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Image:Bokhara1909.jpg Amir (also sometimes rendered as Emir or Ameer, (Arabic: Template:Ar Template:ArabDIN "commander") is a high title of nobility or office, historically used in Islamic nations of the Middle East, North Africa, and the Turkic world, among others.


Middle Eastern origins

"Amir", originally meaning commander in Arabic, derives from the Arabic root Template:ArabDIN "to order". Originally simply meaning commander or leader, usually in reference to a group of people, it came to be used as a title of governors or rulers, usually in smaller states, and in modern Arabic usually renders the English word 'prince'.

In Arabic and Persian :

  • A state ruled by an independent emir is an emirate. Some emirates are sovereign, such as the Kuwaiti monarchy (ruled by the al-Sabah dynasty since the country gained independence in 1961), Qatar (since 1971), and Bahrain (1971-2002). Emirates can also be constitutive parts of a state, notably the seven United Arab Emirates, which belong to a federal monarchy, and are the electors of its presidency and prime minister.
  • Another meaning of the word emir is "prince" (specifically, the male descendant of a sovereign). This title was used in the sultanate of the Maldives alongside the native title Manippulu. In some states it could mean "crown prince" (more typically Wali al-Ahd). For example, before he was crowned as King Abdullah of Jordan, the son of King Hussein was still referred to as "Emir Abdullah" (in this case an obsolete title of the dynasty, which adopted the higher title of Malik = king).

In other Muslim cultures

  • In various Muslim states, Amir was also a nobiliary title, as under the (Turkic?) form ämir in the Tartar Khanate of Kazan
  • In Pakistan and India it also means "rich", and has a connotation of immortality (a- means "not" and -mar means "dying", so the name Amar means eternal)
  • Emir is also the title of the religious leader (without political power) of the Ahmadiyya anjuman ishaat-i Islam, a minor Muslim sect, established in Lahore in April 1914, with five incumbents to date.
  • In northern Nigeria and other parts of the Sahel (including various jihad states), the title of some Muslim traditional rulers is emir or a corruption such as lamido, sometimes used in addition to a native title. The most prominent of these are the emirs of Kano, Bauchi, Zaria and Adamawa.
  • The Yazidi religion has an emir as its secular leader alongside a chief sheikh as its religious leader.

Derived and compound titles are numerous.

Princely, ministerial and noble titles

  • The Caliphs themselves first used the title Ameer-ul-Momineen or Commander of the Faithful, stressing their leadership over all Islam, especially in the military form of Jihad (in this specific sense Holy War); both this command and the title have been assumed by various other Muslim rulers, including Sultans and (amirate) Emirs.
  • The Abbasid (in theory still universal) Caliph Ar-Radi created the post of Amir al-Umara 'Amir of the Amirs' for his -in fact governing- Wasir (chief minister) Ibn Raik; the title was used in various Islamic monarchies; cfr. infra for military use
  • In Lebanon, the ruling Emir formally used the style al-Amir al-Hakim (see Hakim) since, specifying it was still a ruler's title, but now as part of the Ottoman Empire; unchanged when in 1698 the Banu Shihab replaced the Banu Ma`n dynasty and on 27 May 1832 was annexed by khedival Egypt (both nominally Ottoman), but on 10 October 1840 Ottoman rule was restored, till on 16 January 1842 the Mount Lebanon emirate ended, as the Ottoman Sultans divided their Lebanese province administratively, creating a Christian district in the north and an area under Druze control in the south.
  • The word Emir is also used less formally for leaders in certain contexts, for example the leader of a group of pilgrims to Mecca is called an emir hadji, a style sometimes used by ruling princes (as a mark of Muslim piety), sometimes awarded in their name. Where an adjectival form is necessary, "emiral" suffices.
  • Amirzada: son (hence the Persian patronymic suffix -zade) of a prince, hence the Persian princely title Mirza.

Military ranks and titles

From the start, Emir has been a military title, roughly meaning General or Commander.

The Western naval rank "admiral" comes from the Arabic navy title amir al-bahr, general at sea, which has been used for naval commanders and occasionally the Ministers of Marine.

In certain decimally organised Muslim armies (e.g. Mughal India), Amir was an officer rank, commanding 1000 horsemen (divided into ten units, each under a Sipah salar), ten of them under each a Malik. In the imperial army of Qajar Persia:

  • Amir-i-Nuyan Lieutenant-General.
  • Amir Panj 'commander of 5,000', i.e. Brigadier-General.
  • Amir-i-Tuman 'commander of 10,000', i.e. Major-General.
  • Amir ul-Umara 'Amir of Amirs' (cfr. supra) or 'Commander of Commanders', i.e. Supreme commander.
  • Amir Yavarianfar 'The Supreme Amir'

Other cases elsewhere include:

  • Amir-i-Kabir: great prince or great commander, in the former kingdom of Afghanistan.

Other uses

  • Amir-i-Il designates the head of an Il (tribe) in imperial Persia.
  • Emir is also a common Muslim male name of Arab and non-Arab Muslims (see also Azra), taken from Arabic just as the Western name Rex ("king") is borrowed from Latin.

See also

Islamic titles

Specific emirates of note

Sources and references


ca:Emir da:Emir de:Emir eo:Emiro es:Emir fr:Émir it:Emiro ja:アミール ka:ამირა la:Amiralis nl:Emir nn:Emir no:Emir pl:Emir pt:Emir ru:Эмир sv:Emir zh:埃米尔