[ Note: None of this is a joke, nothing here is intended humorously,
and certainly none of it should be taken as mockery or
disparagement. The naming conventions of Saudi royalty are not for me
to judge or criticize, and if they cause problems for me, the problems
are my own. It is, however, a serious lament. ]
The following innocuous claim appears in Wikipedia's article on
Abdullah bin Abdul-Rahman:
He was the seventh son of the Emir of the Second Saudi State,
Abdul Rahman bin Faisal.
Yesterday I tried to verify this claim and I was not able to do it.
Somewhere there must be a complete and authoritative pedigree of the
entire Saudi royal family, but I could not find it online, perhaps
because it is very big. There is a Saudi royal family official web
site, and when I found that it does have a
page about the family
tree, I rejoiced,
thinking my search was over. But the tree only lists the descendants
of King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, founder of the modern
Saudi state. Abdullah was his half-brother and does not appear there.
Well, no problem, just Google the name, right? Ha!
Problem 1: These princes all have at least twenty kids each. No, seriously. The
Wikipedia article on Ibn Saud himself lists twenty-one wives and then gives up, ending with an
exhausted “Possibly other wives”. There is a separate article on his
descendants that lists 72 children of
various sexes, and the following section on grandchildren begins:
Due to the Islamic traditions of polygyny and easy divorce (on the
male side), King Abdul Aziz [Ibn Saud] has approximately a thousand
Problem 2: They reuse many of the names. Because of course they do;
if wife #12 wants to name her first son the same as the sixth son of
wife #2, why not? They don't live in the same house. So among the
children of Ibn Saud there are two Abdullahs (“servant of God”), two
Badrs (“full moon”), two Fahds (“leopard”), two each of Majid
(“majestic”), Mishari (I dunno), Talal (dunno), and Turki
(“handsome”). There are three sons named Khalid (“eternal”). There is a Sa'ad
and a Saad, which I think are the exact same
name (“success”) as spelled by two different Wikipedia editors.
And then they reuse the names intergenerationally. Among Ibn Saud's
numerous patrilineal grandsons there are at least six more Fahds, the
sons respectively of Mohammed, Badr (the second one), Sultan, Turki
(also the second one), Muqrin, and Salman. Abdulaziz Ibn Saud has a
grandson also named Abdulaziz, whose name is therefore Abdulaziz bin
Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. (The “bin” means “son of”; the feminine
form is “bint”.) It appears that the House of Saud does not name sons
after their fathers, for which I am grateful.
Ibn Saud's father was Abdul Rahman (this is the Abdul Rahman of
Abdullah bin Abdul-Rahman, who is the subject of this article.
Remember him?) One of Ibn Saud's sons is also Abdul Rahman, I think
probably the first one to be born after the death of his grandfather,
and at least two of his patrilineal grandsons are also.
Problem 3: Romanization of Arabic names is done very inconsistently.
I mentioned “Saad” and “Sa'ad” before. I find the name Abdul Rahman
spelled variously “Abdul Rahman”, “Abdulrahman”, “Abdul-Rahman”, and
“Abd al-Rahman”. This makes text searches difficult and
unreliable. (The name, by the way, means "Servant of the gracious
one”, referring to God.)
Problem 4: None of these people has a surname. Instead they are all
patronymics. Ibn Saud has six grandsons named Fahd; how do you tell
them apart? No problem, their fathers all have different names, so
Fahd bin Mohammed,
Fahd bin Badr,
Fahd bin Sultan,
Fahd bin Turki,
Fahd bin Muqrin,
Fahd bin Salman. But again this confuses text searches terribly.
can search for “Abdullah bin Abdul-Rahman” but many of the results
will be about his descendants
Fahd bin Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman,
Fahd bin Khalid bin Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman,
Fahd bin Muhammad bin Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman,
Abdullah bin Bandar bin Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman,
Faisal bin Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman,
Faisal bin Abdul Rahman bin Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman,
In combination with the reuse of the same few names, the result is
even more confusing. There is Bandar bin Khalid, and Khalid
bin Bandar; Fahad bin Khalid and Khalid bin Fahd.
There is Mohammed al Saud (Mohammed of (the house of) Saud) and
Mohammed bin Saud (Mohammed the son of Saud).
There are grandsons named Saad bin Faisal, Faisal bin Bandar, Bandar bin Sultan,
Sultan bin Fahd, Fahd bin Turki, Turki bin Talal, Talal bin Mansour,
Mansour bin Mutaib, Mutaib bin Abdullah, and Abdullah bin Saad. I swear I
am not making this up.
Perhaps Abdullah was the seventh son of Abdul Rahman.