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Emir (from Arabic أمير, DMG amīr , like admiral to amara , “command”, via Turkish emir ) means “command”, “commander”, “ruler”, “prince”, “tribal prince” or “governor”.

In early Islamic times, an emir commanded a troop of Muslim soldiers; after conquests he took the place of the governor there. With increasing power, some emirs later ruled more or less sovereignly ( emirate ), but mostly strove for recognition by the caliph .

In what is now Afghanistan, the term Amir was used for the rulers of the 18th and 19th centuries until Amanullah Khan abolished this title in 1926.

Variants of the title

The most important variations of the title Emir are:

  • amīr al-muʾminīn ("Commander of the Believers") has beenthe honorary title of the Islamic caliphssince Omar . In the Maghreb this has beena ruler titlesince the Almoravids in the 11th century and to this day one of the titles for the sultans in Morocco .
  • amīr al-umarāʾ ("Commander in Chief") was the title of Commander-in-Chief among the Abbasids . In the Ottoman Empire with the meaning of the governor of a major province.

The word admiral comes from the Arabicأمير البحر / amīr al-baḥr  / 'Commander at sea'.

The title Ammiratus (also in the increasing form ammiratus ammiratorum ) for a high official in Norman Sicily is also derived from amīr .

The Persian , Kurdish and Indian title Mīr , which denotes the leader of a group or a tribe , is also derived from Emir .

Today's Emirates

Sovereign Emirates have existed in the Arab world since the end of British rule in 1971:

A similar “ Federation of Arab Emirates ” in southern Yemen , formed under British aegis in 1959, was revolutionarily eliminated in 1967. The emirate of Bahrain , which also became independent in 1971, was proclaimed a kingdom by its ruler in 2002 .

In addition, there are still numerous emirates in northern Nigeria , such as the emirate of Kano , the emirate of Ilorin and the emirate of Gwandu . The emirs, who were left in office after the British establishment of the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria , were responsible for the jurisdiction and the imposition of penalties until 1960.

The Taliban reintroduced the term emir in Afghanistan in 1996 and Mullah Mohammed Omar was an Amir of the (internationally hardly recognized) Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan .

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Emir  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. A list of the traditional states still existing on Nigerian soil today, the rulers of which largely refer to themselves as emir, can be found here: http://www.worldstatesmen.org/Nigeria_native.html
  2. See Rudolph Peters: Crime and Punishment in Islamic Law. Theory and Practice from the Sixteenth to the Twenty-first Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2005. pp. 120-125.