadership in the modern Middle East more generally. The support of Mithqal's tribe to the Jordanian Hashemite regime extends back to the creation of Jordan in 1921 and has characterized its political system ever since. The long-standing alliances between tribal elites and the royal family explain, to a large extent, the extraordinary resilience of Hashemite rule in Jordan and the country's relative stability. Mithqal al-Fayiz's life and work as a shaykh offer a notable individual story, as well as a unique window into the history, society, and politics of Jordan.
Stanford University Press; July 2016
- ISBN 9780804799348
- Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure EPUB format
- Title: The Shaykh of Shaykhs
- Author: Yoav Alon
Imprint: Stanford University Press
In The Press
"Yoav Alon removes Shaykh Mithqal from the realm of Orientalist stereotype and rightfully places him at the center of Jordanian history. Mithqal was a complicated, charismatic man, and Alon shows us how he thought and maneuvered, how he adapted to radical socioeconomic change, and how he lived in public and private. Vividly told and grounded in meticulous archival and oral historical research, The Shaykh of Shaykhs will transform the way we understand the tribal leaders who shaped the contemporary Middle East. A rare and fascinating study."
About The Author
Yoav Alon is Senior Lecturer in Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University. He is the author of The Making of Jordan: Tribes, Colonialism, and the Modern States (2009).