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Portrait of Emperor Tamerlane, the founder of the Timurid Empire. Amir Timur.jpg
Portrait of Emperor Tamerlane, the founder of the Timurid Empire.

An emir ( /əˈmɪər,ˈmɪər,ˈmɪər/ ; Arabic : أميرʾamīr [ʔaˈmiːr] ), sometimes transliterated amir, amier, or ameer, can refer to a king or an aristocratic or noble and military title of high office used in a variety of places in the Arab countries, West Africa, Afghanistan and in the Indian subcontinent. The term has been widely used to denote a "commander", "general", or "leader" i.e. Amir al-Mu'min. The feminine form is emira (أميرةʾamīrah). When translated as "prince", the word "emirate" is analogous to a sovereign principality. In contemporary usage, the term indicates to some Muslim head of states of Emirates or leaders of Islamic organizations.



Amir Muhammad Abul Abbas of Sicily conquering Italy's Messiana Assedio di Messina 1040.jpg
Amir Muhammad Abul Abbas of Sicily conquering Italy's Messiana
The court of the Durrani Emirate of Afghanistan in 1839 Shuja Shah Durrani of Afghanistan in 1839.jpg
The court of the Durrani Emirate of Afghanistan in 1839
Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi Emir of Kano on his throne 092016.jpg
Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

Amir, meaning "lord" or "commander-in-chief", is derived from the Arabic root a-m-r, "command". Originally simply meaning "commander”, it came to be used as a title of leaders, governors, or rulers of smaller states. In modern Arabic the word is analogous to the title “Prince". The word entered English in 1593, from the French émir. [1] It was one of the titles or names of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.[ citation needed ]

In The Bible, Deuteronomy 26:18 and in Isaiah 3:10, this word is used in Hebrew as a verb with a similar meaning.

Princely, ministerial and noble titles

Mohammed Alim Khan, emir of Bukhara, taken in 1911 by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky Prokudin-Gorskii-19-v2.png
Mohammed Alim Khan, emir of Bukhara, taken in 1911 by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky

Military ranks and titles

From the start, emir has been a military title. In the 9th century the term was used to denote a ruler of a state i.e. Italy's Emirate of Sicily.

In certain decimally-organized Muslim armies, Amir was an officer rank. For example, in Mughal India, the Amirs commanded 1000 horsemen (divided into ten units, each under a sipah salar), ten of them under one malik. In the imperial army of Qajar Persia:

The following posts referred to "amir" under medieval Muslim states include:

In the former Kingdom of Afghanistan, Amir-i-Kabir was a title meaning "great prince" or "great commander".

Muhammad Amin Bughra, Nur Ahmad Jan Bughra, and Abdullah Bughra declared themselves emirs of the First East Turkestan Republic.

Other uses

See also

Specific emirates of note


  1. Harper, Douglas. "amir (n.)". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  2. "Emir of Kuwait wraps up Gulf mediation visits - Qatar News - Al Jazeera". www.aljazeera.com.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-01-15. Retrieved 2018-01-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. Al Qasimi, Muhammad. "Sheikh Dr Sultan".
  5. Amos, Deborah (1991). "Sheikh to Chic". Mother Jones. p. 28. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  6. "Saudi Arabia: HRH or HH? - American Bedu". 7 August 2016. Archived from the original on 7 August 2016.
  7. "Family Tree". www.datarabia.com. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  8. Howell, Georgina. Queen of The Desert: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell. ISBN   9781447286264.

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