Sharifa Brooke Shields
"The longer ago somebody lived, the more descendants a person is likely to have today. Humphrys estimates that Muhammad, the founder of Islam, appears on the family tree of every person in the Western world.
"Some people have actually tried to establish a documented line between Muhammad, who was born in the 6th century, and the medieval English monarchs, and thus to most if not all people of European descent. Nobody has succeeded yet, but one proposed lineage comes close. Though it runs through several strongly suspicious individuals, the line illustrates how lines of descent can wander down through the centuries, connecting famous figures of the past to most of the people living today.
"The proposed genealogy runs through Muhammad's daughter Fatima. Her husband Ali, also a cousin of Muhammad, is considered by Shiite Muslims the legitimate heir to leadership of Islam.
"Ali and Fatima had a son, al-Hasan, who died in 670. About three centuries later, his ninth great-grandson, Ismail, carried the line to Europe when he became Imam of Seville.
"Many genealogists dispute the connection between al-Hasan and Ismail, claiming that it includes fictional characters specifically invented by medieval genealogists trying to link the Abbadid dynasty, founded by Ismail's son, to Muhammad.
"The Abbadid dynasty was celebrated for making Seville a great cultural center at a time when most of Europe was mired in the Dark Ages. The last emir in that dynasty was supposed to have had a daughter named Zaida, who is said to have changed her name to Isabel upon converting to Christianity and marrying Alfonso VI, king of Castile and Leon.
"Yet there is no good evidence demonstrating that Isabel, who bore one son by Alfonso VI, is the same person as Zaida. So the line between Muhammad and the English monarchs probably breaks again at this point.
"But if you give the Zaida/Isabel story the benefit of the doubt too, the line eventually leads to Isabel's fifth great-granddaughter Maria de Padilla (though it does encounter yet another potentially fictional character in the process).
"Maria married another king of Castile and Leon, Peter the Cruel. Their great-great-granddaughter was Queen Isabel, who funded the voyages of Christopher Columbus. Her daughter Juana married a Hapsburg, and eventually gave rise to a Medici, a Bourbon and long line of Italian princes and dukes, spreading the Mohammedan line of descent all over Europe.
"Finally, 43 generations from Mohammed, you reach an Italian princess named Marina Torlonia.
"Her granddaughter is Brooke Shields."
I agree with the skeptics that the Abbadid claims to Hashemite descent could easily have been falsified for political purposes, but I'm also pretty sure the ties are there somewhere, even if at a low enough social level we can't recover them.