ASHRAF (Shurefa, Sherifs), a small scattered tribe of African "Arabs" settled near Tokar, in the valleys of the Gash and Baraka, and in the Amarar country north of Suakin. They call themselves Beni Hashin, and claim descent from Mahomet; hence their name, sherif (plural ashraf) being the title applied to descendants of the prophet. In the time of the khalifa Abdulla (1885-1898), Ashraf was the name by which the family and adherents of his late master the mahdi were known, the mahdi's family claiming to be Ashraf. The Ashraf of Tokar remained loyal to Egypt during the Sudan troubles.
See Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, edited by Count Gleichen (London, 1905); Fire and Sword in the Sudan, by Slatin Pasha (London, 1896); for the Ashraf or Sherifs in Arabia, see Arabia: Geography.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)