Emir (/əˈmɪər, ˈmɪər, ˈmɪər/; Arabic: أمير ʾamīr [ʔaˈmiːr]), sometimes transliterated amir, amier, or ameer, is a word of Arabic origin that can refer to a male monarch, aristocrat, holder of high-ranking military or political office, or other person possessing actual or ceremonial authority. The title has a long history of use in the Arab World, East Africa, West Africa, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. In the modern era, when used as a formal monarchical title, it is roughly synonymous with "prince", applicable both to a son of a herary monarch, and to a reigning monarch of a sovereign principality, namely an emirate. The feminine form is emira (أميرة ʾamīrah), a cognate for "princess". Prior to its use as a monarchical title, the term "emir" was historically used to denote a "commander", "general", or "leader" (for example, Amir al-Mu'min). In contemporary usage, "emir" is also sometimes used as either an honorary or formal title for the head of an Islamic, or Arab (regardless of religion) organisation or movement.

Qatar and Kuwait are the only independent countries which retain the title "emir" for their monarchs. In recent years, the title has been gradually replaced by "king" by contemporary herary rulers who wish to emphasize their secular authority under the rule of law. A notable example is Bahrain, whose monarch changed his title from emir to king in 2002.[1]


Amir Muhammad Abul Abbas of Sicily conquering Italy's Messiana
The court of the Durrani Emirate of Afghanistan in 1839

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.[2] 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[]

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


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  4. ^ "Gulf Ministers Hold Key Talks Before GCC Summit". December 5, 2017. Archived from the original on 2018-01-15. Retrieved 2018-01-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
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  10. ^ Batatu, Hanna (1978). The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq: A Study of Iraq's Old Landed and Commercial Classes and of its Communists, Ba'thists and Free Officers. Princeton University Press.