The Shawish surname has several variations in languages other than Arabic. Written Arabic language frequently omits vowels, therefore the surname is often spelt using only plain Arabic alphabet, literally as "Shawesh". "Al-" or "El", meaning "family of" or "the" in Arabic, is often used as a prefix to names in formal identifications. English or other languages translations of the surname therefore vary, some common versions include:(Al) Shawish; Shawish; (El) Shawesh; Shaweesh
Several Islamic historians assert that the Shawish family is a descendant of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. This claim is based on verifiable historical documents describing the link through "twenty four men" (generations) between Muhammad and Ustaz Mohammad Zuhayr Al-Shawish (see below)
The Hashemi clan, to which Muhammad belonged, was the ancestors of Al-Husayni clan through Husayn ibn Ali, Muhammad's grandson, whose members migrated from Mecca to neighbouring countries in the Levant region to fight the crusaders. In the 13th century after Saladin victory over the crusaders, Al-Husayni clan settled in Jerusalem, expanded to thousands of members and gained power and influence.
During the periods of Ottoman Empire and British Mandate of Palestine, and due to significant historical and political events in Jerusalem, some of Al-Husayni individuals adopted new surnames drawn from their professions. Within the Shawish family, it is widely believed that the name Shawish (meaning Police or Army Sergeant) started from a policeman in the Old City of Jerusalem at that time, around the end of the 19th century.
An early record of the surname Shawish was in a British Newspaper “The New Age” article in 1910. The article discussed several current affairs in Egypt and made reference to Sheykh Abdul Aziz Shawish or as Egyptians pronounce it (Gawish), as in Arabic his name is written عبد العزيز جاويش, editor of ”Al Lewa'” newspaper at that time.